Our Flag Means Dying Season 2 Evaluate: Everybody’s Favourite Queer Pirate Sitcom Is Nonetheless in Superb Type

Rhys Darby, Our Flag Means Death

Rhys Darby, Our Flag Means Dying

Nicola Dove/Max

A word-of-mouth hit final yr, Our Flag Means Dying affords a chaotic tackle the Golden Age of Piracy. Reimagining 18th century pirate feuds as lighthearted office conflicts, creator David Jenkins mixes sitcom hijinks with a gleeful anachronistic strategy to historical past. On the heart is a love story between the infamous captain Blackbeard (Taika Waititi) and the foppish Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby) — a rich airhead who launches an ill-conceived piratical profession.

Bored with terrorizing the excessive seas, Blackbeard falls head over heels for Stede’s delicate aspect and pampered way of life. In the meantime Stede is thrilled to co-captain an actual ship, baffling the crew together with his touchy-feely management fashion and lack of survival instincts.

After a whirlwind romance, Season 1 ended with a disastrous breakup. Splitting the crew into two factions, Stede is caught on dry land whereas Blackbeard embarks on a nautical rampage. His habits even alarms different hardened pirates — together with his cynical sidekick Izzy Palms, performed to the hilt by an entertainingly acidic Con O’Neill

Invested in sustaining his captain’s badass fame, Izzy initially noticed Stede as a frivolous fool who seduced Blackbeard away from his true calling. Now Izzy takes an surprising leaf out of Stede’s ebook, making an attempt to mediate Blackbeard’s post-breakup meltdown.

“The environment on this ship is totally poisoned,” Izzy says at one level. Final season, he in all probability would have thought that was factor.


Our Flag Means Dying


  • Unbelievable forged led by Darby and Waititi
  • Distinctive fashion of feel-good queer comedy
  • Satisfying romantic arc
  • Extremely rewatchable because of the layered writing and performances


  • Supporting characters nonetheless lack depth
  • Hand-waves any political qualms about romanticizing IRL slave-owner Stede Bonnet

Just like the sensible Starz drama Black Sails, Our Flag Means Dying embraces the real-life historical past of piratical branding. (I refer right here to the advertising and marketing idea, to not the act of burning individuals with a scorching iron.) Stede Bonnet labels himself “the gentleman pirate,” and the true Blackbeard cultivated a theatrically scary picture, turning into a determine of public fascination. OFMD satirizes this by portraying Blackbeard as a celeb who yearns to flee his personal fame. Kickstarting his midlife disaster, Stede Bonnet represents an attractively completely different lifestyle.

After all, the issue right here is that whereas Blackbeard likes the concept of a quiet retirement, pirate fanatic Stede desires the alternative. Even earlier than the breakup, there have been hints of pressure throughout their adorably wide-eyed courtship. 

We already know that Blackbeard’s violent fame is a mix of actuality and subterfuge — and that his darkish aspect emerged from lifelong trauma. At coronary heart, he desires to be mushy and playful. So when Season 2 reintroduces him as a grim, eyeliner-smeared berserker, he is not truly going again to his outdated methods. By shopping for into his personal bloodthirsty persona, he is committing an act of self-destruction. 

It isn’t a spoiler to verify that Stede and Blackbeard reunite inside just a few episodes. Like several good rom-com, their story develops with well-structured predictability. After an angsty begin, the present leans into its position as a office sitcom with distinctly trendy vibes. 

Using therapy-speak about protected areas and battle decision, Stede is a delicate, New Age-y type of boss who stays blithely unaware of his personal faults. However ridiculous although Stede is, his crew — a gaggle of slackers, castoffs and eccentrics — have come to worth his administration fashion. Open communication and corny pep talks appear fairly rad when your profession sometimes includes keel-hauling and murder. In contrast, Blackbeard has grow to be a sadistic nightmare, taking part in thoughts video games together with his underlings when he is not actively making an attempt to maim them. 

Earlier than this blended household of misfits can reconcile, the crew should work out the right way to deal with Blackbeard’s latest habits. On a ship named the Revenge, in a group of outlaws, this turns into a narrative about restorative justice and the messy work of forgiveness.

These darker parts give Our Flag Means Dying its distinctive tone. At instances the present could be very foolish, starting the season with a schmaltzy romantic dream sequence rudely interrupted by farts. Elsewhere we’re handled to depictions of grotesque violence, self-loathing, and PTSD. If not for the diehard sincerity of Stede and Blackbeard’s relationship, these clashing parts may not maintain collectively so nicely.

It is extremely candy to look at these two middle-aged guys expertise their past love collectively, balancing uncooked vulnerability with adolescent melodrama. Greatest referred to as a author/director, Taika Waititi delivers a splendidly charismatic efficiency. Alongside New Zealand comic Rhys Darby, he commanded feverish devotion from viewers final yr — to the obvious shock of HBO/Max.

Taika Waititi, Our Flag Means Death

Taika Waititi, Our Flag Means Dying

Nicola Dove/Max

Admittedly, Stede Bonnet, together with his marshmallow earnestness and careless self-importance, will not be a typical romantic lead. But OFMD‘s love story is a triumph. The writers pack a misleading quantity of fabric into a brief season, with Darby and Waititi bridging the hole between goofy humor and deep sincerity, taking their emotional arcs 100% severely.

On that word, one of many few downsides is that sure supporting characters nonetheless do not get a lot to do. This forged is stacked with expertise — as an example, Joel Fry, who performs Frenchie, deserves to be a star — and their ensemble chemistry is off the charts. However there simply is not room for a lot particular person growth exterior of the primary couple. It is difficult as a result of everybody within the crew is so current and brimming with persona, however just one or two really feel absolutely fleshed out.

Plus, the established forged should now compete for area with newcomers like a recurring frenemy performed by Ruibo Qian — a intelligent and competent chief who’s blindsided (and reluctantly charmed) by Stede’s messy crew. 

Elsewhere Minnie Driver and Rachel Home present up for an uproarious interlude because the pirate couple Anne Bonny and Mary Learn: one other reminder that Stede and Blackbeard are usually not the one purpose why Our Flag Means Dying turned a queer cult hit. Along with the varied array of LGBTQ+ characters and situationships among the many forged, the present is based on a queer angle to id and group. 

David Jenkins rejects the straight perspective of most mainstream TV and clearly has little interest in recreating 18th century attitudes to sexuality. But he additionally avoids the homophobia-free utopia of one thing like Schitt’s Creek. Poisonous masculinity is an ever-present antagonist in Stede and Blackbeard’s lives. There’s additionally a slyly difficult butch/femme dynamic between the 2 leads, who admire and take up parts of one another’s id. Among the many crew, Season 2 builds on the recurring themes of self-exploration and acceptance.

In each seasons, OFMD‘s charms far outweigh its flaws. For each doubtful selection (e.g. a cringey operating gag that the Revenge crew have not heard of China), we get a dozen intelligent little background particulars or expertly delivered one-liners.

The purposeful anachronisms stay a spotlight, from music decisions (a heart-on-your-sleeve mixtape of corny pop tracks and sweeping orchestral classics) to costumes (Mad Max meets Ren Faire meets homosexual vegan cafe). Every time somebody gazes wistfully up on the moon, the luminous CGI skyline may as nicely be a mural in a tropical cocktail bar. Allegedly afloat on the rolling seas, the faux ships stay absolutely stationary on digital camera. 

These particulars are essential to the heightened emotional tone. If every thing regarded painstakingly actual, we would not be so swept up within the forged’s cartoonish habits. Viewers should settle for that on the earth of Our Flag Means Dying, individuals can undergo torture, mutilation and life-altering trauma — however they will additionally pause the drama for a slapstick feast episode or a drag present. Sentimental but satirical, with considerate hidden depths: a uncommon and welcome mixture.

Premieres: First three episodes premiere Thursday, Oct. 5 on Max, adopted by two episodes weekly
Who’s in it: Rhys Darby, Taika Waititi, Con O’Neill, Ruibo Qian, Vico Ortiz
Who’s behind it: David Jenkins, creator/director; Andrew DeYoung (555), director
For followers of: Good Omens, What We Do within the Shadows
What number of episodes we watched: 7 of 8

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