When it comes to filling a void in your television schedule, finding a replacement is difficult. For fans of Kurt Sutter’s Sons of Anarchy, the options have been thin. The Bastard Executioner could not catch on with audiences despite a heavy push ahead of its premiere. A spin-off featuring the Mayans motorcycle club is on the way, but what about right now? For a fill of brotherhood, backstabbing, and bloodthirsty violence, there are options. One you should consider checking out is Black Sails. It takes the tone and themes of Sons, but sets them on the high seas during the golden age of piracy. Living beyond the law and creating a world of your own is the driving force behind the outlaws of SAMCRO. And it’s an ideal shared by the various crews of Black Sails’ Nassau.
On the surface, the show doesn’t seem like it would travel alongside Jax Teller. Its main players are based on characters from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, a novel that’s seen adaptations by The Muppets and Walt Disney, among others. It also doesn’t help that the image of pirates today is somewhat tame, with visions of Johnny Depp dancing holding sway. Vicious, brutal criminals have been replaced by the romanticized versions from fiction.
But Black Sails succeeds by ignoring any pirate preconceptions, blending fiction with history and taking piracy back to the sludge from which it crawled. Captain Flint (Toby Stephens), the inciting force behind Stevenson’s book, begins the series on an uneasy throne. Enemies are everywhere and his role as a captain of the Walrus is in question from the start — notably by Billy Bones (Tom Hopper). But he’s still feared by many and respected by more, which counts as currency in the world of the show. Some, on the other hand, have neither, like John Silver (Luke Arnold) who uses his wits to survive from situation to situation, somehow earning the respect of Flint’s crew without seeking it.