Black Sails debuted tonight on the Starz network. The show is the ultimate game of survivor with allegiances and consequences shifting moment by moment.
No fear if you don’t have Starz, or if you’re not sure if it’s worth upgrading your cable package. The first episode of Black Sails is available for free on iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon. The network is banking that you’ll be hooked in enough to follow the series, and then to hopefully follow their other big name offerings: DaVinci’s Demons and Outlander.
In tonight’s episode we were introduced to the players in what is a life and death game of chess on the high seas. It’s not just a game of muscle, though granted the muscle helps. Longevity depends on not just your physical strength, but your wits. Information, and how to turn that information into cash, is the most valuable commodity in this lawless world.
Chief among the players are Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) and his quartermaster Mr. Gates (Mark Ryan). The two have forged a bond where they fly by the seat of their pants while out-thinking their opponents to stave off impending doom. They have to find a way to pay their crew, regain their position as the most successful raiding ship, keep the British Navy at bay, and hopefully find the mother-load: an illusive treasure ship whose exact course is unknown.
The rivals of Flint and Gates are Captain Vane and his quartermaster Rackham. Whereas Flint and Gates seem to have a certain honor among thieves as their credo, this is not the case with Vane. Murder for no apparent purpose by his henchwoman, the infamous Anne Bonny, is no problem.
Speaking of the women, there is no room for delicate ladies in this universe. They are every bit as powerful, and in some cases more dangerous than the men.
Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New), the daughter of a leading businessman, heads his illegal operations. Her one weakness seems to be a soft spot for Flint, who is currently down on his luck. She plays a very risky game favoring him when she clearly also has a past connection to Vane, not to mention finding comfort in the bed of Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy) a local prostitute.
The one major player on the board, who doesn’t have a strong connection to anyone, is John Silver (Luke Arnold). He holds information regarding Flint’s illusive treasure ship. However, does he know how valuable this information is, and has he gained an appreciation for how dangerous the various men and women of the Bahamas are?
Other players working their way up the ladder of treachery are Billy Bones, a member of flint’s crew, and Mr. Scott, Eleanor’s right-hand-man. Obviously a premiere only has so much time, but the viewers are left wanting to know as much as possible about these two characters, as well as Rackhan. We only briefly saw what Rackham was capable of. The biggest question is where exactly do Rackham’s loyalties lie.
By the end of the episode one thing was clear: this is no Disneyesque Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s more like Game of Thrones meets The Hunger Games on the high seas. They very least of anyone’s problems is where the rum has gone.
Starz has such high hopes for this series, that they greenlit a series 2 well before the debut. In fact, they have been filming season two off the coast of South Africa for the past several months.