TV: Our Flag Means Death (Season 2)

If Our Flag Means Death doesn’t get renewed, it will certainly be ending on a high note. This period comedy became a sensation when its fish-out-of-water premise unexpectedly evolved into a touching queer romance between “gentleman pirate” Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby) and the legendary Blackbeard (Taika Waititi). Their connection faces a major setback in the wake of season one, which ended with the unlikely couple’s emotionally charged break-up. As Bonnet and half the crew of the Revenge struggle to make ends meet as peons in the employee of Spanish Jackie (Leslie Jones), Blackbeard embarks on an epic rampage of recidivism, driving the rest of the crew to new levels of cruelty on the high seas. Eventually, of course, the star-crossed lovers find their way back into each others’ lives, and with their reunion the oddballs who orbit them—as well as a number of new faces—pull together into an unlikely new created family.

The first season took a few episodes to figure itself out, but Our Flag Means Death hits the ground running in season two, more confident in its voice and mission. Once again, Darby and Waititi thematically center the proceedings, and they’re in fine form once again as polar opposites on the masculinity spectrum, drawing each other towards the middle. The rest of the cast is perhaps better served this year, with improved delineation for both returning support (Samson Bayo, Matthew Maher, Con O’Neill, Vic Ortiz) and newcomers (Ruibo Qian, Madeleine Sami). The ensemble is rallying, and the season neatly wraps its finale around a core metaphor: the pirate life as an emblem of otherness, a point that hits home brilliantly in a climactic confrontation with the British Empire (i.e., normality). Great stuff, and while it’s tempting to want to return, the series could do worse than to end with such a rousing, positive send-off.

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