Alex Yarde reviews the first three episodes of FX’s new show The Bastard Executioner (TBX) premiering September 15th!
The Bastard Executioner is a medieval epic that tells the tale of Wilkin Brattle, a 14th Century warrior whose life is forever changed by a divine messenger who beseeches him to lay down his sword and lead the life of another man: A journeyman executioner in the Welsh fiefdom of Ventrishire. In a harshly brutal time rife with rebellion and political upheaval Wilkin walks a tightrope between protecting his identity and serving his mysterious destiny. It’s bold, bloody and is not to be missed!
Kurt Sutter Creator, Show runner, Executive Producer, Writer Director and Actor (The Dark Mute) spawns this entirely new 14th Century series that fans of his former hit “Sons Of Anarchy” will recognize as a deep character centric ensemble project and not simply a costumed period piece. As Sutter told Variety in a recent interview;
“It’s always about the character and the relationships and the world. As it was with ‘Sons’, the outlaw motorcycle culture became backdrop to a very conflicted hero and the relationships that surrounded him.”
After viewing the Pilot episodes 1&2 and the third episode Effigy / Delw, I see the makings of another favorite FX show of mine!
Set during the brutal and bloody welsh rebellion, The Bastard Executioner’s medieval backdrop may echo Game Of Thrones but no single GOT character is fleshed out as convincingly as titular lead “Wilkin Brattle” played with extraordinary depth and pathos by Lee Jones. Mr. Jones is a wonder to behold. He’s the archetype of conflicted hero. He plays Wilkin as a man of his time with all it’s contradictions, a seething cauldron of pious catholic devotion and blistering vengeance fueled rage. He and his cast of fellows tread a dangerous road filled with familiar touchstones of senseless loss, staunch brotherhood, firce loyalty and gut wrenching betrayal.
The supporting cast is equally enthralling. In particular Katy Segal as Annora of the Alders, a wise woman and healer, acts as Wilkins’ mystical guide. Her omniscience keeps Wilkin under her sway. She’s an essential ally but her paganism isn’t easily accepted. True Blood’s Stephen Moyer an awesome villain as the clutching Chamberlain Milus Corbett also manipulates Wilkin, like all of the major players in this tale he has grand ambitions and more than a few secrets yet to be reviled. There is already serious dramatic tension between Wilkin and the cunning Baroness Lady Love Ventris played with an understated grace by Flora Spencer Longhurst she’s a noblewoman of welsh aristocracy who’s fiefdom Ventrishire is beholden to the English Crown at the expense of her Welsh subjects. I must also mention the haunting Sarah Sweeny as Jessamy Maddox, broken by the relentless abuse of her cruel husband Gawain she survives straddling fantasy & reality. Her scenes are tough to watch and her acting is fantastic.
All of these players potentially cloud Wilkin’s path as he deftly navigates the political, emotional and supernatural pitfalls in his quest for his greater purpose. His initial efforts to find peace and redemption seem to be thwarted at every turn. I particularly loved the way he wrestles with having to mingle amongst his sworn enemies and dole out punishment to the townsfolk he cares about. The first few episodes drew me in and made me invest in how Wilkin will thread the needle, which is what a pilot should do!
Watch the two-hour premiere directed by Paris Barclay on September 15 at 10:00 pm e/p and let me know what you think of The Bastard Executioner below or on Twitter @thatalexyarde use the hashtag #TBX in your posts!