“Black Sails” recap (1.01): Ship in the Harbor


“Black Sails” will premiere on the Starz network January 25, but the first episode was released early online over the weekend. You can watch it here or on Amazon, iTunes, Xbox Video or the Machinima (all for free).

Ahoy, mateys! Shiver me timbers, we’ve caught ourselves one heck of a show here. Beware, below you will find a bit of unsavory language (the phrase “curse like a sailor” exists for a reason).

But I promise to keep the recap PG-13, unlike the show which is surely rated arrrrr.

I also promise that’s the last time I’ll ever talk like a pirate. (Though I can’t promise that was my last pirate pun.)

Let’s get to it, we have a lot of people to meet, and only some of them will survive this, the pilot episode of Black Sails.

The scene: 1715 West Indies

A ship is under siege. A member of the crew, who I have dubbed Smee, runs into the Captain’s chambers and rips a very particular page out of the Captain’s Log. A long-haired sailor runs into the room and catches him, but Smee turns the tables and calls the sailor a coward for hiding. The sailor accuses him of being the same, but Smee is just a cook, he has no loyalty, and will gladly join the ranks of their attacker, Captain Flint.

The two men fight, the sailor wanting whatever it was Smee stole from the Captain.

On the upper deck (I’m going to have to learn some ship lingo), the captain of the ship is hiding members of his crew from Captain Flint’s men. Everything goes quiet, and they listen intently. Then they hear a howl and marching. A sailor peeks out the door and sees a barrel slowly roll toward their room. Kaboom. The barrel blows the door to smithereens.

In rush a motley crew of terrifying humans, attacking the hiding men. A man in a turban puts an end to the fighting, the scared captain surrendering. Captain Flint, I presume.

The opening sequence is kind of eerie, but in a beautiful way? I’m a fan.

Black Sails 101-1

The pirates raid the ship they’ve conquered, and they end up in the Captain’s quarters, where the long-haired soldier is standing over Smee’s body, claiming he killed himself. He introduces himself as John Silver, and as a great cook.

One pirate, with an extremely scarred face, tells the captive crew that their beef is with the captain, who is now tied to the mast.

Scar wants new recruits, and wants to be captain, so he wants to take on a few of the men from the raided ship. Another pirate tells him that they can only afford to take on one, the “cook.”

Captain Flint approaches the tied up captain and asks for the mission page of the Captain’s Log. The tied up captain, I guess because he figures he has nothing to lose, accuses Flint of not having control of his crew.

Scar, proving the captain’s point, is giving Flint a hard time when someone calls out that they see sails. It’s the Royal Navy, someone who is supposed to be in Boston, so they head for shore.

The First Mate points out to Captain Flint that they’ve had a few lean months, because Captain Flint doesn’t trust them enough to tell them their real purpose, and his men have just been following him blindly. Buzz below deck is that they think Scar would be a better captain.

This doesn’t make Flint very happy, but he has a plan. He’s going to someone named Guthrie, who can help them get the info that was on the missing page– a schedule of some sort.

Before he can go into more detail, the ship docks. They’ve made it “home.”

Home is Nassau, New Providence Island. It is a magical place.

Black Sails 101-2

John Silver asks if it’s English soil, but it’s not anymore. It’s pirate soil. A whole pirate island. They unload the cargo they stole on their voyage– it will go to the Guthries, who will then sell it.

A couple of pirates grab John Silver and tell him in hushed, serious tones that Blackbeard wants to meet the new kid. They warn him not to show any fear and shove him into a room to face a pirate surrounded by ladies…and IS a lady.

Black Sails 101-3This is right before she reveals her black…beard…

Apparently a pirate hazing ritual is to feed the newbie to an entire brothel. John Silver didn’t seem to upset about it, to be honest.

Downstairs, a blonde woman chases a man out of her office, telling him to stop being such a guppy.

Black Sails 101-4Objects in image not as innocent as they appear. 

She then addresses the room – if anyone else is a scaredy-cat, they can get the fuck out. (Her words, not mine.)

Someone heckles her and tells her to go fuck herself. She struts right up to him, asking one of her men who the heckler is. When she finds out he’s one of their top earners, she looks pleased. She tells him that when she’s near a top earner, she gets wet, so she WILL go fuck herself, thank you very much.

Black Sails 101-5Ma’am, I like you already.

As it turns out, she’s a Guthrey.

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