WARNING: Spoilers for Black Sails Season 1, Episode 1
Now this is how you do a pilot. We get straight into the action in Black Sails, starting on a merchant ship being chased by pirates. This has to be one of the most action-packed openings in television history. Cannon balls explode, musket-balls fly and swords clash.
The pirates chasing the merchant are captained by Flint from Treasure Island. We also meet John Silver from the same book. I’m guessing they picked fictional pirates so that they can go anywhere with the story without upsetting historians.
We follow John Silver onto Nassau, the island owned and run by pirates. Through him, we learn that the only reason the pirates can exist is a man called Guthrie, who is selling their stolen goods to regular traders.
Flint is under threat of a vote on his captaincy. He needs to shore up votes and puts his first mate, Gates, on the case. Meanwhile, Flint goes to see Guthrie. Gates sends Billy Bones along with Flint to try to contain him.
Gates goes to see Eleanor Guthrie and manages to secure an investment in Flint remaining as captain. He goes around, buying votes and persuading people and eventually gets the needed support.
Flint, meanwhile, tells Guthrie about the ship he wants to take with five million Spanish dollars on it. Guthrie tells him he’s not interested, so Flint breaks his finger. While they’re talking, soldiers burst in to arrest Guthrie. In the fight that ensues, Guthrie is shot in the shoulder. Flint and Billy take him back to the ship.
At the start of the episode, we see someone rip a page from the captain’s logbook of the merchant ship. It’s a schedule of ship movements, which Flint has been looking for. John Silver has obtained the page and is looking for a buyer. He gains the help of a prostitute called Max.
Flint accuses his rival of stealing the page, even though he knows it to be false and they fight. After a hard won battle, Flint wins and hands Billy a blank page, claiming it’s the schedule. Billy looks at the page and confirms the fact, making him an accomplice. It was a smart, but risky move by Flint.
Elsewhere, we’ve learned that Captain Vane was behind the rivals attempt on Flint’s captaincy. Max goes straight to Vane’s crew and tells them that she has something they might be interested in buying.
This was cracking television, but after Spartacus it’s something you’d expect from Starz. They now have produced Spartacus, Da Vinci’s Demons and this. They made well become a kind of action-oriented HBO. I’m looking forward to the next episode.
Get Into The Action
For a limited time, I'm giving away the first two books in the Bytarend Fantasy series and the Hard Vacuum science fiction series for free.
Bytarend is fast, fun fantasy that'll have you on the edge of your seat. Hard Vacuum is hard-talking, violent science fiction and my tribute to 80s action movies.
Grab all four books for free: