When Our Flag Means Death, the HBO Max pirate comedy from David Jenkins, was initially a critical and commercial failure. Taika Waititi, who directed Thor: Ragnarok, and Rhys Darby, who has worked with Waititi on other projects, star as Stede Bonnet and Blackbeard in the new Netflix series. It’s not until episode 4 that Waititi makes a significant appearance, and before he does, the show is more or less just a light comedy about conceited idiots making fools of themselves at sea.
However, as the ten-part series progressed, it became clear that it was a heartfelt tale of rebirth and self-discovery. An engaged fandom wondered if Stede and Blackbeard were being teased or baited as they appeared to be nearing a romantic moment on social media. Some admirers began to create heartfelt fan art of Stede and Blackbeard, hoping that their romance would progress.
The final two episodes of the season do answer that question, but they do so on a cliffhanger that leaves room for speculation about what comes next. David Jenkins, the show’s creator, writer, and producer, recently spoke with Polygon about the show’s creation and future plans. The first season of Our Flag Means Death contains spoilers.
It has been condensed and edited for brevity and clarity.
Our Flag Means Death Season 2: Courtesy of HBO and Aaron Epstein
After watching the ending, I’m sure everyone will have one thing on their minds: When is season 2 coming? What are HBO’s chances of greenlighting the second chapter of the series?
In my opinion, David Jenkins thinks they’re fine. I believe we are quite fortunate. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to watch the show. The fandom has exploded in the last week, and seeing it on Twitter and in fan art is incredibly rewarding. Moreover, human beings are so well-informed. When I went to check out some of the show’s fan forums, it seemed like the writers had been in the room with them. There was no doubt in their minds about what we were doing and what we were discussing. That’s why I believe it’s a positive indicator and speaks well for season 2.
If you plan to continue to follow Stede’s life as closely as you have, that restricts the show’s runtime.
For the sake of this story, what is the optimum length of this series in terms of how long it should be for you to tell your story?
Three seasons is a decent number for me. In my opinion, we should be able to complete the project in three days. I don’t know if it’s just me, but in the writers’ room, your vision of a tale shifts so dramatically. Otherwise, something is amiss. The fact that you’re working with a bunch of other brilliant writers who have their own personal experiences to draw from makes it easier to see how much more there is to the season.
However, I have the impression that we could complete it in as few as three hours. Who is Steve to Blackbeard? And who is Blackbeard to Stede? This question fascinates me and makes me want to write the show. That, in my opinion, is the overarching theme that runs across the entire show. For five or six seasons, I don’t know if you want to witness that.
That plot doesn’t even begin until episode 4. A common remark I’ve heard is that “Episode 4” is a turning point in the show’s plot. What was the reasoning for the season’s structure?
We were dividing the story into several parts. Seeing Stede on his alone gave us a better understanding of just how awful things going for him in this particular situation. To me, it was crucial to witness how poorly he was doing on his own before he met the love of his life. We also needed to acquire a feel for the group.. There is less time for us to learn about our crew after Stede and Blackbeard get together in the first season. Because there is only so much time in the day, we don’t get to see them do as much as I would like.
The first act needs a little more breathing room to establish the show’s tone, the personalities of its protagonists, and their relationships with one another. After that, having Stede run into a tragic accident where he gets stabbed. I enjoy watching a man become cocky and self-assured. And he did become haughty, for which he paid dearly. “Oh, terrible, the clown got stabbed!” is how I feel when I watch him being stabbed and his fingers are covered in blood. He wasn’t even comedy-stabbed; he was stabbed multiple times! To me, that’s cool. When Blackbeard found him at the end of the first act, it felt right to me.
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Something More About The Our Flag Means Death Season 2 Courtesy
We are in midst of yet another national conversation over LGBT visibility and rights, with Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and Disney responding to a new wave of oppressive legislation. At this point in time, how does it feel to bring out a story about passionate gay love?
Because of the timing, both Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” campaign and HBO Max’s statement “Our Flag Means Death” are great. I believe that’s amazing. Creating a show that didn’t feel niche was my intention. It has all of these connections and personalities, but it’s a more mainstream film than this one. Because “Of course, this is life,” I wanted to produce a four-quadrant hit that nevertheless had these relationships. No, we aren’t stating, “This is a homosexual pirate show.” Basically, this is a pirate show.
That’s a great and easy move, in my opinion. We’re just saying, “Yeah, OK, we have queer and non-binary characters.” [casually].” As a result, I’m encouraged that viewers will see themselves on screen and conclude, “Yes, we are mainstream,” thanks to the show’s timing. “We’re not being pushed aside.” This isn’t a niche program. Everyone can benefit from it. I’m overjoyed that it’s received well.
Our Flag Means Death Season 2: Taika and Rhys’ kiss moment was you on set for?
Yes, that’s correct.
In order for Rhys and Taika to effectively play the scenario, I desired a closed set that day. Moreover, they do an excellent job of managing it. When they ran the sequence a third time, it had finally clicked. It is intriguing to see Taika lead himself because he is so familiar with the process. He’s great at telling a director, “Tell me where you want me, tell me what you want me to say,” in a shockingly authentic Taika Waititi accent. He’s the director I believe he would be directing if he had the acting talent. This famous director has his director-brain still operating while he’s acting, which I find quite interesting.
So it was fascinating to see Rhys and Taika rehearse these moments and see how they evolved for them. They were both excellent listeners in that scene. They were really considerate of the script; they recited each and every syllable. After that, I was like, “Just let them run it. They’re so comfortable with each other.” Let them go. Not even a ticky-tacky note could be made. “We’ll see what happens.” They ended themselves in a stunning location thanks to each other’s guidance. And the [directors of episode 9] Bert and Bertie did an outstanding job setting up that scene.
Imagine for a moment that you’re kissing your 16-year-old platonic pal. Honestly, it’s kind of weird. It would be awkward to make someone kiss their pal. In the workplace, romantic scenes are awkward. A level of it is evident. Meanwhile, you’re thinking, “It’s fine if we just kiss.” Closed sets were crucial because they could focus and drill down on the scenes, but it also seemed like “It’s just kissing.
It’s not that big of an issue. This is something that everyone in a high school play has experienced. When Blackbeard says he was going to kill Stede, burn his face-off, and take over his life but doesn’t want to send him to dog heaven in a bathtub, I think that scenario is just as heartfelt. That sequence had me in awe with the quality of hearing. Such a private moment in time. They have a lot in common. It’s a joy to witness them open up to each other like way, even if there isn’t a kiss in that scene. It’s also easier to bring the scenes to these locations because they’ve known each other for so long.
In the climax, we spend a lot of time with Blackbeard, and that’s when things get dark and serious, but when we’re with Stede, things lighten up again. How much would you prefer to rely on huge humor vs. drama if you were to obtain the next two seasons exactly as you wanted? What would be the final tally?
The answer to that is a really nice one! The final three episodes of this season are some of the best, in my opinion. The bullwhip stunts by Will Arnett and the crab-fighting are ridiculously entertaining. Awesome, the stories are bursting with life. I’m thinking, “Eughhh, it’s a lot!” since there are so many storylines going on. However, the writing is really smooth.
To me, the fun of creating this program is to have violent moments, because pirates are criminals, as well as wide and genuinely amusing ones that make you laugh out loud, and then moments where we just settle in and let people experience their feelings. I’m content as long as those three things alternate. If all three are present in an episode, it’s healthy and it’s doing its job.
Fans of Our Flag Means Death is likely to stick with Stede and Blackbeard. There are, however, a slew of other stories going on. Beyond the focus on your central duo, where do you want to point your audience? What do you want viewers to remember or keep in mind as they revisit the show?
Oh my gosh. This cast is great. You know, I just like everyone, don’t you? In my opinion, Con O’Neill is doing an excellent job. It’s a tumultuous connection between him and myself. In addition to that, he and Blackbeard had a love story. It’s an absurd tale, but it’s entertaining to see. On a rewatch, perhaps, to see how their connection progresses. As a result, I believe that a large part of my enjoyment stems from the ensemble. Despite the enormous size of the instruments Ewan Bremner is playing, they remain rooted to the ground. That’s wonderful. It’s a veritable treasure trove. Acting comes in a plethora of flavors.
To witness how Stede and Blackbeard’s bond develops, as well as what the rest of the crew is thinking and how they interact with one another, I think it will hold up to a second viewing. Seeing all of them is a treat.