Thursday, March 17, 2022

REVIEW: 'Our Flag Means Death' - A Hunt for Oranges Forces Jim to Confront Past Trauma With Their Family in 'This Is Happening'

HBO Max's Our Flag Means Death - Episode 1.07 "This Is Happening"

A trip to St. Augustine reveals more about Jim's past. Stede leads Blackbeard on an adventure.

"This Is Happening" was written by Zayre Ferrer and directed by Fernando Frias

The Revenge has run out of oranges. That's a massive issue because the fruit prevents scurvy. That's the only disease the crew knows about. They are aware that eating oranges helps prevent it. As such, it's inevitable they will all contact the disease as soon as the fruit disappears. The Swede already contracts it. He is clueless about the cost it wages on his body as well. When his teeth fall out, they can't be put back in. The technology doesn't exist for that kind of surgery. It's merely impressive the crew recognizes the danger of scurvy. Even then, it's quickly used as the pivot into the main story. It's weird honestly. The hunt for oranges quickly becomes background noise. It's more necessary to spend time with Jim fleshing out their backstory while Stede embarks on a treasure hunt with Blackbeard and Lucius. Pete makes a deal with Nana to do work on her property in exchange for oranges. That's all the payment they need. It's not seen as a good deal whatsoever. And yet, the crew needs the fruit. They find a way to obtain it. The story isn't interested in pursuing all of the interesting and comedic complications that can keep from that journey. Instead, it's over quickly. Of course, it is fascinating to spend more time with Jim. They are the most skilled pirate on the ship after Blackbeard. They are hiding out because of the bounty on their head. Spanish Jackie seeks out revenge. That's not solely about Jim anymore. Now, Stede has accumulated enemies who are teaming up with each other. The British Navy doesn't understand why the pirates have a vendetta against Stede. It's simply beneficial to make this partnership. And yet, it's still all about the tease. It's setting up conflict for the future. That has increasingly become the storytelling pattern. At the end of each episode, a tease emerges to suggest danger on the horizon. Spanish Jackie, Izzy and Admiral Badminton have found each other and are plotting to target Stede with absolute viciousness. Meanwhile, Stede and Blackbeard agree to become co-captains of the Revenge. It's a decision beneficial to their increasing fascination and obsession with each other. That too is a plot point that has mostly grown stale. If the show wants to present them in a more blatantly sexual context, it needs to act upon it now. Lucius has clarity. He can see the situation for what it is. He can speak on it sometimes. It's not a consistent quality though.

At the end of this adventure, Jim goes off in pursuit of their own mission. It's what they need to do. Up until this point, they've been hiding out on the Revenge. They've gotten quite close with Oluwande. That too is a dynamic being pushed together for sexual satisfaction. And yet, they are always interrupted before they can compete that action. They lean in for the kiss but stop once Stede, Blackbeard and Lucius arrive. They are caught up in their own adventure. They don't really notice whatever Jim is up to. Oluwande will miss them more than anyone else. They were forced to confront their past on this island. They have to seek revenge against the entire family of the man who killed their father. It suggests life is either a disappointment or pain. Those are the only two options. That's how Jim's family has been conditioned. Jim was raised to be a killer. That's all that was expected of them. Their skills remain excellent. No complaints can be found in that area. But they are expected to be even more vicious and brutal in terms of carrying out this revenge. It has to be even more personal. It must go to a more extreme place. Jim has that clarity now. It's disappointing for Oluwande. It places some agency in the proceedings. It mostly creates space for Jim to be a true wild card in the conflict on the horizon. Elsewhere, Blackbeard doesn't know how to relax. He tried to con Stede in the hopes of retiring from the pirate life. He has given up that plan. Now, he's off to the next adventure. Stede tries to provide that for him. It's mostly boring. Blackbeard has a reputation to uphold. He doesn't want to be seen hunting for buried treasure that probably isn't there. Stede only discovers a petrified orange. That piece of fruit holds significance for Jim. Their father was holding it when he was killed all those years ago. They hold no personal attachment to it though. Instead, it becomes Stede's grand prize. It can't be consumed. And so, it has no value for the rest of the crew. It's a symbolic victory. One that achieves a goal and hopefully brings parts of the crew closer together. That's all Stede wants. Once Blackbeard gets yelled at by Lucius, he offers the same energy. It's still a rather forced dynamic that highlights how the show has quickly lost some of its momentum after a season of offering some pretty satisfying developments.