Stede and Ed, played by Rhys Darby and Taika Waititi, kiss under the moonlight in episode 5 of season 2 of Our Flag Means Death

This Sweet ‘Our Flag Means Death’ Parallel Is So Meaningful

Screaming crying shaking.

The two latest episodes of everyone’s favorite pirate show have dropped, and the usual Our Flag Means Death-induced frenzy has made its way through the fandom at seeing what episode 4, “Fun and Games,” and episode 5, “The Curse of the Seafaring Life,” had in store for Rhys Darby’s Stede Bonnet, Taika Waititi’s Ed “Blackbeard” Teach and the crew of the Revenge.

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This article contains spoilers for Our Flag Means Death up until episode 5 of season 2, so proceed at your own discretion.

Among stylish but sadly cursed suits, new unicorns, captain lessons, and the appearance of the two most famous women pirates in history—Anne Bonny and Mary Read, played respectively by Minnie Driver and Rachel House—many comments and emotions have focused on the very final scene of the episode, which not only brought Stede and Ed closer to healing their relationship but also acted as a beautiful mirror to another beloved scene from season one.

Two pirate women smile in a room full of antiques in 'Our Flag Means Death.'
They are everything to me, honestly (Max)

After the events of episode 5 kept Stede and Ed separate, the former dealing with a cursed suit as well as Izzy Hands’ lessons in becoming a fiercer and more believable pirate captain while the latter accompanied Fang—or actually, Kevin—for a fishing excursion that also served as a very poignant therapy session, the two meet up again at the end of the episode on the bridge of the Revenge bathed in moonlight.

Funny that—considering that the fifth episode of season one also had a scene with Stede and Ed meeting under the moonlight. And discussing a piece of red cloth. And with one telling the other that he “wears fine things well.” Except that if in season one it was clear that Ed was half moving in for a kiss and then decided against it, in season two the two finally do come together to share the moonlit kiss they deserve. Stede even grabs Ed to bring him closer before they both agree to take things slow and end up doing the cutest Hand Moment™ ever put on a television screen.

The parallel between these two “you wear fine things well” scenes has been living rent-free in my head since Thursday because it has so many layers to it—each one more emotional and brilliant than the others. So much symbolism behind it all, really, something I’ve always felt was so intrinsically linked to queer media starting from when “queer media” mostly meant “queer baiting media” and that I love to see given the place it deserves in a show that is so magnificently and openly queer. Let’s dive into it, then.

The second take of the moonlit kiss in the fifth episode of the second season of Our Flag Means Death between Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby) and Ed 'Blackbeard' Teach (Taika Waititi)
The fact that this still released by the official Our Flag Means Death accounts is a completely different take from the one used in the show—feeling unhinged besties (Max)

The first thing that really has me jumping up and down the walls is the different kinds of red cloth present in both scenes. In season one, the red cloth was a handkerchief that Stede tucked in the breast pocket of Ed’s jacket. He does so while telling him that he wears fine things well, a callback to an episode from Ed’s childhood when he was told he wasn’t made for fine things and also the perfect conclusion to the events of the entire episode—where Stede and Ed crash a party full of aristocrats and Ed ends up feeling mocked because he doesn’t know the rules of etiquette. 

That same handkerchief appears once more in the final episode of the first season, after Ed has returned to the Revenge convinced that Stede has refused him and left him. As he slips back into the Kraken, Ed lets that handkerchief go over the rail of the ship and get lost at sea. Fans have long agreed that the handkerchief represents Ed’s heart, touched by Stede and then thrown away by Ed once he believes that Stede doesn’t actually want him—a conviction of being unlovable, which we have seen time and time again being pretty well deep-rooted in him.

Now the red cloth is Stede’s entire shirt, which means that Stede is Ed’s heart, wanted and sought and held tight, as the glorious ending of this season’s third episode—cue “This Woman’s Work” playing in the distance—has shown us. And as Tumblr user @achillesuwu pointed out, one might even argue that the red suit Stede wears throughout the fifth episode also refers back to Ed—or better yet, the Kraken. 

The suit is indeed another piece of red cloth, this time flashy and covered in jewelry and hiding the red shirt underneath, one that can destroy ships and that the crew of the Revenge really wants to let go of—eventually convincing Stede that throwing it away really is necessary. Blackbeard’s heart as opposed to Ed’s heart, which Stede keeps.

Then there’s the setting, so similar to the one in the first season and yet still with a constellation of little differences that mean the world to how much Stede and Ed have changed. The Moon is different, for starters—the one in season one is full, immense, almost unnatural, while the one in season two is a waxing gibbous, the phase immediately after the full moon, and while still bright it doesn’t take up nearly all of the sky. 

They’re also dressed differently—not in their crashing-an-aristocratic-dinner flowers-in-their-beard finery, but rather with Stede looking more pirate-y than he has ever looked and Ed wearing a whole-ass cat collar with a bell and brandishing a fish. The way in which I love this show, honestly.

It all speaks to the different and more realistic way in which they both see their relationship. Not a dizzying romance that has fairytale-like tones—say like, an unnaturally big full Moon—and eventually goes too fast, but a relationship that they both agree to take their time with, that doesn’t absorb them completely into each other but instead allows them to be their own separate people—as seen by the fact that they have different storylines at the end of which they still come together to hold hands.

(featured image: Max)

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Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.