Taika Waititi in the ocean in our flag means death

‘Our Flag Means Death’ Finally Relieved My Fear of the Ocean

If there is one thing about me you should know, it’s that I don’t go in the ocean for very long, mainly because I don’t go into the home of sharks. They don’t come into my home; I don’t go into theirs. So, whenever there is an underwater scene in a movie or television show in the ocean, forget about it. I cannot focus on anything because I instantly assume a shark is going to appear. What I loved so dearly about the final moments of Our Flag Means Death season 2, episode 3, “The Innkeeper,” was that I was so captivated by Ed (Taika Waititi) and Stede’s (Rhys Darby) love for each other that I just never thought about it.

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My fear has ruined many moments for me, but my love of Ed and Stede stopped me from even thinking about the ocean as this fearful thing. I only thought about Stede swimming with his mermaid tail to Ed’s aid. I could only listen to the soothing sound of Kate Bush singing “This Woman’s Work.” Nothing about this sequence reminded me of the more terrifying aspects of the ocean, just the beauty that can also exist beneath its surface, especially when you’re with the one you love.

Somehow, this show about pirates finding love at sea has made me forget a lifelong fear of mine. It erased that overwhelming sense of dread that keeps me on land. I’d go on a boat like the Revenge for a love like Ed and Stede’s. To me, that shows the overpowering emotion that both Darby and Waititi convey in their performances of Ed and Stede and how a scene like this, which is outrageous on paper, works so well.

“I know you have a little life in you yet.”

Ed and Stede in the ocean together
(Max)

Stop and think about this scene for a moment: A man who is maybe in purgatory has realized he hated himself, thrown himself into the ocean in his mind, and is now trying to decide if he wants to live or die. In his own ocean mind palace, he feels the presence of his one-time lover, who comes to him in the shape of a merman and that’s how he decides to live. That’s, arguably, the most wild thing to come to TV in quite some time, and yet it is so emotionally charged that you end up crying over Rhys Darby swimming to Taika Waititi as Kate Bush sings at you. Why? Because in the midst of the nonsense, Darby and Waititi are so incredibly genuine in their performances.

It’s why, for me, this shot of them together doesn’t strike the fear of the shark gods in me. I’m not instantly running for the hills. This show has done wonders for fandom, particularly in bringing us all together and reminding us that finding a community online to share our love for something is nice and wonderful at times. What’s so special about Our Flag Means Death and this moment in particular is that it shows just how deep Stede’s love for Ed runs and vice versa. So thank you, Our Flag Means Death, for showing me that I can look at open water and not cry—well, not cry over sharks, that is. I will cry over Stede and Ed, though.

(featured image: HBO)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.