Thursday, 2 April 2015

Black Sails Season 2 (Starz)

I review the second season of Starz’s pirate drama, Black Sails, a prequel to the events of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, starring Toby Stephens, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Hannah New, Zack McGowan, Luke Arnold and more.

Black Sails' first season originally got off to a rocky start, opting to remain landlocked in its early episodes and as a result it wasn’t until the final few episodes of the first season that the show really kicked into gear. By the end of the season, things were looking really interesting, and it was great to see that the show has kept up the momentum into Season 2, with a series of incredibly strong episodes, a heavily serialized plot, and some unpredictable twists and turns that established this show, or at least this season, as one of the best of 2015 so far.

At the start of Season 2, Flint (Toby Stephens) and Silver (Luke Arnold) have been turned on by their crew, with Flint having killed Mr. Gates (Mark Ryan) and seemingly dispatched of Billy Bones (Tom Hopper). To make matters worse, the Walrus and her crew have been stranded on the beach, with an army of Spanish soldiers between them and the seemingly unattainable prize of the Urca de Lima. Flint has to work fast to re-establish his command as captain of the Walrus, whilst Silver has to prove to the crew that he has a valuable role on the ship.

To make matters worse, even if they return to Nassau, it won’t be the same one that they’ve left. The intimidating Charles Vane (Zack McGowan) now holds a position of power on the Fort on New Providence, and Eleanor’s (Hannah New) grasp on power on Nassau is collapsing before her eyes. All the key players that we got to know are back for the second season, with Jessica Parker Kennedy’s Max, Toby Schmitz’ Jack Rackham and Clara Pagent’s Anne Bonny returning and dealing with their new circumstances following the explosive season finale. It’s safe to say that the show isn’t afraid to tackle these multiple new characters, especially when you have the likes of Vikings star Tadhug Murphy as the unhinged Pirate Captain Ned Lowe also being thrown into the mix, as well as several other notable additions. There’s a lot more characters that the show has to deal with it handles them very well, with Season 2 never feeling as though it’s got too much of everything, blending historical characters with those created by Robert Louis Stevenson, the show really works – and now that we’re well acquainted with these characters, it’s great to see that the show doesn’t shy away from putting them into interesting new scenarios.

It’s clear that the first season of Black Sails was mainly focused on setting up what is to come, because the second is pretty much the payoff of what happened before. If you stuck with the show until the end of season 1 then you’ll be rewarded with the series’ return, as it comes back in an incredibly strong way, with the cast really working well in bringing their characters to life. Toby Stephens, Luke Arnold and more all deliver some great performances in the second season as these characters continue to grow and change over the course of the season. It’s clear that actions have consequences, and many end up in dramatically different circumstances from the beginning of the season at the end, with the show not afraid to kill off its major characters.

It’s also great to see that the show’s writing crew knows what works and what doesn’t. Characters are thrown into interesting new situations, with the interactions between Jack Rackham and Max being very fun to watch over the course of the season. It’s also fun to note that, in real life, Jack Rackham was the first person to design the Jolly Roger flag, which is something that’s dealt with this season.

With the foundations having been laid down in the first season, Black Sails Season 2 isn’t afraid to hold anything back. There’s several unexpected developments over the course of the season that had me looking forward to watching each week, and as the tension increased for a dramatic final episode, it’s clear that this show remains one of the highlights of the year so far. If you enjoyed the first season, or were even put off by the early few episodes, then I urge you to give it another shot, with Season 2 being a big improvement that comes highly recommended.


WATCH THIS IF YOU LIKE: Game of Thrones, Spartacus, Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag, Vikings, Da Vinci’s Demons, Black Sails Season 1. 

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