I genuinely get excited for every new episode of Our Flag Means Death because it’s always a guaranteed exploration of stuff that other TV shows are too scared to do. In 2×05 “The Curse of the Seafaring Life,” the crew of The Revenge gets to explore something that is fundamental to who we are as human beings. Simply put, the crew sets boundaries. They set boundaries in their relationships with loved ones, their crewmates, their beliefs, and even forge ahead into creating new ones with each other. At one point they even explore redefining your own boundaries in your mind to process or move forward through grief and pain. And it’s even more proof that the writers of the show know what they’re doing and so do the actors who flawlessly portray them.
Ed and Stede are the clearest when it comes to setting boundaries in a romantic sense. Stede is definitely helping guide Ed on what to do when it comes to the crew. But Ed and Stede trust each other enough that they know they can deal with these problems on their own. And I’m proud of Ed for taking those steps. But I’m even more proud of Ed for making it clear that he’s not ready yet for a full-blown relationship with Stede. He’ll get there. And he’s trying if holding each other’s hand was any indication. Because boundaries in romantic relationships and asking for what you need isn’t a problem. It’s a way to strengthen your relationship into something unbreakable.
Another boundary-shifting romantic relationship was that between Lucius and Black Pete. They don’t disappear under the weight of Ed and Stede’s relationship. If anything they have problems just like anybody else. Lucius is still dealing with the aftermath of his trauma. And Black Pete made it clear that he’s trying to help but he also needs to think of himself and the emotionally taxing nature of supporting someone through their trauma. Lucius took that and set boundaries, new ones, for himself within his mind about how he was going to deal with his trauma. And then he went forward on redefining his boundaries with Black Pete because he knows that he doesn’t have to deal with his trauma alone. He has a partner to help him figure it out.
Even the crew had some really important moments when it came to setting boundaries. Stede didn’t believe them about the cursed suit. But just because he doesn’t believe them doesn’t mean that he can ignore their boundaries and their beliefs. If they believe that this is a cursed suit, it is. Same thing with the fairies and the bread. Just because you don’t understand someone else’s perspective doesn’t mean that you get to stomp all over it. If it doesn’t hurt anyone, meet them halfway and move forward together. That’s how you respect other people’s boundaries and your own. Because no two people are alike. They never will be.
Then there’s Izzy hands. I can’t believe that the show has made me love this character so much and I’m praying to all the gods above and below that he survives this season, stronger than ever. Because he has changed in the way he looks at how he’s going to move forward. He hasn’t forgotten the pain that brought him to this place. But he is redefining his pain in a way that helps him move forward. Is it totally healthy that he’s moving forward with his life after all that trauma? Maybe not so. But who the fuck am I to know? I’m not a pirate and maybe they think of things differently. Izzy thinks of things differently. And instead of letting himself drown like he’s been doing for episodes, he is going to galavant around shirtless with a sword and make viewers swoon as he reacclimates to his body and life.
Our Flag Means Death is a show about change and transformation. It’s a show about understanding that you are not stuck and that there is always a way to shift perspective and move forward to something different. It’s not going to be easy. It never is. But we’re not alone in this. And that feeling that we sometimes get like we’re the only ones thinking of this ache inside of us or this pain that will never go away, I feel like the show proves that you’re not alone. There is a way. Maybe not a way that leads to a life of piracy out on the sea. But a way that leads to growth and fighting the good fight together. Cuz no one does it alone.
Not the crew on The Revenge.
And not the viewers at home.