Other than "to write meta and fanfiction for me", of course. What's it about?
: Pirates and their fences, both fictional and historical. It's nominally set around 1715, so it should fit right into Age of Sails
fandom. Alternative accurate descriptions would be: Treasure Island/Historical RPF
crossover, or "Deadwood
on water". But I haven't watched DEADWOOD and I haven't read TREASURE ISLAND, either. And/or I don't even like pirates. What's the allure?
: Emsemble-tasticness. World building. Character growth. People don't stay static, they change. Ditto for relationships. Of which there are a lot of interesting ones, between women and men, men and men, women and women. Lots of shade of grey and moral ambiguity, but no cheap cynicism or grimdark gratitiousness.When you say relationships, you mean...
: All kinds. Lethal feuds, practical business partnerships, friendships, sexual affairs, platonic love, mentor/protegé. But the sex is heteronormative, right?
: Wrong. Four of the main characters in present day are bisexual. Another important character who so far has been only seen in flashbacks is also bi. Actually, for all we know, other characters are bi as well; nobody's said "just the opposite sex for me!" yet, and in this show, you can't assume just because it's the tv default. Fine, but what about the plot? I take it it's not about who gets together with whom.
: There are some red threads - the gold of the Spanish ship Urca
, for example, who controls the trade in Nassau, whether or not it's every pirate for themselves or something united, whether or not British control over New Providence gets reestablished - which touch in different ways on everyone's lives, depending on their take on those issues. Also, I wasn't kidding about the "all kinds of relationships", I mean, all the canon bi is nice, but several of the non-romantic relationships are just as key. Those shifting allegiances sometimes come without and sometimes with sex. One of the key partnerships pushing the "who rules Nassau and how?" plot forward is between a man and a woman whom neither the show nor the fandom ships. They're both involved with other people was far as romance/sex is concerned. Are they all white, despite the historical likelihood
?: No, though most of the main characters are. There are two important pocs among the regulars, Max (female) and Mr. Scott. The other pocs in the cast are background and supporting.If it's Age of Sails and TREASURE ISLAND is somehow involved, doesn't that point to mainly male characters? Are there more than one or two women around for more than set decoration?
: I'm glad you asked. Why don't I tell you about the characters?
Important characters of Black Sails
:Captain James Flint
: The closest thing the show has to a leading man. Played by Toby Stephens. (Which means he's not Tall, Dark And Brooding but Medium, Ginger And Brooding.) Has a gigantic chip on his shoulder because of his Mysterious Past, which gets hinted at in season one and more thoroughly revealed via flashbacks in season 2. Is very good at manipulation and lying; this, not surprisingly, doesn't encourage trust in his crew. (Let alone among characters not in his crew.) Is a big picture type swinging wildly between megalomania and soured idealism. Good at planning, though the capacity for obsession can be somewhat counterproductive. Eleanor Guthrie
: The local trade boss/ kingpin/fence. Came to the job because of her no-good father but surpassed him and made the business empire her own. Has plans for Nassau that go well with Flint's. (That would be the platonic partnership of season 1.) Also has a tendency to put business & Nassau above both her love interests on the show, which does not sit well with either. Other than said love interests, about which more in a moment, and Flint for business, another important relationship of hers is with her trusted right hand man, Mr. Scott, who practically raised her. Max
: at the start of the show, one of the prostitutes in the local brothel, in love with Eleanor. (By the end of s2, she's in a very different position, power wise. Emotion wise too.) Is also very good at spotting non-sexual business opportunities. Can be manipulative, but is a very loyal partner to have if you've proved you're worth her time. Captain Charles Vane
: also obsessively in love with Eleanor. They have an on/off thing (due to Eleanor; Vane's the obsessive here and would prefer it to be on all the time). Flint's main rival for the "most feared Captain" title. Has a shorter temper and tends to more personal physical violence, but turns out to be not incapable of long term planning as well when the occasion arises. Stars in most of the Mary Sue tales written so far. (He does have a great butt.) John Silver
: at the start of the show, a young guy on bord of a ship Flint's crew captures and really
good at talking fast and making himself useful. Cheerfully and openly committed to Looking Out For Number One. Smart, but not always as smart as he thinks (he still has a lot to learn, which he does, he's really good at learning). The best thing about Silver is that if you stick him in a scene with any the driven, serious characters like Eleanor or Flint, you get entertaining dialogue gold. He also is quite good in scenes with Max, with whom he makes a business partnership both at the start of s1 and in later s2.Anne Bonney
: an intense woman of few words (and these likely swear words), a lethal blade and a capacity for total commitment. Originally in Vane's crew, but her one true loyalty is to Jack Rackham, about whom more in a second. During the course of s1 and throughout s2, she also developes a close relationship with Max. Jack Rackham
: at the start of the show, Vane's quartermaster. Fast talking, not a good fighter (that's Anne's job) and somewhat resembling Jack Sparrow of Disney fame if Jack Sparrow were stuck in a more realistic canon with the odds stacked against him. His one true loyalty is to Anne, but that's tested (mutually) in s2. Billy Bones
: The closest thing the show has to a good guy without any shades of grey. Totally committed to the welfare of the crew, whom he sees as his brothers; one constant dilemma of his is whether Flint is more a danger or a possible solution for said brothers. Billy, played by Tom Hopper (if you've watched Merlin
, you might remember him as Percival), is a firm fan favourite. Miranda Barlow
: the one person on New Providence who knows all about Flint's Mysterious Past, because it's her Mysterious Past as well. At the start of the show, the few of Flint's crew who know she exists think she has Flint in some kind of sexual thrall, while Eleanor's no good father who has some access to London gossip thinks Miranda and Flint are guilty adulterous lovers who ran away together. They're all wrong. Miranda is a bit enigmatic in s1 when the Mysterious Past is just hinted at, but in s2, where it's revealed, she really comes into her own. There's a quiet fierceness and steely grace to her that's very compelling (and able to cut through everyone's pretenses if she wants to). Mr. Scott
: used to be owned by Eleanor's no-good father and raised her. Very devoted to Eleanor, but no, he's not a Magical Negro; in later s1, when he disagrees with Eleanor on a key point, he also has to reevaluate how he identifies vis a vis other poc who are still slaves. In the end, he finds a way to be his own man without letting the Guthries define him.
Then there's an important character whom I can't describe without giving away one of the big s2 twists, so his entire description shall be hidden behind a spoiler cut: ( Spoilery character description alert ) Okay, so far, so good. But what about the violence?
: Well, these are pirates, so of course, there there is some. There are no freeze frame gore & blood extravaganzas a la Spartacus
here. Also, the show tends to do its action set pieces at the start and at the end of each season, with another actiony thing (but not as big as the ones at the start and at the end) happening in the middle. This reliably leads some viewers to complain there's too much talking and negotiating and they want pirates fighting, but this show, see the point about world building as one of its virtues mentioned above, remembers that the pirates had to fence their plunder somewhere, and this is why Eleanor is such an important power player. Also, this is a show that avoids the "soldiers/minions/any type of subordinates do what they're told no matter who their leader is" cliché. The fact that crews can depose their captains, and that their captains can't take their loyality for granted if they don't bother to explain (truthfully) what the hell is going on, is an important plot point in both seasons. Incidentally, s2 shows this is also true for the whores of the local brothel. If they have doubts whether or not the current madam's allegiances are endangering them, they say so. And the show doesn't vilify any of them for disagreeing with their respective leaders. This is a show where you have to earn leadership, and constantly. Before you get off on a tangent, back to the violence. What about sexual violence? I heard there was rape!
: In early season 1, there is indeed rape. It happens in episode 3 and is implied to go on (i.e. we don't see it, but know it happens because we see the aftermath) through the next two episodes until a radical event puts an end to it, to put it mildly. No rape happens in s2.I knew it! Why should I put myself through this?
: Well, no one has to, obviously. But here's why I don't think the s1 rape is a reason not to watch the show: a) It's plot relevant, and not
in a "man avenges woman" way. One of my criteria for whether or not a rape is gratitious in any fiction is whether the storylines would happen without it the same way. Here, they wouldn't. Because it happens, and happens the way it does to ( spoilerly details then happen next )
. And b) it's not filmed in a tiltillating way, on the contrary. As opposed to the consensual sex scenes, which show plenty of skin and can get lengthy, the rape scene itself is short (just makes it clear what happens) and doesn't expose the actress. Whereas the aftermath, where we see her and other women dealing with what happened to her, gets plenty of screentime. c) The raped character does not lose her own agenda, or becomes defined as The One Who Got Raped. How about character death?
Character death does happen. Your name in the credits does not a safe series life make, in other words. New characters also happen. Next season, i.e. season 3, we're promised Ray Stevenson as Blackbeard! Most people aren't gen leaning like you. What ships other than the ones you've already listed does this show offer?
: Well, Captain Flint's ship is called the Walrus
, the one with the Spanish treasure which everyone is after is called the Urca
... Okay, okay. Look, why don't I combine a listing of possible ships with some pictures in order to show off the cast? By all means. Bring on the pretty and interesting and both!( pictures below the cut )Okay, I'll have a look. Can I skip ahead to when the bi action starts?
: No, you can't. This is a continuity heavy show, and you'll be completely lost of you don't start with the pilot. Otoh, the pilot already has some f/f action (Max/Eleanor).And where can I watch this show?
: The first season is out on DVD. No idea whether or not it's also not Netflix. The second season should follow suit soon, now that it's wrapped up. In conclusion:
get thee to a viewscreen!