TV Reviews

Black Sails Season 4 Episode 10: XXXVIII Review

Well, we’re finally here. The series finale of Black Sails. As I said before in my previous review, this episode had a lot to cover in way to tie up all loose ends that were established in this season as well as send-off the show’s character (and narrative) in a satisfying way. I’m always worried that notion as some series finale to TV shows are a bit underwhelming and unsatisfying (i.e. The Sopranos). Fortunately, the series finale of Black Sails does deliver a proper farewell to the show, wrapping up a narrative that consists of 38 episodes in a very satisfying way.

To start off this review, let’s talk about the last Flint and Silver team as they must put their differences aside (and their conflicting ideals) to battle against Woodes Rogers and his crew. This, of course, lead to a lot of questions: how would Woodes be defeated? Would Madi be alive? Would Jack Rackham kill Flint? Luckily, all these questions get answered quickly in the episode as Jack’s ship arrives just in time to save Flint and Silver and the rest of the crew (who were still in the water and being attacked by Woode’s men) and aides Flint and Silver in their endeavor to pursue Woode’s fleeing ship. So even with his prize in sight and his goal within reach, Rackham decides to put that aside (for the moment) to help Flint and Silver take on Woodes Rogers.

The battle itself was also another high point of the episode, showcasing the moment of enemies facing off with each other (Flint vs. Bones and Woodes vs. Rackham). It wasn’t as explosive as the opening battle in the beginning of this season (that one was probably the best action scene in the series), but it was still a monumental moment for all the characters involved.

As for Billy Bones, he seemed as if the pressure of the situation was getting to him (sort of becoming “unhinged” a bit) and put a knife to Madi’s throat as if to kill her. Not showing what Bones did (or didn’t do) helped add tension to the battle ahead, as we (the viewers) were left wondering what became of Madi’s fate. That was until Silver showed up (during the battle) and discovered that Madi was, in fact, still alive. Continuing with Billy story, it was neat to see him battle with Flint (up on the ship’s mast) as this was a big moment for the two characters (long overdue). Naturally, Flint ended up on top as Billy Bones fell from the mast and plunged into the water. Towards the end of the episode, it was revealed that Billy was still alive, washing up on shore on Skeleton Island and was presumably marooned there. Knowing that Billy Bones was going to survive was a no-brainer (same with Silver) as we (the viewers) know that both are characters in Treasure Island, with Black Sails acting as a sort of a prequel adventure to Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous book.

As one can surmise, the day was won by the pirates, with Flint and Jack disarming Woodes in an awesome three-way duel. Now, with Woodes out of the way, the matter of the treasure cache and where Flint was placed back in the spotlight. Flint leads Silver (and a few men) to the treasure’s location, but ultimately stops, knowing of what is to come next (the scenario of him being killed). Naturally, I thought that Silver was going to kill Flint (fitting the narrative to Treasure Island) and it was something I was expecting to see since the start of this season.

However, instead of killing him, Silver suggest that he retires, relinquishing his claim to Nassau and the world and to disappear into exile. Naturally, Flint doesn’t like this notion, but gets a nice surprise. Earlier in the season, Silver tells Flint of a plantation in the colonies that houses people who are meant to disappear (a somewhat better living condition than slaves, but still are tied to the plantation) and heard rumors (from Max) that Thomas Hamilton (Flint’s lover) was sent there. Silver sent a man to investigate if Thomas was there and he returned with good news. So, in the end, Flint agrees to this and as Silver explains to Madi, the world gets rid of the ruthless Flint and strips him back to a time before he became an infamous pirate of Nassau. The reunion between Flint and Thomas was a touching moment, one that sees Flint, a man who lost so much in both his personal life and in his goals and ambitions, gets a kind of a happy ending. With the real truth being buried, the legend of Flint’s fate is left for history to be turned into legend (i.e. lost at sea, killed by Silver, etc.), somewhat fitting the narrative of Treasure Island.

As for Silver, he’s alive and well, but telling all of this to Madi (Flint’s true fate and the end of the war) draws ire from her as she was a true believer in the “cause” (much like Flint was). However, while she’s upset by this, she remains with Silver and the two are together in the end. So it’s kind of interesting to see that Silver is really not the monster that’s presented in Treasure Island, but rather a man (a pirate) who made several difficult choices to protect the ones he loves.

So with Woodes Rogers captured and imprisoned, Jack Rackham didn’t need to kill Flint after all, traveling back to Philadelphia to bring the news to Eleanor’s grandmother (as well as Anne Bonny and Max). This scene was short, but interesting as Jack and Max softly persuaded Eleanor’s grandmother to still honor the agreement, despite both of them failing to hold their ends of the bargain (Jack not killing Flint and Max declining her offer to be a wife to a husband). Surprisingly, Jack mentions that the war in the West Indies is over and that all the tribes and pirates have made a treaty, which adds a sweetener to their cause for Eleanor’s grandmother. Luckily, she agrees to move forward with their venture, but not before Jack makes a request to publicly shame and humiliate Woodes Rogers, dragging him through a trial and recording all his debts and failures for all of history to see. As one could imagine, due to his stubborn pride, that is a fate worse than death for Woodes Rogers and a perfect way to send-off his character.

Naturally, the final moments of the episode were probably the best, revealing the new Nassau “world order” with Mr. Featherstone as the new governor (haha…pretty funny) with Max (much like Eleanor’s grandmother) calling all the shots (aka the “read” governor of Nassau) as well as seeing final shot of the Jolly Roger’s flag, which the real-life Jack Rackham designed. Perhaps the most interesting was during these final moments with Jack and Anne taking on a new younger crew member, calling himself Mark Read. Now if you don’t know who Mark Read is (I didn’t. I had to google the name), Mark Read is actually Mary Read, a real-life historical female pirate that joins Jack and Anne in piracy. It’s also to be noted that both Mary Read and Anne Bonny are the two most famed female pirates of all time. That’s actually pretty cool!

My only complaint with the series finale episode was they didn’t tie some elements to Treasure Island. What I was sort of expecting to see was a young Jim Hawkins (the main character from Treasure Island) to appear at the end of the episode or maybe to see Billy Bones in possession of the Treasure map or maybe even see the Admiral Benbow Inn. I would’ve loved to see that, but they didn’t show it. It’s not a deal breaker for me (only a minor negative point), but it would’ve been cool to see.

In the end, the episode wrapped up the events of Black Sails, seeing the final chapter of the show with powerful and moving episode and shedding light on the fate of the remaining characters.  I’ve fully enjoyed the show and I’m sad to see it go, but I guess it’s a good that a show goes out on a high note rather than being cancelled or fade into obscurity. Here’s to hoping that Starz that will do a spin-off Black Sails series, following the misadventures of Jack, Anne, and Mary Read or maybe the infamous Robert Louis Stevenson story of Treasure Island (definitely hoping for that). For now, though, Black Sails is a TV show that should be remembered in very favorable light (if you haven’t seeing it all in its entirety, I would highly recommend it), finding a narrative structure that blends historical pirate facts with Treasure Island nuances, but adheres to its own sea in telling its tale of pirates, war, and the turbulent conflicts in the West Indies (Nassau).

Score 9.5 / 10

If interested, check out my movie blog @ Jason’s Movie Blog for my reviews of current movies.

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