Our Flag Means Death, season 2, added some more women characters to the pirate mix. Enough that I felt it was worth talking about the series this season. There were no women directors (although season 1 had two episodes directed by Bert & Bertie). The lead roles were men. But it’s a good series – funny, original and like nothing else on television.
The main action in season 2 of Our Flag Means Death was the push and pull romance between Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby) and Blackbeard/Edward Teach (Taika Waititi).
There were several romances this season. One of the lovely things about the series is the sweet relationship drama and need for love among the bloodthirsty pirate killers of the high seas. This is especially true of the gay men who were the most unlikely of pirates.
Minnie Driver and Rachel House came on as Anne Bonney and Mary Read, a curious couple of pirates themselves. They weren’t in many episodes, but they made a big impression with their sadistic “games” and oddball relationship.
Archie (Madeleine Sami) joined the ship’s crew and became a romantic partner for Jim (Vico Ortiz). Spanish Jackie (Leslie Jones) was still around, taking noses and keeping the “good” brandy in a safe place.
Zheng Yi Sao (Ruibo Qian) was considered Queen of the Pirates, because she claimed to have conquered China. She traveled with a protective Auntie (Anapela Polataivao). She had a soft spot for Stede’s crewman Olu (Samson Kayo), who was already spoken for by another crew member. For a while, Zheng was the captain of the whole crew with Stede in hand and Edward off somewhere discovering his softer side.
I’d really like to see Ruibo Qian in about a million more things and I hope that happens.
A minor prince (Erroll Shand) who lost his nose to Spanish Jackie brought the English naval fleet down on them. What could the pirates do but work together to defeat them? Who was the greatest fighter of them all? Zheng Yi Sao, of course.
It was a dangerous season. People got shot, stabbed or both. Izzy (Con O’Neill) lost his leg and stayed drunk for a long time, but he still felt good enough to sing. Blackbeard himself almost died. There were explosions and sword fights and pistols in the rigging. Being a pirate is not the safest profession.
I want to give a shout out to Nat Faxon as The Swede. He managed scene stealing comedy genius every time they put him in front of a camera.
Our Flag Means Death is charmingly, hilariously, LGBTQ+ positive. There was also a beautiful drag episode featuring Wee John (Kristian Nairn) dressed up as the sea goddess Calypso.
Both seasons are on Max and definitely worth the watch. Plus there are women pirates!