In which our intrepid crew squees over the renewal of Our Flag Means Death and outlines our wish list for Season Two!
[00:00:00] Our theme music is “Jolly Roger (Pirate Sea Shanty) by Pond5 artist craigbotes
[00:03:43] It’s true… 😢
[00:08:42] A++ gif use
Lori: We are the crew of The Shipping Forecast. And we are here to talk just a little bit about the news that came out the other day, a day which actually aired, or it was dropped, literally like an hour or two after we finished recording our first episode.
Lori: And so we did not at all acknowledge the fact that Our Flag Means Death has been picked up for renewal. We are very excited about this. Obviously, we did want to do a kind of quick-
Lori: Yeah, reaction sort of thingy to talk about, among other things, what we would really like to see in season two of Our Flag Means Death. And so, is it without further ado?
Evan: With no further ado?
Lori: With further ado.
Evan: With much ado about nothing.
Lori: See, this is the thing I feel punchy-
Lori: -and I’ll probably leave all this in, because I kind of like punchy bits in podcasts. Anyway. So let’s go around. We went alphabetically last time, so I’m going to go reverse alphabetically this time and start with EJ. Tell us about your feelings.
EJ: Oh, my goodness. Well, we had just recorded what we hoped would be the first episode of this podcast, and then I got off, and then pretty soon after that, Twitter started going nuts and finding out about the renewal. And then I ended up joining a Twitter Space with several people I had never met before and was actually not even mutuals with, about, I think it was called something like Still Screaming? And managed to chat about Our Flag Means Death and the renewal with a bunch of strangers on the Twitter internet for several hours. We’re now all mutual and besties, of course, that being the most meaningful relationship with Twitter mutuals. Just because I was so full and excited and not even trying to be particularly productive the rest of the day, I think I was just retweeting memes I thought was funny, on both of my Twitter accounts. And that was, God, that was about it the rest of the day. Very excited. I mean, I knew everyone had been…. that there was a nontrivial contingent of people who believed that HBO might be waiting for Pride month. That they might be waiting for a time when they could use it to build additional buzz.
Lori: And 69 days, apparently.
EJ: Right. So there were people that had tweets like, ‘I’m going to bed, don’t renew the show while I’m asleep’, or various other things, especially people in different times: ‘I’m going into a meeting. Let me know if it renews while I’m at the meeting.’
Lori: No, I was seeing a lot of that, too. There’s a Facebook group that I’m sort of peripheral to, and everybody was like, ‘okay, I’m stepping away for a few minutes. I have to go do this thing at work. But if it drops, let me know’ kind of thing. That was really fun.
EJ: Yeah, it was a fun time to be on social media, or something, when everyone is just celebrating together about something we’re excited about.
Kavita: It’s the good side of social media, isn’t it?
Lori: Absolutely. Evan, how about you?
Evan: So, I’m a cynical television studies person, as we all know. So basically, as soon as Guz Khan dropped the news that he wasn’t going to come back and said, ‘I won’t be seeing you again, thanks, crew,’ in a tweet. ‘Thanks, crew, for the support’ sort of thing. I thought, right, that means the contract negotiations are currently underway, because that’s a commentary on his contract negotiation, and he’s not coming back, which means the show is coming back because they’re discussing the contracts. Right? So I had already decided, like, okay, it’s already a done thing. So I kind of missed out on some of that momentary pop of euphoria when your favorite TV show gets renewed thing, because I’d already had that little pop of, ‘oh, this news means’ and then had no one to share that with because other people, when I talked to them about it. I did reassure a couple of friends in, like, WhatsApp groups and stuff and said, ‘no, it’s getting renewed. They’re not leaving it there. I can tell you that from this. I’m reading into the tea leaves of television ephemera here and going, no, that means this has happened, whatever.’ And some of them were relieved by that and some of them were like, ‘no, I can’t believe you. I don’t think that you know enough about this situation to say that’. And they were still very stressed and determined to be stressed, frankly. So, it felt a little flatter for me, which was disappointing. As you say, one of the favorite things about social media is that opportunity to have a little group of people celebrating something, whether that’s a penalty shootout, or whether that’s your shows being renewed-
Lori: Or Eurovision.
Evan: Oh, my God, that was so good this year.
Lori: I always feel left out when Eurovision is on because I never am able to find it. And like, all of Europe is just like, you guys are so funny to watch.
Evan: I got home about an hour in, so I had quite a lot of social media catch up to do on Eurovision night. So those things are really, really nice. And sometimes you feel like you’ve missed out afterwards because you’ve pre-spoiled yourself. So, yeah, I spoiled myself for that one, and I will fully admit to that.
Lori: All right, well done, you.
Evan: I know. Miserable, aren’t I? I’m such a literalist, miserable turd.
Lori: Kavita, how about you?
Kavita: I had suspected that it was going to get renewed, and I suspected that it was very much a publicity stunt to do it on the first day of Pride Month. I have watched enough HBO shows at this point. Yeah, we won’t talk about the Dragon in the room. But I have watched enough HBO shows at this point that I thought, you know what? They would be complete idiots not to renew this. And while they are idiots in a lot of ways, they are not idiots in that particular way, so I suspected that it was going to get renewed. I was nonetheless very happy when they got when the official word came out, I thought it was very funny that it was the first day of Pride Month. I thought that it was especially 69 days, because I’m 13, in my heart.
Evan: The new Beavis and Butthead movie is coming out too. So hey, we can all be 13 again.
Kavita: I actually never watched that show. I managed to miss that zeitgeist entirely, because I think we didn’t have cable or something like that. But yeah, I just remember all of the guys, I just remember so many guys quoting it and being super annoying. So that turned me off even before I ever saw an episode.
Evan: Oh yeah, I was way more Daria than Beavis and Butthead, but as a metal head at the time, it was that and Wayne’s World, that was our…
Kavita: it is a classic.
Lori: For my part, I guess I’ve been avoiding a lot of fandom stuff on social media lately. And for me that means, you know, I’ve cut down from my ‘all Hannibal all the time’ kind of moments, because right now it’s just a morass, and it’s my job as well as something that I’m involved in personally. And so, it’s just, every bit of discourse that kind of comes down the pike I have to think about, and consider, and grapple with. And so, I hadn’t been active in any sort of, any kind of groups particularly. I’m reading along with some, I follow people who are fans, that kind of thing. But I’ve been kind of standing back a bit, at a distance. And so that was kind of my experience of the announcement as well. I saw – I think the first thing I saw – after the fact was Nathan Foad’s tweet with the gif from the show.
EJ: That was great gif use, that was A++ gif use.
Evan: Good choice.
Lori: That was really a terrific gif that he used from the show. And I was legitimately delighted. But of course, at the same time that I’m delighted, I’m thinking of all of the criticisms I’ve read, which are varying shades of valid, and, sort of, my tortured relationship to them. And so, it’s always kind of, on the one hand, fan me is very happy about this and I am delighted to know, I’m delighted to know that these guys are coming back. And I hope as many as can do come back. And I’m so sad to hear that Guz Khan, I’m really sad to hear that he’s not coming back. And I understand contract negotiations and all of that. And so best wishes to him, because he was lovely and we didn’t get to know him well enough. But as many as can, I hope, are coming back. Lucius in particular, which brings me to: what do you want to see in season two? I’m going to just throw-
Lori: Lesbians. Nice. Yes, Anne Bonny.
Kavita: Anne Bonny.
EJ: Anne Bonny, Mary Read.
Kavita: Yes. I want some Lady Pirates, some more like, more Spanish Jackie.
Lori: Oh, yeah.
Kavita: Perfect casting, oh!
Lori: When she asked, Jim, ‘how old do you think I am?’ She’s like 25. I’m like, ‘yeah’,
Kavita: That’s right.
Lori: That was such a great line. And she’s exactly the same age, she’s the same age as I am. So I’m like, yes, it’ll age you, man. It’ll age you. What else?
EJ: I’m not sure anyone in the fandom actually believes that Lucius is dead.
EJ: I’ve been tremendously amused reading the fic, just all of the different magical ways they have dealt with it. My favorite of which continues to be, he got back on board the ship, either with help or on his own, and has been hiding out in secret passages the entire time, sometimes screwing with the rest of the crew by pretending to be a ghost.
Evan: Yeah, those have been fun.
EJ: Or, sorry, Encanto memes where he is Bruno in the wall.
Kavita [singing]: ‘we don’t talk about Lucius.’
EJ: It doesn’t feel like the kind of show where they would let Lucius die like that.
Evan: Also the irredeemability for Blackbeard,
Evan: It’s an unredeemable act, like he is a terrible, terrible person. And I mean, we’re not getting into the discourse around Blackbeard, Edward Teach, the real versus the fictional.
Kavita: We will save that for a proper episode.
Evan: The many fictional instances of Blackbeard over the course of many years. But within the diegesis, right, within this story’s world, killing Lucius – who is Black Pete, his biggest fanboy’s, boyfriend. And his hopeful future boyfriend’s best friend, or second in command, in many ways. The guy who has tried to bring them together, and done all that stuff – that would not help the narrative arc of a future redemption story. I feel like it’s not the sort of show, the tone, given the tone of the show, in the way that they deal with things. The random murder of French colonial people is completely different to the actual specific murder of a person you actually know and care about.
Kavita: This is not Game of Thrones, where one of the main characters can shove a ten year old boy out a window and then have a redemption arc, which doesn’t end up actually being a redemption arc, but we won’t get into that. But yeah, yes, this is HBO, but it’s different.
EJ: Speaking of redemption arcs, we do know from David Jenkins, there’s a great line about ‘they found love at sea. Now they have to survive it’ in one of the blurbs for season two of the show.
Evan: I so want to rewrite a Rhianna song there.
Kavita: Yes, we should rewrite a Rhianna song!
Evan: We found love in a hopeless place.
EJ: Right. And then, of course, Jenkins has said that he’s planning to lean into Blackbeard’s Kraken era, so that will be.
Kavita: Kraken era? Oh, God.
EJ: I mean, I think it’s fair to say they’re not going to reunite immediately.
Lori and Kavita: No.
EJ: I mean, certainly say is that they’re going to drag out how long it takes them to get back to each other. And then once that happens, maybe how long it takes them to get back to each other.
Kavita: I mean, presumably Stede has to chase him down.
Evan: I absolutely loved that idea, I can’t remember which of you said it the other day. It might not have been you, it might have been one of the other threads. One of my friends posted, imagine them being caught by the British again in opposite cells-
Lori: Oh my god.
Evan: -having time to work shit out, whilst the rest of the crew are in the background desperately trying to rescue them in increasingly stupid ways. And I was like, that episode is beautiful. That’s great. They’re stuck there. They have to talk to each other. And somewhere in the background someone’s rappelling down the wall off a banana vine-
EJ: Or disguising themselves in some ridiculous-
Evan: -there isn’t such a thing as a banana vine. But in the world of OFMD-
Kavita: I feel like at least there should be at least one time where people disguise themselves as nuns, and Jim is the one who is in charge of me dressing everyone else as a nun.
Evan: But only Wee John actually knows enough religion to get past, and he is the one who absolutely cannot pass as a nun. That’s an interesting dynamic!
Kavita: That’s right!
EJ: I’m just imagining, like, the Swede trying to pass as… here’s the one word of Spanish. You know, you’re just going to reply that one word of Spanish to everything. Sort of. Sort of.
Evan: This is an episode of Father Ted, though.
Kavita: Santa Maria! [laughing]
Evan: ‘Well, that would be an ecumenical decision’, a phrase I still use, on the reg.
Kavita: Ecumenical decisions are the best decisions
Lori: I need to put in a vote for, and this is so stereotypical and not at all original, but the more I think about it, the more I need it. And that is Stede in a beard.
Evan: Everybody wants bearded Stede.
Kavita; I mean, he’s got an entire Atlantic voyage. One would think.
Evan: They do. They want him to butch up. I’m not sure about this.
Lori: Well, I don’t want him to butch up necessarily. I just want Blackbeard to have a moment. Seeing him with the beard.
Lori: He could shave it off. I don’t care. I’m good. But just that one, he doesn’t have to keep the beard, he just needs to have it long enough for Blackbeard to see it and be kind of like, horny and scared.
Evan: And ‘that’s a good look on you’.
EJ: One thing that I absolutely do not know and will be interested to see would just be what they do with Izzy’s character.
EJ: Are they going to continue pushing him towards an antagonist role? Are they going to try to do his own different redemption arc? There’s a lot of different ways you could kind of push that character, depending on what they need that character to do. And I have no idea what to expect.
Evan: Does he become the new big bad or does he get brought back into the fold to become Cordelia? That’s his place in the gang, right? Isn’t it? He’s the Cordelia.
Kavita: He is the Cordy.
EJ: He could end up having to join forces with Stede and the others to rescue Blackbeard or whatever. Or does he? Yeah. And again, that could go in lots of different ways, just depending on what role they need him to fill in that narrative.
Evan: Or does he fall in love with the hot Spaniard? There’s a very hot Spanish captain lurking around on the periphery of this casting. If anyone else has noticed that. I noticed it in the lighthouse scene the other day. I was re-watching going, that is a very handsome Spaniard right there.
Lori: I also, I said this in our first episode, but I would pay good money to see Blackbeard and Mary sort of meet.
Lori: With Stede not even nearby, because they could bond over Stede’s, just, brainless stupidity. But Mary holds that one card, you know, she knows who Ed is, to Stede. And ooooh my little romantic heart wants to see that so much.
EJ: Because we don’t know when Ed hears about – a lot of people have said it’s quite possible that Ed will hear about Stede’s death. And if that is the case, the question then becomes, will he hear enough to know that it’s a fuckery? Or will he only hear that? Will he think that Stede is actually dead?
Lori: He’s got to have some angst.
Kavita: I mean, that’s a very Gothic plot. It’s a very 18th century plot line. The fake death.
Evan: Oh, yeah.
EJ: And what’s going to happen if he thinks that Stede is dead?
Evan: It’s also a great 18th century plot line: I thought you were dead, and I go off and around the world to do new things, and come across you in an unexpected location. That’s one of the great epics.
EJ: Or in the case of Ed, I become even worse, because-
Evan: Of all the taverns in all the Caribbean he had to walk into mine.
EJ: -I become even worse and more self-destructive and other destructive, because I think he’s left me and then died.
Kavita: Honestly, if they did the full Casablanca with Stede and Blackbeard, I would be there for that. I am here for that crossover.
Evan: Everyone loves Casablanca. Shocked that there’s gambling going on in here, Izzy is shocked. Sorry, I’m rewriting Casablanca right now….
Kavita: Izzy would be perfect as Captain Renault, though.
Evan: Come on. He is, right.
Kavita: I don’t know if he should be Renault or Strasser, but…
Evan: No, Chauncey!
EJ: I want there to be a Badminton triplet. I want it to turn out that there are triplets. Like, Stede has just forgotten that there is, in fact, a third Badminton twin. They are triplets.
Evan: Or, Rory Kinnear – really good with the makeup and the hair and everything – like their dad turns up on a revenge mission.
Evan: Isn’t that … actually, no, I’ve just stolen that from the Pitch Black trilogy, haven’t I?
EJ: I mean, cousin?
Kavita: Everyone has a cousin.
Evan: Yeah. No, I’ve just stolen it from Riddick.
Kavita: Father’s brother’s cousin’s nephew…
EJ: Actually, completely unrelated person who just happens to look exactly like Rory Kinnear and it’s never commented on.
Evan: Do a Men!
Kavita: It can be like Dickens and A Tale of Two Cities.
EJ: Yeah. Just keep bringing Rory Kinnear back.
Kavita: It’s the Sydney Carton.
Evan: Or Daphne de Maurier. We’re getting back into the Gothic again. Unexplained doubles.
Kavita: Yes, we are.
Lori: Because it is in a lot of ways. Yeah, it’s comedy, but it’s-
Kavita: It is very Gothic.
EJ: It’s interesting, because one of the last big fandoms I was in kind of as it was happening – besides, Hannibal – was Sherlock. And a lot of people in the Sherlock fandom at the time considered the time between when series two and series three came out, to be this golden era for the fandom. We didn’t know when there was going to be a season three. We didn’t. Or series three, if you’re British. We didn’t know exactly what was going to happen. And we had that cliffhanger of Sherlock’s death, the Reichenbach Falls equivalent. So, we had everyone knowing that he wasn’t dead, knowing that John didn’t know he wasn’t dead, not knowing exactly when we were going to get more series. So, everyone was busy writing 50 million different imagined reunion fics, and being creative, and things like that. And then there was so much drama and other shit and things to do with Series 3 that I won’t get into. That was not necessarily a great time for the fandom when three came out. But between two and three is considered this golden era in terms of fan production, fan community, fan, whatever.
Evan: I really did quite like it.
EJ: But what was interesting about that, I don’t think we’re going to have a problem with here, thank God, is we don’t have Jenkins saying ‘I’m going to do something that you’ve never thought of’ and ‘I’m going to be cleverer than you about it’. Because part of the problem was Mofftiss [Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss] setting up this expectation that they were going to do something so clever that no one had ever thought of. And that was impossible. That was literally impossible. There were enough fix-it fics that there was no way they could have solved that; that someone would not have written a fic about that. But because their goal seemed to be to do that, they were really kind of setting up the audience for disappointment in that way.
Evan: Yeah. I really liked the way they brought in the fic though, in that contemplating way. That the guy with the guilt, I can’t think of his name
Evan: Anderson. Thank you. I quite liked Anderson running through his theories, that they brought the fic in, but then they mishandled it, again. Of course.
EJ: it really felt like they realized they’ve written themselves into to a corner.
Evan: There was a great idea. It was a great idea. And then they botched it.
EJ: And decided not to bother. Yeah, I think they had a plan that they thought was clever. Either they had a plan they thought was clever, and then they realized other people guessed it, that was one of the theories. Or they assumed they’d figure it out later, and then realized there was nothing they could come up with that other people hadn’t proposed. Because the problem with having to write very clever characters, is you have to find a way to come across as as clever as the characters you are writing. And that’s hard. That’s why usually people writing super clever characters basically cheat, because you have to.
Kavita: Yeah. You have to thumb the scale. Now, that actually considering when that was going on, because this was like 2012, what was it 2011, or 2012
Evan: 12 to 13, isn’t it? That season two, season three, I think,
Kavita: 2013. Because it was, yeah. I’m wondering if the attitudes towards things like having – because this was right at the start of the big sort of ‘no spoilers, we’re going to keep production under wraps. We’re not going to let the actors see the scripts in advance’. All of that weird nonsense stuff started happening after season three of Sherlock. And I feel like there may have been, I’m not saying that these things are all connected necessarily, but-
Evan: I feel like citation needed there, Kavita, potentially.
Kavita: Yeah. I’m going to have to look at that. Yeah. I need to sort of pin this and go do some research. But I’m wondering if all of these things, like this whole attitude of ‘spoiler phobia’, spoiler phobia and also trying to be obviously cleverer than your audience.
EJ: I see these as different things. I see the issue with Mofftiss wasn’t spoilers. The issue with Moftiss was their attitudes towards the fans, which we’re seeing very differently in Jenkins. And also the potential issues of working in a mystery genre, a mystery drama genre, where there are supposed to be puzzles and solutions, which is not exactly… I mean, this is a very different genre with very different rules. But we also have people that will not necessarily be upset if they guess what’s going to happen. They’ll be excited if they guess what’s going to happen.
Lori: But also, there’s a couple of ways where I think that this is really fundamentally different, and I’ll transpose it to Hannibal, which, generally speaking, had a ‘good ending’-
Evan: Beautiful ending
Lori: -as far as fans were concerned. But you had that sort of throw-away from Bryan Fuller, like, well, they’re in Cuba hanging out or whatever. And people took that and sort of ran with it. To the extent that, I always felt like, if they had gotten a season four, and I’m prepared to say no at this point, that you would have had a fairly substantial contingent of people who would have been disappointed, to the point of whatever fans-
Evan: We know what they do.
Lori: Well, no, I know what fans do. But you would have had a bunch of disappointed people if they did not show up on a beach, in Cuba, sipping whatever you sip in Cuba.
Evan: Cuba Libre.
Lori: Yeah. And I think part of that is related to – for everything that you can say about fans and sort of excessive stuff, and text, and ownership, and things like that – I think one of the things that lends itself to that kind of sort of latching onto an idea, is the ‘unresolved’ nature of their relationship. Whereas here, we know that they love each other. We know that as far as Stede is concerned, he’s going back for Ed. As far as Ed is concerned, he has chucked everything, that he has tried to forget about Stede, but we know that he’s crying to himself in the window late at night with the robe on, bless his heart.
Evan: Listening to My Chemical Romance.
Lori: That’s right.
Kavita: And The Smiths
Lori: Yeah. He is having a bad, bad breakup, and Stede is like, ‘no, we’re good, we’re good. I can make this better’. But we know that Stede loves him, because Stede has said that in so many words. And we know that Blackbeard loves Steve, because he’s just breaking up so so badly, and writing bad songs and everything. And so, I think that lends itself to a sort of, ‘All right. We don’t need to worry about if they’re going to find each other.’ We know they’re going to find each other-
Kavita: The question is how?
Lori: -and we know that they have these feelings. We just know that they have had a very bad moment in their relationship. So how is that going to resolve? And I think having that central question of ‘what is the nature of the relationship’ out of the way, in some ways sort of frees the fandom, and maybe I’ll be proved wrong in the fullness of time. But I think it does sort of liberate us a little bit from the onus of trying to not just guess what’s going to happen next, but how are they going to come together?
EJ: Yeah. It turns the question from a will they/won’t they X-Files dynamics, whatever, to instead how will they how will they reunite? What will happen when they reunite, et cetera. But there’s not, the different tension.
Evan: And on that level, it becomes a question of personal taste, and it becomes a moment of what you find fulfilling and how people find it fulfilling, not whether narratively, the narrative promise is fulfilled. And that’s the thing David Jenkins says-
Evan: -we’re not being made to feel stupid by stories. They have told us: ‘You’re okay. The thing that you are seeing is here’. And therefore, I think that the very stigmatized behaviors of fans have been partly in response to the queerbaiting and, at the moment, the stigmatizing behaviors, the behaviors that we might want to stigmatize, of fans… Actually, maybe it leaves us free to go and deal with some of the issues in fandom. Maybe we can go and grapple with the racism, and grapple with some problematic shit that people are actually doing, rather than endlessly circling the drain of romantic unfulfillment. That was a really bad metaphor. Sorry about that. That was terrible.
Lori: No, but I understand what you’re saying. All right. Well, we’ve been talking for about a half an hour here, and I think that qualifies as a mini episode reaction thing.
Kavita: Yeah, it does.
Evan: I do want to tell you one final funny thing. Like, I ended up in a long argument with people, and you’re going to love this EJ, about barnacles. Right? Because people were going on about Lucius clinging to the side of the ship and maybe using the barnacles. I was like, his hands would be ripped to shreds. Have you ever touched a barnacle? Like, you can’t cling to them. This is like the idea of, no, this is ridiculous. People are like, ‘so you’ll accept the weird geography of the Caribbean and all kinds of recovering from stab wounds’. And I was like, yes, within the diegesis of the world, I will accept recovery without antibiotics. But soft barnacles? Non-diamond sharp barnacles? No, that’s pushed my believability too far, and I knew that EJ would appreciate that. So, I just had to tell you.
EJ: I love those moments where we do and do not break that fourth wall and or suspend disbelief. But yes, adopted by a pod of dolphins, temporarily. There’s a lot of fun ways…
Evan: Riding the back of a turtle, like, God only knows what. But yeah, but the barnacles.
Lori: I am also partial to – besides the secret passageways – I am also partial to him being picked up by another boat and sort of recruited into scribing for somebody else kind of stuff.
Evan: Someone suggested that would be a way of getting Anne Bonny and the lesbians.
Crew: Oooh yeah.
Evan: He’s just been picked up by the passing female crew and he-
Kavita: Like the lesbian Pirates.
Evan: Yes. It’s like only fag in the dyke bar.
EJ: That’s right.
Lori: So, we will be along with episode two of the shipping forecast soon. And in the meantime, happy renewal month.
Kavita: Happy sailing.
Evan: Stormy with clear skies rising, as the shipping forecast might say.
Kavita: That’s right.
Lori: All right. Thanks for listening, everyone.