The Bastard Executioner Season 1 Episodes 1 and 2: “Pilot”
Directed by Paris Barclay
Written by Kurt Sutter
Created by Kurt Sutter
Starring Lee Jones, Stephen Moyer, Katey Sagal, Kurt Sutter, Sam Spruell, Darren Evans, Matthew Rhys, Jack Greenlees, FX
Air Date: Tuesday, September 15, 2015, 10:00pm
It has finally arrived! The highly anticipated period piece The Bastard Executioner, created by Kurt Sutter, has sliced its way into our television screens and it is as bloody as we expected. I had to look away many times. This is the tale of a warrior, in the time of King Edward, who only wishes to lay down his sword. Fate has something else in store for him, as he must lift up his sword once again to mete out justice in the land.
If you haven’t caught the 2-hour pilot yet, be warned, as there are spoilers ahead!
First, there is an intro song that is sure to catch on quickly as “This Life” did for Sutter’s Sons Of Anarchy (yes, that is the name of that song), and will soon be easily recognizable.
We meet Wilkin Brattle (Lee Jones) in the throes of marital bliss, which is completely setting up death and misery. We knew this from the promo videos anyway. He helps the other men in the village rise up against the unfair extra taxes, which will starve them. This act of rebellion destroys the village.
Wilkin rides for his revenge for an even higher cost, and masquerades as the traveling executioner. He doesn’t intend to stay, but gets caught up. The scene where he declares himself as such is filled with many hold your breath moments. At the same time there is a sweet moment between the real executioner’s family and this faux one. You’ll understand why even before you get to this point.
You want to believe that the lords of the land were not this cruel, but you know that they were. It’s like Sutter opened a portal into history, so real does this seem.
Stephen Moyer as Miles Corbett, is completely ruthless, and he is better in this one episode than he ever was as Bill Compton on HBO’s True Blood. And I loved Bill.
You are not going to get Sons of Anarchy with this show, even if the time periods were comparable. It builds slowly, with graphic violence at every turn. I expected that. This is from the same man that burned Tig’s daughter alive in SOA in one of the most memorable scenes in television’s history ever. There are entrails, flaying, torture, and hard-to-watch deaths of innocents, along with battlefield violence. There are comparisons to be made between Wilkin Brattle and SOA‘s Jax Teller, as both really don’t want this mantle that has been bestowed upon them.
The second half of the premiere is better than the first. The scenes between Moyer and Jones are so intense, saying everything with a mere look.
The end is appropriately graphic and shocking, in Brattle’s discoveries.
Some things to note:
– There is a clever camera trick to make the drama seem more dramatic, as pauses change from color to black and white.
– Lee Jones has a wide range of expressions, that makes one almost to see what he is thinking. That’s rare.
– I would also claim him as my fake husband.
– A scene of grief will have you in tears.
– Naked Katey Sagal. Truthfully, I haven’t figured her character out yet, but I have time. At first she seems benevolent, but much like the Seer in Vikings, has a greater purpose that is not always good.
– It is set after the reign of King Edward I (remember Longshanks from Braveheart?).
If you cannot sit through an hour (or more) of explicit scenes of war, complete with blood, guts, organs, etc., then this isn’t the show for you. However, if you can, I think this will be worth sticking out, as the quiet scenes are even more intense than the violent ones. If Vikings and Sons had a baby, it would be The Bastard Executioner.
The Bastard Executioner airs Tuesday nights at 10pm ET on FX.
The Bastard Executioner – Destiny – Series Trailer