In the penultimate episode of the third season, Black Sails lost one of its greats. It hung Charles Vane, triggering a war in Nassau, tears, and the collective NOOOOs of millions of fans. Although he’s gone, he won’t be forgotten — his presence on the show was too singular. He wasn’t a poetic talker like Flint or Jack, but he always got his point across in a very memorable fashion. In remembrance, let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit the late Vane’s best lines.
1. “Charles Vane, of the Ranger.”
Way back in Season 1, when we’re still trying to make sense of Charles Vane and his role, we frequently found ourselves thinking, “who is this guy?” It’s in an unfavorable way when he dramatically murders Flint’s man on the beach and punches Eleanor. But he really catches our attention when Eleanor tries unsuccessfully to deal with a difficult captain. Vane intervenes, stopping the guy cold simply by stating his name and ship. “Charles Vane, of the Ranger.” If his name carries that much power, we thought — who is this guy?
2. “Are you as surprised as I am that I’m the only one here behaving myself?”
The third episode of Season 1 features a winning scene: The dysfunctional meeting between Flint, Gates, Vane, Jack, and Eleanor. Flint is unable to be civil to Vane, and Gates periodically removes him to lecture him about diplomacy. Meanwhile, Vane surprises everyone by remaining cool and silent.
3. “Mr. Holmes doesn’t work here anymore.”
In the third episode of Season 2, Vane proves once and for all: If we wrote him off as a brute or annoyance to Flint’s plans in Season 1, we couldn’t have been more wrong. The scene in which he swims to Ned Low’s ship and calmly threatens him is badass not just for its aftermath (Low’s head on a pike bearing the sign I angered Charles Vane) but for their dialogue beforehand, which gives us an insight into Vane’s unique brand of morality.
4. “As I am free, I hereby claim the same for Nassau. She is free today, and so long as I draw breath, she shall remain free.”
Although this line is delivered in a letter, we still hear Vane say it in a showstopping voiceover while the camera pans to him, Apocalypse Nowing to Charleston — just in case the I angered Charles Vane incident wasn’t badass enough.
5. “I say we get him the hell out of there.”
For anyone who still had lingering doubts about Charles Vane, this line is the moment when we reassess everything we think we know. What kind of gloriously nutty person travels to attack someone — then turns around and decides to rescue him instead, after he learns that someone else plans to kill him first? Nobody else would do that, because it takes a unique combination of balls of steel, principles, a willingness to adapt, and a borderline loony disregard for danger.
6. “For those of you who live to see tomorrow, know that you had a choice.”
Toby Stephens is one of the best working actors on TV today, and for one moment, while Vane is addressing the people of Charleston, we nearly forget that he’s onscreen, too. This line might encapsulate Vane in a nutshell: It’s chilling and threatening as hell, but it’s straightforward. He’s not posturing, he’s merely stating what’s about to happen. He’s even, in his indelicate way, giving an out to those who want one.
7. “Fuck you, Jack.”
Vane can be surprisingly sentimental, but he’s also not someone who verbally expresses his affection. When he parts with Jack in Season 3, he takes his signature line and twists into a moving goodbye using inflection alone. Theirs was one of the best and most tumultuous relationships on the show, but it ended on a high note. This moment shows how good Vane is at conveying the emotion beneath the surface, even when the top layer is gruff and harsh.
8. “Give us your submission and we will give you all the comfort you need.’ I can think of no measure of comfort worth that price.”
Just before the carriage chase sequence, Flint and Vane have one of their best exchanges: An argument about domesticity. Vane can’t see why Flint still values a home filled with trinkets, and Flint is flabbergasted that Vane has no inclination towards material comforts. It highlights what a pure-hearted pirate Vane is, and it foreshadows his death. He sticks to his ideals and caves to nothing — no matter what he’s threatened with.
9. “You are not a shepherd. You are a sheep.”
Even in Vane’s pre-execution conversation with the pastor, he never stops questioning the status quo and being kind of a dick to someone who really deserves it. When the pastor tries to self-righteously council him about and guilt him about his crimes, he shuts him down in a manner that’s pure patented Vane.
10. “Get on with it, motherfucker.”
Because no last words have ever been more fitting. Charles Vane singlehandedly transforms the crowd from excitedly jeering — amped to watch the bad man hang — to, “wait, this isn’t fun anymore. I think I’m going to cry.”
Black Sails won’t be the same without Charles Vane, but he will hardly fade away. To give him the most appropriate sendoff from the Charles Vane Book of Sentiment: Fuck you, Charles.