TV REVIEW: Black Sails, S1, Ep 1 – “I” (Spoiler Free)

There’s been no shortage of hype surrounding Starz’s new pirate drama Black Sails. I mean, how often do you see a show renewed for a second season six months before the first season even airs? Can it possibly live up to the anticipation?

Yes, I really think that it can.

Let me say right from the get go – this may technically be a prequel to Treasure Island, but it ain’t no Pirates of the Caribbean. Not to knock it – I do love me some Pirates – but Jack Sparrow wouldn’t last a day in this world. As we’ve come to expect from Starz, Black Sails is gritty, violent, and in-your-face. If you’re still missing your Spartacus fix on Friday nights, this show should scratch the itch quite nicely.

Episode One – simply titled “I.” – sets up the world we’re looking at very well. The opening sequence throws us right into the thick of things and just keeps going from there. We’re in the Golden Age of piracy, with familiar characters drawn from both literature and history. We’ve got our fictional Treasure Island pirates, like Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) and John Silver (Luke Arnold), and our historical ones, like Calico Jack (Toby Schmitz) and Charles Vane (Zach McGowan). It’s not all about the boys, though – there are some kick ass ladies in the first episode as well, played by Hannah New and Jessica Parker Kennedy. Hopefully this means we’ll see more of the seamless diversity that was such a huge part of Spartacus.

The cast performances are strong – I particularly liked Tom Hopper as the surprisingly genteel and endearing (at least for now) Billy Bones, and Mark Ryan as Gates, who is Flint’s right hand man. Hannah New’s Eleanor Guthrie was a surprise – I love a woman who’s not afraid to punch a pirate in the face. But while that’s all fine and good, the performances do also highlight the uglier side of things. These are all sinister characters, and we’d do well not to forget that.

A lot of action and intrigue, with some humor thrown in to soften the blow – all in all, a highly enjoyable first foray into this new world. I can definitely see why the fan response at Comic Con was so strong – and now thanks to them, we have lots more pirates on the horizon to look forward to!

Black Sails premieres January 25th on Starz. If you can’t wait until then, you’ll be able to stream the first episode for free starting on January 18th – it’ll be made available on multiple platforms, including iTunes, YouTube, Amazon, and more (Source: Variety).

Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Mirjana

Check out all the latest on Black Sails at Starz.

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