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BLACK SAILS: Q&A & Sneak Peak at Final Season [Starz, NYCC 2016]

Black Sails season 4

Black Sails Panel Presents Sneak Peak at Fourth & Final Season

Fans of the Starz series Black Sails got one last, bitter sweet moment to listen & speak to the cast & crew, ahead of the premier to the show’s wrap-up season. In addition to a new trailer, for the upcoming season, attendees were also treated to a preview clip that likely provided a much more critical slice of season 4 action than anyone was expecting.

There was some voiced disappointment, among fans in line, about Toby Stephens (Captain Flint) not making the farewell appearance; but stars Luke Arnold (Long John Silver), Hannah New (Eleanor Guthrie), Jessica Parker Kennedy (Max), Tom Hopper (Billy Bones), and Clara Paget (Anne Bonny), were greeted with an expected level of enthusiasm, taking the stage.

The first mention of this being the final season did draw boos, however (catching the cast by surprise); so all further mention was kept in context of series/ character evolution, and cast appreciation.

For Luke Arnold, that meant getting to do “all the cool, crazy s–t, in terms of action” – noting that he didn’t think he even had a sword, until season 4. More importantly, he appreciated that the evolution of his character left him with a lot of weight on his shoulders, going into season 4. The reputation of Long John Silver will now be something for his character to live up to, and he will be taking it very seriously. At least, as seriously as his idea of how to celebrate/ mourn the series coming to an end. He was likely joking (I think), but fans appreciated the idea of the cast & crew setting one of the ships on fire (if only to keep it out of the hands of the Outlander production).

For Tom Hopper, it was living up to the realism of incredible settings, provided by the show’s South African shooting location, living up to Billy’s new bearded status, and living down his fitness magazine cover appearance. There was some dispute over who spent more time topless on the series – Tom or Zach McGowan.

For Jessica Parker Kennedy, it was about living up to the sheer presence, grace, and cool style that has been the course of Max’s evolution (Kennedy describing herself as a dork, IRL). Mostly, though, she appreciated finally being able to ride a horse. Apparently she had been nagging the showrunners about it for some time. “In Season 4, I get to ride a horse; so I’m fine now. We can end it!”

For Hannah New, it was seeing elements from season 1 come together, and the emotional satisfaction of seeing the writing do their character arcs justice. When asked about role research, she noted that it was particularly difficult to find any documentation regarding women of that period. One way around this, was finding & reading correspondence between women. Those painted a relatively clear picture of the women, themselves, and how they dealt with the times – rather than speaking of the times in question.

Clara Paget concurred with Hannah New that there was very little to go on, regarding even known female figures like Bonny. If getting to portray the character as a more professional, stable killer of men, for season 4, wasn’t satisfying enough, there was getting to wear the hat, one last time, and a fan commenting that her character consistently scared the s–t of him. Not a bad take away, considering the company her character has been keeping.

Fan appreciation, comments, and questions ranged from literary challenges, to historical accuracy, to sexuality, to realism (a certain pirate movie franchise may have been referenced, once or twice). A consensus, of sorts, formed around the show’s cadre of strong female characters, however. From Guthrie expanding her family name, to Max’s ascension to power broker status, to Bonny just making grown men afraid – there was much praise for how the show (and cast) picked up what could have easily been the slack of such a period piece.

Eventually, even Toby Schmitz (Rackham) would make an appearance – albeit via phone, child in hand – in time for a promotion of a one-shot comic companion story. The comic will tell the tale of how Rackham met Bonnie, and their subsequent early adventures. Apparently it was a tale meant for the series; but could not be fit into the shooting schedule. Look for it to become available – live & online – in time for the final season launch.

EPs Jonathan E. Steinberg, Dan Shotz, and Robert Levine didn’t just want to live up to Treasure Island, they wanted viewers to feel like they had been told a complete story, within the prequel, itself. Regarding central character, Captain Flint, Steinberg tried to summarize his course.

“Season 4 is about this relationship with John Silver being a bit of a summation of all the relationships he’s had so far. He’s a guy on the verge of changing the world in a meaningful way. Obviously he did not change the world. How do you tell that story? How do you make it compelling?”

Apparently, having Toby Stephens, “a walking master class in performance,” helped quite a ways.

Both the cast (having not yet seen their collective efforts on screen) & attendees were then treated to 10 minute clip of a rather crucial moment. The first pirate combined naval assault on British controlled Nassau. I won’t spoil it for anyone; but the scene painted a very complete picture of where Flint, Silver, Madi (Zethu Dlomo), Rackham, and Woodes Rogers (Luke Roberts) are, in respect to their relative personal & professional pursuits.

There will be no sure bets, where the action is concerned, and plenty of reason to be every bit as apprehensive, of the coming season, as excited. Who knows, if the series send-off is big enough, there may be room for a series remake of Treasure Island coming out of it – give or take 15 years….

Leave your thoughts on the Black Sails panel, at New York City Comic Con, in the comments section below. For more NYCC reviews, photos, videos, and information, visit our New York Comic Con Page, subscribe to us by Email, “follow” us on Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ or “like” us on Facebook. The final season of Black Sails will begin airing on Starz on January 29, 2017 at 9 P.M. ET/PT.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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