Black Sails S4E10: XXXVIII The Series Finale

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So here we are, at the end of the series. I can’t believe the show is over. This episode did what few series finales ever do: it gave us something that hit the perfect note. It was bittersweet, complicated, and left some characters without their happy endings. I genuinely couldn’t have asked for anything to be changed–and that is a rare thing, for me.


Unlike with previous episodes, we start not with the credits, but on the plantation that Max spoke of. There is a man looking for someone, while the owner of the estate is trying to hide any knowledge of what he might know. But what is really important is this: Long John Silver sent this man to find out if Thomas is at the plantation–and with the look on the owner’s face, we know our answer.


Cut to the credits. The last time we’ll see the beautiful, haunting introduction.


We start on the beach of Treasure Island, with Flint and Silver dragging men from the water, trying to save as many people as they can. Rogers is planning on heading to shore as well, to kill everyone but Flint, as he knows where the treasure is hidden. Before this can happen, however, a warning call is sounded from the British ship, as another ship has been sighted–Rackham! Flint sees him as well and motions to him. Despite what it might mean for his plan, Rackham makes the noble decision and decides to take on all the survivors, instead of killing Flint (at least, right now). Governor Rogers is a bigger threat–one that must be dealt with immediately.  


Still, before all of that, these three captains need to hash out things between them. Both Silver and Flint are suspicious of Rackham, and ask where he went; he tells them the truth–or at least most of the truth. No need to say he was sent to kill Flint, right? Still, Flint is obsessed with his war, and using the money for that–saving Madi is part of the plan, yes, but only because she wants to help him with the war. It’s his singular drive, and Silver reluctantly agrees that he is correct in his ideas, much to Rackham’s frustration, who storms out, not wanting to have anything to do with this.


On Rogers’ ship, we see how far Billy has truly fallen, as he almost slits Madi’s throat before deciding against it. He laments that all he wanted was for Flint to be gone, but everything he has done has undermined his oath to his men, and there is no coming back from the treachery he has eked out. He is probably the greatest tragedy on the show; he had to fall, as Billy is a drunkard in Treasure Island and terrified of Silver, but to see him go from such a good man, to what he is now–it’s heartbreaking to me.


Finally the battle we’ve been waiting for all season is underway: Rogers’ ship engages with Rackham’s, and the fight is on. It’s clear Rogers is desperate and not thinking entirely clearly: he just wants to win, regardless of the cost–even if it means sacrificing his ship by ramming it into another.

This battle means that Billy and Flint can finally confront each other as they have been needing to for the past two seasons. It’s a brutal fight, more of a brawl than anything fancy–there is no speaking, just fists and anger, fighting high above in the masts of the ships. It ends with both of them hanging above the ocean, and Flint kicks Billy into the sea, reminiscent of the first time Billy went into the ocean, under the suspicion of it being Flint’s hand. There is a painful poetry there, as the first time, Flint had tried to save Billy–this time, it was his hand that did it.


With Billy gone, Flint is about to make his way down to Rackham and with both of them fighting hard, they manage to capture Rogers, and the entire ship is theirs. It was a hard earned victory, and after everything they have been through, they deserve it.


Silver goes to find Madi, but before he does, he encounters the ship’s cook. He cowers, claiming that a cook is all he is–calling back to Silver’s start at the beginning of the series, and his start in Treasure Island. A nice little hint for the future. But yes, Madi is alive, and the two are reuinited in a touching scene–one that is tarnished by Madi looking much more happy to see Flint than Silver, in the end. It’s clear that Madi is still entirely swayed towards the war. Silver may not realize it–but his love is slipping through his fingers, the harder he fights for her.


Rackham takes Rogers off to see his fate in Philadelphia, and Flint and Silver go to retrieve the gold. Here, though, is the final showdown between the two of them. It isn’t a sword fight, or any sort of battle–just with words, and a gun drawn on Silver’s part. Flint refuses to give up the gold unless he knows he can have his war, and Silver is never going to allow that; if the war happens, it will never end. The chaos and bloodshed will never end as long as Flint is in control. He’s completely right, but Flint believes in his cause so much, he simply can’t see it. It’s clear he’s hanging by a thread; this cause is all he has left of anything–of his former self, of all he set out to do to right the wrongs of England. For Silver to take it away from him…it’s heartbreaking. But–but. Silver knows all of this…he counters that Flint is working only on leftover rage, and he needs to let go.


Flint tries one last time, giving a speech about the darkness, and how if they stop now, they will be remembered as nothing more than monsters, but Silver simply can’t be swayed. Flint says someday he will, and yes, Flint is right. But that time is not now–and they will be leaving together, alive…with Flint finally defeated.


Back in Philly, Anne is reunited with Rackham and it warms my heart. These two are meant for each other, regardless of whether or not  it’s in a romantic manner. Max watches on, and together she and Rackham go to tell the news of Flint to Mrs. Guthrie.  Rackham does an amazing job of spinning the tale in a way that looks good for all parties; that Flint isn’t dead, but his death wasn’t important, just that he was fully removed. There is a treaty now–one that Madi didn’t agree to, however, but the other slaves did. Rackham also wants to write the affidavit against Rogers so that when he goes to jail, he will know who put him there.


Finally, Silver speaks to Madi, who wants him to leave. She’s rightfully furious at him, as he took away all her agency; even if he was trying to protect her, doing this because he loved her–he didn’t consult her, didn’t ask. That isn’t love, and while he didn’t want to lose her, he’s already lost her. Still, the important part of this talk is what Silver tells Madi about Flint. He tells her that he unmade Flint–he allowed him to become the man he was before all the tragedies befell him…to become the man who knew Thomas, first.


He took him to the Plantation to live out his days, because Silver knew that Thomas would be there. This voiceover is happening as we watch Flint arrive at the large farm, and wander through the house, through the fields, in a daze…but then he sets eyes on Thomas, and Thomas on him…and the show provides one of the best closers to a storyline I could have ever hoped for.

The two reunite and kiss and Flint finally receives his happy ending. He never needed the war, or reform, or his anger; he just needed Thomas. He has him now, and with that…there is no need for him to be ‘Flint’, any longer.


From here, we get a voiceover by Rackham, saying that a story can be untrue and true at the same time; the stories that we want to believe are the ones that survive. This is overlain by Nassau being rebuilt, thriving. He tells a young person that those who believed most in Long John Silver were destroyed by it: Billy Bones, who washed ashore on Treasure Island, and Silver himself, who has lost Madi, and is now alone, completely.


We find out that the new governor of Nassau is Mr. Featherson himself, and Rackham is still doing covert pirating on the side. You see, the person he’s talking to wants to join up, and he allows it, bringing them onboard the ship, much to Anne’s annoyance. She can see right through the person, who claims his name is Mark Reed–Mark is no Mark at all, but a Mary. You see, everyone, we finally have our historical crew, together. Mary Reed, Anne Bonny, and John Rackham. While the others may go out to follow Treasure Island, we now have our historical crew to go on adventures, themselves. I have never been happier than I am now. Anne also questions Rackham about the new flag, which is the traditional skull and cross swords–first seen in the book. He says that no matter what, “It’s art that leaves the mark.”

We are left with a lasting shot of the flag…and the show ends.


What a fitting end to a show that showed everyone what a pirate show could be. It had heart, drama, action, and was never unwilling to cover topics that others shied away from. The ending is bittersweet, and how could the ending be anything but?

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