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The Ending Of Black Sails Finally Explained

Through a swash-buckling four-season run, fans of "Black Sails" have said ahoy to plenty of drama and fights on the open waters. First airing on Starz in 2014, the show follows a group of pirates in New Providence in the early 1700s, led by the charismatic and legendary Captain Flint (Toby Stephens). Acting as a prequel to the famed Robert Louis Stevenson novel, "Treasure Island," the show puts its own unique spin on something viewers have seen adapted countless times. Just like the previous seasons, its final ending is abundant in small details and loopbacks to where the story began, successfully bringing the characters' journeys full circle.

Both Season 4 and its finale were showered with positive reviews when it aired in April 2017, praised for their ability to hold focus on storytelling where other shows seemed to have lost touch. The drama between Flint and Long John Silver (Luke Arnold) reached new heights, with Madi (Zethu Dlomo) a rose stuck between two thorns. While side characters including Anne (Clara Paget) and Jack (Toby Schmitz) could arguably have been explored further, fans made it clear that the show's final outing is something that is definitely worth watching. Head out on the ships for one last time as we take you through exactly what went down in the Season 4 finale of "Black Sails." Spoilers ahead.

Choosing love over war is disappointing

War, huh! What is it good for? Well apparently, the answer is adding more fan satisfaction to the final ending of "Black Sails." Since the show said goodbye for the last time, fans have weighed in on whether the finale's direction was actually the right move after all. According to one particular Reddit thread, the lasting love-fest for "Black Sails" was tainted by an ending that didn't live up to expectations. One fan claims it's because Silver and Flint's storyline ultimately chooses love over war — perhaps engineering a happy ending to preserve the connection that Silver once had with Madi.

At face value, it's easy to see why viewers would want drama over a neatly sewn-up ending. Not only would that make it more likely for potential "Black Sails" spin-offs to return, but it also makes for more exciting viewing — particularly given the history between Flint and Silver. Just as user blue_mutagen points out, there was never going to be a right answer that the creative team could offer fans. Sure, "retiring" Flint provides the most concise way of bringing the 4 seasons to a close, but do we really want to deal with that?

Flint's end can be viewed in two ways

Like many notable TV adaptations, the story we see onscreen is likely to differ from the original text. In the case of "Black Sails," it's Flint that takes the brunt of the change. Speaking to Collider, show co-creator John Steinberg referred back to Flint's initial path. "When you read the book, you're told that Flint died in a very specific way, and it's a way that doesn't immediately suggest story. He died alone, some indeterminate period of time after the exciting stuff happened, and he died in a very lonely, sad place." In contrast, redesigning Flint's story leads to some immediate confusion.

It could be said that the decision to remove Flint from the audience's radar rather than killing him off outright is purposefully ambiguous. If resurrecting "Treasure Island" really is on the cards, Flint has to stay alive. Silver's version of events leading to Flint's "retirement" suggests there is more tension there than we are led to believe, which is a stark contrast to images of Flint in farmlands of green. The image of the green pear considered the "gift of the Gods" feeds back into Flint's self-comparison to Odysseus in the very first "Black Sails" episode. Whether Flint has been put out to pasture or has reaped the ultimate rewards in the finale feels like it's up to us to decide.

Silver wrestles with his alter ego

The legend of Long John Silver is something we know all too well, and Silver's journey throughout "Black Sails" is leading to bigger things unsaid. From the beginning of the show, Silver is defined as a person who has arrived from nowhere, being pulled toward those who come from an opposite kind of life. Not only does this mean that Flint and Silver naturally see the world in completely different ways, but it also leads to Silver battling the legendary persona that he has built for himself. The ability to make a personal choice that Flint can't is one of the key things that defines Silver bowing out of "Black Sails."

All at once, the Season 4 finale shows Silver taken by his own status and repulsed by it. Flint can tell that Silver's current circumstances won't be enough to fulfill him, meaning the episode results in Silver looking for something he once left behind. It's a decision that would make a season of a "Treasure Island" spinoff feel more meaningful, given the constraints of his reunion with Madi in the Season 4 finale. Thematically, Silver's storyline is a huge champion of what the "Black Sails" series stands for — you can try to run away from who you are, but you'll always return.

Madi and Silver's reunion only goes so far

The Season 4 finale of "Black Sails" leads to something fans have been waiting for — a reunion between Silver and Madi. Initially working alongside each other to form an alliance, fans see the pair progress from allies to lovers over the course of Seasons 3 and 4. In the case of the Season 4 finale, it's a painful realization to Silver that whatever he has with Madi will never be enough to sustain him. It's something Flint tells him straight to his face, resulting in a painful distance between the two that's replicated in the episode's parting shots with a gorgeous horizon behind them.

Speaking to Inverse, co-creator Robert Levine signals that this styling reflects the nature of the pair's relationship. "The way you see them at the end, they're in the same frame but they're yards away from each other. Emotionally, that's as close as they'll ever get again." It's unlikely to be an ending that fans are pleased with, as some viewers recognize Silver's selfish intentions as the show draws to a close. They say a leopard can't change its spots, and it's true in the case of Silver. Their frosty end doesn't necessarily mean that their romantic connection won't be picked up in potential spinoffs, but it is likely to send Silver off on a completely different path instead.

Flint and Silver's endgames were planned from the beginning

Between our two leading men, there's been a lot to explore when it comes to Flint and Silver. The lynchpins of "Black Sails," the show's finale depicts an ending that feels both final and open-ended. The question of whether Silver did in fact shoot the gun hangs in the balance, while Flint's mysterious "retirement" leaves the crew believing he has died on his own in the Savannah. With such a famous text to base the program on, their fates, to an extent, are unsurprising. Yet according to creators Levine and Steinberg, the ending for Flint and Silver has been planned all along.

Speaking to Inverse, Steinberg says: "The Flint and Silver story has been with us a long time. At the beginning there was a more obvious path: They would become enemies and be antagonists in each other's story. We made the choice early on that it would be more impactful and tragic if what you're watching is these two guys who are as close to each other as anyone in the world, and there's just this one point at which they can't connect." The events of the Season 4 finale mean that Goliath has been beaten by David, although neither of them is leaving "Black Sails" in the best shape.

Reunions and defeat make for happy fans

When it comes to ending a show on a high, "Black Sails" seems to have got certain things largely right. Though there has been much debate over Flint's personal fate, many fans have voiced their opinions on why they thought the Season 4 finale was the perfect ending. Reddit user stgeorge78 cites how the finale has maintained its high level of quality and drama, propelling the pirate genre into an entirely new space on TV. The finale's success is largely thanks to its emphasis on relationships, with deep-diving into character journeys remaining at the core of the show itself. Whether it's watching Silver and Madi spare each others' feelings or finding out what happens to Jack and Anne, defeating the bad times is a winning format for everyone.

At the same time, it's unsurprising that some viewers still have questions about what the Season 4 finale has revealed. Any good climax is one that leaves us guessing or drawing our own conclusions — and that's a strategy "Black Sails" relies upon heavily. We always knew that the rebellion was going to end, but whether "Treasure Island" lives to see another day remains a mystery. Who's to say Flint won't show up again after finding his happiness?

Did we see enough of Anne Bonny?

Out of all of the character journeys we see in the Season 4 finale of "Black Sails," Anne Bonny's is arguably the most simplistic. Surviving the episode's final battle, we see her reunited with Jack — becoming the only two pirate captains to sail under the black completely in secret. It's a straightforward path from point A to point B, leaving the action between Flint, Silver, and Madi to take a starring role. Though the decision is understandable, it's left some fans questioning if we saw enough of Anne through the season finale drama.

Given that the show prides itself on prioritizing character storylines and emotions, it's somewhat a surprise that Anne takes a backseat. Some fans think that this is because the female characters are overall much weaker in "Black Sails," though Anne may get credit for being one of the more well-developed ones. Others claim that "the depth and danger" of her story aren't fully appreciated, arguing that in a world of pirates, even Jack and Anne can't fully trust each other. Leaving the pair to literally sail off into the sunset is possibly the easy way out, neatly sewing up their story to leave time for bigger storylines.

The final episodes stay character-rich

At the same time, it can't be said that "Black Sails" doesn't stay fully focused on its characters. Regardless of where our favorite pirates are in their individual journeys, the narrative never strays from figuring out their end game. While talking to The Hollywood Reporter, Steinberg explains how this naturally manifests with the example of Flint and Silver. "We had to embrace the fact that there would have to be things that were left unsaid and were going to have to exist in subtext and performance and context in order for it to be honest. That felt right. There is, at least to me when I watch it, a significant amount happening between the two of them that is all under the surface. But at the same time, you want it to play at face value."

While the season finale continues to deliver on fleshing out the legacy of Silver, Flint, and more, fans have lavished praise on the show's continued ability to live up to expectations. Reddit user IronMaximus claims "Black Sails" is one of the greatest programs of all time in terms of character development, while Nic727 praises the season finale in particular for doing an awesome job of rounding out the narrative progression. Where so many shows fall at the final hurdle, it's safe to say "Black Sails" proved itself until the very end.

The blueprint for Treasure Island is laid out

For some fans, it might have felt as though four seasons of "Black Sails" wasn't quite enough. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Steinberg explains how the team arrived at the decision to call it quits. "It was during season four when we felt like all the endings we hoped we would get to were starting to approach very quickly. We spent a little time at the end of season four thinking about if we were done and it felt like we were." However, it's also been clear from the beginning that the end of "Black Sails" merges with the beginning of "Treasure Island." It's a case of never say never, but wants could well see our favorite pirates return once more in an entirely new spinoff.

According to Den of Geek, a "Treasure Island" series is something that has definitely been discussed. "I don't necessarily know if it would fit the children's story that is "Treasure Island," but maybe we could do our own version of a children's story. The 'Black Sails' version," said executive producer Dan Shotz. Picking up where "Black Sails" left off would be a natural workaround to commissioning a fifth season of the show, with the fact so much time has passed in between only playing to a future spinoff's advantage.


When it comes down to it, "Black Sails" is really only about the relationship between two men — Flint and Silver. Across the show's four seasons, fans see them progress from a hesitant partnership into a blossoming friendship, even though there are plenty of obstacles along the way. By the time fans watch the Season 4 finale, their relationship seems to tip into the realm of enemies. Without taking anything else into account, there's an obvious elephant in the room, leaving viewers to wonder whether Silver has fired a gun directly at Flint. While Silver seems to arrive full circle at where he started in Season 1, Flint is within touching distance of happiness with Thomas (Rupert Penry-Jones) – though whether he truly managed to find it is up to interpretation.

Given that "Black Sails" is a show about the highs and lows of pirates on the open seas, it makes sense that Silver and Flint's relationship would gradually turn sour at some point. Not only does this heighten the drama — and certainly makes the show's ending more exciting — but their ever-changing relationship stays true to the nature of their fraught friendship. What comes between two men more than a woman and the chance of promised happiness? 

The thought of Max and Anne stays in our minds

There's only one way a gripping drama about pirates could get any better, and that's to include some meaningful queer representation. When we are introduced to Anne in Season 1 of "Black Sails," she's enamored with Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy) while exploring the connection she has with Jack. With plenty of memorable scenes in their wake, the relationship between Max and Anne has completely changed by the time viewers get to the Season 4 finale. The two have drifted apart and are on their way to turning against each other — but there's still an element of Anne getting both the man and woman that she wants. While she chooses the guy in the episode's final moments, fans can't be blamed for wanting a slightly different romantic ending.

The fact that Max gets her moment to pursue the woman she loves is something that fans have praised for being included in the Season 4 finale. It makes it all the more bittersweet when Max and Anne don't end up together forever, instead favoring the relationship that we knew would come out on top all along. Steinberg spoke about his surprise with its success to The Hollywood Reporter: "I think the Max and Anne relationship was something that became emotionally impactful in a way that we didn't see coming. That was a lesson in if you're not letting stories evolve naturally, then you're missing all the good stuff."

Could we ever see a Black Sails reboot or spinoff?

With the original run of "Black Sails" ending in 2017, one question has remained unanswered: will we ever see a reboot or spinoff? Currently, there are no concrete plans to revive the show, but we know discussions surrounding a potential resurrection have taken place. The most likely variation of this is a narrative segue into "Treasure Island," with the Season 4 finale neatly landing the story exactly where the famous book picks up. Speaking to Inverse, Steinberg explains why it was so important to Flint and Silver's story to align the two. "The end of his story in this show is the hope that he can get away from it. That made "Treasure Island" feel like a meaningful sequel about a massive transformation in that character. It was foretold by Flint, but it wasn't preordained."

That being said, some fans disagree with the direction of a possible spinoff. Reddit member Blackthroat39 says that viewers don't need another iteration of "Treasure Island," but instead would benefit from a prequel of "Nassau." Exploring the golden days that came before "Black Sails" equally adds to the show's plentiful character scope, set 10 years before the beginning of the program. Whatever direction a spinoff could go in, the possibility has never seemed unlikely, particularly given the wealth of side characters the show has yet to fully explore.