Illuminated with emotionally potent vibrancy both in its lighter and darker moments, Our Flag Means Death Season 2 Episodes 6–7 delivers one of the best episodes of television this year and the highlight of the series thus far. While both have their strengths, “Calypso’s Birthday” truly delivers a perfect culmination of all it’s managed to do so far. If Episode 7, “Man on Fire” falters, it’s only due to the series’ own high bar set in the installment that precedes it. A glorious, heartwarming, and hilarious episode that deals with the specificity and universality of found families and safe queer refuge, “Calypso’s Birthday” cements itself as something spectacular, befitting the glitter and jewels adorning our characters.
There are so many moments that spark immense joy while watching “Calypso’s Birthday.” The crew worries they’ve lost their edge and to remedy this to honor Calypso’s birthday, a time-old tradition that honors no one but gives people the excuse to throw a party. They’re interrupted eventually by a petty pirate angry that Blackbeard beat one of his records, but it’s what leads up to that eventual, deadly standoff and, what comes after, that speaks greater to the essence of the series and its emotional intelligence.
That the party happens while Zheng (Ruibo Qian) is working to ensure a partnership with a Prince makes it all the richer, as it demonstrates the stark differences between the Revenge crew and others — until the final moments that is. The Revenge crew are agonizing over their sense of FOMO, and realizing how boring they’ve become after a night spent reorganizing furniture.
Written by Zayre Ferrer and directed by Fernando Frias, “Calypso’s Birthday” is a gorgeous half-hour of television not just in the writing but the set design, costuming, and makeup. The Revenge transformed into a party ship, is awash in twinkling, colorful lights that, set against its oceanic backdrop, further grants its image the visage of a safe haven for wandering souls who don’t quite fit in with those around them. The direction is playful and insightful, such as the moment Izzy (Con O’Neill) comes into view while Wee John (Kristian Nairn) is perfecting his makeup for his drag look as Calypso, seeing in that mirror a reflection that promises more than what he’s been lately. This materializes in a staggering performance of Edith Piaf’s ‘La Vie En Rose’, his own face caked with makeup next to John’s gaudy blue dress, as he performs for a crew he’s begun to see as family, a gift to those who lifted him up.
Yes, it’s momentarily stalled by the cannon that goes through the sails, and Stede (Rhys Darby) must confront his inner darkness and murder the pirate Ned Low (Bronson Pinchot). Still, there’s an effervescent, tangible joy that’s tough to extinguish. Even in the moments of violence, seeing Blackbeard (Taika Waititi) physically try to defend and guard Stede, then emotionally when he tries to be there for him after what he thinks is Stede’s first kill, is demonstrative of how much this character has changed and how much Stede has been the source of it.
It’s why, ultimately, Episode 7 is a bit of a letdown because the drama, or, rather, the narrative hiccups that must happen to drive us into the finale feel rushed in comparison to the previous six episodes. Stede’s gotten a bit of notoriety and it’s gotten to his head quickly while Blackbeard has decided he wants to become a fisherman after consummating his and Stede’s relationship the night before. Olu (Samson Kayo) is all too happy to join Zheng’s crew, while Izzy watches the dynamics of the crew falter as he tries to advise Stede on how not to lose Blackbeard or the respect of the Revenge only for Stede to adamantly refuse, and picks a fight with Zheng anyway. By the time all of the pirate ships go up in flames, a seeming result of Zheng trying to work with Prince Banes (Errol Shand) it’s a relief, the ticking clock and actual ticking time bomb the entire time. The fire that engulfs the ships is a lot less stressful than watching Stede actively self-destruct.
Yet for these moments of victory followed by immediate, personal failure, still, the comedy remains and the light on its feet touches. The series refuses to sacrifice humor for the sake of sincerity or vice versa and it’s all the better because of it. Especially, when the result is an episode such as “Calypso’s Birthday” which takes pride in allowing its cast to play and inject their characters with verve and charisma that elevates their characters. Not every character is facing the moral dilemmas of someone like Blackbeard, who looks to turn the hauntings of his guilt into something positive, continually stuck in limbo over what he’s done and who he wants to be. But they’re all seeking a level of fulfillment, adventure, and a sense of community.
While “Man on Fire” can’t quite keep up with the excessively moving “Calypso’s Birthday,” Our Flag Means Death Season 2 Episodes 6–7 are yet another strong pair of episodes that lead us to the unpredictable edge of the finale. Exemplifying all that makes the series an authentic, queer story that finds pieces of historical touchstones married with modernized elements, the series’ ability to marry the two and make them distinctive remains an enormous triumph. “Calypso’s Birthday” with its heartfelt hilarity and crucial character development will undoubtedly be one of the very best episodes of TV this year. Do yourself a favor and make sure to listen to O’Neill sing all the way through the credits, because if his voice hadn’t yet induced chills, the crew joining in most certainly will.
Our Flag Means Death Season 2 Episodes 6–7 are available to watch on Max with new episodes every Thursday.
Our Flag Means Death Season 2 Episodes 6–7
While “Man on Fire” can’t quite keep up with the excessively moving “Calypso’s Birthday,” Our Flag Means Death Season 2 Episodes 6–7 are yet another strong pair of episodes that lead us to the unpredictable edge of the finale. Exemplifying all that makes the series an authentic, queer story that finds pieces of historical touchstones married with modernized elements, the series’ ability to marry the two and make them distinctive remains an enormous triumph.