March 24th saw the season finale of Taika Waititi and Rhys Darby's surprisingly tender and heartfelt HBO Max pirate comedy Our Flag Means Death. But apparently not content to make just another show filled with swashbuckling adventure, the series creators chose chaos and ended the tragically short first batch of episodes with a tantalizing and emotional cliffhanger that has more to do with feelings than swords.
The finale saw Edward "Blackbeard" Teach (Waititi) falling back into his old, brutal pirate's lifestyle after he was seemingly abandoned by his newfound love Stede Bonnet (Darby). Yes, for those unaware, Our Flag Means Death is a remarkably loose retelling of the story of real historical figures. The HBO Max series so far has seen the two unlikely partners slowly grow closer as Ed teaches Stede the ways of piracy and Stede, the self-proclaimed "Gentleman Pirate," teaches Ed about the finer things of life. Ed becomes a much more mellow person and their relationship culminates in a kiss. This euphoria is short-lived, however, as Stede chooses to return to his old life after facing death one too many times.
But after breaking up his former paramour's crew and leaving most of them for dead on the tiniest desert island, the famously hot-headed Blackbeard doesn't realize that Stede has ultimately made the decision to return. As the final shot lingers on Stede approaching his old crew in a rowboat with no Edward in sight, the audience is left wondering where things will go from here. Is he there just for his crew, whom he sees as family? Or is he there for Ed as well?
Darby himself had plenty of thoughts on how things ended up for everybody, and he expressed them in a recent interview with Collider. "It's complicated because he's let Ed go, because he thinks it's better for him," Darby explained. "He thinks that he shouldn't necessarily have changed his ways to become this softer person." As happy as many viewers were to see the two finally embrace in that moment on the beach, it was inevitable that things wouldn't stay all sugar and rainbows for long, even with all the liberties the show has been taking with the true story of the pirate Stede Bonnet.
"It's about him getting back to his family," Darby said of Stede's feelings for his crew. "He mentions it at the beginning of the series where he says 'This is my family now,' and he feels something when he's in that family. Because his biggest issue right from the beginning is he's just... he's never felt anything, and that's why he left to go and find something, to feel whatever it is." It took going back to his old life for him to realize the happiness offered by his new one. Unfortunately, he may have permanently scarred his connection with Ed in the process.
While a second season hasn't technically been confirmed, the reaction Our Flag Means Death has inspired from viewers seems positive enough to make a continuation possible. Plus, the cliffhanger clearly means the writers already have ideas ready to go. Here's hoping audiences get to see more love and adventure on the high seas before long.
Our Flag Means Death is available to stream on HBO Max.