Our Flag Means Death: A satisfying denouement is a luxury in television, but “Our Flag Means Death” demands one.
Our Flag Means Death (Has a Planned Ending)
The Big Picture
- The creator of Our Flag Means Death has a definitive ending in mind for the show, revealing that Season 3 will be the show’s final season if it receives another renewal.
- In today’s streaming age, shows face uncertainty and are often canceled after just one season, making it rare to have the opportunity to end a series on one’s own terms.
- A planned ending for a show like Our Flag Means Death is important for narrative satisfaction and demonstrates confidence in the story, giving fans more motivation to see it through to the end.
As we approach the highly anticipated release of Our Flag Means Death Season 2, we’re starting to see more discussion of the show at large again. Back when it first aired, there was a lot of anxiety from fans over how long it took to get news about Season 2, and given the state of the industry, it’s not surprising people feared the show may be unceremoniously ended. Thankfully that wasn’t the case and we’re now less than a month out from Season 2. Still, it’s hard to not feel anxiety about any show’s future at this point, so it was great to hear the show’s creator, David Jenkins, reveal he already has an ending in the works. Should the show get a Season 3, that will be its end, and that’s a good thing.
What Is ‘Our Flag Means Death’ About (So Far)?
Our Flag Means Deathis a comedy on Max that follows the misadventures of (attempted) pirate Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby). After leaving behind his unfulfilling life (and wife) as a dandy little nobleman, he uses his fortune to purchase a ship and a crew and attempt a life of piracy. After meeting the pirate Blackbeard (Taika Waititi) the two develop a fast friendship that develops into something more. After they’d finally clarified their feelings for each other, Stede grew scared and ran away finally going back to confront his own life. And was at last able to make a clean break from it. But Blackbeard was left heartbroken in his wake and returned to his life of high-stakes piracy and brooding angst. Now Stede is out to get him back and, along with his crew, get up to some shenanigans along the way. From our first look at Season 2, it seems Stede has a tough task ahead of him, but he’s more than up to the challenge.
Season 1 of the show found a boom in popularity after the big romantic kiss between Stede and Blackbeard. The cliffhanger ending left audiences anxiously awaiting more of this strange and fantastic little show, so they were delighted when a second season was greenlit. Despite some big names behind it, Our Flag Means Death was still a pretty off-beat show, so its success was never guaranteed. Many fans were anxious that this was all they would ever get of these characters and though that was thankfully not the case, it’s no surprise that these fears were so pervasive.
‘Our Flag Means’ Death Should Have the Luxury of an Ending
Getting a definitive ending in television is a luxury. As a show, you are always at the whims of ratings or studios. If you don’t find an audience or the executives don’t like what you’re doing, you’re sunk. And that’s only gotten worse and worse in the streaming age. Back when cable reigned, you’d have months of airing to accumulate an audience and even if there wasn’t immediate success there was still a chance you could come back for Season 2 and explode onto the scene.
That’s not the case these days. Shows have to do extremely well to even be considered for renewal, and even success isn’t always a guarantee for a green light. Services want to have smash hits, so even if a show does moderately well or finds a super dedicated audience there’s no assurance that will translate into anything. Shows don’t know when they’re ending anymore. And with so many shows put onto streaming services only to be unceremoniously canceled after a single season it can be hard for an audience to get invested. Why watch something when there’s only a 10% chance you’ll actually get to see the story through until the end? Getting a chance to end a series with notice is already rare enough. Getting to end a series on your own terms is near impossible.
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Having an End Date for a TV Show Is a Good Thing
Even with Season 2 on the horizon, the fact that Our Flag Means Death’s creator has already thought about how to end things is a wise move. Open-ended seasons can work for endless workplace dramas and circular sitcoms, but for something like Our Flag Means Death,which has positioned itself as not just a comedy but a love story, there comes an expectation for conclusion. Having an ending not only proves there’s confidence in the narrative going forward but that there’s a concrete vision for the shape the story will take. For a show like this, a strong ending is necessary for the practicality of having an ending and for narrative satisfaction.
Not every planned finale is great. Sometimes having a plan and sticking to it too thoroughly can be a detriment (looking at you, Game of Thrones). The place you think the story may end up when you first plan the finale may not always align with the reality of what you’ve created. But Our Flag Means Deathis a tightly written comedy with a three-season plan. A show with such a small scope is much less easily affected by the horrors of being too confident in a pre-written finale. If anything, Jenkins putting his cards on the table already about the show’s ending displays confidence in his creation. And stating he has a plan will only make this show’s extremely dedicated fans more determined to see it fully realized. With only one season left to green light, it will hopefully make it easier to convince the Max executives that it’s worth the investment to see it through to the end.
Long-Running Shows Often Don’t Stand a Chance
There’s no perfect length for a show, no perfect ending spot, no universal truth that will prevent a show from ending badly or being canceled prematurely. It truly is a case-by-case thing. But the number of shows that get to go past three seasons has been shrinking more and more in the past decade. Unless you’re a runaway success, getting a multi-season renewal is basically unheard of anymore. So, on the one hand, it suits the story that’s been created that Our Flag Means Death is aiming for a tight three-season run. On the other hand, it’s just practicality. Three seasons is still quite a lot, but it’s definitely a more reasonable goal to set in the current media landscape.
Just from a fan perspective or even a storytelling perspective, it’s nice to know there’s an arc that’ll be followed and a goal in sight. A conclusive ending is a luxury, it’s something a show has to earn — but as a romance moonlighting as a comedy,
Our Flag Means Death needs that solid conclusion more than most. Its comedy of errors has a culmination and with any luck, we’ll get to see it through. When Season 2 debuts in October, we can only hope the incredible efforts of this creative team will be rewarded with a chance to take their final bow as planned in Season 3.Season 2 of Our Flag Means Death premieres October 5 on Max.
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