A pirate ship sails in the distance against a grey sky
This image was taken from the official trailer for “Our Flag Means Death,” distributed by Max.

This article contains spoilers for season two of “Our Flag Means Death.”

After beloved director David Jenkins (“People of Earth”) left us with a season finale that not even the devil himself could conjure up, viewers of “Our Flag Means Death” waited with baited breath for the continuation of Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby, “What We Do in the Shadows”) and Edward Teach’s (Taika Waititi, “What We Do in the Shadows”) love story. Other pressing questions flooded the brains of many: Would Oluwande (Samson Kayo, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”) and Jim (Vico Ortiz, “The Sex Lives of College Girls”) find each other again? Could Lucius (Nathan Foad, “Newark, Newark”) possibly still be alive? What was to be made of beloved tertiary characters such as Spanish Jackie (Leslie Jones, “Saturday Night Live”)? All of these and more are answered in the second season of “Our Flag Means Death,” as the stories of all of our favorite characters progress simultaneously to degrees of pain, adorableness and sheer ridiculous hilarity that only the deepest depths of the mind of a fanfiction writer could even begin to imagine possible for canon.

It’s difficult to even begin discussing the series, as every individual aspect is so incredible that the viewer becomes entirely consumed by each episode. Every plot point on screen is relevant and jaw-dropping, as Jenkins wastes none of the audience’s time with unnecessary stories, while still incorporating fun sidebars. Season two starts with a typical Stede Bonnet idealization — boyish hopes, unrealistic dreams and only love on his mind, making it clear that this is the exact same Stede that people had been waiting an entire year to see on screen again. He is still his wistful self but now with a fiery spirit dedicated primarily to his love for Ed and secondarily to his love for the sea. On the other hand, Ed’s disdain for Stede grows into a mass in the pit of his stomach like a kraken, tangled and thrashing out at anyone who tries to help him. Even so, all fires and anger die out eventually, and the two are forced to learn how to maintain the lives they intend to lead long-term, rather than living from moment to moment. Though they clearly love each other, this season, Ed and Stede must rid themselves of their fatal flaws to have the healthy, long-term relationship that the audience wants for them.

Not only do we get an incredibly hilarious dichotomy between the two lovebirds, but we also get wonderful character development in Izzy Hands (Con O’Neill, “Chernobyl”). Going from a first mate who was willing to do anything to have Blackbeard back to a crewmate who got his leg shot off after confessing his love and concern for Edward, Izzy continues to surprise us with the amount of emotion that he allows to bubble over this season. His period of alcoholism after losing his leg is a prime example of the emotionally intelligent crew turning “poison to positivity,” and it allows Izzy to see the loss of his leg as the beginning of a new life as a pirate. He grows to sing, dance and openly love the people he works with, rather than hide his emotions in his leather jacket. 

The concept of healing doesn’t end with him, either. This season is absolutely focused on it and is full of great people coming together to heal from their pasts. Oluwande and Jim don’t only come back together but simultaneously build on other romantic relationships. This hints at the possibility a polyamorous couple involving Archie (Madeleine Sami, “The Breaker Upperers”) and Zheng Yi Sao (Ruibo Qian, “Black Mirror”), two tertiary characters from season one, which would be an incredible development for mainstream television if canonized. This development is coupled with the great return of Lucius, and the evolution of his ongoing relationship with crew member Black Pete as he works through the trauma he faced in the months away from the main cast. Lucius also learns to take the positives of his past and make them into something new and beautiful, as signified by the return of his artistic talent and romantic nature in the later half of this season. Beauty comes from many places, and this season has a consistent theme of showing viewers how beauty can come from pain.

As I write this, this season’s finale for “Our Flag Means Death” is steadily approaching. With hearts wide open, mouths agape and popcorn ready, I am certain that viewers galore will be glued to their seats for whatever fate (and possible future) Stede Bonnet and Edward Teach have, along with the rest of their crew.

Daily Arts Writer Avery Adaeze Uzoije can be reached at auzoije@umich.edu