Black Sails Season Two and the Never-Ending Cliff-Hangers

WARNING: Spoilers for Black Sails, up to season two, episode eight.

Black SailsBlack Sails was a great find last year. A blend of violence, sex and intrigue, it was by no means a serious drama. It was exactly what it promised to be: a high action show with some pirate politics thrown in for good measure.

Throughout the first season, the show kept up the tempo, throwing in twists and turns that kept me wanting to see the next episode. So when season two premiered, I was happy to see it back.

Cut to eight episodes later and I’m almost ready to stop watching altogether. Apart from a fun sea battle early on, there has been little to no action in the show at all. Every episode has consisted of people sitting in rooms discussing things endlessly.

It’s like every character has turned into the cliche of a psychiatrist, spouting, “How does that make you feel?” at regular intervals. Things that are discussed to death in one episode are brought up again in the next episode.

And the flashbacks. Oh my god, the flashbacks. Continual, interminable flashbacks to things I don’t care about. It’s like the creators of the show forgot what they were making and decided they wanted to make Downtown Abbey, with people standing around speechifying.

The worst thing of all, though, are the cliff-hangers. Each episode consists of people talking for an hour, but in the last two minutes they start preparing for battle and yelling things like “Fire!”. Only, when the next episode starts, they stop shouting and start talking about how they shouldn’t fight at all. After all, everyone should give peace a chance.

No. No. No. You shouldn’t give peace a chance. You’re frickin’ pirates. Go kill someone, for flip’s sake.

I’ve been wondering about why the show changed direction so dramatically. I have a couple of theories:

  1. They don’t want to kill a main character.
    1. Seriously, Vane or Flint should have died in episode three. I really don’t care what either of them are up to anymore. If Ned Low had killed Vane early on, that would have been a great twist.
    2. These guys are pirates. High mortality is expected.
    3. I know they might want Flint to survive because he’s important to Treasure Island. Just kill him off. He’s too noble for the show they’re trying to make.
  2. The budget got slashed.
    1. I’ve done zero research on this, but I can’t explain otherwise why else they’re just sitting talking for episode after episode. Surely someone, somewhere, is doing something exciting.
    2. It might be the huge cast that’s straining the budget. So kill off some characters and save some money. Maybe the British could invade Nassau, killing a lot of people and then the pirates fight them off?
    3. Maybe they’re saving it all for a massive battle in the last episodes. If that’s the case, it was a mistake. I’m willing to be proven wrong, but I think a lot of people are bored by now. Eight episodes with nothing is difficult to sit through.

Of course, maybe neither is true. Perhaps the creators just decided they wanted to make a period drama instead. Period dramas are fine. Tudors and The Borgias were very entertaining. Even they had a lot of action, though, mixed in with the intrigue.

If things don’t pick up dramatically at the end of the season, this may well be the last season I watch. I’ve been impressed by Starz TV shows until now, but this is a pretty major misstep.


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