Each episode of season 2 of Our Flag Means Death has had a lesson. We’ve explored boundaries and the power of owning up to your mistakes or who you want to be. And just like the rest, “Man on Fire” was also another lesson. This lesson just so happened to be that sometimes you have to choose yourself despite the joy someone brings into your life and the pain that you’ll experience if they’re not by your side anymore. Because we’re all just sailing around this world with each other. But at the end of the day, we’re on our own journey. We hope that others will join us along the way. But sometimes it doesn’t work and you have to choose yourself.
I also think that “Man on Fire” is a test for our crew. They have gone from work associates to found family to each other’s ride or die no matter how much distance is between them. And everything that they’ve done for each other and for themselves will be of great importance for the pain that is to come. Because I have watched enough TV and film to know that there is pain coming. We already saw how they did the Pirate Queen dirty and the pain that she experienced. But there is something that is telling me that Izzy Hands is going to suffer and be gone from our lives by the time the screen goes black on the season 2 finale.
Goodbye Blackbeard. Hello Ed.
I think everything that has happened on Our Flag Means Death has culminated in this point for Ed. He did big things in 2×07. He literally threw his past away and let it sink to the bottom of the ocean. And he made it clear to his potential partner that they had moved too fast. Just like I talked about in my previous review, Stede made a choice for Ed that left me feeling weird. Stede crossed a boundary that Ed had clearly put up even if Ed reciprocated in the moment. And you can see in “Man on Fire” that it bothered him enough that he had to say something. He also took this as an opportunity to pick himself and his future. A future that isn’t dependent on desperation and instead taking it slow and getting to know who he is as a man outside of piracy.
I think the reason that Stede got really angry with Ed when he chose himself is that Stede kind of resents Ed. Stede never saw his life, that boring but safe one that he had, as worthwhile or even something that anyone in their right mind would aspire to have. And here Ed is, ready and willing to fall into this life of just taking things slow and appreciating all the little moments of self-care that you choose for yourself. In a way they are reversing positions in comparison to who they were in the beginning of the series. But even then, I find myself on Ed’s side of everything. He has led a life of pain and misery where he is just discovering that he maybe wants to figure out who he is, while Stede played pirate because he was bored instead of admitting that he’s never been okay with just being himself.
And if I think about where I want Our Flag Means Death to end if I’m basing it on my lived experiences and expectations, I just want Ed to be happy, even if that means him ending up alone. I don’t know if Stede knows what he truly wants in life. After all, he abandoned a safe cushy life for a life on the sea full of danger and stabbings because he had a choice. Ed never had a choice before. Now he does. Or at least now he knows he does. And he should not let anyone stop him from being at peace in a way that Stede is not ready to explore and has taken for granted. But I’ve been surprised by the show over and over again, and I hope that the season 2 finale gives me an ending where people talk and remember what made them fall in love with each other in the first place.
Who knows, maybe we’ll have a show that ends well, the queer people survive, and there are happy endings all around. We see heterosexual shows get that treatment all the time. Why can’t we get that too?
Is Stede the Villain?
Episode 2×07 of Our Flag Means Death had me questioning if Stede was the actual villain. And it hurts to say this, but I think I’ve been so enamored with the idea of Ed and Stede falling in love that I ignored the fact that Stede is someone who has lived in the lap of luxury before he decided to take a romp on the wild side. It’s giving ‘those movies where the rich kid pretends to be poor or hangs out with people of “worst societal standard” or some bullshit.’ It’s giving ‘the infiltration of a minority group without appreciating them in the first place.’ And it’s giving ‘when he’s done, he’ll just go back home to his quiet life.’
I understand that Stede had that moment at the end of season 1 where he went back to his old life and stopped his “little vacation on the poor and wild side of the world” while still living on a luxury ship. And I also understand that he let that go and chose life on the sea and a life with Ed. But the more that I see Ed pull away from piracy, the more I see Stde step into his pirate fame. And it’s become clear that Stede thinks of himself as the most dastardly pirate or something. The problem with being that cruel pirate is that it’s not the man that Ed fell in love with or the man that brought together The Revenge crew.
“Man on Fire” truly made me so disappointed in Stede because it felt like a rich prick having delusions of being poor and in pain for funsies. Ed didn’t choose this life because it was funzies. Ed chose this life because it was a way to survive in a cruel world that told him he would never wear fine things well. And I just can’t respect Stede for his actions in this 2×07 where he showed that being a pirate was more important than respecting his found family and the man that he loves. I’ll probably forgive him or I hope I do in the next episode and final episode of season 2. But Stede is at a pivotal moment in his character development and growth where he could have some great self-actualization or he could crash and burn his character in its entirety.
Izzy You Better Not Die
“Man on Fire” really really scared me when it comes to Izzy Hands. I’ve been falling in love with him, slowly but surely, this past season. I feel like I’ve seen everything that fans have been talking about since season 1. And in this episode, you could see more of the changed man that he is. He literally saw Ed and Stede in bed and he congratulated them. Even though he still has feelings for Ed, he respected his choices and made a joke. Even afterward when he was talking to Stede after Ed left, Izzy was kind, honest, and understanding.
In a way, I feel like Izzy has let go. He’s let go of Ed and this unyielding mission he had in season 1 where he had to protect Ed even if it was from himself. That’s not his duty anymore. I also think he’s let go of the anger he’s felt inside about disappointing those close to him and freed himself from the reins of a toxic relationship that led to him losing a leg. All of this points to Our Flag Means Death eventually letting go of Izzy aka killing him because his story is wrapped up or he’s come full circle for the writers. And I just can’t have that.
You can’t give me this Izzy Hands that I absolutely love, build him up, and then just cut him down. Our Flag Means Death has consistently surprised me with its writing. But I feel like all the years of TV watching are culminating to this point where I see the signs. Izzy has checked off everything on his list and turned a new leaf in his life. Piracy is still there for him because that will always be his life. But he’s found in her peace. That doesn’t mean that you have to kill him though. It sets a bad example that when you find inner peace you get cut down. Izzy Hands deserves an opportunity to live his life in peace just like Ed does. And we deserve to see that as well.
Because like I always say, you learn about the world through the media that you consume. So what is Our Flag Means Death telling us by killing Izzy? That we can’t be happy? That we can’t work on ourselves and become our own unicorns? That’s what it feels like. And I don’t like it one bit.
They Really Did the Pirate Queen Dirty
Even though we’ve had the Pirate Queen for only a handful of episodes, I love her and have wanted to see more of her. And what they did to her in this 2×07 was the single most devastating thing that Our Flag Means Death has ever done. Keep in mind that this show has killed people left and right. And what they did to her was worse. The Pirate Queen has been working on her empire. and according to her she has conquered all of China and is looking to take over basically the world. And I stan. You do you, girl. Conquer and defeat all the assholes in your way that would ignore you because they think you’re weak.
The British, including that no-nosed asshole miniature prince, destroyed the Pirate Queen’s future. Not all of it because no one can take away whatever comes next. I mean a future where she is a fierce conqueror with a massive pirate army behind her that would change this world in its entirety. Because here we were going to have a woman leading one of the biggest conquering forces in the world, something unheard of. And I know that it would’ve led to ripple effects that would influence power dynamics for women and the way that men and society look at them as.
That’s why I feel like there is something so malicious and devastating about what the prick prince and the British did to the Pirate Queen. They crippled her army, cut her off from her community and crew, and set her back when it comes to achieving her dreams. And even though this is a silly little pirate show on the outside, it’s a kind of blow that hits in the real world. Personally I have experienced something like this where my future was completely changed because of the actions of a man. I will never transform that I hoped or planned to be. And I see that destroying the Pirate Queen’s army is taking her down that same path.
That doesn’t mean that things are over for the Pirate Queen. There’s absolutely no doubt that the Pirate Queen will pick herself back up and she won’t be alone because Olu and the gang will be there. Nevertheless, I feel her pain in the small moments we saw at the end. And long after the episode was done, I could only think about her and the rage and shock she must be feeling right now. Considering this is a fantasy world of sorts, I hope she lets her rage burn and hits back at those who destroyed everything she’s worked for and earned by the power of her own wits and hand.