Thursday, March 24, 2022

REVIEW: 'Our Flag Means Death' - Blackbeard Mourns His Friend While Stede Returns Home in 'Wherever You Go, There You Are'

HBO Max's Our Flag Means Death - Episode 1.10 "Wherever You Go, There You Are"

While Stede attempts to reenter his old life, Blackbeard tends to a wounded heart.

"Wherever You Go, There You Are" was written by David Jenkins and directed by Andrew DeYoung

Stede Bonnet was never a good husband or father. He abandoned his family to enjoy a life as a pirate. That's what he always wanted. He got married and had children because it was the socially expected thing to do. He has no problem renouncing his claim to the family fortune. He has hurt Mary and their children. He wants them to be happy. He also needs them to be miserable without him. He believes his presence is the necessary component for anyone to ever feel safe and secure. It's startling when he learns people believe he has died. He wants it to be nothing more than a clerical error. It's a misunderstanding based on the uncertain nature of life at sea. In reality, it's what Mary wanted to believe. It was easier for her to process her husband's death than him abandoning them. That allowed her to flourish. She could dedicate her life to her art career. She could actually find love. Stede and Mary were never given these opportunities. They were expected to wed and make do with what others deemed best for them. And now, they have embraced agency themselves. It came after Stede's major betrayal. He left for selfish reasons. He never thought he could have an honest and true conversation with his wife. Instead, he said nothing. He wants her to fully comply with his wishes upon his return home. He wants to be accepted by this life once more. He does have a group eager to hear about his stories at sea as a pirate. They too are enamored by the legend of Blackbeard. Stede knows Edward though. He is aware of the gentle soul that resides within. He felt the duty to return home. He had to make this life work. He could no longer run away from it like he has done with everything else. And yet, he found love. Mary is happy for him. She has as well. They finally have the opportunities to have what they always dreamed of. They no longer have to abide by the voices in their heads screaming at them for failing. They can make their own destinies. It simply requires an elaborate stunt to kill Stede off once more. Everyone wants him to be dead. He isn't. He gets in on the fun too. He enjoys it. He actually utilizes the skills Blackbeard taught him. The deception is perfect. Yes, it's over-the-top. Plenty of people know the truth. It could all be unraveled if anyone looks close enough. No one wants to do so. They want to create this story and have it be true. And so, that's what it becomes. Stede may be alone as he sails out to the sea. However, he does so with renewed vigor to reunite with the crew who have meant so much to him.

Of course, the Revenge isn't how Stede left it. Izzy was mutinied early on in his reign. Oluwande didn't have to rule at all either. Blackbeard has control. He is trapped in a depression. He can more easily access this emotional side thanks to his time with Stede. And yet, he feels abandoned by his love. Stede didn't escape English custody with him. Instead, Blackbeard is left behind to pick up the pieces of Stede's life at sea. He can only bounce out of this funk by completely destroying what Stede built. He needs to get rid of all of it. He throws the books into the sea. He abandons the useful crew on a tiny island. It's incredible that Stede even finds them in the end. Oluwande doesn't see that as salvation. He is more concerned about Jim being left behind on the ship. Blackbeard has noticed their talents. They are useful. They can be a pivotal member of the crew. Not everyone deserves that recognition. Blackbeard is meant to give it. He has to be the gruesome pirate who strikes fear into everyone he meets. The crew has gotten too comfortable with him. Izzy wants to unleash the man who inspired him to be a pirate in the first place. Blackbeard does make that transformation once more. He gets rid of any item of personal significance. This physical alteration of his appearance can't mask the depression that still lingers. He still weeps at anything that reminds him of Stede. This ship is full of so many secrets. Those reminders are still prevalent even without the library Stede cherished so much. Blackbeard wants to force himself into being the man everyone expects him to be. That's in direct opposition to what Stede has become. He is a free man willing to pursue what makes him happy. Blackbeard's time with Stede has been the happiest of his life. He is capable of making that declaration when it's just the two of them. He struggles in his own personal identity. He doesn't know which way to go. And so, he embraces what is easiest. He may be taken as seriously as Izzy is. However, Blackbeard still demands the attention and respect of his crew. He throws Lucius overboard simply because he can. That doesn't make him better. It just makes him more lost. That's his condition. Stede may help. But it will surely create conflict should the show return with another season.