Our Flag Means Death season two review: Riotous queer romp gives fans exactly what they want
Our Flag Means Death season two has burst on to screens with a chaotic dose of destructive queer heartbreak, scene-stealing romantic confessions and endearingly off-kilter humour.
If there is one way to describe Max’s pirate comedy series, it’s unpredictabe. The series captured the hearts of fans when the first season aired last year and has cultivated a devoted LGBTQ+ fan base, with more than 22,000 fan fictions uploaded to Archive of Our Own, mainly focusing on the show’s many queer couples.
These couples include shipmates Oluwande (Samson Kayo) and Jim (Vico Ortiz), the pirate pairing of Lucius (Nathan Foad) and Black Pete (Matthew Maher), and rivals-turned-soulmates Stede “Gentleman Pirate” Bonnet (Rhys Darby) and Edward “Blackbeard” Teach (Taika Waititi).
The series – very loosely based on real historical events – ventures where few other historical comedies have dared in explicitly showcasing LGBTQ+ relationships rather than offering pitiful subtext. And season two gives fans exactly what they want: no-holds-barred queer swashbuckling shenanigans.
The climax of season one saw Stede jilt Edward at the mast of their ship, The Revenge, before swiftly changing his mind when he realised Blackbeard was the love of his life. Parted by an ocean of misery, the start of season two stays on task as Ed goes on a mission to be reunited with his spurned lover.
Through a series of comedic cuts between a rose-tinted Stede and a bitterly sadistic Edward, the viewer soon realises our heartbroken pirate captains are truly made for each other. Their tumultuous relationship forms the heart of the new season, along with new arrivals and expansive world-building.
Ruibo Qian captivates with her hilariously eye-catching portrayal as Chinese pirate queen Zheng Yi Sao, with her character bringing a much-needed fresh flavour to the show. Meanwhile, Minnie Driver enjoys a rowdy turn as Anne Bonny.
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Elsewhere, with Jim torn apart from season one love interest Oluwande by wretched circumstance, the non-binary pirate’s eye is caught by a new shipmate, the ruthless Archie (Madeleine Sami).
We also see insightful and gorgeous character development for Blackbeard’s second-in-command, Izzy (Con O’Neill). Any lingering doubts that this show is for the queers are firmly shed when the Revenge crew puts on a fabulous drag ensemble.
As for Ed and Stede, among the laugh-out-loud moments the pair also share some tearjerking scenes that showcase their deep and abiding love for each other, even when the whole ocean seems set against them.
At times the plot does appear somewhat choppily stitched together, which can leave viewers struggling to keep afloat in a sea of colourful characters, but the core themes of found family, (occasionally misguided) camaraderie, undying love and merciless murder remain constant.
Strap on your cutlasses and enjoy the ride.
Our Flag Means Death season two begins on Max in the US today (5 October), with three episodes being aired. No UK dates have been announced as yet.
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