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Black Sails – A Struggle for Freedom and Power On the High Seas

Posted on January 20, 2014 at 6:00 am by Amanda Andonian


In the early 1700s, the ocean was overrun by pirates making their living off the rich merchant marines sailing between the Americas and Europe. For those quick enough and strong enough, it was a good living, until civilization began to push farther and farther into their territory. Enter Captain Flint, one of the most notorious pirate captains, struggling to maintain power over his own ship.

That’s where Black Sails begins its journey. For months, Flint has been searching for information on the whereabouts of a treasure like no one has ever seen, but it’s meant lean times for his crew. While a mutiny brews, he almost desperately throws caution to the winds in the hopes of finding what he needs in order to track down the treasure and placate his crew. Unbeknownst to him, a new crew member by the name of John Silver holds the last piece of the puzzle, but John’s only looking out for his own best interests.

black-sailsThe first episode sets the stage for the greatest treasure hunt in history, as well as showing us the humble beginnings of some of the world’s most famous pirates. Like any good show about the criminal element, Black Sails opens on a ton of action and excitement, showing us just how dangerous and lawless life on the seas actually is. Flint is a hard, seemingly fair man; but his one-track mind and quick temper could cost him the very freedom that he’s trying to preserve. John Silver has the makings of an excellent con man, and it’s already apparent that he’ll be getting himself into a lot of trouble as the series goes on.

Of course, no paid-cable show would be complete without some titillation, and that’s where the Port of Nassau and Eleanor Guthrie come in. While I appreciated the attempt to write in some strong female characters, Eleanor comes off as more of a fish out of water than the bad-ass, black market racketeer that the show is trying to make her. It’s not helped by the fact that she gets her ass kicked publicly, and that all of her power comes solely from the fact that it’s really her father who runs Port Nassau. The prostitute, Max (who aligns herself with John Silver), and pirate henchman Anne Bonny are much more interesting female characters, so I’m looking forward to seeing more of the two of them in future episodes.


Black Sails is obviously Starz’s attempt to compete with HBO and Showtime in terms of original programming, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re succeeding so far. Not only does Black Sails give us an exciting look into this fantasy world of piracy, but it’s also bolstered by an intriguing story, fully realized characters, and the kinds of backstabbing politics that make all dramas interesting. It’s definitely a serious contender for the attentions of the masses, so hopefully it can continue to build upon the momentum it’s already established. I for one can’t wait to see how Flint and John Silver eventually begin to butt heads, or perhaps the wily Silver will manage to stay off his captain’s radar for a while yet.

The show will officially premiere this Saturday, January 25th, at 9pm on Starz, but the first episode is available now to watch in full on Machinima’s YouTube channel. Unfortunately, that’s probably the only episode that we’ll legally get for free until the season wraps up and is available on Netflix. While I doubt that many will be calling up their cable provider to subscribe to Starz based on this first showing, maybe Black Sails will topple Game of Thrones from the position of most illegally downloaded television show?

Episode 1 – A-

Black Sails, Season 1 Episode 1, airs on Starz January 25th, 2014 at 9/10c.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516 for more geek news.

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