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OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH S1 REVIEW 🤩

Tarush and Aaron discuss what makes Taika Waititi’s new swashbuckling series a hit. 

Favorite Episode

Tarush: E6 “The Art of F**kery” – This episode benefitted from the setup of its previous episodes, and it was the first time in the season where I realized what makes OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH different. 

Aaron: E10 “Wherever You Go, There You Are” – The cliffhanger finale is well earned. Everything set up in the opening episodes comes full circle for the Gentleman Pirate to grow. And whoa, what an ending! 

Least Favorite Episode

Aaron: E1 PILOT – Like WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS and RESERVATION DOGS, Taika Waititi’s content takes a bit to get started. The same can be said for the pilot for OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH. E1 had a lot to set up, and sadly missing in that was the layered nuances of the characters that make an appearance in E4 “Discomfort in a Married State.”

Tarush: Honestly, I don’t think I have one. I’m not a big flashback fan, so E4 “Discomfort in a Married State” actually comes to mind as a candidate, but I thought the show and pacing were excellent. It was hard to watch Calico Jack (Will Arnett), but that’s only because the character was designed to be a menace. 

What makes Taika Waititi great?

Aaron: From HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE, JOJO RABBIT, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, and RESERVATION DOGS, Taika creates empathy with Wes Anderson‘s flair. He takes absurd situational comedy across various groups like vampires, youth, diversity, pirates, and the holocaust (?!?) and somehow makes the themes universal. 

Yet, the central theme across all his work is that it’s not our similarities that unite us; it’s our differences. That’s what makes him the visionary director of the moment. He’s connecting humankind through our differences. And he’s having a lot of fun in the process. 

Tarush: I agree with everything Aaron said, and to add a bit more, THOR RAGNAROK and THE MANDALORIAN show that not only can Taika Waititi take on the obscure, but he can also rework beloved characters. I had PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN was the be-all and end-all for pirate-related media – but OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH proved me so wrong.

On that note, why aren’t there more shows about pirates?

Aaron: 

Three reasons:

  1. Previous Films – CUTTHROAT ISLAND and WATERWORLD killed the pirate movie in the 90s with bloated budgets that made this genre waterlogged. 
  2. Re-emergence – PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN became the “it” pirate movie but soon sunk under countless uninspired sequels that couldn’t set sail.
  3. Difficulty – Water, kids, and live animals are the most difficult elements when making content. With PIRATE movies, you have to face two out of three at a minimum.

Tarush: I haven’t seen the first two films Aaron mentioned (and it seems like that’s for the better), but I feel like after watching OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH, the genre is far from exhausted. Aaron would probably disagree, but I’d love to see a full-on THE WITCH or THE LIGHTHOUSE style horror movie about pirates or a Safdie thriller, just to avoid the Action/Adventure natural genre pairing. 

Season 2 predictions

Aaron: A WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS crossover? I mean, it could happen based on the timelines of the two shows. 🤩

Tarush: Who knows! But as long as Taika Waiti keeps doing what he does, we’re in for a treat. 

Overall Thoughts

Tarush: OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH went in a direction I had never expected – and I loved every second of it. Without being overt, it subverts so many expectations people may have for a show (based on a real story, no less!) about pirates. And I love how the show treats marginalized characters as simply normal because that’s how they should be treated. 

Aaron: By some strange “Act of Grace,” OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH has become the most inclusive pirate content ever made. Kudos to HBO for taking the risk to sail the high seas with a swashbuckling adventure that has a lot of “f*ckery” but a ton more ❤️.

Tarush Mohanti

Tarush Mohant is a playlist curator and music explorer, the creator of illussongs (illustrations of songs), and has a fitness plan motivated by action movies (running, climbing, swimming, hiking).

Aaron "Dobler" Goldstein

Aaron Goldstein is a Product Manager by day, ludicrous speed content consumer by night. He’s a LA Film School Alumni and TV Academy / Producers Guild of America member. Aaron is a proud stepparent and dad joke enthusiast.

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