By Soren Dreier
Charles Vane is a character in the series 'Black Sails'.
Among a variety of Pirate Captains, he is the one who stands ethically strong throughout the saga. Most do, but he is the personification of honesty in every breath he takes and his belief in ‘all men shall remain free’ is uncompromised. He is allergic to slavery and he is allergic to betrayal.
Honor and codes of conduct seem to be a solid stronghold in his soul. He cannot in any way plug back into the Matrix, no matter if he wants too. His eyes have seen too much abuse.
He fights and he kills, but never in random or for the pleasure of it. At some point in the series, when the British colonial power seeks to take the island of New Providence, he turns his attention to bringing the British Empire down.
This is his conversation with the Pastor, before he faces the gallows:
Pastor: I assume you understand what is to happen as soon as everything begins. It´ll be loud, confusing. Men who never experienced fear are said to know it for the first time. But in this moment, there is quiet. An opportunity to find some measure of peace. I would like to help you do that.
Charles Vane: You´ve done this before?
Pastor: I have. Regretfully I have.
Charles Vane: Get many takers, do you? For the kind of peace you are offering?
Pastor: It is a different experience to what you imagine it being. Surely a man like you has faced death before, but never so nakedly. And cloaked in glory or sacrifice, fully exposed in all its horror and finality. In this moment, you have the opportunity to enter into the moment with a clear conscience. I can help you do that. To repent.
Charles Vane: I have nothing to repent for with you.
Pastor: Don’t you? I understand the code you subscribe to. I understand that you believe your violence is justified in the name of a defiance of tyranny, but there are mothers who buried their sons because of you. Wives widowed because of you. Children awoken in their sleep because of you to be told their father was never coming home because of you. What kind of a man can experience no remorse from this?
Charles Vane: Whatever remorse I have or do not have is my own. That I chose not to share it with you says more about you than it does about me.
Pastor: Me? I am a shepherd sent to help you find a path to God’s forgiveness.
Charles Vane: A shepherd? You are the sheep. Whatever I have to say to God I´ll tell him myself or not at all.
In Vane’s ethics, he has done nothing wrong. The men he killed were, in his perspective, an honest killing. His ethics command him to look his opponents in the eye and offer them surrender. If they do so, he treats them with respect, and if they do not, he fights them, he wins and they die.
Set up as a counterpoint to that, we watch the brutality and the sadism of the British Empire, who aren’t exactly in for an honest fight. They pull their strings and their biggest enemy isn’t the Pirates but the Spanish Empire, who will start a war with Britain if they cannot control their little pirate problem.
Charles Vane knows that, and he is not the main character, Captain Flint is and John Silver is.
Captain Flint is a former adviser to the British Empire and is set, long before the history starts, to form a treaty with the population of New Providence Island. Due to scheming and dishonesty from the empire, he aborts and joins the Pirates.
John Silver is an opportunist who gets caught being a blind passenger on a ship. He knows the power of manipulation and he survives because he is very good at spotting the weaknesses of others and playing them against each other. Quite the opposite of Charles Vane.
Rather late in the series John Silver faces up to himself, cannot run from himself anymore, and this is symbolically shown by him losing a leg. The conversations he has with his mentor Captain Flint, are extremely interesting seen from a spiritual perspective, since they deal with honor, warriorhood, and the weaknesses of Man.
Especially interesting are their conversations on joining the ‘Dark Path’, which can be seen as: ‘Evil’ or can be seen as: How far can you go, with your soul intact, in defying the Matrix. The Matrix understood as The Empire and thereby: Every man and woman’s right to be free of any kind of shackles.
Spirituality and the quest for freedom hides everywhere, doesn’t it?
When I first came across Black Sails it didn’t speak to me.
About a year ago I watched 15 minutes of the first episode and I aborted. It starts with heavy CGIand a battle at sea.
I also thought it was a kind of Pirates of the Caribbean spin off. Couldn’t be further from it.
I gave it another go and it got to me. Often these series rely on perspective in order to distill the spirituality from them, but this sure delivers. Apart from various interesting plots, such as going to Charles Town, trying to deal with the Governor of the New World (The Americas) – that part of this saga will tell you everything that is rotten to the core in this world.
English Lords – Colonial Powers, who have nothing on these men and women, hence: The dialogue I started with.
That is what makes it so profound. Captain Vane knows he’s talking to a sheep serving the slaughterhouse. A slaughterhouse based on mass murder, rape, deception under the cloak of moral superiority. (Ring some bells?)
The women in the series are actually in a similar situation of empowerment as the men. Nobody looks down at them and three of them call the shots. They are strong. They sleep around and obviously, the men too, but it is without conflict and they are, like the men, expressing their sexual appetite without going promiscuous. It’s the way they roll on this island.
The black slaves, nobody likes slavery, are treated as equals and set free or smuggled out. Some are in service of business owners but are treated as equals. If new pirates arrive at the island and they treat women or a slave poorly, sadistically, they are dealt with. Very short life span.
In Season 2 – 3 of Black Sails every picture frame is like watching a painting. The colors of the Caribbean and the details in clothing and furniture are simply beautiful. Some of the filming is done at sea and the ships are computer generated and one has to take that on its own premise.
The acting all across the board is simply breathtaking. I mean, not even the extras fall out of character in the 'big' scenes. It´s such a turn off if the extras run into battle with a big smile on their face, like: This is funny we are all pretending, like they tend to do in 'Vikings'.
If you need some very good entertainment for these cold winter evenings maybe give it a go.
I will finish with the execution of Charles Vane, who sacrifices himself for a greater idea, a greater good, which he has done before in the story. At one point, he rises like Lazarus from the grave, so the parallel to a Savior (Jesus) is obvious.
Ironically Captain Vane would be the last person I would want to meet in a dark alley at night and that is a visual mind trick. He is the intimidating stereotype via his looks and body language.
And someone you would trust with your life. The embodiment of Harmlessness, until Warriorhood is called for. Also the embodiment of the Evolved Masculine, in it's most honest form? Yes, he is.
In this final scene for him, he calls out the Control System and its Matrix of Fear. Epic.
Black Sails is on Netflix/HBO in most countries. Season 4 is be the final season.
I searched for reviews of the series, some critics stated: This is the most underrated series ever shown.
Indeed. I think its take on the Powers That Be very well could account for that.
©2018 Soren Dreier
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