We are set firmly in what might as well be called a lovers quarrel in the first of Our Flag Means Death Season 2 Episodes 4–5. Ed has been, for the most part, nursed to health following his near death and not everyone is happy about his inclusion on the ship. As the crew grapples with increasingly shifting dynamics and their own personal fixations and troubles, the series continues to find the perfect notes of humor and sincerity. It’s a love story, but it’s silly too, and it’s how it balances those two aspects that make it such a terrific series.
Both Episode 4 “Fun and Games,” and Episode 5 “The Curse of the Seafaring Life” encapsulate the strength of the entire ensemble and their charismatic chemistry. Our Flag Means Death Episodes 4–5 don’t so much pause the narrative push but instead allow the characters time to simply exist within the framework of the story, developing their relationships and strengthening bonds we saw start in the first three episodes. For all that they’ve endured, they’re closer than ever, even if that means they simply band together in Episode 5 against Stede’s (Rhys Darby) supposed cursed jacket he brings onto the ship.
More touching however is the crew’s determination to help those most affected by Blackbeard’s (Taika Waititi) poisonous reign as captain following his believed abandonment by Stede. Their main objective in the end though is to help rebuild the broken Izzy (Con O’Neill) who has suffered immeasurable slights after he tried to be Blackbeard’s main source of reason. Having lost a leg and burying himself at the bottom of the bottle, Izzy no longer possesses his cool demeanor, and instead is bellowing at everything from inanimate objects to the hands trying to help it. It takes the crew’s final offering — a prosthetic leg — to soothe some of his pain, and goodness gracious does O’Neill sell the moment. His pain, his gratitude towards the tenderness, it all reads plainly on his face.
We see it too with characters who are currently at odds or who have been in the past, such as Nathan Foad’s Lucius (who we discovered was alive in Episode 2) and Blackbeard. Lucius is, rightfully, a touch sour towards Blackbeard after he pushed him overboard in the Season 1 finale. Blackbeard wants to make some version of amends, even offering to allow Lucius to push him overboard in return to see if that would make him feel better. But it’s a brittle dynamic, one shared by other members of the crew — hence Episode 4’s brief banishment to nearby shoreside.
Even Izzy and Stede are making strides in developing their antagonistic relationship, one that’s always flourished due to how neither relents in their misjudgments of the other. That said, they share a commonality in their care for Blackbeard (though Izzy having any left at all for the man is amazing), and that brings them together in albeit unlikely ways. Stede has yet to prove himself a truly competent pirate — despite some instances of luck — and seeks out Izzy’s help to improve in basic skills of piracy. It goes about as well as one would expect, with some exemplary physical comedy from Darby. But he manages a punch and steals that “cursed” jacket and learns that more than skills in combat and thievery, his best skills as a captain will always need to be how he manages and placates his crew. And if that means ridding the ship of the fine garment he finds, then so be it if it means keeping the peace.
The two ends of these stories come together to make the moments of recovery stronger, with Izzy being the ultimate voice of reason to Lucius that not being able to move on from trauma and pain is a terrible fate. It prompts Lucius to act on a bit of joy, as he proposes to his longtime lover, Black Pete (Matthew Maher), serving as a reminder that there’s more romance aboard than just Stede and Blackbeard.
Before the entire crew reunites, however, “Fun and Games” allows our characters some room to breathe while apart. Stede and Ed run into old friends of the latter, former pirates played by Minnie Driver and Rachel House. The two are lovers, who have tried to settle down into a more domesticated routine and relationship, running an antique shop rather than setting sail. It resulted in some drastic measures as the two’s passion runs fiery as they try to fight the urge for violence and mayhem. That fight turns into the two playing games of cat and mouse with the other, nearing deadly heights as one stabs the other following an attempted poisoning, all to keep them light on their feet.
The two try to tell Ed and Stede that this is their future if they stay together, so to try not to be so judgemental about it all. Driver and House are superb in these roles and if their fates weren’t so clearly damned due to their own self-destructive natures they’d be deserving of their own spinoff series. Instead, they simply allow for a possible outcome for Ed and Stede, though their excursion seems to calm them and their quarreling down. It mainly gives them a chance to talk, as Stede apologizes for leaving Ed but is firm in his declaration of love. They’re both prone to fits of whimsy, and as such deserve to take their romance slow.
Both episodes are strong, with threads of sweeping romance and broad comedy in each. Ed and Stede kiss under the moonlight once more in a mirroring sequence to Season 1, as Ed tells Stede this time that he “wears fine things well.” The series for all of its deceptive frivolity of storylines such as the main narrative in Episode 5 deriving from a believed cursed jacket, earns the sweet moments. They’re so sweet, so earnest with Darby and Waititi capturing the characters’ clear enamorment of each other, that it becomes worrisome. It’s such a delicate balance we don’t wish anything to destabilize their repairing dynamics.
Our Flag Means Death Season 2 Episodes 4–5 offer tremendous character work as those emotionally and physically bruised and battered are given stability and companionship to sturdy themselves. By allowing the characters time in a settled space and the actors’ chances to work within the established group dynamics, the season’s midway point excels because we’re so happy just to watch these characters interact that any greater development is simply an added bonus. Laugh-out-loud funny, the series continues to prove it’s one of the strongest and most tonally confident comedies currently airing.
Our Flag Means Death Season 2 Episodes 4–5 are available now on Max with new episodes every Thursday.
Our Flag Means Death Season 2 Episodes 4–5
Our Flag Means Death Season 2 Episodes 4–5 offer tremendous character work as those emotionally and physically bruised and battered are given stability and companionship to sturdy themselves. By allowing the characters time in a settled space and the actors’ chances to work within the established group dynamics, the season’s midway point excels because we’re so happy just to watch these characters interact that any greater development is simply an added bonus.