From Starz, creators Jonathan E. Steinberg and Robert Levine alongside producer Michael Bay comes the hit pirate drama series Black Sails. This series stars Toby Stephens, Luke Arnold, Zach McGowan, Tom Hopper, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Hannah New, Clara Paget, Toby Schmitz, Hakeem Kae-Kazim and Ray Stevenson. Season three has concluded and season four will première in 2017.
In the wake of the burning of Charles Town, all the New World lives in fear of Captain Flint. But when his campaign of terror crosses over into madness, it falls to John Silver to locate the man within the monster before it’s too late. Meanwhile, with Eleanor Guthrie in prison, Jack Rackham oversees a new Nassau, hoping to secure his legacy as a king among thieves. All will be tested when a new threat arrives, one the pirates could never have anticipated. It knows them. It understands them. And in the blink of an eye, it will turn them against each other.
When I reviewed Black Sails season 3, episodes 1 and 2 in advance earlier this year I was blown away at the size and scale of how this show had grown over the course of it’s run. (read that HERE) So now that all 10 episodes have concluded what is without a doubt the most action-packed and shocking string of episodes yet, did that trend continue throughout the end of season three? Yes sir – it most certainly did. Big time.
Right off the bat, a new face has joined the cast of Black Sails: Ray Stevenson makes his debut as the famous pirate Blackbeard. Although the show refers to him as Teach, since you know – they have to get all real and shit but I appreciate that… Nobody would be calling that dude “beard” in person anyway – he’s terrifying. Stevenson is a force to be reckoned with all season long as he plays Teach in a very quiet and unnerving way, opting to never take his character over the top. Not once – he’s always restrained and that actually makes him scarier now that I look back on it. His storyline is that he’s come back to recruit an old friend in Charles Vane, but he winds up entrenched in the war between all the other pirates and Britain – one war led fiercely by Captain Flint.
The second episode of season three is a monster, featuring some of the craziest action sequences and special effects of any TV series ever produced. And we now live in a Game of Thrones world where dragons are kicking it on the smallscreen. Black Sails has definitely increased it’s scale in every possible way – the ocean, the storms, the cannonballs – you can feel every single hit. By the time we enter the insane finale, which is without a shadow of a doubt the biggest spectacle in Black Sails history, we have no choice but to recognize that feature length films no longer have the edge when it comes to the advantages of a larger budget. Because I can tell you right now, there were very little films the past year that looked or felt as huge as Black Sails season 3 did.
I loved the chemistry between Flint (Toby Stephens) and Silver (Luke Arnold) this season. Those two began this show as enemies forced to work together but we’re now starting to see this odd friendship develop. The conversation that these two have near the end of the season where Arnold explains how he’s gained the crew’s trust was one of the finest moments of the show so far. I feel like Luke Arnold has stolen this series in 2016. He has my favorite line of the season, “My name is John Silver and I’ve got a loooong fucking memory,” he has the most tragic moment in episode 2 when their ship is taking on water and he owns the most badass kill where he peg leg curb stomps an asshole that I’ve been waiting to go for a long time now. Cheers, Luke Arnold – you have won season 3.
Nassau is now under control of the British, Jack Rackham’s pirate empire has fallen just as quickly as it arose after he swiped up all that sweet sweet treasure and Flint is still hellbent on killing everyone that wronged him in the past. Toby Stephens is a madman. The things that Flint does this year are so extreme, so relentless that even as shocking as they are, at the expense of his own crew and those closest to him, Flint still somehow comes across as justified in his methods. He’s a warrior and I love him. Hell, after this season I love most of the characters on this show.
I will admit, I wasn’t a huge Captain Vane fan when Black Sails first started. Nothing to do with Zach McGowan or his portrayal of the famous pirate, I just didn’t dig the character for some reason. Last season he won me over after joining forces with Flint to take it to “the man” and in season three he’s gained iconic status. “Get on with it, motherfucker”. He was a true badass all season long and he really ramps it up here with his most powerful and moving performance to date for the series.
From the storm at seas early on, to the stunning shark hunt mid-season and the all-out chaos of the finale, Black Sails season 3 was easily the best of the series so far and a spectacle that rivals most feature length films. The acting, the direction, the production, the writing – Starz has a winner on their hands with this show and even though I know who comes out on the right side of this war in the end (thanks history books… ya jerks) I can’t wait to see how it plays out as the series comes to a conclusion. Hopefully not too soon…