Black Sails Episode VIII Review

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Episode VIII is when Black Sails starts to resemble its source material. And, while some characters are gratingly omitted from the Season One finale, "VIII" serves as a satisfying conclusion to Black Sails' maiden voyage.

While it doesn't tie off all of the subplots, it does enough to bring about a cohesive ending while setting the stage for what is to come.

The character interaction of greatest importance in "VIII" is the one between Captain Flint and Mr. Gates, as the latter is killed as a result of it.

Growing weary of Flint's maniacal schemes, Gates tells his captain that he is retreating his ship--making it impossible to capture the Arca de Lima.

In an act that would terminate any friendship, Gates tells Flint to take the pardon offered by England and move to Boston with Miranda Barlow.

Furious at Gates, Flint rings his neck from behind. Breaking his neck, Flint wallows in sorrow at his actions. And, for the first time, he expresses regret over his ambitions.

After Gates is dead, Silver takes key steps that will establish him as Flint's right hand man in Season Two. After helping Flint narrowly escape a mutiny, Silver and his captain begin to establish a sense of trust.

By the end of the episode, Silver addresses Flint as though he was an ally of equal standing--setting the stage for his emergence as Long Jon Silver in Season Two.

But, after the Spanish Galleon destroys Flint's ship, they discover that they made an error.

Marooned on an island, they find that the Arca de Lima was wrecked during a storm from the previous night--leaving its treasure strewn about the island's shores.

This works on multiple levels. First, the Walrus being destroyed is a fitting reflection of the losing battle that the pirates are fighting against the rest of the world.

Second, it is clear that Flint's crew is marooned on Treasure Island--the namesake of Black Sails' source material.

Meanwhile, Charles Vane returns to Nassau after his encounter with a man previously thought to be Captain Blackbeard. Leading an army of dreadlocked raiders, Vane captures the fort overlooking the island--forcing Eleanor Guthrie to accept him as an equal partner in Nassau's illegitimate trading business. As a result, Vane and Guthrie reestablish their flirtatiously hateful relationship.

Overall, this is done well. Although, there are points where the two seem infatuated to a comedic point.

Vane's return also terminated the sense of camaraderie between him and Benjamin Hornigold. This sets another key plot point that will likely be explored in Season Two, which is Hornigold's eventual defection from the pirate life.

Infuriated at Vane and betrayed by Guthrie, Hornigold's character will undoubtedly follow in the steps of his historical counterpart and accept a pardon from the crown. Going into Season Two, he could become a key antagonist.

Vane's return also sees him encounter the remnants of his former crew, "Calico" Jack Rackham and Anne Bonny. And, like the rest of the season, both characters seem as though they are afterthoughts.

This is at the expense of the show's quality; Rackham and Bonny are two of the most captivating characters from Season One, but their screen time is limited to a point where they seem minute.

Finally, Guthrie's relationship with Max is addressed after the former lovers are estranged for a majority of the season. Making amends, Max absolves Eleanor of her scorn--claiming that she has shaped herself into a better person per Guthrie's example. This begs the question, who is Max? She is never fully fleshed out in the first season.

Furthermore, she and Bonny appear to be drawing closer. Which could set her up as a Mary Read-esque character in Season Two.

Max is a character that we still know little about and her identity and overall arc hasn't been fully established.

What detracts from the "VIII" were the characters that weren't present. After Flint and Miranda's vague argument in "VII," she made no appearance in the Season One finale.

In addition, the Pastor is also absent. Of course, this means that the point of his arc was to seal the deal with Barlow--making his entire character fodder for wasted screen time.

While it isn't perfect, "VIII" did enough to engage the viewer and maintain interest going into Season Two. Functionally, the episode works. However, prior episodes are retroactively hampered due to the fact that some established story arcs are never completed.

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