The End of All Things: Black Sails
Updated: Jun 9, 2020
I don't know about you but I watch A LOT of TV shows. But every series comes to an end eventually. It's inevitable. So I thought it'd be cool to start my own little series where each time I share one of my favorites finales for a TV show series. This might not come to a surprise to some, given it's my favorite TV show ever and super underrated, but today I want to share the series finale for Black Sails. This show's series finale had me absolutely shook and in tears. Let me tell you why.
If you haven't seen any of this show and would like to experience it for yourselves, here is your spoiler warning!
In season 1 of the show, we don't really know much about Captain Flint except for his reputation. Very little is revealed about his personal life other than the rumors aboard his ship regarding the woman he comes home to called "Mrs. Barlow". On the rare occasions when his ship, The Walrus, docks in Nassau, he comes home to a small house on the outskirts of town to the rumored woman we know as Mrs. Barlow. Flint makes his living selling goods that he stole off other ships to smuggler Richard Guthrie. In the episode 1 of season 1, Guthrie ends up getting shot in the shoulder when an officer of the Royal Navy shows up to arrest him. Fortunately, Flint was there to save Guthrie and ends up taking him to Mrs. Barlow so she can help take care of him while keeping him safe. Reflecting back on Richard Guthrie's time with Mrs. Barlow, I realize how much the show was actually hinting but at the time it was still minor clues. While Guthrie is recovering, he finds a painting of Lord Thomas Hamilton in one of the bedrooms. Based on rumors hes heard from London, he's able to gather that she's Lady Hamilton, who fled London with her lover while Lord Thomas Hamilton was sent to an asylum and died there. Funnily enough, this "rumor" ends up being the driving force to the entire show. It's hinted in season 1 but in season 2, they finally address Flint and Mrs. Barlow's previous life and their connection to each other, which starts 10 years prior in London.
In season 2, we get to see Captain Flint's backstory and how he ends up becoming the most feared and ruthless pirate in the West Indies. We find out he used to be a British officer in the Royal Navy who went by the name of James McGraw. Coming from nothing and no real position in high society, he rose to the ranks to become a Lieutenant. With a promising career ahead, McGraw's commanding officer assigns him to assist Lord Thomas Hamilton. Thomas enlists McGraw's help in trying to convince parliament to grant pardons to the pirates of New Providence Island. This was an incredibly radical idea during that time that outraged Thomas's own father and even took a bit to convince McGraw, but Thomas was adamant and with the help of McGraw they started gaining a small group of supporters.
During his time with Thomas, McGraw started to develop a close friendship with him and his wife, Miranda. Rumors swirling around London say that Miranda cheats on Thomas and is unfaithful to him, which keeps McGraw on his guard. Eventually, he ends up having an affair with not just Miranda, but with Thomas as well, each supportive of one another's relationship. Just before Thomas can truly secure support for his cause, his father finds out about the affair. Using his influence within the Navy, Thomas's father has McGraw removed and disgraced from the Royal Navy and Thomas is sent to a mental institution. Fearing for their lives, McGraw and Miranda flee with the assistance of a close friend of the family, Peter Ashe, who reveals before they leave that Thomas committed suicide. The death of Thomas sparks rage within McGraw and is the driving force of who becomes: Captain Flint.
At the end of season 2, Flint and Miranda are presented an opportunity to potentially redeem themselves within British society and start over in Boston. A young girl named Abigail Ashe, the daughter of Peter Ashe (yes, that Peter Ashe), was captured by a rival pirate (who is killed) and ended up in the care of Flint and Miranda. Miranda sees this Abigail as a bargaining chip for their old friend Peter Ashe to help them back into society. Flint is initially against the idea and feels it's a betrayal to Thomas and everything he's been fighting for, but eventually, and begrudgingly, goes with the plan. Flint and Miranda gain Abigail's trust and deliver her to Peter, who is the governor of the Carolina colonies. Flint and Miranda meet with Peter to discuss their proposal but it's during their conversation that Miranda notices a clock that used to belong to Thomas that is now in Peter's dining room. When she asks Peter about the clock, he reveals that he was the one that betrayed them and told Thomas's father about the affair. At this point, Miranda loses her cool on Peter but is cut off after being shot in the head by Peter's goon. So Miranda is dead and Peter gets his comeuppances handed down by Flint but we're gonna skip to some of the events in season 3.
In season 3, a new character, Woodes Rogers, sails to New Providence Island to become the governor. Remember his name because he has a role to play in the series finale. Rogers meets with Flint in season 3 and offers him and the pirates of Nassau pardons, just like Thomas intended to do, but Flint rejects his proposal. Over the course of the series, Flint develops a friendship with Silver. They've relied heavily on each other over that past few seasons for survival so it's no surprise some kind of friendship and mutual respect would blossom from that. At the end of season 2, Silver is injured and must have one of his legs cut off to save his life. His self-confidence plummets in season 3, but Flint teaches him how to fight properly and actually be a pretty deadly fighter. During their training sessions, John Silver begins to see that there's more to Flint's rage besides his hatred for England and asks Flint about it. Flint finally tells Silver about Thomas so that Silver may better understand why Flint is so hell bent on destroying England. Okay, so I know at this point you might be like, "Well what does this have to do with the series finale?". Just stick with me, I promise it's all connected.
In season 4, Flint is getting closer to achieving the war he wants with England. The Urca gold they've been chasing, since season 1 to fund the war, was buried by Silver in secret on Skull Island. While on Nassau, Silver hears about a place in Savannah where rich people in England send relatives that basically make them look bad in British society. We don't really know how much Silver has looked into this information until the very last episode.
The relationship between Flint and Silver is strained when Flint's ruthlessness and willingness to sacrifice anyone gets in the way. Back in season 3, Silver falls in love with Madi, the princess of a community of former slaves called Maroon Island. Madi's views and interests align with Flints but she ends up getting captured by Woodes Rogers. Rogers offers an exchange with Silver: the Urca treasure for Madi. Silver wants to agree to the exchange while Flint wants to send a rescue team. The rescue fails miserably and Silver reveals he dug up the Urca treasure in secret. Rogers, Silver, and Flint set sail for Skull Island. Earlier on in season 4, Silver gains an ally named Israel Hands, who warns Silver that Flint is likely to betray him and steal the Urca treasure to rebury it, which is exactly what happens.
Here's is where I'm going to skip over Flint and Silver fighting and a ship battle. Eventually, Flint and Silver are back on Skull Island with only Flint knowing where the treasure is buried. But Flint refuses to show where the treasure is buried until he gets Silver back on his side. Silver begs Flint to back down from his war with England asking Flint if he would give it all up if Thomas were still alive. That's mean, right? Dangling that in front of Flint?
Turns out, since Silver learned about Savannah on Nassau, he had some of the crew look into it. They discovered that Thomas Hamilton was alive working as an indentured servant in Savannah. Silver reveals this information to Flint and brings him to Thomas. At the end of the episode, we see one of the most heartwarming yet tragic love stories. Reunited lovers that would forever work in plantation fields until they die.
The series takes place prior to Treasure Island and the show creators could've taken it in any direction. I find it very interesting that they chose to humanize someone so ruthless while sharing a very heart warming and inclusive love story, which is something we don't see represented often on TV or film. What started as a mystery as to why a pirate with such seething rage hated England so freaking much actually had a very human reason: love. It begs the question: to what end would we go to if the people we love are ripped from us for unjust reasons? Flint's answer to that question is a decade worth of pillaging and exacting revenge on those he feels wronged not just him but Thomas and Miranda as well.
There's also something that I want to point out that even though Thomas and Flint are reunited, they're basically indentured slaves and it's implied that they'll remain that way for the rest of their lives (unless the show runners was to pick up where they left off. A gal can dream, right?). I feel even though Flint deserves to be with Thomas, he did some really terrible things during his 10 year run as an almost pirate king. So perhaps his indentured servitude with Thomas is what he deserves for all the horrific crimes he committed. I love this show in it's entirety but the series finale where it wraps up such a vital story line was so satisfying to watch, even if it was tragic.
One other small, but significant moment that I thought was really clever for the show runners to include is the creation of the pirate flag that everyone knows and recognizes: the Jolly Roger. Each pirate on the show has their own flag but the iconic skull and crossed swords is created in the season finale by the pirate Jack Rackham. He was a real life pirate and was actually credited for creating the Jolly Roger flag. They do such a wonderful job of intertwining historical figures and facts with fictional events so I thought that was a nice touch for them to add.
And all that to say, that's why this show has one of my favorite series finales. If you're reading this I'm impressed you've made it this far! If you've watched the show I'd love to chat about the finale or the show in general! If you haven't seen the show, I hope I've done a good enough job of convincing to watch everything in between what I shared in this post.