Picture this, all ye Black Sails fans! The year is 1715, and New Providence Island, a former colony of Britain is now a lawless territory ruled by some of the most notorious pirates in history. Their leader is the fearsome and legendary Captain Flint played by Toby Stephens.
Black Sails is an American historical adventure series created by Jonathan Steinberg as a prequel to Treasure Island, the adventure novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. The series debuted for free on January 18, 2014, on video streaming channels like YouTube, and several video-on-demand services. The television debut followed a week later, garnering more positive reviews for the series from critics and audiences around the world.
The story of Black Sails is set twenty years before the events of Treasure Island transpired. It takes place during the golden age of piracy in the Caribbean. The powerful Captain Flint has to fight to retain control of New Providence Island which the Royal British Navy are fighting to reclaim. Technically, the pirates are enemies of all mankind under the laws of the lands. The series fictionalizes some of the most famed pirates in history like Anne Bonny, Charles Vane, Blackbeard, Jack Rackham, Israel Hands, Benjamin Hornigold, and Ned Low.
In order to emerge victoriously and keep New Providence as their own, Captain Flint must ally himself with Eleanor Guthrie, the gorgeous daughter of the leader of the local drug smuggling ring. She is charged with the principal duty of making profits out of whatever the pirates loot. They set their ambitions on the biggest prize of all, and begin formulating a plan to win it, but they are not without opposition; the British Navy, jealous rival captains, Eleanor’s father and his conflicting ambitions for the island, and John Silver – a young sailor on Flint’s ship who keeps finding a way to derail this agenda, are some of the enemies they’re up against.
Hundreds of dead pirates and British Navy officers line the shores and forests around the island but Captain Flint is determined to do whatever it takes to win the ultimate prize.
Black Sails has received numerous honors and recognition. It has been nominated for 10 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, three of which it has won, as well as 7 Annual Visual Effect Society Awards, two of which it has won.
Black Sails Cast
Toby Stephens – Captain Flint
Toby is popularly known as the youngest actor to play a James Bond villain after he starred in Die Another Day. He plays the lead protagonist in Black Sails – Flint, the Captain of a pirate ship named Walrus. His reputation is talked about around the West Indies, and he is widely regarded as the most powerful and feared pirate of the golden ages. He was once a British naval officer and turned to piracy after he was betrayed and disgraced. He leads a fleet of pirates and slaves who seek to control the New World.
Hannah New – Eleanor Guthrie
Hannah studied acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama before she went on to score a role in Maleficent alongside Angelina Jolie. She plays the daughter of Richard Guthrie, the wealthiest drug kingpin in the Bahamas. He puts her in charge of the pirates in Nassau, where she runs a tavern. Eleanor is a very powerful woman who knows what strings to pull to get things done, and her collaboration with Flint is her most audacious stunt yet, and it might bring her the much-needed freedom, or doom any future she might have.
Toby Schmitz – Jack Rackham
Toby is an award-winning playwright and actor known for his performances across stage, television, and film. He has starred in productions of Hamlet, and the Spielberg miniseries The Pacific. In Black Sails, he plays Rackham, the quartermaster on a pirate ship called Ranger. He is a devious and dangerous man who is willing to risk everything to assuage his burning desire for vengeance, and that means rebelling against Woodes Rogers regime.
Jessica Parker Kennedy – Max
Jessica is a Canadian actress who has played various roles across film and television. Her character in the series is named Max, a cool-headed seductress who works as a prostitute. She is Eleanor’s lover, savior, and friend, who must battle internal and external demons to save her relationship and the land she loves before war and idealism destroy them.
Luke Arnold – John Silver
Luke Arnold is an Australian actor who played Michael Hutchence in Never Tear Us Apart. His character, John Silver, is an ordinary sailor who is recruited to join Flint’s crew. He is an opportunist who pretends to work for the collective good while secretly nursing his own aspirations. He rebels against authority, which places him in constant disagreement with Captain Flint; a rift that only widens as they’re forced to work closely together to find the Treasure Fleet. He must decide if he wants to solidify his legend by becoming pirate king or give it up for a new goal.
Clara Paget – Anne Bonny
Clara hails from royalty and is the daughter of the 8th Marquess of Anglesey. She’s also a top model alongside the likes of Suki Waterhouse and Cara Delevingne. Her character, Anne Bonny is stunning, cold-blooded and fiercely loyal. She is one of Bane’s best henchmen, as well as Rackham’s lover. She is borderline psychotic but possesses a brilliant mind that is constantly scheming.
Luke Roberts – Woodes Rogers
Luke is a British actor known for playing Joseph Byrne in Holby City; he has also starred in Mile High and Crossroads. His character, Woodes Rogers is determined to defeat Captain Flint at all costs and restore civilization even if he loses everything he holds dear.
Louise Barnes – Miranda Barlow
This South African actress has starred in Jozi-H and The Sinking of Laconia. Her character, Miranda is one of the few people who know Captain Flint’s secrets. Throughout the series she plays the lover of several important characters, getting them to confide in her without giving much of herself away.
Ray Stevenson – Edward Teach
Ray is an Irish actor known for playing Titus Pullo in Rome and Dagonet in King Arthur. He plays the fictionalized character of one of the most notorious pirates who ever lived in Black Sails, Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard. He is committed to Flint’s plan to reclaim Nassau in the hopes that he can someday place Eleanor’s severed head on a stake.
Sean Cameron Michael – Richard Guthrie
Like Louise Barnes, Sean is a South African actor, singer, and writer. He has scored roles on television starring in projects like When We Were Black and Of Kings and Prophets. His character, Richard is the wealthiest black marketeer in the West Indies, living in hiding on a farm in Nassau. However, he is determined to regain his freedom regardless of whatever it takes.
Tom Hopper – Billy Bones
Popularly known for starring in The Umbrella Academy, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, and Merlin, Tom is a British actor and his character in the series is that of the boatswain of the pirate ship – Walrus. Billy has strong faith in Captain Flint’s plans and remains loyal to him despite the many tests he has to face. He is an essential part of the crew.
Zach McGowan – Charles Vane
Zach is an American actor and voice-over artist. He is known for the characters he portrays on Shameless, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and The 100. He plays Charles Vane in Black Sails, a pirate with big dreams and a fiery temper that is as big as his financial strength. He is also set to become the next great pirate captain of New Providence Island.
Hakeem Kae-Kazim – Mr. Scott
The British-Nigerian actor is famous for playing George Rutaganda in Hotel Rwanda. You will also find him in Lost, Pirates of The Caribbean: At World’s End, Gotham, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He plays Mr. Scott, a former slave and Eleanor’s right-hand man in Black Sails. His loyalties threaten to shift after her connection with Flint deepens.
Nick Borraine – Peter Ashe
Another South African actor on the Black Sails cast, Nick is known for his roles in Promised Land and District 9. His character, Peter is a wealthy aristocrat hellbent on destroying piracy in the West Indies. His power and wealth make him and his family targets of the pirates.
Seasons – Is The TV Series Over, Why Was It Cancelled?
There are four seasons of Black Sails available for viewing. The first season follows the hunt for Urca de Lima, a Spanish treasure fleet that sank near Fort Pierce, Florida. Season two focused on the journey to the Urca de Lima and the struggle that sees it captured by Jack Rackham and his fleet, and taken to New Providence Island. It also delves into the story of Captain Flint, how he went from being a respected British gentleman and navy officer to the most feared pirate in the West Indies. The third and fourth seasons follow the raging war for the control of New Providence between the British Empire and the pirates.
Unfortunately for lovers of pirates and seafaring action, and fans of the phenomenal adventure series, Black Sails, the television show was canceled after the fourth season. All the major storylines were rounded off in the final season. The main reason why the series was not renewed for a fifth season is that it was always meant to be a prequel to Treasure Island, and the storyline was already edging close to that time period. It was necessary and expedient to wrap up the show before the narrative began encroaching into or conflicting with Treasure Island.