Our Flag Means Death Recap: Season Finale

“Marriage is for old folks/cold folks/not for me!”- Nina Simone

Fuck’s sake?

The show took the worst route possible for a finale. The writing was choppy and uneven. Once again, I wish there was a plot– an actual plot! That wouldn’t be so hard, right? Instead of ‘just vibes’. Ed and Stede getting back together felt underwhelming at the end of Prince Richard’s noseless arc. (Still, I appreciate the Nina Simone.) Zheng is a character that has become one of my favorites and I think she’s a good addition to the crew of the Revenge. However, like many other characters who are BIPOC and happen to be on the crew/ensemble side of things, it’s sad to see that they’re given a scant amount of screen time to do…well, anything.

That being said, my main gripe for this episode is the blindingly ableist narrative of Izzy’s death– it’s a real shame to have a main character go through the process of navigating being less able-bodied than they were before, growing/thriving with their physical disability, and then…promptly dying? It’s also really weird that Ed just kind of stood over him as he died and didn’t, I don’t know, even a parting kiss could have meant something? Was Izzy not worthy of love, but the rest of the crew was? It’s not a very logical narrative either– if Zheng’s aunt could outlive what occurred on the ships, I don’t think Izzy’s death comes down to anything but poor writing. 

Relationships are strange in a very het way this season. Black Pete and Lucius’ marriage? Boring. The death of Izzy so Stede and Ed can be a perfectly boring monogamous couple running a fucking inn? Boring. Olu and Jim splitting for no apparent reason and winding up with random ladies? Boring! The slight not to polyamory at the season’s beginning wasn’t enough to sustain an interesting or even viable enough arc for any relationships within the show— emotional growth and impact is at its lowest in each of these arcs, and the intimacy we see on screen is trite. Relationships, while a main part of the pirating gig on this show, aren’t everything, but it certainly does reflect the greater ethos of the crew’s job; nothing about the pirate life is subversive here. 

Bookending this season with marriages, despite the latter’s queerness, reveals the product of homonormativity which informs the entire work’s world view. Representing heteronormative benchmarks as the only benchmarks to which the queer community should aspire deradicalizes the movement and undermines the existing community and its actual needs. Queer equality was not achieved when the United States determined that LGBTQ+ members of the military need not disguise their sexuality or gender in order to kill children in the Middle East. It was not achieved when President Biden said the word ‘trans’ in his first Presidential Address, and pointlessly stood by for three years while the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade and created the legal avenue for bigots to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people with impunity. It is not achieved with any privilege granted to us by a government or authority that only seeks to assimilate, because violence is always the alternative whenever assimilation fails or becomes undesirable. There is no right I’m fighting which can be given to me by a government; I live of my own accord and have no desire to recreate the empty procedures and rituals of those who want me dead. That’s just a ticking grandfather clock on my ship, in the end.

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