Finally caught up on the finale of Black Sails a few days ago. My mind is a-racing! I needed to think things through but now as I put much of it into words I realised I need to go and watch for a second, third or perhaps fourth time to really figure things out. SO MANY QUESTIONS!
MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT
Flint and Hamilton reunion. WTF??? Oh Lordy was I happy! At first.
The more I think about it, the more ambiguous the entire thing is. As Queen once said “is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy?” Did the reunion take place?
Let me arrange my thoughts by breaking this down into many alternative thought processes.
We, prior to the reunion in Savannah, last see Flint with Silver pointing a gun at him. This is it. Flint versus Silver. What we’ve been geared up for but never in a million years wanted to happen. Flint will not back down. And Silver will not risk his future with Madi. Flint is too far gone in his hatred of the British establishment/his desire to see civilisation burn. In season two we are given Flint’s backstory, his reason for existing basically, and it was to establish Thomas Hamilton’s quest to take Nassau back from piracy. Somewhere along the line *cough*Charleston*cough* all that pent up rage and anguish culminated in his vendetta against everything. As Silver points out, when he thought he had lost Madi he wanted to see the world burn too. Silver therefore knows from his own experience how killing Flint is his only option left. I believe he would pull that trigger if given no other option because (as much as I love him, or because of this I love him) John Silver will always be out for John Silver.
And yes, I do think there is a part of Silver which loves Flint. So this is a major dilemma for Silver, but ultimately he loves Madi more and sees his future with her. But the sheer fact that he sends Tom Morgan to Savannah to investigate if Thomas is on that plantation prison means Flint is not just some other pirate Silver is willing to eventually betray. There is a love and a respect there. No doubt about it. (Whether it’s a platonic love is another story.)
This Brings Me to the Prison Plantation
Episode XXXVIII opens with the proprietor of said plantation expressing his enlightment-esque belief system. He physically pales when he hears it is Long John Silver who requests to know if this “mystery guest” is on the plantation. Silver’s reputation is seemingly well know even in Savannah by this stage. We’re not told who the prisoner is. We’re not even told if he is there.
It’s only by the end when we see Flint embrace Thomas do we know for sure that Thomas is the prisoner. Or do we?
“Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy?”
Silver’s denouncement to Madi states that Flint does not believe Silver at first. Which is reasonable. Are we do believe that Flint, blinded by the idea that Thomas could still be alive, is willing to believe such a story from a desperate Silver? Remember, Flint more than anyone (except perhaps Billy – and the now deceased, with a caved-in head, Dufresne) knows what an accomplished liar Silver can be. Particularly when he wants something bad enough.
Or is it simply the fact that he knows in that instant Silver has him beat? His only way out is to pretend to go along with Silver’s story and see how it plays out? Perhaps he thinks if he goes with Silver’s crew they are bringing him somewhere to be murdered and he could 1. fight his way out of that. Or 2. accept he is done for but simply does not wish it to be his last remaining friend, Silver, who finally ends him? Is Flint so spent that he has no longer any fight left in him? Remember, Flint is a fierce adversary and tactical genius, but he has always had something *read*someone to fight for. His love, Thomas. A future with Miranda. His “it’s complicated” Silver. Is the final lost of his last companion too much to bear for Flint?
Or perhaps, the last option I think it could be – Silver’s crew are startled by something in the forest – Silver did in fact shoot Flint dead. Does he returns home and concocts that story to placate Madi? Rackham’s immediate speech in the next scene, discussing the stories we create for ourselves seems to add some credence (or perhaps deliberate ambiguity) to that possiblity.
Reunion is Real
Let’s go with what Jon Steinberg, one of the writers of the show has said:
“We had a sense in season two when he [Thomas] died off screen…We knew we weren’t finished with him…so in season four it felt right. And it wasn’t a choice he would make, it was a choice made for him.”
In that sense the reunion seems definite. For whatever reason Flint believes Silver and he travels to Savannah and is reunited with his truest love. I love the idea of that ending. And for a while that was enough for me. But of course, the brain goes into overload and I’m left thinking about their life together. How is it going to play out?
Thomas: James! I never thought I’d see you again.
Flint: Hi Thomas. I thought you were dead. What’ve you been doing?
Thomas: Oh you know, in prison for being gay. You?
Flint: Me? Oh I became a vicious pirate. You’ve probably heard of me, Captain James Flint. I massacred a few people. Your father included. You’re welcome.
Thomas: I see you didn’t lose your sense of humour! Any news of Miranda?
Flint: Peter Ashe had her killed. So I stabbed him to death and blew up Charleston.
Flint: wanna make out?
Thomas:…dude, what the fuck?
(only Thomas wouldn’t swear. He’s a good Christian boy.)
How is Thomas going to react to the James McGraw he once knew, now being the infamous murderous pirate Captain Flint?
Is Flint honestly going to plough the fields in a prison plantation in Savannah? For Thomas’s sake, perhaps. If they are allowed enough freedom to be together in the place, then he may well be intent on staying put. But if the warden (or whatever he is) tries to interfere, then holy hell in the form of James Flint will reign down on them from on high!
Let’s Examine Canon, Shall We
In Treasure Island Flint dies from alcohol consumption in Savannah no more than twenty years, no less than seventeen years, after the events of the Black Sails finale. So he does stay in Savannah. But does he stay with Thomas? Does Thomas do the Christian thing and forgive or does he, disgusted by the man James McGraw has become turn him away? And is this what drives Flint to drink? Or perhaps they do stay together as a couple only for Thomas to die sometime before the twenty years is out and his loss is what drives McGraw to the rum stash?
One reason to give for the Flint is not dead theory (and I think the main one) is the canon fact that in Treasure Island, Billy Bones states, “I was old Flint’s first mate, and I’m the on’y one as knows the place. He gave it [the map] me at Savannah, when he lay a-dying…”
Billy is washed up on the shores of Skeleton Island when last we see him in BS. It’s reasonable enough to assume that he could have discovered the whereabouts of the treasure himself if he is marooned for long enough. But “he gave it me at Savannah” heavily implies that Flint and Billy meet again and that is when Billy is told the spot in which X marks.
But judging by their last meeting and Billy’s hatred of Flint, how likely is it that Flint willingly tells Billy where the gold is buried? Of course they could make up and let bygones become bygones, after all almost two decades have passed and it’s a long time to hold onto past grievances. Flint was dying after all.* Plus, if Billy finds the burial spot when he is first marooned on Skeleton Island, then why has he still not undug the gold and lived the life of luxury instead of becoming an even more embittered, alcoholic “old sea-captain”, as Jim Hawkins calls him?
To me it is more likely that Billy did indeed meet Flint years later and is given the map then. Which essentially adds credence to the reunion is real theory. That John Silver didn’t kill James Flint, and, in fact, went above and beyond in his quest to grant his friend some happiness in life.
But one question remains with me: Why doesn’t Silver tell Flint about Thomas sooner? Why wait until that final minute to disclose the truth?
Why, for great TV, of course!
All I know for certain is Black Sails is one of the great shows ever created. And I’m going to miss James Flint and John Silver like they were members of my own family!
*OMG Could Billy have murdered Flint? Maybe Flint didn’t die of alcohol after all. Perhaps too weak, Billy finally got his revenge?
Fuck sake Starz – you’ve left us with too many questions. We need a sequel too this prequel stat!