Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Our Flag Means Death Season 2, Episodes 1-8.]

Our Flag Means Death is TV’s best feel-good comedy right now. For fans who just watched the entire second season including that shocking twist in the finale episode, this statement might not ring entirely true, but bear with me!

Debuting on Max in 2022, this series was initially promoted as a pirate workplace comedy created by David Jenkins, the mind behind People of Earth. It stars Rhys Darby as infamous pirate Stede Bonnet, a man who leaves his cushy aristocratic lifestyle for piracy, abandoning his wife and young kids to sail on his ship, the Revenge, with a paid crew.

The show gained further attention when it was announced  Taika Waititi of What We Do in the Shadows and Jojo Rabbit fame joined as Blackbeard and the director of the pilot episode. But no one could have predicted the fanfare that would unravel around this delightful gem more precious than any treasure pirates may hunt down.

(Credit: Max)

Instead of playing a straight-up villain as one would imagine Blackbeard to be, Waititi’s rendition was introduced as a weary pirate who is exhausted by the terrifying reputation he’s built for himself over the years. When he crosses paths with Stede, a captain whose motto is to “talk it through as a crew,” and whose form of self-care comes in the shape of a hidden wardrobe filled with fine fabrics, Blackbeard is essentially smitten.

Very quickly this workplace comedy transforms into a full-blown romantic comedy between two imperfect and very different pirates.

As if that’s not enough of a reason to enjoy the fun, the crew sailing alongside Stede and Blackbeard are just as delightful in their own ways, whether it’s Oluwande’s (Samson Kayo) diplomacy, Lucius’ (Nathan Foad) underlying, well-intentioned bitchiness, Jim’s (Vico Ortiz) impassioned desire to avenge their family, Buttons’ (Ewen Bremner) spiritual connection to the sea and its birds, Frenchie’s (Joel Fry) grifting schemes, Wee John’s (Kristian Nairn) fashion expertise, Black Pete’s (Matthew Maher) tall tales, the Swede’s (Nat Faxon) genuine questions, or Roach’s (Samba Schutte) culinary creations.

(Credit: Max)

Even the “baddies” from Season 1 including Blackbeard’s right-hand man Izzy Hands (Con O’Neill) and the polyamorous Spanish Jackie (Leslie Jones) quickly became lovable fan-favorite characters. Because, despite any of these characters’ pitfalls or mistakes, they’re a community that ultimately relies on one another.

When I had initially seen Season 1, my best descriptor for Our Flag Means Death was that it was a similar feel-good vibe found in the first season of Ted Lasso, but instead of being about a fish-out-of-water coach and his perfectly imperfect football team, this show’s about gay pirates, and I’d still stand by it.

The feel-good moments can’t exist without a little turmoil in between though. As fans will recall, Season 1 ended with Blackbeard regressing into the version of himself on wanted posters, referring to himself as the Kraken after Stede seemingly abandoned him instead of running away together. After returning home to his wife, Stede learns that he’s in love and sets out to find Blackbeard, perfectly setting up Season 2 for a path to reconciliation, but not without a few bumps in the road.

(Credit: Max/Nicola Dove)

While Stede works to make a wage to buy a boat and chase after Blackbeard alongside the crew members abandoned by the Revenge, Blackbeard continues to build upon his criminal reputation by plundering day after day with his remaining crew made up of Izzy, Jim, Frenchie, Fang (David Fane), and new recruit Archie (Madeleine Sami). Even with the darker struggles they endure, such as being forced to amputate Izzy’s infected leg after he’s shot for mentioning Stede, there’s always comedy to be found.

And the introduction of pirate queen Zheng Yi Sao (Ruibo Qian) in Season 2, alongside the addition of bickering wives Anne Bonny (Minnie Driver) and Mary Read (Rachel House), helps expand the pirate landscape in a way that shows viewers not all swashbucklers are operating on the same level. Zheng runs a tight ship and approaches her crew with kindness, but unlike Stede’s pushover style in Season 1, she can lead with a more confident voice.

But Stede’s trying and showed some great growth as Season 2 played out. Even after initially believing Blackbeard had been killed in a mutiny by the Revenge crew, he stayed calm and took charge. When Blackbeard does wake after one of the show’s more fantastical moments involving a mermaid dream sequence set to the tune of Kate Bush‘s “This Woman’s Work,” Stede never loses faith that Blackbeard can be his best self.

Even though he’s reluctant at first to accept Stede’s apologies, there is something so relatable and hilarious about Blackbeard hiding under a blanket to avoid his pirate love. While I could continue to summarize how the second season fully plays out, I’d rather sum up that Our Flag Means Death continues to be a celebration of friendship, found family, and love without terms or limitations.

As with any good storytelling, some painful moments will be experienced, but it never takes away from the pure joy this show holds and continues to turn out. And in what other shows could you watch a crew of pirates celebrate “Calypso’s Birthday” with drag and musical performances of Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose”? You can’t. So don’t wait, tune into Our Flag Means Death for laugh-out-loud comedy that will leave a smile (and maybe a few tears) on your face long after the credits roll.

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments section below.

Our Flag Means Death, Seasons 1-2, Streaming now, Max

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