The Bastard Executioner Season One “Pilot” 9/15/2015
Kurt Sutter really likes murdering wives of protagonists. After Southpaw and Sons of Anarchy where both wives are dispatched of, it’s difficult not to notice a pattern. If The Bastard Executioner has a sin, it would be the obvious plot. For two hours, all the audience really gets is the arrival of something they’ve been waiting for since minute one.
Diving in is immediately daunting. One thing that is clear is that this is an FX show. It does not have the artistry of History Channel’s Vikings but obtains the desire to be as explicit as HBO. The pilot opens with a gory battle, holding nothing back.
Five years ago, bastard knight Wilk was close to death. Miraculously, he survives the slaughter from the battle with the Scots. He wakes up, his wounds miraculously healed. Not only that, but he has a vision about some weird dragon and an angel telling him he has to lay down his sword. Kurt Sutter has received all that budget money from Sons of Anarchy to make some weird animated dragon in a fever dream.
The audience knows that the baron of Ventirshire is the antagonist when he is abusive to his wife, Lady Love. While this show has an interesting concept, getting there is so full of plot devices, it’s difficult to pay attention to those interesting concepts. It suffers from too many characters and a history not many people know about. The saving grace is how truly disgusting everyone’s teeth is. Realism.
After the Ventirshire baron finds out which village ambushed his tax man, he seeks them out. Wilk and his men are still out when the baron’s forces arrive at the village occupied by women. Wilk’s heavily pregnant wife Petra is attacked by the Baron’s men. In a different show, this could have been an interesting angle. A village full of women on their own and left to their own devices is not something that is usually done. Instead, they’re used as a plot device. Bastard puts on a good show, but instead of empowering their female characters, they just murder all of them. Milus, the chamberlain, kills the only man of power that speaks against their tyranny. They burn the village to the ground and murder everyone inside. In a gory display that has no purpose, Petra his stabbed in her stomach by an unknown assailant. The murderer puts a cross on her forehead with her own fetal blood.
Wilk finds his body’s wife but that isn’t what is truly sad. It is difficult to feel in this scene when the murder of women is used for a plot device, as is so often implemented. Wilk digs up the sword he hasn’t used in five years. The men of the village are off to avenge the lives of the dead women.
Maddox the punisher runs into the Ventris baron to find work. They take him with them on their hunt for the peasants. They meet and battle in the middle of a field. Maddox is killed in the battle. The baron and Wilk fight one on one. The baron is killed by one of the men of the village.
The local healer Annora makes a decision that turns the tide of the show. While Katey Sagal is a treasure and hallmark of Kurt Sutter’s, her presence in the show is as random and undefinable as the accent she puts on. Wilk is unconscious, she burns a cross in his cheek, like what the punisher Maddox had. This is to disguise him as the punisher. Why she should care so much about saving Wilk is a mystery. For some reason, this world’s savior needs Wilk to pretend to be a sadistic torturer. Women probably didn’t need to be murdered to accomplish this.