Season 2, Episode 10
Air date: Saturday, March 28, 2015, 9/8c on Starz
After all the bloodshed, betrayals, and reversals of fortune in this season of Black Sails, the season two finale saves the best moments for last in “XVIII.” As the culmination of Captain Flint’s (Toby Stephens) doomed journey to fulfill his dreams nears, as well as the outcome of Captain Vane’s (Zach McGowan) dangerous rescue mission, “XVIII” provides closure to several major story lines while kicking the door open to new ones with some significant cliffhangers.
All Good Things Come to an End
“How will this end?” It’s a question that has been asked several times throughout season two and in “XVIII,” we finally get answers. The episode takes us to the aftermath of Miranda’s (Louise Barnes) shocking death, and poor Abigail Ashe’s (Meganne Young) response to the tragic events that unfolded in her house. I love how Young projects such a youthful and almost innocent demeanor because it masks Abigail’s true nature. When Abigail’s father, Lord Peter Ashe (Nick Borraine), announces he’s going to relocate her to Georgia, she knows there’s more at stake than her safety. I appreciate the moments where Ashe never responds to any of Abigail’s questions when she calls him out about his ulterior motives, making him seem even more of a dubious character.
But the major event, the one I’ve been waiting for since “XVII,” is the reckoning that awaits Charles Town and Ashe when Flint gets his revenge. All through “XVIII,” as Flint goes through his public trial, the cruelty of not just the British officials like Ashe, but townsfolk as well, is obvious. Writers Jon E. Steinberg and Robert Levine subject Flint to enough painful circumstances— from Ashe’s betrayal to the desecration of Miranda’s corpse— that his retaliation on the whole Carolina colony is justifiable, which toes the moral line of right and wrong. As powerful as the story is, the performances in “XVIII” are outstanding, especially Stephens, who is so remarkable in displaying Flint’s agony and wrath, it tugs at your emotions immediately.
Never Tear Us Apart
Since Anne’s (Clara Plaget) reunion with Jack Rackham (Toby Schmitz) in “XVII,” there hasn’t been much discussion between the two ambitious pirates. Well, have no fear because the few scenes they do have in “XVIII” are some of the best highlights of the episode.
When we first see Anne and Rackham, they are sailing off to retrieve the Urca’s gold, and Rackham finally decides to discuss their future. Anne’s decision to live her life as a pirate alongside Rackham shows so much about her loyalty and the complicated love she feels for him. My favorite part in their conversation is when Anne tells Rackham, “I can’t be a wife, Jack, but you and I are going to be partners until they put us in the fucking ground…as long as you feel the same.”
Although the feelings between Rackham and Anne are not necessarily all hearts and flowers, the arm he puts around her in response is way better than any heavy handed romance.
Bounty or Mutiny?
I couldn’t believe my ears when Vane explains his plans to Billy (Tom Hopper) to rescue Flint as a means of survival and a rich future. Unfortunately, Vane’s plans are not appreciated by all of his crew. The constant tension in “XVIII” is set between Flint’s release and the men aboard the Spanish Man O’ War. I really like how the threat is not just on land but at sea, where some of Vane’s own men want to sail off, leaving Flint and Vane behind. Once again, it’s up to John Silver (Luke Arnold) to come up with a plan and while he does manage to prove his loyalty, it comes at a high cost. Silver doesn’t have a major story line in season two, but he is certainly the catalyst for many of the major events. So, imagine my surprise when a very significant element from Robert Louis Stevenson’s iconic novel Treasure Island happens to Silver. I didn’t think this would transpire so soon in the series, but it does raise my curiosity as to how it will further impact everyone else connected to Vane and Flint in season three.
This Means War
I thought I had seen it all with the sea battle scenes, but nothing compares to the war Flint and Vane wage upon the Carolina colony. The production is outstanding with great action sequences directed by Steve Boyum who doesn’t waste a single frame in capturing the destruction that befalls Charles Town after Vane’s mission succeeds.
Watching Vane and Flint work side by side is a thing of disturbing beauty. It’s hard to ignore how much alike they are in their thirst for violence. McGowan and Stephens have amazing chemistry together, making the viewer wonder how their characters could have been such enemies when they work so well together in “XVIII.”
I’m sure there will be repercussions once the British government learns of Flint’s escape, but that will only add more suspense for season three.
What I love about season two is the continuity of the story lines and the ongoing growth of the Black Sails characters. Often, new series that are fortunate to be renewed for a second season experience something called the ‘sophomore slump.’ It’s a period in a show’s history where it struggles to find its feet and develop its story’s foundations—characters’ personalities may become erratic and the story lines either don’t connect or simply lack depth. Black Sails creators Steinberg and Levine manage to avoid such pitfalls by working with a great ensemble of actors, writers, and a crew who has a great vision for the show. As a result, the end product is nothing short of an impressive combination of action and drama in both script development and production. I will be shocked if this series does not receive award nominations with the strength in the show’s writing and the caliber of the actors’ performances.
Overall, it’s rare to find a television series that can translate a book to screen well—let alone a classic like Treasure Island—but Black Sails is an exception. Since the airing of “XVII,” Starz Network has not only announced the arrival of the infamous Blackbeard in season three but has provided a sneak peek of the coming season that promises more thrills and action.
I don’t know about you but 2016 cannot come soon enough!
What did you think of “XVIII?” Post your comment below or on Twitter @conallen.
Follow the series on its official site: http://www.starz.com/originals/blacksails/, where you can also watch videos and clips of the episodes.
Follow Black Sails on its official twitter: @BlkSails_Starz, and don’t forget the cast and crew:
@BlkSailsCreatrs, @TobyStephensInV (Captain James Flint/Toby Stephens), @ScrambledLuke (Luke Arnold/John Silver), @ClaraPaget (Clara Paget/Anne Bonny), @hannahnewuk (Hannah New/Eleanor Guthrie), @JParkerK (Jessica P Kenned/Max), @Zach_McGowan (Zach McGowan/Captain Vane), @fallofasparrow (Toby Schmitz/Jack Rackham), @seancmichael (Sean Cameron Michael/Richard Guthrie), and @hakeemkaekazim (Hakeem Kae-Kazim/Mr. Scott). @youngmeganne_(Meganne Young/ Abigail Ashe).
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Photos: ©2015 Starz Network. All Rights Reserved.
© 2015, Connie Allen. All rights reserved.
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