Our Flag Means Death: Mermen
October 26, 2023 9:11 PM - Season 2, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Stede, Zheng, Spanish Jackie and the rest of the Revenge crew team up to take down a nefarious common enemy threatening the world of piracy.

Season Finale!

As Ed tries a life of simple fishing, the English have taken over the Republic of Pirates. Zheng has had enough of hanging out with Stede. The prince has an audience with a legend. P

lans are made, Auntie tries being soft, the crew makes English Navy garb look good. A matey ceremony is held and new careers are tried as the new Revenge sets sail.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit (15 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Much like Seth MacFarlane made sure that "The Orville" had a season closer that would work well as a series closer, I think David Jenkins looked at the runes, the new direction of HBOMax, and (what sounds like) a huge fight to get even a slashed budget for an 8-episode season two, and decided to offer closure to as many arcs as possible. Every character has grown since the first episode of season 1, they've become better people, acknowledged mistakes, embraced love, and have all moved on (some more metaphorically, some more physically).

There are threads for a mythical third season to pick up on (Ricky Barnes is still out there, there's a fleet of Chinese pirate ships still coming over land, Buttons' return) and I want to spend more time with everyone, but for me, this would be an appropriate moment to call it done.

Jenkins brought the story home. She was battered, ragged, torn, but safe and sound. In the modern streaming world where new subscriptions matter more than viewing figures, that's no small feat.

Yaaarrr.
posted by ewan at 6:34 AM on October 27, 2023 [9 favorites]


Was definitely NOT expecting to hear Al Stewart’s Roads to Moscow in this show. For any reason. What the hell.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 5:45 PM on October 27, 2023 [2 favorites]


I didn't realize it watching the episode, but on finishing the first season again today, that last conversation between Ed and Izzy neatly paralleled the scene at the end of the first season when Izzy pushes Ed to go back to being Blackbeard ("There he is").

They've been working reflections and parallels all season, which has made a rewatch particularly enjoyable.
posted by miratime at 7:48 PM on October 27, 2023 [3 favorites]


There's a bit where the Revenge crew is teaching Auntie to be kinder, and so she praises Zheng for coming to their rescue.

Both of them are trying so hard—Auntie to not be stern for the first time, and Zheng wants to accept the praise but also has no idea what to do with it. One of the best scenes in the whole show for me.

They clearly tried to cram 10 hour-long episodes into 8 half-hour episodes, with mixed results. Some of the sets and costuming this year were great, but things felt a lot more rushed and haphazard than they did last season. The parallel to The Orville is not one I'd have thought of immediately, but you're right, Ewan. One hopes both shows obtain additional seasons.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:12 PM on October 27, 2023 [2 favorites]


This felt so rushed, but I'll take it. I think the Ed and Stede innkeeper twist just kind of happened. We know Ed had always wanted to try that life, but did he mention this to Stede? Has Stede ever shared he was willing to walk away from being a pirate captain, especially with this build up of reputation and finally starting to become who he had fantasized becoming? I agree with the idea of writing a finale, in case there wasn't a third season, and this felt like the flashing neon sign of that. Again, I'll take it, but this was my reaction to that.

Did they show Izzy getting shot? It seemed like one minute he was lagging behind and then he's on the deck of the ship dying. A lot of sudden and abrupt turns.

I also concur, the moment when Auntie was being positive and Zheng receiving that praise was one of the best moments. I also liked the Swede's confusion over the staff of the bar being poison trained.

I am thankful for the two seasons we've had of this show, it was something wonderful.
posted by Atreides at 7:50 AM on October 28, 2023 [1 favorite]


Did they show Izzy getting shot?
When the first musket shot is fired during their confrontation with the soldiers in the forest, we see Izzy stagger briefly. It’s very subtle. None of the other characters notices it.
posted by mbrubeck at 3:52 PM on October 28, 2023 [5 favorites]


We know Ed had always wanted to try that life, but did he mention this to Stede?

There's the season one scene, my favorite between the two of them, about Blackbeard's Bar and Grill and Other Delicacies and Delights and Fishing Equipment. Not quite innkeeping but the idea of a sedate life in the hospitality industry has come up for sure.
posted by babelfish at 3:53 PM on October 28, 2023 [5 favorites]


I am dipping a toe in this...
I guess to say, that this is the worst narrative arc of anything I've seen in my adult life. Or my child life. Or anything.

Cruel, ugly, shameful, and I'm on different spaces and come to Metafilter and I am like seriously, is this seriously how this is being processed here?

Vicious and cruel. Awful. I'm like, in my 50's. So Gen X. It takes a lot to horrify me, because I have been horrified my entire life.

But killing Izzy Hands was the meanest thing I've ever seen in pop culture, and you had better believe I have seen some mean things.

A show about kindness.

Fuck. Jesus. I can't believe I was like 'what is Metafilter saying about this' and wandered in and ppl were like yeah, fine, they killed the old faggy cripple. Anyway, what's on next?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:45 PM on October 29, 2023


I wasn't happy about Izzy dying. My daughter was really unhappy about it; he was her favorite character. But it makes narrative sense. He fed Blackbeard's dark side; he said so himself. His death symbolizes the death of that side of Ed. You could see Izzy's whole arc as symbolic of what was happening inside Ed at the same time. He was a bitter, cruel person who gradually started letting himself feel love and kindness and in the end he was happy to go away and leave Ed to Stede, who could bring out his good side.
posted by Redstart at 8:24 PM on October 29, 2023 [7 favorites]


Redstart said it perfectly. Izzy definitely represented the dark side of piracy until he basically stared into the void which was Ed, something he had encouraged and promoted, and realized that was not the right way forward. That realization then sunk him into depression until his arc carried him out beginning with the unicorn leg. If they had left him at that point, before the leg, miserable and drunk, and killed him off, that would have been terrible. Izzy's idea of piracy evolved under Stede's, but perhaps more so, under the rest of the crew, so we get that conversation between him and the Minor Prince. He understands that piracy is about finding a family when no one else will take you in, the marginalized becoming one, and it isn't about being dark, brutal, and cutting people's toes off and making them eat it. His death, as the mentor to Ed, was a breaking of a chain that helped Ed go forward with his own dreams of being something more.

they killed the old faggy cripple. Anyway, what's on next?

Are you treating this like bury the gays trope? Or is it supposed to be a criticism about ableism?
posted by Atreides at 6:56 AM on October 30, 2023 [4 favorites]


Izzy Hands’ story in real life was considerably sadder. While Israel Hands was ashore recuperating from Blackbeard shooting him in the leg, Blackbeard was killed by British troops. Hands was captured by the authorities, and testified against Blackbeard’s former associates in a plea bargain. He is said to have died a beggar in London a few years later, around the age of 23.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:51 AM on October 30, 2023 [5 favorites]


they killed the old faggy cripple. Anyway, what's on next?


I shouldn't have said that. It was an unfair characterization. I apologize.

I do think that David Jenkins broke the contract with the audience, that the thesis statement made about trauma in season 1, episode 1, one they invoked over and over again and most memorably--right before Ed shot Izzy was 'we talk it through. As a crew.' (And "this is a show about kindness.")

And then they didn't talk about Lucius's referenced sexual assault or witnessed assault, they play it for laughs ('they played a game called the human puppet. THE HAND WENT WHERE YOU THINK STEDE' Haha!). They (the writers, not the actors, the actors are all awesome and I love them) shrug off not just the first mutilation of Izzy's toes, but two more. Then they shoot his leg off. The crew who witnessed Ed's madness are so traumatized they are described as feral and believe that the old crew, their old friends, might try to hurt them. When they are discovered they are eating a very raw seagull, shoving bloody bits into their mouths with their hands. Everyone is raw and a mess and ironically, begin to heal via a 'creative project to help them work their trauma out' (Again, season 1. Episode 1.) which is making Izzy Hand's leg. And then he gets killed, gets buried on *land*, and they take the ring and his cravat and his leg and they mark his grave with his wooden leg. To me, in my opinion, that's fucked. His is the only mutilation(s) shown up close. The rest that happen on the show are off-camera. We don't actually see the guy get his nose cut off, but we very much do see Izzy's leg get cut off, set aside, and carried away. We get to see Izzy's first prosthetic fail, and watch him crawl away, drunk, repeating "You're born alone. You die alone. You're born alone. You die alone."

It is quite possibly the cruelest pop culture writing I've ever seen. I'll bow out of the discussion and take my trauma over to Twitter though with the rest of the crew melting down, I actually don't want to kill anyone's enjoyment of the show and I wish to God I could get mine back. I had watched every episode of that show more times than I can count, likely more than I should have. I wish I hadn't watched that episode and I'm sorry to take my horror over here and bring the party down. I'll go over to Twitter with the rest of the freaks shrieking about it and shriek with them.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:51 AM on October 30, 2023 [3 favorites]


Oh, yeah, and then he apologizes to his abuser with his dying words.

Shutting up and scurrying away now.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:52 AM on October 30, 2023


I had similar negative reactions for some of the same reasons, while being able to see that the narrative arc made sense for other reasons/in other lights. On a second watch of this season I think it may come down to the show not being as deep as some of the themes it alludes to or even includes, unfortunately. It just doesn't take itself that seriously, and in this case that felt like a major betrayal.

I think fans who are accustomed to plumbing the depths of media and dissecting every detail for meaning, especially in a show that represents so much to so many (confession: I spent an unreasonable amount of money and two days' time getting a tattoo of the breakup robe pattern so I am fully in that camp), were bound to be let down by something, eventually. Some of that, to me, is because of how much the show is managing to do even with a short season and loads of wonderful characters. They were going to fall short of our expectations at some point, and it was going to hurt when so many of us see ourselves in this story and we've just started to believe maybe this little crew really was going to do the thing and make it out safe this time.

It's a complicated feeling, for sure.
posted by miratime at 1:04 PM on October 30, 2023 [2 favorites]


I wish I hadn't watched that episode and I'm sorry to take my horror over here and bring the party down. I'll go over to Twitter with the rest of the freaks shrieking about it and shriek with them.

This is what Fanfare is for and your contribution is a valuable one. If we all agreed on everything, we would: 1) get kinda bored with the echo chamber, and 2) miss out on the insights that others can bring to a conversation. Those insights can be shaped from any number of individual reasons and result in a richer dialogue of a show, movie, or book. It'd suck if someone came here with your feelings, unable to voice said feelings, and never saw your post and get to go, "THAT! That's how I feel!"

Izzy Hands’ story in real life was considerably sadder. While Israel Hands was ashore recuperating from Blackbeard shooting him in the leg, Blackbeard was killed by British troops. Hands was captured by the authorities, and testified against Blackbeard’s former associates in a plea bargain. He is said to have died a beggar in London a few years later, around the age of 23.

That is considerably bleak.
posted by Atreides at 1:59 PM on October 30, 2023 [5 favorites]


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