YMMV / Black Sails

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Brought up by Silver in regards to Eleanor Guthrie in Episode 6. Were her actions, killing Vane's remaining crew, motivated by a desire to protect/save/avenge Max, or to show that "No one fucks with Eleanor Guthrie?" Both?
  • Base-Breaking Character: Eleanor. Some like her for being a driven, tough young woman who does not allow a patriarchal world to stand in the way of her ambition, and who remains strongly independent. Others despise her for her Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, her extreme self-righteousness, and her loyalty only to herself.
  • Complete Monster: Ned Low, captain of the Fancy, outdoes any other pirate in series for evil and cruelty. In the opening scenes of Season 2, Low waylays a ship called the Good Fortune that peacefully surrenders, but upon finding a valuable hostage on the ship, Low has the crew massacred and personally shoots the captain dead as the man pleads he has a family. Low sets up shop at Nassau and tries to intimidate the head of business Eleanor Guthrie with a speech of how his crew knows Low is a monster. He later fantasizes about raping Eleanor to within an inch of her life. When his quartermaster, Meeks, tries to ally with Eleanor, Low tortures and beheads him in full view of Eleanor's entire bar, then kills her bodyguard when the man tries to make him leave. Low makes clear he will eventually come for Eleanor and confesses he is a man driven solely by cruelty and instinct that he often surrenders to. As he himself says: "When they see me slaughter the crew of The Good Fortune. When they see me cut out a man's tongue for lying. When they see me burn a boy alive in front of his father. There's no lie there. There's no remorse. I simply don't have it in me."
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: As expected of Bear McCreary. Exhibit A: The Main Theme. If anyone can make a hurdy-gurdy awesome, it's Bear McCreary.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Charles Vane was always extremely popular, even when he was a villain.
  • Growing the Beard: Though the writing, acting, and production values were always high, the first season was a bit sloppy, especially with regards to Charles Vane's subplot, where he doesn't really do anything until episode 7. Season 2 takes all the good things from season one and enhances them, all while making all of the characters significantly more complex and breaking them away from their archetypes. The third season only goes further.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Most of the pirates. They're all thieves and murderers, but life hasn't been very kind to any of them:
    • Flint only became a pirate when the world destroyed his life and took away the man he loved, all because he was trying to do the right thing. Even when he does horrible things, the moral consequences weigh heavily on him.
    • Anne Bonny was abused, tortured, and likely raped at the hands of her first husband (and it's implied her husband's friends), all before she was 13. The man who rescued her from that was Jack, which explains why she's so loyal to him.
    • Jack's parents owned a decent textile business until their rivals forced them out of business; his father became an alcoholic, and when he died, Jack inherited his debts. All of this made him determined to be his own man with a respected name and a legacy worth having.
    • Charles Vane was a slave on Albinus' lumber plantation, and it was so traumatic for him that he vowed to never live under any man or any nation's yoke again.
    • Even Silver. We don't hear much but we know that he grew up in an orphanage, and anybody familiar with the social history of England will know that orphanages at the time were absolutely horrible. For a man coming from a childhood little better than Vane's, one can understand why Silver is so ruthlessly greedy and opportunistic.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Both James Flint and Eleanor Guthrie. James managed to talk his way back to being Captain after a mutiny in a span of two days. Eleanor managed to rebuild her business empire after it was destroy by her father in the span of one night. Both are willing to betray and kill to achieve their ends: the stabilization of Nassau.
    • Lampshaded by Dufrense, who had taken over for Flint as Captain. When they're discussing the votes, Dufrense tells Flint he's forced to wonder exactly how much of the pivotal encounter Flint engineered specifically to reach this outcome. To wit: Flint had advised Dufrense to avoid taking a certain course, because it would take them through a common shipping lane, and the crew would press to take the first prize they saw. Dufrense plots the exact course Flint cautioned against, attempts to take a prize, and the whole thing goes pear-shaped. Dufrense wonders if any of them would have thought of taking the course if Flint hadn't warned against it in the first place.
  • Narm: Rackham's four-lensed sunglasses seen in the pilot.
  • Stealth Pun: At the end of season 1, Max tells Rackham, "Get your fucking house in order" when he's mismanaging the brothel (a fucking house, as in a house where fucking occurs).