Thursday, October 12, 2023

REVIEW: 'Our Flag Means Death' - A Reunion Requires Difficult and Vulnerable Conversations to Occur in 'Fun and Games'

Max's Our Flag Means Death - Episode 2.04 "Fun and Games"

After his crew unanimously votes to banish him, Blackbeard encounters some dysfunctional old acquaintances onshore. Later, Stede and Blackbeard must decide how to move forward.

"Fun and Games" was written by David Jenkins & Eliza Jiménez Cossio and directed by Andrew DeYoung

Stede and Ed need to love each other the way they deserve to be loved. Their connection provided salvation to Ed. He was revived because of their bond. He's still angry at Stede for abandoning him. That's not the action of a mermaid who saved his life. That's what Ed wants this relationship to be. He imagines that possibility. Their feelings are already so strong and deep. Any slight is immediately seen as a massive betrayal. Everything is tense aboard the Revenge now. The ship has been destroyed during Blackbeard's tenure as captain. The crew remains traumatized. They can't let his toxic energy grow strong once more. He must be banished. That's not the outcome Stede wants. He fought so hard for this reunion. He wasn't too late. Ed wasn't dead. He is lost though. He can't trust his instincts. He doesn't know what's real or not. And so, it's easier to be vulnerable with a rabbit than any of the humans around him.

Stede and Ed's relationship heals because they view their lives in comparison to an extreme couple. Ed is thrilled to reunite with his friends Anne Bonny and Mary Read. They left the pirate life behind to settle down on an island as antique dealers. They need fun and games in order to keep the spark alive in their romance. That includes stabbing and poisoning each other. It's absolutely horrifying. It's exhilarating for them though. They miss the reckless energy of life on the sea. Stede can relate to that. He didn't fit into his former world with Mary any more. He made his choice. He regretted it and hoped he could go back. And yet, life as a pirate was actually where he belonged. He had to find acceptance in that. He had to acknowledge the pain he caused. He needed to rectify that. He resolved things with Mary and his family. Now, he has to do the exact same thing with Ed. They can't give up now. They just have to both be willing to work on their relationship.

Ed can't even explain why he behaves a certain way. He thought a spider tattoo looked cool and would help him overcome his fear of spiders. It didn't. Instead, he's afraid whenever he looks at his hand. He didn't think the action through. He had no plan once he was banished. He knew he was unwelcome on the ship. The crew couldn't trust him. He can't depend on Stede for support. He didn't want to be a burden in that way. Stede and Ed once imagined settling down together. At the time, they had doubts about life as pirates. The world could be so much more if they were open to the possibilities. This adventure proves that they can still have fulfilling lives. They don't need to envision being in one place as the most desirable outcome. That doesn't fit with their story. That doesn't make them happy. It's a fantasy they are told to believe. It's not required. That's the acceptance that must come along this journey. Sure, it's terrifying as a house burns down around them. They escape to freedom. Anne and Mary do as well. It's just a story where everyone needs to acknowledge and address their emotions.

The same applies for the crew back on the ship. They are all reunited once more on the Revenge. However, divisions remain based on all they've experienced since being separated. Jim, Archie, Frenchie and Fang are obsessively trying to erase every perceived sight of blood from the ship. Izzy is constantly drinking and picks a fight with the already damaged wooden animal at the ship's bow. Olu, Pete, Wee John and Roach have had a better time alongside Stede. They want to bring fun and levity back to this environment. And yet, all of them are pirates. They are all hot-headed and quick to react by threatening violence. They want to trust each other as members of the same crew. However, some have bonded over shared trauma. Offering each other support is the only way they will survive. That's most keenly observed when it pertains to helping Izzy walk with a new and improved prosthetic. This season has broken him down. Body parts have been stripped away. He's severely depressed. The crew refuses to give up on him. He doesn't believe he deserves their sympathy. They all truly care. They want to see him thrive. It's powerful as he beams with joy on the deck again. That's what he deserves. He must be willing to accept it and his friends must encourage it as well.

Buttons knows precisely what Ed is going through. He too once spent time in purgatory. He also believes now is the time for his transformation into a seagull. He feels the ocean calling to him. He must join it as a different creature altogether. The crew constantly forgets about his presence. The dinner with Anne and Mary is intimate because of its exploration of the couples. Buttons is there too. He is searching for a bowl to help conduct his ceremony. Stede and Ed don't believe he will actually become a bird and fly off. Yet Ed is convinced it happens. He too is proud to watch as Buttons spreads his wings and flies to new destinations. That's the life this odd member of the crew wanted. It may be nothing more than a fantasy. The final scene showcases Buttons telling Anne and Mary all about how dysfunctional the dynamics on the Revenge are. He's left behind. That's not a sad moment though. It's all meant to be a celebration of what makes these characters unique. They are bonded together on the ship. Their lives brought them all here. Some will be willing to forgive Blackbeard for all that he did. Ed deserves another chance to improve his life. With Stede by his side, so much now seems possible. They just have to take ahold of that destiny together. Otherwise, they will easily get lost in the woods just trying to make it back to the ship.