“Our Flag Means Death” Series Review (Ep 1 to 10)

As someone who loves the K-pop boyband ATEEZ, I wasn’t too surprised to see “gay pirates” on my Twitter feed one fine day back in March.

It took many more of “THEY ARE PIRATES AND THEY ARE GAY” posts for me to realise that it was not ATEEZ at all, that something new had dropped, and it was BIG. For someone who has been queerbaited for a long time in fandom, I was in disbelief initially, alongside many other folks, who too were in awe that something presented as queer was in fact, queer.

Our Flag Means Death takes inspiration the real-life story of Captain Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby), who trades his comfortable life with his family in favour of his thirst for adventure, securing a boat and a motley crew of lively pirates who may or may not want to kill him initially. They meet the legendary pirate Blackbeard (Taika Waititi), whose tales of exploits range from fearsome to deranged. Stede and Blackbeard, or Edward, form an unlikely partnership, which culminates in their romantic feelings for another.

There are of course barriers to their relationship, in the form of Stede’s family that he left behind, or their vastly different approaches to piracy (that the other characters, especially Izzy (Con O’Neill), take no qualms in pointing out). Without spoiling too much about the ending, if you are getting into the show expecting a happy-ever-after ending for the protagonists, I’d suggest waiting for the (confirmed!) next season.

While Stede and Blackbeard’s relationship sees the most screentime, it is not the only queer relationship of the show. We see other healthy relationships in Lucius (Nathan Foad) and Black Pete (Matthew Maher), and Jim (Vico Ortiz) and Oluwande (Samson Kayo). Ortiz’s portrayal of Jim as a non-binary individual is especially convincing, and kudos to the writers for using appropriate pronouns throughout. This is not directly relevant to the plot, but the bar for trans and non-binary portrayals is so low that any time a good representation exists in mainstream media, it feels like (and is) a big deal.

Since Our Flag Means Death is not solely a romance, and is more focused on the comedic bits, I should probably mention that in terms of humour, not every joke hits the way it was probably intended, but on the whole, it is fairly humourous.

A critique that has been levelled on the show, especially on Twitter discourse, is the bad CGI, especially that of the sea itself. But if I were to be honest, I was having too much fun watching the characters interact that I genuinely did not pay attention to the water, did not even realise it was CGI, until I read the tweets about it. I don’t know if this is a good selling point for the show or not, so take it as you will.

In the end my biggest critique of the show was that there wasn’t more of it. And the massive cliff-hanger of an ending of course, which if it is a put off for you, I’d recommend to wait until the next season drops to begin this. For anyone who doesn’t mind a cliff-hanger ending, I can’t recommend you to watch this enough.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5

Krishna’s Sidenote-

Our Flag Means Death has been renewed for a second season, scheduled for release in 2023.

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