“It’s nice to inform a love story that turns into the understanding that love is figure.”
Picture: Nicola Dove/Max
The primary season of Our Flag Means Loss of life got here seemingly out of nowhere in 2022, a wry but deeply earnest, joke-dense fantasia about 18th-century piracy, office tradition, and dream-following. David Jenkins’ Max comedy grew to become each more and more homosexual and more and more beloved over the course of ten episodes, centering extremely fictionalized variations of a number of fabled historic figures: self-styled Gentleman Pirate Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby); Stede’s hero and eventual beloved, Ed Train, a.okay.a. Blackbeard (Taika Waititi); and Ed’s ferocious, long-suffering first mate, Izzy Arms (Con O’Neill, within the present’s most riveting and affecting efficiency). Season two delivered much more coronary heart, exploring questions concerning the work concerned in sustaining long-term relationships, the various methods people categorical love, and even the which means of piracy itself — however was at its most assured when leaning into office comedy and wending its manner towards a definitive, lasting union between Ed and Stede.
Season-two finale “Mermen” chronicles the dying of Izzy and his funeral earlier than closing on Ed and Stede settling into their new dwelling ashore because the Revenge sails into the longer term led by newly minted Captain Frenchie (Joel Fry). Now that Ed and Stede’s relationship is a settled query, the power between them has a lived-in calm and surety to it. Jenkins confirmed “the story of Stede and Blackbeard may effectively go for 3 attention-grabbing, good seasons,” and Our Flag Means Loss of life is essentially a present about love and the way its many and diverse splendors emerge and evolve over time. Whether or not it’s on a pirate ship or in a restaurant, Jenkins — who animatedly categorizes The Bear, Midnight Run, and Warmth as love tales too — at all times needs “to see two folks navigate one another and a group of individuals discover ways to take care of one another. That’s what’s thrilling to me.”
Inform me about what you have been writing towards this season and within the season finale itself — what have been your massive storytelling and character-development priorities?
The large factor was to provide Izzy Arms a terrific send-off from this mortal coil. To have him grow to be a father determine to Blackbeard, and on some degree to the remainder of the crew, and to see him grow to be the guts of why we’re giving pirates the prospect to face for having the ability to stay the way you select. In actuality, they’re thieves and criminals, however what our pirates stand for is a lifetime of belonging to one thing bigger than they’re within the face of a crushing, barely fascist normalcy.
That comes up in Izzy’s speech to Ricky Banes simply earlier than the good poisoning: that piracy is admittedly “about letting go of ego for one thing bigger, the crew.” How does mutual obligation determine into your conceptualization of piracy?
You realize, pirates and pirate crews have been type of socially democratic, rather more so than the rest in modern governance within the 1700s. So to speak a couple of crew’s duty to one another to make a ship perform was necessary to that episode and the place Izzy ended as a personality. After we meet him in season one, he’s a little bit of a loner, a scary center supervisor, after which he goes via the wringer. That’s how he learns that he must be chargeable for his crewmates, who then construct a leg for him out of the ship’s unicorn figurehead. That makes him notice that they’ve taken on duty for him, too. He learns a brand new manner of being a pirate that isn’t simply each individual for themselves.
It looks like it took being virtually at dying’s door for him to be weak sufficient to obtain and perceive that kindness with out reflexively telling them to fuck off.
Each Izzy and Blackbeard have ego deaths this season. And on the opposite facet of the ego deaths, weirdly, Izzy is a father determine to Ed. It’s such an uncommon journey. The character is type of a jilted lover who then turns into a maimed and discarded worker and emerges from that into being a father determine who says as he’s dying, “You’re all proper. Simply be you.” The love they’ve for one another is actual and goes from a poisonous type of love at the start of the season to one thing that’s truly fairly recognizable and shifting.
I used to be shocked by how a lot grief Taika imbued his efficiency with. Everybody can see that Izzy is dying, and Blackbeard’s having such a tough time accepting it.
In On The Waterfront, Marlon Brando finds Rod Steiger useless in an alleyway. And all of the longshoremen are trying. It’s terrible, he’s embarrassed and unhappy — it’s simply crushing. So there was one thing about the complete crew witnessing what was taking place, but in addition giving Ed house to ship him off, that I liked. A factor I actually love to do once I make one thing is to get actually humorous folks to behave in dramatic roles and get actually good dramatic actors to be humorous. At first, they each scare the shit out of one another, however by the tip of the season, they’ve created their very own language and constructed such a consolation degree with one another. These deep, intense emotions are very accessible to Taika. He’s locked in, and enjoying reverse Con, who provides a lot in his efficiency, is a large assist.
Was Con conscious that Izzy was going to die on the finish of this season? When did he discover out about that?
I needed to inform him about midway via the season. I requested him to go to dinner — you recognize, “We’ll discuss.” After which he wrote me again, like, [a perfect impression of O’Neill’s northern English rasp], “Is it gonna be unhealthy? I’ll want cake. X.” He knew it was coming.
It’s such an actual factor to inform an actor that their character is dying, you recognize? We constructed Izzy collectively. And there’s a weight to it, that we’re not going to see this character alive once more. But in addition, we created one thing lovely collectively, and we’re deciding that he’s going to die. He was very gracious about it; he’s an incredible artistic companion. I simply wish to work with Con on every little thing.
“I’m not notably dying to put in writing a pirate factor, however I wish to write a bunch of characters attempting to navigate one another in a pirate factor.”
Picture: Courtesy of Max
Are you able to say slightly bit extra about the place you place Our Flag Means Loss of life within the lineage of different tales — throughout TV, movie, literature — about love?
I’m at all times attempting to make slightly Hal Ashby or Robert Altman film. Boogie Nights is a superb story a couple of group with shared values, and we’re alongside for the journey, watching them come of age collectively. Midnight Run is certainly one of them, however Planes, Trains and Cars is a superb love story too! I like folks from totally different courses and backgrounds studying to take care of one another. One other factor I like is what I name shaggy tales, tales about folks navigating one another. If you plug them into totally different genres, you get this nice engine that comes with it. I’m not notably dying to put in writing a pirate factor, however I wish to write a bunch of characters attempting to navigate one another in a pirate factor.
How do you think about Ed and Stede navigating the following part of their relationship in a 3rd season?
On some degree they should grapple with the Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? factor — can we grow to be Bonnie and Mary Learn? How are we going to evolve as a pair who’ve determined to remain collectively? Are we reduce out for that work, or is it too scary? We’re each people who find themselves very broken. One has actual rage points, and the opposite runs from issues, so how will we make that work? It’s nice to inform a love story that turns into the understanding that love is figure. You’re employed on your companion, and hopefully they be just right for you every single day, and you discover your manner via it collectively.
This season, I seen a lot narrative symmetry, notably round craving for authenticity. Early on, Jim tells the story of Pinocchio to Fang to assist him settle down, and Ricky Banes needs to be an actual pirate. Ed sees Stede as a literal little mermaid, Wee John emerges in an homage to Ursula the Sea Witch in “Calypso’s Birthday.” Zheng Yi Sao and Auntie grapple with the intersection of management and softness, and Buttons actually transmogrifies right into a hen! What attracts you to craving for authenticity thematically and to exploring it with a lightweight contact?
I love the core component of Stede, going all the best way again to the pilot, eager to grow to be an actual boy. All of those characters are looking. They’ve massive desires and massive emotional lives, they usually need very massive issues for themselves. I like that change is feasible. It’s enjoyable to see these characters truly change as a substitute of reset, which occurs quite a bit on comedies, as a result of you need to maintain some stasis. I need life to be slightly costly on this present. Piracy’s a harmful occupation, and a few characters ought to die. And when somebody loses a leg, they need to actually lose a leg.
Because the Revenge sails away on the finish of the season finale, we will see how effectively they’ve merged a number of office cultures, incorporating Zheng Yi Sao and Auntie, in addition to Spanish Jackie and the Swede, and it looks like they’re charting this very daring — however gentle! — new course. Their new flag even encompasses a white cat with a golden halo, so what does our flag imply now?
Now, our flag means transition — I tear up each time I hear that Nina Simone monitor, “The Instances They Are A-Changin’,” particularly towards the picture of Ed and Stede because the dad and mom type of watching the children take the ship. Frenchie’s the captain now, he’s going to captain in his personal manner, and that crew goes to run into their very own issues. Altering of the guard is an enormous a part of the complete season — Frenchie turns into first mate; Jim and Oluwande’s relationship shifts; Oluwande leads to a completely totally different romantic relationship with somebody who’s very high-powered. After which Stede and Blackbeard, on some degree, are letting go of “infantile issues” to be extra critical with one another. It’s what middles must be — they’re transitions.
Trying forward, what do you suppose may very well be subsequent for the Revenge’s crew below Captain Frenchie?
Captain Frenchie’s Revenge can be a wild, wild place to work. He’s just like the outsider artist of pirates. In case you’re boarded by Frenchie, I feel it may go any variety of methods — it may very well be amusing, it may very well be terrifying. Frenchie’s a wild card! It’ll be attention-grabbing to see how the ability dynamics with the crew shift, how that household grows. What do they worth now? I wish to see how that household below that mum or dad survives.
What even is the target of piracy for that crew?
It’s nonetheless plundering, not a lot raping. It’s the plundering and the enjoyment of sea crimes. They wish to occasion, they usually wish to be free. And a variety of them have had horrible issues occur to them by the hands of colonial forces, so they need some payback. Occasion, plunder, and payback — the three P’s.