Starz found success with its first season of “Black Sails” through a mix of swashbuckling pirates and women who could kick the swash right out of their buckles.
The second season of the series that’s a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” will be no different when it begins Saturday, Jan. 24. The 10-episode second season follows the most feared pirate in the early 1700s, Captain Flint (Toby Stephens), and his men.
The crew is stranded, with an army of Spanish soldiers standing between them and the precious Urca gold. And with their crimes against their brethren no longer a secret, Flint and John Silver (Luke Arnold) must join forces in a desperate bid for survival.
Stephens has the interesting challenge of playing a character who dies before getting to Treasure Island. That means there’s no chance for his character to have any long-term redemption.
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One way the producers are getting around this is through flashback that show Flint 15 years earlier. It’s a way of revealing how Flint became a pirate and what drives him to do extreme things.
“He’s perhaps a lot more complicated than you think at the end of series one,” Stephens says. “What’s great about season two is we force the audience to look at Flint in a totally different way.”
Arnold’s having a different experience playing John Silver. He sees the noted pirate as being a little more lighthearted as he doesn’t expect to be hanging around for much longer.
That’s also been a double-edged sword for Silver.
“Where everyone else has to keep face and make sure they’re intimidating people and they seem to be scary and have that level of respect, it’s kind of all that seems like a joke to Silver because he’s here for one prize, and then he expects to be out the door,” Arnold says. “So that’s really fun in season one.
“And then kind of the sad realization for him as we go into season two is that he realizes he might not be out of this place as soon as he hopes, but that also there might be opportunities here that he didn’t foresee when he first arrived.”
Arnold says he loves when Silver annoys Flint. It’s not just the way the characters interact; Arnold says it’s fun to see how Stephens responds to what is happening. That makes the role fun to both play and watch.
When it comes to the women, there’s no one tougher than Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New) who is struggling to maintain her grip on Nassau.
“I think season two really does challenge her authority. There are plenty of figures that are going to come in and completely threaten this way of life on the island and threaten her own life,” New says. “So as much as she has been a figure of power and authority for a long time, she is suddenly thrown into a very, very difficult situation where she’s balancing not only threats from outside, but you’ve also got the threat of very, very dangerous pirates.
“She’s constantly having to manage a lot of men, and she does it well sometimes, but suddenly you also see that other women are coming to challenge her authority as well.”
While season two is just setting sail, work has already started in Cape Town, South Africa, for season three. That location doubles for the former British colony of New Providence Islands in Bahamas.
And, while this is a prequel to “Treasure Island,” the timeline has been established in such a way that the show could run for years and never get to the first page of the classic novel.
Season one, which debuted in January 2014, averaged 5.3 million viewers per episode. It’s being distributed in approximately 130 countries and territories worldwide.