[This is a review of the Crossbones series finale. There will be SPOILERS.]
Two-time Academy Award nominee John Malkovich was poised to lead this crew of relatively unknown actors to summertime television success, but sadly, this ship never quite knew which direction it wanted to sail in.
There were moments, especially during its premiere, where Crossbones appeared to be hanging its hopes and dreams on the relationship between Teach and Lowe. Next to Malkovich, Richard Coyle (Lowe) has proven himself a worthy supporting star, by standing toe-to-toe with the acting legend effortlessly. Unfortunately, Cross and his team of writers pulled Lowe away from Blackbeard and into the arms of Kate Balfour (Claire Foy).
The love triangle that ensued was predictable and boring. Kate's husband James quickly became the unsung hero, as a man trying to right the wrongs of his past. During the finale, the plot of James, Kate and Tom trying to thwart an abortion was the least interesting story of the two-hour event. It's almost as if the series had no idea what to do with its supporting cast. Perhaps they assumed Blackbeard would be enough, but even his story fell apart in the end.
There is no denying the enormity of Malkovich every time he's onscreen. His troublesome English accent aside, the Illinois-born native chews dialogue in a way that draws you in, regardless of of whether or not what he's saying makes sense. He is the alpha, but for any good television series to work, there needs to be a balance within the ensemble. Look at shows like Games of Thrones, or Showtime's new hit series Penny Dreadful. Both programs have names like Eva Green and Peter Dinklage, but their supporting cast members carry their own weight to help make the show all the more exhilarating to watch.
With all the problems Crossbones faced throughout its season, the finale featured a surprising and welcomed performance by David Hoflin (Charlie Rider). Besides having a short love affair with the beautiful Selima, Rider has been put in the shadow of his surrogate father, Blackbeard.
In the finale's first hour, we finally get to see what Charlie is all about as the young man stands up to Teach after the legendary pirate's true intentions are made clear. It's a shame that we won't get to see more of Hoflin in this role, as it seemed he was ready to blossom into a solid performer.
Again, that main problem with this series was Cross' lack of effort to develop his ensemble, and in the end, it's still unclear as to where the show was headed. The last image we see of Blackbeard shows him alone on a beach walking into the distance.
At first glance, Crossbones appeared to be concerned with uncovering the "man behind the legend," yet the season finale kills every character capable of exposing the mysterious pirate. His ex-wife Antoinette, turned into a cliche horror movie-of-the-week character, killed Selima, only to die herself at the hands Teach (or herself?).If this series had been renewed for a second season, where was it going?
If you want to get your pirate fix from here on out, you're going to have to stick to Starz Black Sails. Neil Cross is a very capable writer and we will undoubtedly have more stories from him for us to dive into in the near future, but Crossbones never quite found its footing. What did you like (or dislike) most about NBC's pirate drama?
Crossbones will not be back for a season 2.