Black Sails Season 1 Review “VI.”

After last week’s episode, it was possible to assume that maybe Black Sails was simply biding their time until the budget would allow them to let loose with all the high seas action. Apparently, it was merely an attempt to assuage the action-starved among us. While “VI.” put forth all the illusions of an action-packed episode, it was a very claustrophobic and slow episode that tried to use smoke and mirrors to keep us all engaged. As usual (if my commenters are any indication), your mileage probably varied based on how you felt about the mounting tension of the episode as the Scarborough neared the Walrus. Given that the Scarborough provides merely the specter of danger as opposed to the presence of actual danger, the tension surrounding the episode’s main thrust falls a little flat. However, there many cool elements to the episode that made this episode continue the show’s recent (slightly) upward trend.

The slave revolt inside the hull of Bryson’s ship made for one of the episodes cooler moment. Though Starz regularly uses graphic imagery to ridiculous degrees, I found the sight of Bryson crawling along the floor of his ship with his face shot off to be wonderfully shot. As the madness ensues all around him, watching Bryson struggle against inevitability actually made me realize what kind of man it takes to lead a ship in the world of pirates. You can love as many books as you want, but you’d better be willing to crawl along the floor with your face shot off for the sake of your ship.

Of course, Bryson is also a horrible man who sends slaves on suicide missions, so it’s difficult to get attached. However, Black Sails is a show teeming with people who you can’t get attached to. We’ve discussed many times Toby Stephens inability to make Flint compelling enough to be a rooting interest, but the show is tethered to his story. However, they keep making tougher and tougher for viewers to want to see his story continue. Given we’re working off a prequel of source material, most people have a general idea of how the story will go, so the show is already up against it when trying to create real drama with real stakes. Throw in the fact that there is not a pirate kingdom in the Bahamas (that I’m aware of), and it makes me struggle to get engaged with the story and its ultimate outcome. Yes, it’s inherently obvious how some stories will end (see Breaking Bad), but the good ones are capable of ratcheting u[ the drama and action with compelling protagonists to put you in the moment with them. Black Sails lacks in these departments, so it leaves me only wondering what the point is. Plenty of people are enjoying the journey, and I don’t begrudge those people one bit. However, I find the show very similar to the hull of Bryson’s ship: Without a point of entry and incredibly wooden.