At the end of Season Three, most of the pirates had been run out of Nassau by the new governor Woodes Rogers (Luke Roberts) and his British soldiers. Licking their wounds, Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) and John Silver (Luke Arnold) had made an alliance with a hidden city of former slaves that had escaped and formed their own community.
At the beginning of Season Four Flint, Silver and the slave leader Madi (Zethu Dlomo) have returned with an army, a fleet of ships, and the most feared pirate of all, Captain Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach (Ray Stevenson) to retake Nassau in a surprise attack. But unbeknownst to the pirates, Billy Bones (Tom Hopper) has betrayed them, giving the Governor plenty of time to booby trap the harbor and destroy most of the advancing fleet. The pirates still manage a blockade of the island and in a desperate move the Governor takes one of his fastest ships he believes can outrun his pursuers to go and get help and hopefully pull them away from the town so his wife, Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New), will be safe. While his plan works as Blackbeard and Captain Rackham (Toby Schmitz) chase after him, the surviving pirates have landed on the other side of the island and are trying to free the slaves and build another army.
Of course, things never work out as planned. Throughout this entire season, there are twists and turns, surprises, and betrayals. Flint and Silver’s alliance is tested greatly as Billy constantly tries to pry them apart and pit them against one another. Governor Rogers is a constant thorn in their side as just as they are about to finally claim victory he does something to thwart them, even going so far as to enlist the aid of a Spanish Armada to retake the island. And while the battle is going back and forth between the two groups, Rackham, his first mate Anne Bonney (Clara Paget), and former prostitute Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy) make a detour to Philadelphia to enlist the aid of financial backers to help them take over governorship through political and so-called legal methods.
And did I forget to mention there was a Spanish treasure involved that Flint, Rackham, and Silver are trying to hide, which ultimately takes them all to Skull Island where Flint tries to steal it? And if any of this starts to sound familiar it’s because this show is the prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.
Black Sails has been a very good solid story since Season One and this fourth and final season is the best one by far. The action and intrigue is nonstop as there are many threads that need to be wrapped up. And surprisingly, they succinctly wrap up every thread. The story is not predictable and there are so many twists and turns in the plot that you have no idea what is coming at you next. I will say that near the end of watching it I heard it was a prequel and that was a negative as I then knew that certain characters were safe and not knowing that had made it even more exciting.
The one thread that I found disappointing was how Flint’s story ended. He’s been the pivotal character of the entire show and it was expected that there would be some grand resolution to his story, but it was more like putting an old horse out to pasture in a nice farm where it could live out its days. Even though it was believable and made sense, it felt like a letdown in a season where everything else went perfectly.
The Blu-ray is presented in a 1080p High Definition 16x9 Widescreen 1.78:1 format with a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Dolby Surround Sound audio track. The video is feature-film quality. The scenery is stunning to look at and it gets overlooked a lot because of the action going on around it. The colors are rich, bold, and very clean. The audio is of equal quality and makes the battle scenes that much more enjoyable because even though there is a lot going on, you can hear it from all sides and actually pick out different voices and sounds without it being all mushed together like in a lot of action films.
There are five special features on the Blu-ray. Unfortunately, they were very disappointing because they were all extremely short. “Inside The World Of Black Sails” is a brief recap of each of the season’s episodes. “Creating The World” is an overview on how the costumes and sets were built and how much work it took to make them. The most impressive being that it took 400 people working six months to build Nassau. “Roundtable: Women In Piracy” features Paget, New, and Kennedy discussing their character's role in the show from their female perspective. During “Roundtable: The Legends of Treasure Island”, Arnold, Stephens, and Hopper discuss what it’s like playing their characters. While “Roundtable: Fearless Fans” finds Arnold, Stephens and Hopper revealing their most strange fan experience.
Overall, Black Sails has been enjoyable to watch. It looked like a feature film, contained plenty of action, had great characters, and a good storyline. If you like pirates, it is very authentic to the genre and is certainly worth watching. The Blu-ray is excellent and would make a great addition for anyone’s collection.