Based on what I saw in Our Flag Means Death 2×01 “Impossible Birds,” the writers of the show have been reading fanfiction. There’s no other way to explain the perfection that was that open. Only we would think about them running into each other’s arms after Stede defeats Izzy. And only we would think about putting Rhys Darby in that beard, which admittedly looks good on him and will be in fanfiction. Furthermore, did you hear Ed call Stede “babe” and “love”?! It’s even more proof that there is an Our Flag Means Death fanfic girly, gay, or they in that writer’s room. And if they aren’t, if they haven’t read any fanfiction, this is exactly the kind of content that the queer community wants.
As a queer woman, I’ve gotten absolutely tired of shows holding back when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation. And it’s always been clear in season 1 of Our Flag Means Death that this show is hella queer and that Stede and Ed were in love. Or they were falling in love. But a part of me still held back and expected to get the least when season 2 started. Instead, we have Stede romantically thinking about Ed calling him cute little nicknames after running into each other’s arms across a beach during sunset. There is no pussy footing around this. They are two men and they are in love.
But it doesn’t mean that this love is easy.
For Stede, I don’t think he’s really faced the choices he made that led him to where he is now. He decided to go and mend things with his family. It was a noble gesture but he still abandoned Ed. And right now, in Pirate Town, he’s just daydreaming and acting like everything is okay. Like he’ll just find Ed and they’ll go back to what they were because they’re just “on a break.” They’re not on a break. And if Ed is going to take him back, Stede needs to own up and work to gain back Ed’s trust.
Ed isn’t doing well either. He saw a new life with Stede. He saw hope after feeling lost for a very long time. And when it didn’t work out, he decided to go back to who he was times 10. He doesn’t want to feel anything so he plunders, kills, and destroys any bit of happiness he can find. Because he’s in pain and like Stede, he doesn’t want to face that pain. I mean, it’s got to the point where even Izzy cried at Ed’s turn to the ultra-dark side. And he’s been fighting to get Blackbeard back since Stede stepped into the picture. That’s how far Ed has gone into his transformation back into Blackbeard.
It’s important to note that even though Ed and Stede are the central focus of Our Flag Means Death, doesn’t mean that they are the only ones getting screen time. The Swede found love with Spanish Jackie in a twist that I never saw coming but I absolutely love it for how it has brought him out of his shell. (Which, can we talk about how hot Leslie Jones looked in that confrontation scene at the dock? Iconic. I would totally give her a massage too.) I love how Jim is connecting with the crew members on the revamped Revenge. They still have this spark and light inside of them and it makes people happy. I even love how Frenchie has gotten a new position as First Mate.
Keeping that all in mind, I think what I’m most excited about when it comes to Our Flag Means Death season 2, is how the story is going to evolve to include more women. I don’t think I realized until the end of season 1, how this space was male-dominated. There was some diversity in the form of Jim and Spanish Jackie. But I always wanted more. And I feel like 2×01 is giving me more in the form of Ruibo Qian as the Pirate Queen and Madeleine Sami as a new member of Blackbeard’s crew. In addition, we’re also getting some Asian representation from the Pirate Queen and Irish/Indo-Fijian from the new crew member. (Which, if I’m wrong, let me know. I’m here to learn always.)
“Impossible Birds” is ultimately a very strong start to a much-beloved shows season 2. It sets up a journey of forgiveness, love, and growth. And it’s going to be painful. There’s no doubt about that. But it’s the kind of painful that will lead to a happy ending and something that fanfiction writers are very familiar with thanks to the tag “angst with a happy ending” and the fact that it is Whumptober. Stede and Ed will find their way back to each other. It’s just going to take some time and some work. But hopefully not too long. As fans of Blackstede, we can only take so much.
Our Flag Means Death season 2 episodes 1-3 are now available on Max.