The crew of The Revenge, having been caught in the (literal) crossfire of Ed and Stede’s tragic romance, begins the season split squarely in two with other couples like Jim (Vico Ortiz) and Oluwande (Samson Kayo) forced apart as a result of their former Captain’s epic breakup. As such, the front half of the season feels very much like a departure from the winning formula that made Season One such an unexpected hit—bucking the breezy, lighthearted structure for a serialized, character-driven approach to storytelling.
The big difference is that, unlike the late-game revelation it was in Season One, the Stede/Ed romance is the backbone of “Our Flag Means Death”’s sophomore voyage. From elaborate dream sequences to sweeping romantic revelations set to another delightfully eclectic collection of ‘70s and ‘80s classics, the series goes all-in on delivering a reconciliation that will sate fan fervor.
Luckily, Darby and Waititi’s sharp performances put some dramatic power behind the saccharine sensibilities of “Our Flag Means Death” and its attitude towards romance—Waititi, in particular, continues to do career-best work as the tortured and borderline manic pirate. As Ed reels from the whiplash of opening up for the first time only to be (as he perceived it) rejected by Stede, he quickly falls back into his cruel, violent habits as Blackbeard. Delving into Blackbeard’s sadistic side allows Waititi to ham up his violent, erratic tendencies and hint at the hurt and emotional vulnerability beneath the anger. In stark contrast to the ever-smiling, always-chipper Stede Bonnet, Waititi lends Ed the ability to flicker out of comedy entirely, accessing a powerful, incredibly compelling sorrow.
Waititi’s Ed is consumed by self-loathing (a recurring theme throughout Season Two) and excises that pain onto his half of the Revenge’s crew—Izzy (Con O’Neill), Jim, and Fang spend Season Two reeling from the cruelties he inflicts on them as a result of his inner pain. Though Jim’s story ends up veering into more romantic territory (especially once Oluwande re-enters the picture having gotten chummy with a Season Two newcomer), Izzy spends the season struggling to cope with his feelings for Ed and loyalty as first mate—what his fellow crew members solemnly tell him is a “toxic relationship.”