TV Recap

Black Sails Season 1 Episode 1 – I

The once powerful Captain Flint faces mutiny by his own pirate crew.  John Silver joins Flint, hiding something of great value.  On New Providence, Eleanor Guthrie keeps order in the face of a resurgent Royal Navy.

(Summary provided by


Q:  When is the exact moment that I fell in love with Captain James Flint?
A:  Other Captain:  “I won’t give you the satisfaction of crying out.”
Flint, walking away:  “Good for you.”
Me:  Oh, he’s SASSY. 


I’ve got to go with Flint’s first real power speech, given only to Billy, nicely outlining the thematic plot of this show.

Flint:  There’s a war coming, Billy.
Billy:  One ship isn’t a war.
Flint:  One ship isn’t what’s coming.  That man Hume, captain of the Scarborough, told you as much.  When the king brands us pirates, he doesn’t mean to make us adversaries.  He doesn’t mean to make us criminals.  He means to make us monsters. ‘Cause that’s the only way his God-fearing tax-paying subjects can make sense of men who keep what is theirs and fear no one.  When I say there’s a war coming, I don’t mean with the Scarborough.  I don’t mean with King George or England.  Civilization is coming, and it means to exterminate us.

(Side note, this is VERY fun to read in light of what we later learn of Flint.  If only he had kept what was his and feared no one.  *sob*)


Max!  From the very beginning she’s presented as intelligent, which is something considering her first appearance is in the middle of an orgy. *eye roll*  Even there she is noticing where Silver’s attention is, and after that she is everywhere, talking to everyone,  holding her own and making sure people know she knows what’s up.


When Joshua, the fearsome pirate with terrifying jagged teeth, jumps out at Gates to scare him, then giggles and takes his teeth out.


  • WATER!  SHIPS!!  I’m so excited to re-watch all of this!
  • The Other Captain IS urged to surrender, but refuses.  I’m glad that is established early on, though I missed its significance the first time through.
  • We meet Silver before Flint – interesting.
  • “So you’re a coward, then.”  “Yeah, and you?”  LOL Silver, you’re so delightfully selfish.
  • Me in a pirate fight = the guy sitting in the corner with his arms wrapped around his legs, screaming.
  • In our first sighting of Flint (“It’s done”), he’s showing mercy.  INTERESTING.
  • Shirtless Billy does not want to be Silver’s friend, lol.
  • Why are they torturing the Other Captain?  This is not something that ever happens again and it only makes our pirates look like the monsters Flint later says they aren’t.
  •  Flint’s earrings,  Flint’s sleeves!
  •  Randall and his cat!
  • Flint definitely thinks he’s better than everyone, and usually he’s right.
  • Ugh, except this is not the Nassau that I’m actually in love with.  This is Edgy Nassau where boobs are everywhere and all anyone talks about is sex and Eleanor LOVES saying the word fuck while being sexually inappropriate toward her subordinates.  WE GET IT, this is an adult show.  I wonder when exactly they stopped this nonsense and let the story’s awesomeness stand on its own?
  • Mr. Scott, already establishing himself as the knowledgable one!
  • The first thing we see inside of a “civilized” home is a painting of Judith beheading Holofornes.  SALIENT.
  • Flint does know who Billy is (says he’s the bosun), so the whole “who’s Billy?” thing was just to fuck with him?  I like this even more than arrogant, distracted Flint.
  • Once Flint knows that his crew thinks he’s weak, the devastating beatdown is inevitable.
  • Love seeing Billy realize that Flint has a method to his madness, but still not sure if it’s enough to justify the madness.
  • “Gossip is what holds civilization together.  It reinforces shame, and without shame, well, the world is a very dangerous place.”  IMPORTANT QUOTE ALERT.
  • Jack, Anne, and Vane, how did you become three of my favorite people?  I don’t like you here.
  • “I am your king.”  LOL, okay, Tyrant Flint.
  • I still don’t get the feather thing.
  • “The most important thing in a ship is trust between captain and crew,” says Flint as he lies to his crew.
  • If I have a type, it’s people getting beat down and then raging back to a win.
  • But also, ewwww.
  • I LOVE the power play of Flint putting Billy on the spot like that.
  • Flint sounds craaaaazy, but let’s see where this story of a Spaniard named Vasquez leads us next!
Mother, Father, this is the man I have chosen to love.


Everything makes so much more sense, from the pirate codes (valuing freedom, democracy, loyalty, and equality) and roles (captain, quartermaster, bosun) to the politics of trade in Nassau.  I was so confused the first time through!  However, none of the characters really feel settled into who they are yet.  I enjoy them, but I don’t quite feel like I know these pilot-versions of people I love.  I know I soon will, though!

Other than that, I don’t have a lot of thoughts about this episode, because it’s mostly introductions and setups and not nearly as rich as the ones that are coming.


  • Who is Flint’s spy in Port Royal who first heard about the Urca gold?

Not done reliving the episode?  Listen to Daphne and Liz’s podcast at Fathoms Deep!

5 comments on “Black Sails Season 1 Episode 1 – I

  1. So, my husband and I had an odd experience with this show, where we watched season 1 back in 2017/18? ish, and really liked it, but then for some reason got derailed and didn’t get back to the show until last spring. And we didn’t rewatch season 1 before we dove back in. Now, after we insanely binged the rest of the series and began telling everyone we know how great it was, I have finally convinced my mom to start watching it, so I keep passing her dvds.

    Problem is, I haven’t seen season 1 in so long, and I don’t really want to sit down and rewatch the whole series so soon, but in order to discuss with her coherently I’m having to do a quick scan through all the scenes to try to refresh.

    So here I am, commenting on your old entries, instead of your recent Season 4 stuff.

    To sum up: Boy, am I having Feelings. First off, I remember we were impressed at how complex the show was at first watch but I did forget just how much damn plot there is going on. SO MUCH PLOT. SO MANY CHARACTERS. And when I’m talking to my mom I’m reminded how great the show’s construction is in terms of density and layers b/c there are so many things that I have to point out to Mom and say, “I know that was buried in an avalanche of other stuff but it’s Very Important!” My mom is watching most episodes or most scenes twice to make sure she’s catching everything.

    My fragmented thoughts:

    WATER! SHIPS!! I’m so excited to re-watch all of this! (Just repeating your enthusiasm b/c I forgot the gut level impact of the first episode…the high budget…everything looks like a Hollywood blockbuster). Also I used to work regularly every October in the Caribbean (scientific field work) and watching this in October is making me VERY VERY NOSTALGIC…for the brilliant sparkly blue water and reflected light and even the endless hot sticky sweating.

    I find it interesting that we meet Flint showing mercy, appearing very cerebral and unflappable, etc., and thus we instantly want to root for him (esp in comparison with the more violent pirates of the Ranger crew), but then we soon see not only that he’s a manipulative liar, but capable of terrifying violence.

    I love Nassau, and having watched the whole series, I’m even more interested in every little story and backstory of every random citizen we glimpse.

    I realize that the writers push Eleanor’s edginess a little too hard in the first few eps, and i understand why some viewers would be put off. But I loved her on first viewing, and I love her even more this time. For some reason I tend to like characters like her, manipulative and ambitious ‘ballbusters’ who are so different from my personality in every way (except being comfortable hanging with the bros). Maybe it’s that I like characters that I secretly wish I could be more like?

    I love Mr. Scott. That sums that up.

    Sure, Flint doesn’t know the name of the giant slab of blue-eyed beefcake with biceps as big as a person’s head :sarcasm: My husband and I would periodically freeze the screen to gape in amazement at that actor. What a specimen. Dickon Tarly, we had no idea!

    Re: the feather thing…was it placed so he could tell his stuff had been disturbed? Inconspicuous, but light enough to be displaced without being noticeable enough that the displacer would know to put it back in place?

    Flint is sounding crazy from the jump, and it is one of those fortuitous lightning strikes of casting genius that put Stephens in this role…he made the contradictions shown in one episode believable, while still making you kinda instinctively want to root for him.



    • I love your reviews!! Congratulations to your mom for starting the best TV series ever – I hope she enjoys!

      I relate very hard to your comment about assuring your mom “That part seems unimportant but it is actually the theme of the whole show!” I’ve had to stop watching Black Sails with new converts because apparently I am “annoying.” LOL.

      Your love for Eleanor is awesome. As I talk about, I adored her my second time through the show, and I honestly believe I was suffering from internalized misogyny the first time through. She’s an amazing character who is not that different from Flint. So why do so many people love him but not her?

      I like your point about Flint’s different sides being on full display here – his mercy, his calm, his crazy, his lies, his control. If anyone but Toby Stephens was playing him, there’s a good chance he would be far less appealing!


  2. Ha, I’m trying really hard not to harass my friends and family who have started watching or who might start watching b/c I’ve occasionally and irrationally resisted recommendations from people who are too effusive and enthusiastic, but now I’m one of them. E.g., It took me about 6 years of being consistently bugged by several people whose taste I generally shared to finally give Buffy the Vampire Slayer a fair shot back in the early 2000s. It instantly became my favorite show, so there you go. I also resisted Schitt’s Creek for several years b/c so many people raved about it. I’m silly. And now I’m constantly calling my poor mom, asking whether she’s watched the next episode yet.


    • oops, that was supposed to be a reply


    • Haha, I’ve been there too! I don’t know why we resist enthusiasm sometimes, and it’s so hard not to be that person! I dunno, I think its ~charming~ when it’s me. 😂


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