stede with his sword Our Flag Means Death Image by Nicola Dove

‘Our Flag Means Death’ Season 2 Review: Love Is Hard but Being a Pirate Is Harder

5/5 broken hearts.

Our Flag Means Death was the little show that could thanks to the support of its fans, and now it’s back and better than before. Season 1 of the beloved HBO series took us on the Revenge, Stede Bonnet’s (Rhys Darby) ship that he purchased for himself in the midst of his seeming midlife crisis. His crew hated him, he didn’t know what he was doing, and he was very bad at his job. But he then met Blackbeard (Taika Waititi) and his life changed.

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Ed “Blackbeard” Teach is also going through a crisis and doesn’t want to be a pirate anymore, but his crisis quickly becomes one of the heart when he meets Stede, and their love story has been a driving force for fans.

The show is beloved in the queer community for its couples, characters, and its acceptance of fans with open arms, and the campaign to keep it alive ran for months after the end of the first season. Luckily, it worked, and season 2 is on the horizon—and it is, I am happy to report, Captain, somehow better than before. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a couple with some tension they have to work out.

At the end of season 1, we were left with Ed and Stede at odds with each other when Ed thought he was left behind, and Stede struggling with what he’d done to his family. But season 2 throws us right into what happens when you leave your hot boyfriend to go back to your wife who doesn’t want you.

Love on the sea

ed being upset in Our Flag Means Death Image by Nicola Dove
(Nicola Dove/HBO)

Don’t think you will instantly get everything you want with this show. Much like season 1, you have to be patient, but season 2 does a great job of balancing what fans need with our ships (pun intended) while also making sure we’re fulfilled with the characters we’ve been writing fanfiction about all this time. After all, this show is all our tropey dreams come to life. Keeping Ed and Stede apart for too long would feel like going through the same beats as the first season in just a different font, so they aren’t separated for a lot of the season, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t tension.

For a lot of the season, the theme is trying to have everyone just be in love. While season 1 was about everyone coming to terms with how they had emotions just in general, a lot of this season was everyone being willing to share those emotions with each other. You have a lot more of characters opening up and talking to each other and a lot more of Ed and Stede really having moments where they share what they are thinking about instead of just assuming things which is kind of nice. But it isn’t just their show.

It’s not just about Ed and Stede

the boys in Our Flag Means Death Image by Nicola Dove
(Nicola Dove/HBO)

Our Flag Means Death masters the art of balance. When the show announced a lot of new characters lining up to meet the crew of the Revenge, it was a little frightening because we didn’t want to detract from our favorites. There are so many amazing characters to explore that losing time with them wasn’t something I was willing to do. But the show still manages to find time to give us a moment with each character we know and love, even when they are separated at the start of the season.

A lot of the Revenge is with Stede. Wee John (Kristian Nairn), Black Pete (Matthew Maher), Olu (Samson Kayo), and Roach (Samba Schutte) were all abandoned by Blackbeard after what happened with Stede, and they end up on a new ship. There’s a sea of new characters, played by Ruibo Qian, Minnie Driver, Rachel House, and Madeleine Sami, and yet, we don’t lose time with our beloved team.

Even Jim (Vico Ortiz) and Frenchie (Joel Fry), who are trapped on Blackbeard’s ship while he is in a depressed episode (and not fun to be around), are still having their time on the show.

the new crew in our flag means death
(Nicola Dove/HBO)

The point here is that the series manages to find time to highlight its characters no matter what’s happening in the overall storyline. It’s something that has always been exciting about the series. There’s a reason why you can find someone who will tell you their favorite character is Izzy (Con O’Neill) and you’ll understand. We all love Jim for good reason, and it’s not just because we love Vico Ortiz themself. The show is brilliant in how it balances its characters and arcs, and seeing this continue in season two shows why we loved it so much in season one.

But a lot of drama is about Ed and Stede

stede holding a poster of ed in Our Flag Means Death Image by Nicola Dove
(Nicola Dove/HBO)

While a new cast of characters may color their world, the crux of the issue lies with Ed and Stede. After season 1, the two have a lot to deal with. Ed feels abandoned, Stede is trying to make it up to him, and their relationship is going through a lot of ups and downs throughout all of the season. Press was given seven of the eight episodes, so I have don’t know what the resolution is to their relationship right now, but as someone who loved their season 1 journey very much, I think season two is better by a landslide. Which is saying something.

It’s not without its hang-ups; they do spend a lot of time talking to other people and dealing with things outside of their feelings, so a lot of what should be spent yelling or kissing or doing fanfic tropes I want to see pirates do is spent actually doing things worthwhile for the show, but still, this season has a way of bringing these two characters into a lot of other relationship conversations while we still have to unpack what they went through.

We’ve missed them so much

figurines of ed and stede in Our Flag Means Death Image by Nicola Dove
(Nicola Dove/HBO)

One thing is made abundantly clear throughout season 2 of the series: I have missed them. The series itself has become such a comfort among fans that it is easy to see why the return with season 2 feels like coming home from school, in a way. It is a home-cooked meal, a blanket you thought you misplaced. Our Flag Means Death has just become that show you put on when everything else feels too much.

Season two is a perfect continuation of what season one began and shows its power as a series, and it is definitely one fans are going to cling to.

(featured image: Nicola Dove/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 current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.