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Our Flag Means Death: Season 2

In the Spring of 2022, HBO Max released the first season of Our Flag Means Death in weekly installments. The show grew traction due to its comedy and diversity, and queer fans flocked to it. Many people were worried it would end up as another case of queerbaiting, though we were all pleasantly surprised to find that there was no baiting involved. The first season ended on a cliffhanger, and everyone waited eagerly for news of a renewal for a second season. HBO, however, was going through the process of transitioning to just Max, and many of the original shows were at risk of being canceled. There was no news for Our Flag Means Death for months, though the cast, crew, and fans remained hopeful. It wasn’t until June that it was officially announced to have been renewed–which was a fitting announcement for Pride Month–and throughout the year we got little hints regarding the second season’s production.

Word got out that we would only be getting eight episodes for season two, as opposed to the ten in the first season, which instantly made fans a bit worried about what was in store. The show’s episodes are only about a half hour, so they would definitely be working on a time crunch. Still, after the uncertainty of the previous year and the revival of the show’s fanbase, fans were mostly optimistic, as we knew that the cast and crew really cared about the show.

Warning: from here on out, there will be spoilers!

It was announced that the season would premiere with three episodes and would continue to release two episodes a week. It was exciting, especially for fans like myself who kind of prefer when streaming platforms release everything at once. The first few episodes set things up pretty well, though it was clear that things were moving pretty fast. Zheng Yi Sao was a great new addition to the cast, and I think it’s funny that the writers don’t care much about historical accuracy, since the real pirate queen didn’t live for several decades after Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet died in real life. I was a tad thrown off by her relationship with Oluwande, though I think this and several other things I thought were underdeveloped were mostly due to their lack of time. Similarly, Jim and Archie’s relationship felt very sudden, and though it wasn’t at all bad, I just wish we had been able to see more of them. This also seemed like a great opportunity for a polyamorous relationship to be explored, but if that was going to be something they wanted to explore, I think they just didn’t have the time to develop it. Jim and Olu made weird comments about them being more like family than romantic partners, which I thought was… an interesting choice, given how compelling they made their relationship in season one.

A lot of characters who were pretty important in season one got pushed to the background this season, to the point where barely any characters were given much of a character arc. While Stede and Ed are obviously the main characters, there was still plenty of a focus on the rest of the crew in season one that was not present this season. The most of an arc we got for any character was Izzy’s, which, to be fair, was very good. I was a bit of an Izzy hater in season one, and honestly, he wasn’t supposed to be super likable then. Season two really sold me on his character, though, and his relationship to the crew was very well done and heartfelt. This season dealt with disability in a very positive light, as well, in having the crew step up to craft Izzy a prosthetic leg when his was cut off. He was no less capable for it, and it made him much closer to the crew.

If for whatever reason you’re still reading this and haven’t seen season two and don’t want to be spoiled further, begone! I cannot write this article without discussing Izzy’s death. I, like many other fans, was extremely jarred by this and did not like this decision by the writers at all. Many of my issues with this season stemmed from issues of money and pacing, but this was the one writing problem I had. The season made Izzy such a compelling and interesting character with very complex relationships to so many of the characters, and he seemed like he was constantly at risk of dying and kept pulling through. When what finally took him out was a sudden gunshot wound, I think it’s fair for fans to be a bit startled, especially considering Lucius and Pete’s matelotage happened immediately after. We had no time to process any of the scenes that were meant to be very emotional in the last episode, and I was a bit stunned when the finale ended. The episode was totally setting up Izzy’s death with his touching monologue about not fitting in and the crew being a family, but it honestly could have worked just as well for Izzy to have become the new captain of the Revenge.

I had plenty of issues with this season, but don’t get me wrong, I still found plenty to enjoy. Ed and Stede were just as great of a couple as they were in season one, even if their story felt rushed. There were plenty of callbacks and parallels to the first season that worked really well. As I mentioned before, we had some cool new characters introduced, like Zheng Yi Sao and Archie, as well as Mary Read and Anne Bonny who made an appearance in one episode. I definitely liked the season; I just wish it had been given more time. It’s still a really fun show, which I think can be forgotten in the more hard-hitting moments, as it is ultimately a comedy, and I’m curious to hear if we’ll be getting another season after the way this one ended.

Written by Alec Conwell

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