Ed reads a letter in Our Flag Means Death.

Let’s Unpack the Season 2 Finale of ‘Our Flag Means Death’

Our Flag Means Death season 2 has come to an end, and what a sweet and wild voyage it’s been! A lot happened in the season 2 finale, “Mermen,” so let’s break it down—and speculate on how it could set up a possible season 3.

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Ed finds himself … sort of

When episode 8 opens, we see that Ed has made good on his decision to go off and become a fisherman. He’s now living an idyllic life in a hidden cove, where he’s joined up with some other fisherfolk. However, it soon becomes clear that Ed doesn’t quite understand what’s required of him in this new life. He’s not actually doing any work, because he doesn’t actually have any idea how to fish. The fishermen kick him out of the cove, telling him to go do something he’s good at. What is Ed good at? Hmm…

The pirates take on the British

At the end of episode 7, the Republic of Pirates is attacked by Prince Ricky Banes, who plants bombs in Zheng Yi Sao’s fleet. In episode 8, the Republic is in ruins. The fleet is destroyed, the British have taken over, and even Spanish Jackie herself is forced to serve brandy to Banes and his men. It’s a new low for the pirates.

But wait! The pirates haven’t lost all their spark. Stede manages to stir a despondent Zheng into action by almost getting killed. As the two of them head into battle against the British, they’re met with a welcome sight: Ed, coming to help them out in his triumphant return to piracy. It’s what he’s good at!

Stede and Ed are reunited

Come on, you didn’t think Ed was just going to catch fish forever, did you?

As they fight the British on a beach near the Republic, Stede and Ed get their reunion. Ed finally reads one of the letters Stede wrote him when a couple of British soldiers find the bottle, and he finds Stede and Zheng on the beach. In a callback to the dream Stede had at the beginning of the season, they run toward each other on the sand, confess their feelings, and kiss. Our boys are back together, and all is right in the world!

Together with Zheng, Stede and Ed return to Spanish Jackie’s to kick some more ass. As soon as they walk in, though, all the British soldiers froth at the mouth and fall over, dead. It turns out Spanish Jackie poisoned the brandy—but don’t worry, the Swede, who’s been acting as poison tester, is apparently immune. If that comes as a surprise, just know that he’s as confused about it as you are.

Stede, Ed, and the rest of the pirates dress up in British uniforms and take the ship. However, Izzy is wounded.

The wisdom of Izzy

Given what an incredible jerk he was in season 1, who knew that Izzy would end up being one of the most profound and sympathetic characters in the show?

While the British are still in control of the Republic of Pirates, Izzy drops a truth bomb on Banes. “You don’t know the first thing about piracy, do you?” he says. “It’s not about glory, or getting what you want. It’s about belonging to something when the world told you you were nothing. It’s about finding the family to kill for when yours are long dead. It’s about letting go of ego for something larger: the crew.”

As if that moment isn’t heart-wrenching enough, we soon find out that Izzy isn’t going to survive his wounds. As Ed leans over him, Izzy tells him that after all the time they’ve spent together, it’s time for Ed to put aside the Blackbeard persona for good. “They love you, Ed,” Izzy says, glancing at the crew gathered around them. “Just be Ed.”

A wedding, a funeral, and a couple of innkeepers

The season ends on a poignant note. Lucius and Black Pete have a wedding on the ship, officially becoming mateys. The crew also says goodbye to Izzy, laying him to rest on the shore.

Afterwards, as the crew sails off, Ed and Stede stay behind. There’s a ramshackle house behind them, and they’ve decided to try out the lifestyle Ed dreamed about in his near-death experience earlier in the season: working as humble innkeepers.

Will they stay there? If season 3 actually does happen—and series creator David Jenkins has said that his plan is for a three-season arc—then they’ll likely get pulled back into the pirate’s life.

For now, though, Stede and Ed’s stories have reached a satisfying point. Stede is more than just a gentleman playing pirate. Thanks to his increasingly steely nerves and his nascent badassery, he is the Gentleman Pirate. And Ed seems to have achieved something he never thought possible: he recognizes that he’s worthy of love, and he’s found that love in both his seaborne family and himself. Compared to a feat like that, defeating the British navy is easy.

(featured image: Max)

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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>