This contains spoilers for Season 3 of Black Sails
Season 3 of Black Sails has been the best so far. Here’re the top 5 best episodes and top 5 best characters that made the season as good as it was.
Top 5 Episodes:
The episode starts with Flint and Vane in Miranda’s home, having an unexpected discussion on the perks of domesticity for pirates. This was a soft way to open the episode that would otherwise change so much for the characters. After that, the episode gets much more intense. We finally learn Jack’s story and what made him become a pirate. It was a great scene that showed Jack’s surprising intelligence and left Rogers with little to say. The smug look Jack gives Rogers when Flint and Vane lead a rescue mission was perfect. The rescue mission itself clearly went south. After a tender moment between Jack and Anne, the English troops arrive and Vane sacrifices himself so the others can get away. The episode ends with Vane and Eleanor face to face for the first time since the end of Season 2. The silence between them was in contrast to the otherwise dialogue-heavy episode, and a great way to build up suspense for the next episode.
After Eleanor put a ransom on Vane’s head, he is, of course, hiding out with his best friend, Jack. After Jack shoots someone point-blank in the head for asking him to turn over Vane, there was a loving goodbye between the two of them (“Godspeed Charles” “F*ck you, Jack”). It’s sad that after this episode, they would only meet one more time and then briefly. Their unusual friendship was one of the best parts of the show, so I’m glad we got to see some of that in Season 3. Vane’s plan of setting a boat on fire and sending it to attack the English ships was a great nod to the real life Captain Vane, who did just that. Flint’s crew meanwhile is being held captive on a mysterious island (hmm, could it be?) by escaped slaves. Flint is still hallucinating about Miranda, but opens up a bit to Silver. I loved Flint’s quote comparing Billy’s plan to fight his way out of there to Silver’s plan to talk his way out of there because it demonstrates the dichotomy between the two characters that will come to be important leading up to the events of Treasure Island.
The storm effects in this episode were absolutely incredible. I would put it in top 5 simply for that. Yet, as Black Sails does so well, it balanced the intensity of the storm with quieter moments. Flint’s dream of Miranda- her clearly trying to tell him something, and him being unable to hear- was truly eerie. Vane and Blackbeard’s reunion easily set up the rocky relationship they had in the past and would continue to have for Season 3. Silver laughing with his friend as they tried to plug up holes below deck, and ending in Silver being unable to save his friend from drowning, was absolutely heartbreaking. Overall this episode was a filler episode. However, Black Sails does everything so well, that it was still really good TV.
This episode began with Jack staring at the box of gold, saying there was more in that box than just money, there was loss and sacrifice as well. This was a beautifully written piece by the writers to remind the viewers again of what was at stake. The episode also spends time on the emotional journey of Silver, and has a strangely light-hearted dialogue between Flint and Silver on why Silver ordered the beating of his crewmate, and never bothered to tell Flint about it. However, the showstopper of this episode was Vane’s death. The priest’s visit, overlapped with Vane being taken to the noose, followed by Vane’s speech and his silent message to Billy, built up a lot of tension, and a hope that Vane wouldn’t be killed. However, staying true to history, Vane did die. And it was horribly realistic. The wagon was pulled out from under his feet and he suffocated and twitched. It was a hard scene to watch, which is why it was done so well.
Black Sails does finales right. In Episode 10, the war starts. Yet instead of having non-stop action, the battle scenes are interspersed with flashbacks to the night before where Flint finally comes clean to Silver about his past with Thomas Hamilton, and the reason he’s fighting. Silver reveals his worries that, in order to prevent dying like Thomas, Gates, and Miranda did for their association with Flint, he would one day have to kill Flint. Meanwhile, Billy is finally getting to do something in this show. He pushes the resistance in Nassau by creating a new pirate hero, Long John Silver. The battle itself is both suspenseful and thrilling, leaving the viewers to wonder whether Mr. Dobbs, the man whom Silver had beaten, would betray them. The episode closes with Max reading Billy’s warning from the fictionalized Long John Silver, over a scene of Flint, Silver, Teach, Jack, Anne, and Madi around a table, planning the retaking of Nassau.
Top 5 Characters:
Billy has always been loyal to his crew and has always stood behind a man he hated, Flint, to protect that crew. The beginning of Season 3 showed much of the same for Billy; trying to mediate arguments between Silver and Flint and do the best he could to protect the crew as a whole. However, at the end of the season, we see Billy step into a new role: the instigator. Billy convinces Flint to let him try to save Vane. When Vane tells Billy not to, Billy stays to ensure that Vane’s sacrifice does not go to waste. In the last episode, Billy invents the legendary character of Long John Silver, writing a letter that will define the steps the characters take in the next season. Billy has been underused for so long, I can’t wait to see him step into this new role.
It is hard to imagine the awkward, sleezy Rackham of Season 1. The one who was clumsy enough to drop the pearls, clueless as to Anne’s feelings, and basically the comic relief. Jack has had one of the best and subtlest character development arcs of the series. Now, in Season 3 we see him as the man whose name will be written down in history, like he wanted. He’s moved on from Vane’s sidekick, as much as Teach would like to see him that way. When Jack is captured by the British, he doesn’t save his own skin like we would expect from Season 1 Rackham. He tells Anne to run with the gold, so that Nassau will never fall to England. At the end of the season, Jack is leading the naval resistance to the British fleet, and even makes some strategic moves that Teach hadn’t thought of. He’s well on his way to being the famous pirate Jack Rackham of legend.
In this season, Max continues to prove her cleverness and her ambition. Max is the new Eleanor Guthrie in Season 3. She is faced with making many of the difficult decisions Eleanor did, and realized it was not so easy to keep friends and achieve one’s vision. Yet, despite stepping into Eleanor’s role, she is entirely her own character. She is determined not to make Eleanor’s mistakes. She is cautious and doesn’t create enemies as easily. She expertly plays both sides. She is the new boss of Nassau, and probably more fit for the position than Eleanor ever was.
Vane went too soon. Just as the show finally transformed Vane from careless bad boy to a man with ideals, he was taken from us. Vane started out as one of the most hated characters. He was awful to Max, Flint, Eleanor, and even his only two friends Jack and Anne. At the end of Season 2, we started to see the intelligence of Vane in his rescue of Captain Flint. In Season 3, we see the Vane who would side with Flint over his mentor, Teach, to protect his home. We see a man who gave up his own freedom so that his friends could get to safety. We see a man who still tried to be honest with the woman who would kill him. We see a man who gave up his own life so that resistance in Nassau would have a chance.
Season 1 Silver only cared for himself. Season 2 Silver slowly starts to care for his crew, to the point where he sacrificed his leg to keep them safe. Season 3 Silver is an entirely different person. Silver butts heads with Captain Flint over the crews safety in the first few episodes, keeping in line with the progression from Season 2. As the season goes on, though, his character starts going on the “journey into darkness” that plagued Flint. What’s astonishing is that the reasons for this are never really clear. Silver does not share the same hate for the British that his fellow pirates do, nor can getting involved in a war really help the crew. Silver’s reason for smashing a man’s head in, for ordering one of his crew mates beaten, for helping plan the war that will result in so many deaths, is because it will help achieve Flint’s vision. He is enthralled by Flint. Yet at the same time, he is determined to break free and not to die the same as Flint’s friends in the past.