Wednesday, March 25, 2015

5 Questions Going into the “Black Sails” Finale

Season 2 of Black Sails on Starz has proved to be the best historical fiction on TV by a long shot – at least until Outlander returns in two weeks. But seriously, Season 1 was good, Season 2 has been amazing. Going into Saturday’s finale, I thought I’d re-cap some of the thoughts I had before the season began and look at how much has utterly changed since then. If you haven’t been watching this show, but love historical fiction, pick it up on on-demand. Or buy the DVD. You don’t know what you’re missing.

1. How Will Flint Survive?

I asked this question before the season began, but it’s truly apropos now. By the end of Season 1, Flint proved himself to be the evil murder that Robert Louis Stevenson made him out to be in Treasure Island. In Season 2, however, we learn that Flint is only a mask for James McGraw, a former British naval officer with the noblest intentions. A series of flashbacks introduced us to McGraw, his affair with Miranda Hamilton—and her husband Thomas—and his betrayal at the hands of Thomas’ father (whom Flint murdered before the series began). 

Season 2 put Flint firmly back into the hero—or antihero—role, and reestablished him as the most interesting and complex character on Black Sails. His goal this season was the survival of Nassau by turning it into a legitimate colony. By last Saturday’s episode, he had saved the daughter of his old friend, Peter Ashe, now the governor of the Carolina colonies, and was petitioning for Nassau’s legitimacy. It looked like Peter was agreeable, provided that James was prepared to basically confess his crimes before the lords in London. But then Miranda realized it was Peter who betrayed them so many years ago, leading to her husband’s death and the murder Flint would later commit. Her sudden death was one of the show’s wildest turns, and now Flint is set to be hanged. How will he survive? In one of the show’s greatest twists, it looks like his archenemy Charles Vane may be the answer. This was one of those totally “wow” moments when I realized the show’s writers had just killed it. It was truly awesome, and set up the perfect season finale. 

2. Will Eleanor Guthrie Get Her Revenge?

At the end of Season 1, Vane had outmaneuvered his old lover and seized the island’s fortress. It turns out, Eleanor still loves Vane, and he loves her, as evidenced by his rather swift killing of Captain Ned Low. But when Vane planned to ransom Lord Ashe’s daughter, which would threaten Nassau’s survival, Eleanor took matters into her own hands. She saved the girl and gave her to Flint, all as part of their collective plan to legitimize Nassau. Yet now her fate truly lies in the balance since she was betrayed by Mr. Dufrense and Captain Hornigold and handed over to the British Navy. The Brits are about to become the true villains in this show, but whether Eleanor survives remains to be seen. I bet she’ll escape, I just don’t know how it’s going to happen. 

3. Billy’s Not Dead, But Now What?

Billy Bones is alive and well, in one of Season 2’s most welcome developments. After all, Billy has to survive for Treasure Island to take place. It turns out that after Flint pitched him overboard, he was rescued by the British Navy, tortured, and offered a pardon if he just turned in Captain Flint. But Billy is a wise soul. He realizes the pirate way of life will soon come to a violent end with the Navy encamped on a nearby isle, so he buries his bitterness with Flint and supports the captain’s plan to save Nassau. Even more, once Vane captures Flint’s ship in Charleston harbor, Billy gives him the speech that may turn Vane into the hero of this season’s finale. Vane realizes it’s the pirates against the Brits for the survival of everything. And he needs to save Flint to makes that happen. 

After playing one of the show’s greatest villains, Vane may explode into one of its biggest heroes. As for Billy, I think he’ll be just fine (um … until he gets to the Admiral Benbow).

4. Will Jack and Anne Bonny Rebound?

I asked this question before the season, and it’s pretty much come true, though not as I expected. And it’s all thanks to Max. It was not a surprise to learn of Anne’s affections toward Max, or of the love triangle involving them and Jack. But Max gave Jack a ship and a crew, and—thanks to Long John Silver—the location of the unguarded Urca gold. 

Eleanor, however, figured out Max’s plan and tried to stop it. That’s where Anne Bonney comes in. After Jack spurned her and set sail, Anne’s story took a dark and murderous turn. What we realized, however, is that Anne is the most ruthless killer of them all. A true badass who saves Jack and now looks to make Max’s and his plans a reality. I would not want to piss off Anne Bonny. Just saying. 

5. Will Silver Outwit Them All?

In season 2, Long John Silver seemed to pull off his greatest scheme—to seize the Urca gold for his own. He’s always been cunning, and I fully expect him to succeed in becoming the most notorious pirate in literary history. But in last Saturday’s episode, he fell victim to Vane. Even worse, he’s disabled their ship, just when the British Navy is preparing its assault in Charleston harbor. 

The stage has shifted to Vane. But I don’t think Silver is done. In fact, I suspect he may decide the Season 2 finale! 

But that’s just my take. Did you enjoy Season 2 of Black Sails, and how do you think it might end?


Bill said...

I'd better catch up on recorded episodes before reading this post, Joe.

Brendan Murphy said...

Really well put together analysis of the series so far - it's got me intrigued and I can see a familiar if not friendly actor's face there too.

Joseph Finley said...

Bill, please do. Last Saturday's episode was terrific!

Joseph Finley said...

Brendan - thanks for the comment! The show has been very intriguing this season.

Bill said...

I'm still trying to figure out how Vane and crew got to the swamps outside Charlestown from the fort at Nassau. Teleported? That's my most recent episode.

Joseph Finley said...

I had assumed they got there on the longboats the used to return to Nassau, but that is a long distance to row (over 500 miles, I think). Maybe they're really fast swimmers ...