Michael Bay’s Black Sails Episode 1 gave us exactly what we were expecting, what we needed; A great Pirate series with quality characters, a intriguing and sure to be over-arching plot and a general feel of a Game of Thrones series only Pirates.
Set in a time just before Treasure Island, at a time when war was brewing, the likes of which the world had not seen before. For the first time in history, common men rose up against kings, against the wealthy, against the belief that one class of person was, by their nature, better than another. They created a democracy in the New World. They were pirates. In 1715, the port of New Providence in the Bahamas had fallen out of the power of the nations of Europe. It belonged utterly to the pirates. They were the government. They wrote the laws. Pirate captains were elected by common vote. They could be voted out of their positions just as easily. Woe to the man who disregarded the mood of his crew, for he could find himself alone on an island with nothing to do but count the grains of sand.
The opening credit and song is reminiscent of the epic Game of Thrones intro. When we heard this we knew we were in for a treat. The episode opens with a great battle between a Cargo ship and the pirate ship of Captain Flint, played with verve by British stage actor and former Bond villain Toby Stephens. He’s got his heart set on one last big, game-changing score, like “Ocean’s Eleven” — on an ocean. “I’m not just going to make you rich,” Flint tells his hungry, downtrodden crew. “I’m not just going to make you strong. I’m going to make you the princes of the New World!”
He has his eyes set on plundering the richest cargo carrying Spanish ship ever.
Anyone standing in Flint’s way eventually collapses into a bloody heap. On the way into port after a small heist, he picks up a new recruit, a cook named John Silver who quickly sets to skulking and scheming. We also meet Eleanor Guthrie, another one of the main characters. She portrays a another one of the powerful woman in this series, that manages the buying and selling of all the Pirates’ stolen goods.
Flint’s rival for dominance at sea is Capt. Charles Vane (Zach McGowan), who is somehow obviously the bad guy here. It’s hard to tell, because everyone on screen is horrible, in varying degrees of amusing, confusing and frightening.
Black Sails gives us Pirates, sword fights, the Caribbean blue waters, blood, torture, overarching plotlines sure to take us all the way through the full 8 episodes. Along with the ambitious production design come the jump cuts, gratuitous explosions and enough topless brothel scenes to embarrass a “Game of Thrones” camera crew.
Black Sails, a prequel series following characters from Treasure Island like Captain Flint and Long John Silver, will premier this weekend on Starz, but you can watch the full pilot episode right now on Machinima’s YouTube channel.