Black Sails: Season 1 (2014)


Season 1
Black Sails

Critics Consensus

Black Sails boasts visual appeal, but the show's bland characters aren't strong enough to keep the show from being dragged down into its murky depths of aimless exposition.



Critic Ratings: 49


Audience Score

User Ratings: 714
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Air date: Jan 25, 2014
Air date: Feb 1, 2014
Air date: Feb 8, 2014
Air date: Feb 15, 2014
Air date: Feb 22, 2014
Air date: Mar 1, 2014
Air date: Mar 8, 2014
Air date: Mar 15, 2014

Black Sails: Season 1 Photos

Tv Season Info

This action-adventure chronicles the escapades of a swashbuckling and brutal pirate, Captain Flint (Toby Stephens), his shipmates and his rivals in the early 18th-century Caribbean. The series is a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island," and is set 20 years before the events depicted in that literary classic. While bounding the Spanish Main and jolly-rogering across the seas, Flint accepts a young recruit, John Silver (Luke Arnold), to join his crew, while later quashing a mutiny, questing for treasures, broadsiding other pirate vessels and exchanging fire with the ships of the British Navy who have been charged with blowing Flint out of the water.


Toby Stephens
as Capt. Flint
Luke Arnold
as John Silver
Zach McGowan
as Capt. Charles Vane
Toby Schmitz
as Rackham
Hannah New
as Eleanor Guthrie
Clara Paget
as Anne Bonny
Tom Hopper
as Billy Bones
Mark Ryan
as Gates
Luke Roberts
as Woodes Rogers
Ray Stevenson
as Blackbeard
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Black Sails: Season 1

Critic Reviews for Black Sails Season 1

All Critics (49) | Top Critics (25)

If this sounds (a) like the least merry pirate yarn ever constructed, and (b) a little bit like Game of Thrones, feel free to shiver your own timbers.

Jan 22, 2014 | Full Review…

But there's an intelligence to its treatment of the Nassau community and whether a settlement based on lawlessness and a shadow economy is sustainable -- one that takes the series in some complicated and unexpected directions.

Jan 22, 2014 | Full Review…

The era is a rich vein to mine, and to their credit, the creators are light on pirate cliches - I do not believe one "aargh!" is uttered. More swashbuckling please.

Jan 27, 2014 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Maybe they were going for "Deadwood on the Beach," with the politics of organizing an unruly bunch the underlying theme. Instead, they got "Spartacus Island," a less-elevated narrative with violence in keeping with the Starz brand.

Jan 27, 2014 | Full Review…

If you're more action-oriented, you'll soon find yourself shouting at the screen, "Less talking, more cannon fire."

Jan 27, 2014 | Full Review…

To paraphrase Woody Allen's paraphrase of an old joke, what Black Sails has to offer is mediocre, and the portions are small.

Jan 24, 2014 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Black Sails promises a lot of action and intrigue to its fans.

May 2, 2019 | Full Review…

When Black Sails did take to the seas, it was staggering.

Jan 29, 2019 | Full Review…

Black Sails has enough sex, violence and filthy language to make even the most ardent [Game of Thrones] fan sit up and take notice.

Jan 29, 2019 | Full Review…

The writers fail to establish distinct characters, settling instead for a generic crew of meticulously smudged scallywags.

Aug 21, 2017 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Black Sails: Season 1

  • May 30, 2019
    Starts off slow, around episode 6 I got hooked and is easily in my top 5 favourite TV shows. Vikings make place for the Pirates. It gets better and better from here.
  • May 27, 2019
    I wasn't interested in the bathroom and mating habits of thieves. An adventurous pirate story, however, would have been nice.
  • Mar 08, 2019
    A solid start to one of the greatest TV series made.
  • Jan 04, 2019
    Amazing show! Brilliant actors and storylines. Wish it was still on air
  • Nov 09, 2018
    The story is good, the cinematography is great... but I don't understand Starz's obsession with rape scenes. It's a great "watch" if you can get past all the rape. Show would be better if they would bypass some of the graphic sex/rape scenes. Nobody is shocked anymore. Stop using the shock-effect for "ratings". I feel like shows like this forget that leaving some things to the watcher's imagination is probably best. Would have been five stars but for all the.... RAPE.
  • Oct 31, 2018
    Long John Silver, Charles Vane, Caliaco Jack, Blackbeard and the great Anne Boney are defending Nassau from Brits and stealing treasure from Spain in this bloody tale of treachery and friendship. Authentic battle scenes and awesome scenery. Bloody and sexy
  • Jul 10, 2018
    Like "game of thrones" with pirates - i love it!!!
  • Apr 28, 2018
    Black Sails is a fantastic bit of historical fiction about colonial piracy. It launched around the same time that Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag was new (and very popular), and though I caught a few episodes back then I had to start at Season 1 to get my sea legs back. What’s great about this show is writing and direction of the storyline working towards a broader conflict. Season 1 is pretty upfront about the fact that a pirate’s life is, well you know: nasty, brutish, and short. The sailors pillage merchants then blow all their money at a pirate-friendly port until they’re broke and they have to go hunting again. Captain Flint is too smart for that kind of piracy, though he’s not too smart to avoid the murderous brutality of sea-crime. It takes a few episodes to get to know him, and all we know in the beginning is he is quite talented and lucky (good feats for a scoundrel). By the finale, we realize two more things about Flint: he will never reconcile with the crown, and he is not a good guy at ALL. Flint is downright vindictive and evil, but he happens to have a goal that’s patriotic, admirable, and revolutionary. While Flint is a devil of a captain, the rest of the characters are so twisted by their demons there’s nothing but shreds of humanity left. Charles Vane is an excellent example of this, and while he is made out to be a brutish man in the beginning, by the end, he proves himself among the most heroic barbarians (like literally war paint, earth, and beast-mode), performing epic feats against all the odds. There are of course many wicked scoundrels in Nassau, some historical, some fictional, all plundering in different capacities, and all trapped by greed and circumstance. The reality of Black Sails very much subjugates women to the role of scandalous with some exception. Eleanor proves herself a competent administrator in Season 1 as does Max wise counsel to Jack Rackham. Anne Bonney is indeed a sea scoundrel and proves at least as cutthroat as the devil himself. One way in which the show hedges its seriousness is by including lots of graphic depictions of the carousing going on, especially prostitution. I don’t want to say that it’s okay, but at least it reflects the reality of what brigands experienced concerning comfort. Furthermore, the show tackles things like sexism and rape in Season 1 authentically, and I’d expect to see similar issues in the future seasons. The same is true for Mr. Scott, a slave, and the role of slaves in the show. In a sense, all of the pirates are bound to their way of life, a way of life that a slave would charge into certain pistol shot just for a chance at freedom. I’m impressed with this reflective quality of Black Sails and know that the content is genuinely offensive because it is a part of reality. Aside from the authenticity of the show, the acting is fantastic. Particularly, Miranda Barlow (Flint’s common-law wife), and Long John Silver, set-piece characters in Season 1 who are always negotiating their circumstances with charm and guile. The effects are fantastic, and the Caribbean is a bright canvas to host sweat, shot, blood, and gold. At night, the cool humid air provides a frame for wispy candle smoke, lurid men, and gorged women to ease their minds. The music and intro sequence is impressive and energizing, perfect for the tale of intrigue, savagery, and chaos that is Black Sails. Should the story end now, I think I would be happy to see Flint dead, but being that it’s not (and it’s not my neck out), I think I’d very much like to see him come to his end.
  • Apr 19, 2018
    Loved the Historical Drama Black Sails is a historical adventure television series set on New Providence Island (present-day Bahamas) and a prequel to the novel Treasure Island. The plot revolves around the pirates of the 18th Century. The show uses real names of pirates, historical figures, and events from the time although in fictional plots, still overall it sticks to the truth when portraying the life and working of those times. The visuals are stunning, with great details going into building the ships and costumes of the time period. The cast and their performances are perfect. The storytelling is interesting, with lots of dramatic events and twist n turns happening but nothing is rushed. Every plot is developed and matured and then only comes to a crazy conclusion, at times this approach does give the series a feel for being too slow and getting dragged. This is an intelligent show with more talking, plotting, intrigue and less action. I for one found it to be one of the most underrated series, the direction and pacing to me felt like Rome meets Breaking Bad. Season One (8/10) - The plot revolves around Captain Flint's hunt for Spanish treasure galleon Urca de Lima. Add to it the politics of Nassau town and rivalry between different crews we get to see how a pirate’s life looked at the time. I did take time to develop a sense of belonging for the characters and their wellbeing, also the initial time taken in developing the plot didn’t help the matter either as the mysterious past fuelling Flint’s action was kept in dark till the season’s end.
  • Dec 17, 2017
    Best TV series I've ever watched. Superb writing, authenticity, and great actors. Totally redefines pirates movies.

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