Pirates perform acts of piracy. Just like those Johnny Depp movies, now with 1000% more nudity!

By Darren Franich
Updated January 26, 2014 at 04:00 AM EST
Credit: Frank W Ockenfels 3 / Starz
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The new pirate drama Black Sails has a lot on its mind. The brutal march of civilization. The rise and fall of the frontier. The socioeconomic implications of black market economies. Swords. Boobs. Guns. Perfect, incandescent white teeth that actually seem to glow neon in contrast to perfect sunbaked skin. Boobs. Perfect hair. Beards. Swears. Democracy. Michael Bay produced this show, and I choose to read Black Sails as the origin story of the entire Michael Bay-verse. Sean Connery in The Rock is descended from Toby Stephens in Black Sails. Somewhere beneath the waves, Megatron lurks, awaiting his call to action.

Of course, Black Sails is technically a prequel to Treasure Island, a book written by Robert Louis Stevenson which is a classic of adventure literature despite having some very serious flaws. (Way Number One: Noticeable lack of pornstaches.) The premiere of Black Sails quickly introduced us to all our old favorites from when we read Treasure Island at school in 1895 when we were all British schoolboys.

A freighter was attacked by a pirate ship. Onboard the non-pirate ship, a charming and raffish curly-haired scamp named John Silver greeted the ship’s cook, who was trying to hid something. “‘Allo, mate!” said John Silver. “Oim quite a charmer, oin’t I! You could say oim a regular Sparrow, Jack!” Silver had blue eyes the color of the waves crashing upon some farflung island coastline. The cook tried to kill him immediately, failed.

Upstairs, the pirates took over the ship. Their leader, Captain Flint, has blue eyes the color of sea serpents ravenous in a watercolor sunset. Then came the credits, which showed lots of statues variously stabbing each other and having sex with each other, I think? If Black Sails ever has an aftershow hosted by Chris Hardwick, it should just be statues re-enacting all the scenes from Black Sails. Clearly it would be called Yak Sails.

The ship taken, we quickly met our cast of characters, all of whom have names I won’t use until any of us can remember them. The gingerbearded Captain Flint is assisted by his quartermaster, Baldo McMutton, a savvy operator who is nominally the crew’s representative but who has a vested interest in maintaining the Captain’s authority. Said authority was immediately challenged by a tall bald fellow whose deep voice earned him the nickname Baritone Charlie in taverns across the West Indies.

Baritone Charlie didn’t think much of Captain Flint. Baritone Charlie thought he could make a better captain. In Black Sails‘ telling, being captain of the ship is an elected office which is constantly open to recall, kind of like being governor of California or mayor of Pawnee. Captain Flint hasn’t been earning very much money lately. People have lost faith in him, kind of like when people lost faith in Michael Bay after The Island.

But like Bay — who dreamed a beautiful dream about making one, no, two, no, four movies about Robots That Can Also Be Cars — Captain Flint has a plan. And part of that plan required finding the ship’s log of the captured ship. He found it…but there was a page missing.

The ship arrived in New Providence Island, which is to pirates what Williamsburg is to hipsters, and what Tortuga is to pirates of the Caribbean. The crew decided to inaugurate John Silver by giving him an important rite of passage: Taking him to see Blackbeard. John walked into a dark room…and saw a woman. “You’re not Blackbeard!” he said. “Yes, I am!” she said, revealing what Robert Louis Stevenson would have called her “Tuzzy-Muzzy.” Then John Silver had sex with five women, because this isn’t goddamn ABC Family, okay?

Meanwhile, Baldo McMutton had work to do. He had to get the shipmates back on the Captain’s side. But the Captain insisted on making a special trip to another island. So Baldo entrusted the Captain with a trusty-looking crewman, a very tall and very British boy known around the seven seas as Bendercumber Hiddlebatch. He had perfect blue eyes the color of aquamarine in a painting by a blind man who could only dream of spring, and he was anxious.

“Does the Captain even know who I am?” said ol’ Bendercumber. “Of course he does!” said Baldo. The Captain, predictably, did not know who he was. One of Bendercumber’s trademark sad-trombone moments! These guys, they’re the original Three’s Company.

NEXT: But isn’t anyone concerned that the sex will distract from the violence?That’s when Baldo McMutton sprung into action. He’s a wheeler-dealer, and he had deals to wheel. Deal One: The local tavern owner, who is also the first confirmed human female with more than 16% of her body covered by boring ‘ol clothes. Because she bears a striking resemblance to the star of Pitch Black and Melinda and Melinda, all the salty sea dogs on every broken-down ship call her Pradha Mitchell. You can tell she’s serious, because she throws out f-bombs every sentence and also has perfect green eyes the color of jade jewelry shimmering in the mist before a rainstorm.

Baldo McMutton needed help. “Why the f— should I help you?” asked Pradha Mitchell. Baldo explained. “Well f—, why didn’t you f—ing say that, you c—sw——-g m—–pl—-r?” She gave him the money. That meant Baldo could pay off several crew members, winning back almost enough votes to sway the election. But he needed more.

So he went to Ol’ Saltbeard, apparently the chief representative for the black crewmembers. I liked how the show dove deep into the politicking of piracy…and I liked how Saltbeard, having heard Baldo McMutton’s begging, would only agree to swing his votes over to Captain Flint if him and his kin received a significant proportion of the next prize. I think this is exactly what happened in Lincoln, but honestly, I stopped watching Lincoln at the two-hour mark when it became clear that none of the women were going to randomly make out for reasons totally central to the plot.

John Silver recovered from his orgy. But there was a problem. See, he had stolen the missing page from the dead cook. And now that missing page had been stolen…by a comely gal named Fifi LaRue, whose eyes were the perfect yellowish green of the open plains in late summer dappled by flecks of amber from the exhumations of the copper mine up the river. Fifi and John struck an accord. She helped him sneak onto the ship, where he managed to fit the page into the ship’s log.

Over on a slightly more civilized Island, Captain Flint and Bendercumber Hiddlebatch were meeting with the aristocrat who helps Flint fence his stolen goods. Said aristocrat was an old-money colonist named Chelmsley Wiggenstern, and he was not in the mood for Flint’s shenanigans.

But Flint had a story to tell. A story about a Spaniard named Vasquez, and a Spanish treasure galleon. But not just any Spanish treasure galleon: The Laka Aleem, or the Louca Aleema, or whatever. It was carrying a total cargo totaling Five Million Spanish Dollars, which is worth approximately one Optimus Prime in Pirate Dollars. But Chelmsley didn’t buy it. And he certainly didn’t want to introduce Flint to His Man In Havana, a heretofore unseen character who I hope to God is played by the bad guy from Bad Boys II. So Captain Flint broke Chelmsley Wiggenstern’s arm backwards.

But then! Some local members of the British Navy swung by to say hi. “My name is Captain Hume!” said their leader. “Now tell me: Hume are you?” he asked, using the trademark phrase that has made him the hero of millions. He tried to take down Flint, but Flint was too quick for him. Poor Chelmsley Wiggenstern took a shot straight in his left shoulder, which was connected to the left arm that was just broken. Chelmsley is totally the Hannah of Black Sails, and his left limb is totally the Hannah of Chelmsley.

Back on New Providence Island, trouble was brewing. Saltbeard informed Baritone Charlie that he was going to support Captain Flint in the boat. But Baritone Charlie had some helpers. One was a pirate who, I’m sorry, has the most ridiculous facial hair of anyone ever in the whole of human history. He looks like Jim Sturridge if Jim Sturridge were descended from Elvis, George Michael, Wes Bentley in Hunger Games, and John Travolta in Grease. Porno Sturridge was joined by his lady love Zorra Two-Swords, who said three things in the episode and one of them was “I wanna f—.” And don’t forget about their leader, Captain Yursa Vane, the subject of the classic Carly Simon song “Nobody Does it Better.”

Together, this devilish trio ended the life of Saltbeard and his friend. Game: Baritone Charlie.

NEXT: Our Man FlintPradha Mitchell was upset with Captain Vane. She slapped him. He punched her. It turns out they used to be lovers, or at least he used to love her. Because Black Sails is really a story about relationships. Speaking of relationships! Fifi LaRue came upstairs to comfort Pradha. Boobs ensued. This coupling between the cerebral Pradha and the hedonistic Fifi represents the symbiotic relationship of the Apollonian and Dionysian instincts in every human, but also lesbians, because this isn’t goddamn TBS, okay?

Bendercumber Hiddlebatch was having a difficult moment. He floated back across the sea with his mad Captain and the half-dead aristocrat. He gave Captain Flint a piece of his mind. And then Flint gave him the whole thing: “There’s a war coming!” he said. But it wasn’t a real war. More of a metaphorical war. “Civilization,” he said. It would wipe out all the pirates. What they needed was a king. “And I am your King!” said Captain Flint. Poor Bendercumber didn’t know how to respond. “Golly, it sounds like you’re playing some kind of game of king-seats!” he exclaimed. “Yessir, a real sport of thrones!” he appended.

Back on the ship, the time had come for the vote. But Captain Flint had one of his trademark cockamamie schemes. See, he had noticed that someone had opened his bureau. So he used a classic politician trick. He told the crew about the great treasure ship, how he was sorry for not trusting them, how he only wanted the best for them. It was mostly the truth…except for one little lie. He claimed someone had stolen the telltale page from the ship’s log. And he said that someone was none other than Baritone Charlie, the Dome-Headed Pretender to the Throne.

This was a serious accusation, and the only solution was SWORDS! The two men sworded around for awhile, swordfully, swinging their swords at one another like a couple of swordsmen are wont to do. Ultimately, Captain Flint triumphed over his old nemesis Baritone Charlie, thus allowing the ghost of Robert Louis Stevenson to rest easy for another week. And Flint went one step further, enlisting Bendercumber Hiddlebatch for the last bit of subterfuge: He gave him a blank paper, and Bendercumber said it was the missing page. Huzzah for the Captain! Huzzah!

Of course, the missing page is technically still missing: Currently in the hands of John Silver, that famous cad. And he may have walked into something serious. Because in the last scene, Fifi LaRue crawled atop Porno Sturridge while the jealous Zorra Two-Swords looked on. “I have something you might want to buy,” said Fifi, and she wasn’t talking about a bridge in Brooklyn.

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

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Black Sails

Michael Bay’s pirate adventure is a vivid prequel to ‘Treasure Island’
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