In which the teeth don’t go back in.
This is my favorite episode of the season, so I’m hella excited to get into it.
Ed announcing he’s planning on leaving soon is a shock to Stede, especially after their previous moonlight conversation. If Ed wants to stay Blackbeard, he can’t settle on the Revenge, and right now he, like Stede, is playing two roles at the same time while refusing to choose or merge. Ed’s tone of voice here is also worth noting. He’s using his Ed voice but behaving like Blackbeard. Blackbeard is practical and strategic, but Ed is calm and 100% laser focused on Stede. He’s pulling back from Ed. Ed can put ribbons in his beard and pretend to be an accountant, but Blackbeard can’t be seen doing something as weird as going on a treasure hunt.
Now that he’s decided to leave, he has to force himself back into the uncomfortable Blackbeard box. He gets increasingly more like Blackbeard as the afternoon goes along. By the time they’re at the village, he’s got the gruffness and shoutiness back in his voice and he’s stomping around like a petulant teenager. After the snake incident he starts sliding back toward Ed, but it’s brief. He puts his Blackbeard voice back on while mocking Stede over the destroyed map, but Lucius isn’t Izzy and dresses him down instead of encouraging him. After Lucius scolds him, he makes the choice to be Ed.
“We’re all enjoying your company.” Stede’s reaction is socially appropriate but there’s an undercurrent of something more. That Ed tells him he’s leaving immediately after Stede brings him tea made exactly the way he likes without any consultation with Ed first has to sting. That is a level of intimacy we’ve only seen Ed share with Izzy. The audience knows Blackbeard’s claim of seeking adventure is bullshit because we heard him complain to Izzy about how monotonous his sailing life is and to Stede about how he doesn’t even have to be on the ship to succeed at a raid. Stede can’t beg Ed to stay – it’s not manly or gentlemanly, at least according to the definitions that Stede understands – so he concocts a plan to keep Ed entertained so he’ll stick around. Unfortunately, it’s less fuckery and more desperation. And he does it in the most Stede way humanly possible. I’m undecided as to whether or not he thinks the map is real. When he orders Lucius to have fun, he seems to treat the map as a means to a happy Ed end, but we also know from his reaction to Black Pete’s story about Blackbeard that he can be surprisingly gullible.
Jim going home could have been set up as Jim fearing the nun misgendering or disowning them, but instead it’s that they’re ashamed for not having finished killing off the men who killed their family. I didn’t know that, though, when I first watched this episode. I was prepared for the worst. And then Olu said “seeing as though they’re from here” and my heart stopped. Jim, a nonbinary character played by a nonbinary actor was just addressed as they/them. “I go by Jim these days.” “Well, come in, Jim. We’ll have cake.” Reader, I’m about to cry just typing that.
Not only that, but the pronoun switch was done without any on-screen coming out or discussion/debate. The characters simply switched pronouns. Later, the crew is walking through the woods and they use they/them pronouns several times, and Nana switches pronouns without ever being told to do so. The first time I watched it, I was so emotionally overwhelmed that I cried with joy. Even now on my third viewing, I’m still feeling it. This is what you get when you center queerness. The queer audience members already know what those conversations are like; we don’t need to see them played out for the zillionth time. We get to just enjoy the joy of being accepted without complaint or explanation.
Jim is also still going through their struggle between being who others (Nana) want them to be and the dream of who they could be. Oluwande is part of that struggle. Like with Stede and Ed, their friendship is way too intimate to just be platonic, but they at least recognize they have feelings for each other. Olu is good and kind and honest. He’s the kind of man Bonifacia and Jim-in-disguise could never be with, but might be the kind of man regular ol’ Jim could.
Super important that Stede gives the petrified orange to Jim and acknowledges that it’s theirs to begin with since it came from their family’s land. Seems like he did learn a lesson or two from that Native elder. Even if he didn’t want to go through with it, he did.
- Samba Schutte is a real home baker, and he made that 40 orange glaze cake!
- When Jim exclaims about the humidity on St. Augustine, Roach pats his hair in concern.
- “We’re having a day.”
- Jim’s! Favorite! Color! Is! The! Same! Color! As! Olu’s! Earring!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- “Coming nana! I’m coming for some cake!” Samson Kayo’s line delivery is an Emmy-worthy performance.
- Lol at that Crown Royal shovel bag.
- How do I get the job of Person Who Drops Rubber Snakes on Taika Waititi? I think I’d excel at that.
- I still cannot believe the Blackbeard’s Bar & Grill & Other Delicacies & Delights & Fishing Equipment scene was completely improvised. Pure gold.
- Blackbeard’s Snakery. Snakery Snackery. Snake Snacks.
- “I’m gonna try and undo some of the damage from that interaction.”
- “For what it’s worth, you’re awfully well-adjusted for being an orphan raised by a nun to be a killing machine.”
- I’m sure Izzy literally never stops talking about Stede and Ed. All the time, no matter the situation or who he’s with. Just an endless stream of whining.
- God bless the costume designer who looked at Taika Waititi and thought “Yes, a purple top with flouncy sleeves will do nicely.” Speaking of which, it’s a lovely way to visualize the character’s transformation from Blackbeard to Ed. He’s in full Blackbeard uniform earlier, and later, he’s just a guy in a cute shirt and leather pants.
Closing credits song is “Cobra” by Bailey’s Nervous Kats.