I have talked at length, and possibly ad nauseum, about the complexities that makeup the Starz original series Black Sails. Only by stopping for a moment before jumping into a marathon session of the third season did I begin to appreciate what those complexities are. Black Sails is a prequel to the children’s story Treasure Island, and even though the story has some mature elements, it is still a far cry from the violence and deplorable climate of Black Sails. However, for this reason, one can take solace in the fact that by the end of this show, Flint will be dead and there will be a goddamn treasure buried on some goddamn island. For now, I will hold back on commentary as I recount the first half of season three.
Anxiety is the overture of the beginning of the season, as Flint and his men barrel into a storm to escape Hornigold while Rackam and Vance try to keep the glass cannon of a prosperous Nassau alive. Meanwhile, Guthrie is being transported back to Nassau under the custody of Woodes Rogers with the mission of purging the criminal element out of the island. I know I talked before about how many new people come into this story per season, but the beginning of this one adds one of the more intriguing characters by the name of Teach AKA motherfucking Blackbeard.
Teach is being groomed to be a major character and breathes life into the somewhat salty and stale air of the current cast. Teach comes in as a cross between a hipster and idealist, and scoffs at the prosperity being enjoyed by the island’s dirty denizens. Teach also acts as a man of reason when discussing the approach of Rogers’ Fleet to take back the island. Whether design or perfect timing, Teach comes in at the moment when everything is uncertain, not as a hero nor villain but rather an element of change. This whole storm of change contrasts Flint’s current predicament of being stuck in doldrums with meager rations and water following the storm. It seems Teach and Flint’s current struggle both deal with unity of men, whether dying on a ship due to thirst or trying to rally a force to fight back an oncoming invasion into Nassau.
After a heated dehydration period, Flint and his men capture a shark and find an island full of looming natives that are comprised of escaped slaves. This is already getting better. On the other front, Hornigold joins up with Rodgers and issues pardons to Nassau under the promise of laying down their arms. The big kicker is that it works and now Blackbeard’s plan seems kinda fucked especially given the addition of Charles Vane’s bounty added into the deal. Vane and Blackbeard make a daring video game level escape through Nassau, which provides the excitement in opposition to Flint and his men who are now being held captive by the island of runaway slaves. Scratch that. The tribal empire of runaway slaves.
Let’s talk about this empire of slaves since it is a pretty big deal for the first half of the season. Mr. Scott, the former advisor to Guthrie, is actually the husband to the Queen and father to a princess in the slave empire. Mr. Scott is shot in Nassau and brought in secret to the hideaway island, to not compromise the secrecy of the place. Flint rallies a plan to, surprise, take back Nassau and live under the flag of pirates and slaves in opposition to the crown. Back on the island, Guthrie and Max climb back to power in league with Rodgers. This whole thing seems very familiar. If familiarity is comfortable to you, know that Nassau now stands as a power piece in an ongoing conflict that never seems to get away from this place.
The addition of Teach in the beginning part of the season was a welcomed addition. By the mid point, his role has somewhat been cast to the background, as Charles Vane is trying to sail away from Nassau but something tells me he won’t be able to quit Ms. Guthrie. By the close of the 5th episode, Rodgers keeps having things fucked up for him, including taking a shady deal from Max that instantly backfired. That is in addition to a large sum of his money going missing by the hands of Anne and Jack. My warmth towards Black Sails is always the greatest when reflecting on the premise and general scope until I get drug along these kooky ass storylines. However, I think I am starting to get my footing finally and am excited to see how this next season concludes.
Score: 7/9 Hammers
BLACK SAILS [S3E02-05] | Aired: January 30th – February 20th 2016 | Network: STARZ | Starring: Toby Stephens, Hannah New, Luke Arnold, Zach McGowan