Lots of Fetchland readers already subscribe to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, or even Marvel Unlimited.

… Which begs the question: When you have access to an almost limitless plethora of entertainment options, which ones should you pick?

“What’s Free Wednesday” is a weekly Fetchland feature spotlighting something great to read or watch available on one or more entertainment services. “Free” once you’ve paid for it, if you grok 🙂

First Blood

Free on:

  • Netflix

It’s a telling fact that the movie First Blood appears incorrectly titled in your Netflix search. Also quite noteworthy is how low the rating is in Netflix, only two stars. But that’s about as accurate as the title, and for the same reason. First Blood tells the origin story of a character we all think we know, at the mere mention of his name: Rambo. That name resounds like Homer Simpson’s “Doh!” in the American unconscious. Some dumb guy with a blazing machine gun, right? Perhaps a slurring Sylvester Stallone comes to mind. But not only is his character, John Rambo, actually a brilliant strategist and tactical master with a deeply embedded inner boy scout… John’s greatest crime is wanting to get a bite to eat in a small town that disdains Vietnam vets.

First Blood delves into how John suffers not only from the PTSD that haunts his mind and heart, but also his subhuman treatment at the hands of a small town police force who hunt him for no good reason. When you see this story of how war stole the soul of a seemingly primitive man, you quickly realize he’s a genius in disguise. Trained as a Green Beret, a war hero fighting impossible odds, John survives where no other human possibly could… And then he goes ahead and kicks some ass for good measure. Brian Dennehy plays a small town sheriff with major bullying issues. He sees John Rambo, a mild man walking through his town, as a violent and imminent threat simply because he’s a Vietnam vet. The sheriff sizes him up as a vet because of John’s army jacket and longish hair. Problem is the sheriff comes to all sorts of other less accurate conclusions as well, like that because he’s a vet, John Rambo is a danger to his town. When John doesn’t leave after the sheriff’s insistence, Dennehy arrests him for vagrancy, thus sparking a ferocious momentum that pushes Rambo to test the limits of his seemingly infinite resolve to survive.

It truly becomes a matter of survival when John escapes jailhouse humiliations and the sheriff’s men transform into hunters – literally out to kill him. Rambo’s on the run in the woods of the great Northwest and the movie snowballs with such intensity it grips you and won’t let you go. The escalation of events draws you into a grueling intimacy with the ultimate survivalist. This proximity to the pain and resilience of a man willing to do whatever it takes despite impossible odds is the real gift of this movie. A pre “Rambo” John Rambo stitches up his arm wound, builds traps, and slaughters wild animals as the suspense builds and the relentless sheriff’s department hunters close in on him.

At the time he made this movie Sylvester Stallone had just established himself as the underdog character, Rocky. So, First Blood was his first character of this kind. John Rambo counts as an underdog for sure but, ultimately it was this character that established Stallone as the iconic action hero. It’s how most of us think of Stallone these days and it all started with First Blood, revealing the innate perfection of that title. One of the reasons to recommend watching First Blood is that though the Rambo movies have been rolling out for years like condoms on prom night, this was before all that. This John Rambo remains untainted by marketing schemes, action figures, and polish in general. He’s raw, unfiltered and brutally pissed off in First Blood. This movie’s the real deal.

People see the name in Netflix and it says “Rambo – First Blood” so they rate it accordingly for a hollow action figure variety flick. But the only thing hollow about First Blood is the soul of John Rambo – he left it behind in Vietnam. With an 87% fresh rating on Rottentomatoes.com, it seems safe to say that this isn’t a two star movie. In fact, it will get your blood pumping and remind you of that survivor we all hold dear and deep inside ourselves. It’s that part of you that just knows you’re going to make it out of those woods alive. Seems like a perfect time for that kind of reminder these days with the hourglass emptying and the clock ticking on our very planet. If nothing else, there are also great camping tips for a bro on the move.

–Katherine Recap

A Hunger/Newyn

[For The Bastard Executioner‘s “A Hunger/Newyn” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
A Hunger/Newyn. Lady Love journeys to Windsor to learn the fate of Ventrishire from King Edward II.

The opening montage — among shots of of Wilkin reading the bible and acclimating to his new family, Lady Love journeying to meet the King, and Annora chatting up a stretched animal hide — shows Stephen Moyer’s Milus Corbett poring over maps. It’s not clear at the time what is up with the maps initially, but by the end of the episode we are explicitly told that he is an impressive man. Corbett shows himself adept not only at manipulations, but arithmetic, reignmaking, and architecture… human architecture.

With his nominal boss Love off to Windsor to meet Edward II and learn the fate of Ventrishire with her Baron now dead, Corbett arranges a covert meeting with Baron Pryce from the neighboring shire; his goal is to consolidate the power of both shires by arranging a marriage of Love to Pryce (with Corbett himself named as the chamberlain of the greater kingdom, of course).

There are two barriers to this alleged greater good: 1) Pryce already has a chamberlain, and 2) Pryce already has a wife. More on one of those in a bit.

Another dead body with its arms and legs hacked off and reversed appears in the wilderness. Ventrishire soldiers are dispatched after the (obviously) demon-worshipers who were doubtlessly responsible… But have to settle for Wilkin’s crew, whom they capture despite a mystically prescient warning from woods witch Annora.

In Windsor, Love is jerked around by the King’s right-hand sycophant, the French Sir Gaveston, who alternately compliments and insults her. Ultimately he is playing games trying to get up into her sexy golden gown (and also take Ventrishire for his own via his influence on the King). For his part, Edward II (who barely speaks English) appears to be anything but an engaged ruler and lets Gaveston do whatever he wants while practicing archery and yammering with his buddies in French.

(Love and Isabel agree in their hatred of the French.)

Love outsmarts the smarmy Gaveston and distracted King; claiming to be pregnant… With a legitimate [presumably male] heir, she trots back to Ventrishire leaving the amorous barnacle with his jaw on the floor. Sorry Gaveston, no soup castle for you! Her shire will not be chopped up and handed over to him after all. This of course raises quite a few questions… What about Corbett’s plot? How is she going to get a baby in her [in time]? Would it be too on-the-nose for Wilkin to play daddy?

Wilkin has all kinds of problems in “A Hunger/Newyn”. Romance is just one of them. Case in point, Wilkin ends one of his semi-frequent hallucinations about his dead wife making out with her; only he is actually making out with his new wife (rather Gawain Maddox’s actual wife) Jessamy. Complicating matters, the ghostly Petra tells Wilkin he has already found a new love. Jessamy wants to get all romantic, but Wilkin isn’t quite ready.

Mrs. Maddox continues to be tough to peg. She at least acts that Wilkin is Maddox, and punishes her son Luca for talking openly about his true identity (just in their apartments, mind you) by cutting him with a hot knife! Apparently the original Gawain Maddox “punished” his own family in a similar vein when they transgressed. Oddly (or perhaps not oddly at all) Luca would love to keep calling Wilkin his “daddy” regardless; Wilkin being much more kindly and tender than his actual father.

Wilkin and Toran can’t make one of their regular trips to visit Annora and the old village crew because Corbett (human architect that he is) has called for a celebratory exhibition fight between Ventrishire troops and Pryce’s… Including Wilkin of course. After dispatching one of Pryce’s soldiers in his exhibition bout, a Hulk-Smash-raging Wilkin cuts loose on Leon, having caught a glimpse of his dead wife’s sapphire cross around his neck at exactly the wrong blood-crazed moment; remember, Wilkin thinks Leon killed his wife even though we know he probably didn’t. It is only being tackled by Toran at the last second that keeps Wilkin from going too far.

Onlookers think the Ventrishire-on-Ventrishire “mock” melee is a hoot, of course.

And OF COURSE there is one guy who recognizes Wilkin from Baron Pryce’s visiting contingent. And OF COURSE it is Pryce’s chamberlain (aka Corbett’s currently unwitting rival in his proposed marriage scheme). Given that Corbett now has all of Wilkin’s old crew in his dungeons, Corbett reminds our Bastard Executioner that everyone he loves is either dead or in his power… So Wilkin has to go into executioner mode once again.

He stuffs a drumstick down the other chamberlain’s throat (making it look like a drunken choking accident), thus clearing the way for Corbett to be Number Two across two shires.

If that weren’t enough going on we also start to learn big arc things about the characters, and perhaps the greater The Bastard Executioner universe in “A Hunger/Newyn”. We learn the secret origin of Isabel’s friendship with Love; and of Love’s marriage to Baron Ventris. The bigger moment is the capture of a “Seraphim” by hostile… Well, I’m not sure who captures him actually. They are some kind of knights or priests (it is heavily implied they are Rosula). British superstar singer Ed Sheeran plays a [Rosula] torturer who gleefully plucks out the eyes of the captured Seraphim, triggering much cross-country psychic trauma for Annora. Also their boss seems to be the Archdeacon serving Edward II, so pretty high up in politics, monarchy, theocracy, or just chicanery. Because this is a Kurt Sutter show, we get to see the Seraphim blinded, like Big Otto and Bobby Elvis before him.


Top 8 Question Marks for “A Hunger/Newyn”:

  1. Who is Wilkin’s new love? It is contextually implied to be Jessamy, but come on.
  2. For her part, just how coo coo is Jessamy? Zero or maximum?
  3. How is Love going to get an “heir” inside her? Well I guess we all know how this works, but who is going to put it there? I’d guess we all have the same firm guess on this (I mean come on).
  4. If Love has an heir, where is that going to leave Corbett’s plot with Pryce?
  5. For that matter, how about Pryce’s current wife? She is supposedly sick to the point of dying… But come on.
  6. How long are Berber, Calo, and Ash really going to be stuck in that dungeon?
  7. What’s up with the Seraphim and all their tattoos and magic, et cetera?
  8. Are we ever going to get a bit of daylight on this show? And for that matter if we do, won’t Corbett just burst into flames?


[For Scream Queens‘ “Chainsaw” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
Chainsaw Chanel No. 3 shares a secret and a surprising connection between two students is revealed.

“Chainsaw” begins with scream queens, Grace and Zayday at a truckstop where they see the Red Devil between the aisles so Grace tazes him in the groin but it turns out he’s just a random freshman in the mascot costume – with tazed nuts. Then Chanel No. 5 announces to Chanel No. 1 that she’s leaving Kappa. Apparently she’s planning to focus on getting “eiffel towered” and “spit-roasted” because college remains a land ripe with visually arresting sex euphemisms. Meanwhile back at Kappa house the security guard helps Grace and Zayday test the rug in Chanel No. 2’s room for blood. Turns out Chanel No. 2 is still posting on social media, “See here she is by the pool in Bel Aire,” to which the security guard replies, “Bitch isn’t even that cute!”

Outside on quad during a candlelight vigil Chanel No. 1 approaches Chad about maybe getting back together but he’s too busy sleeping around to even give it serious consideration, though she does “shave her box in a pretty hot way.” He’s too turned off by all her “ugly pledges at Kappa.” Dean Munsch then announces to the candle-holding procession of sad sacks that the university will no longer use the Red Devil mascot given recent events. She introduces the new ice cream cone “Coney” to a collective sigh that covers the morose vigil in a sweep of deeper doldrums despite zippy dance music and a shiny, bouncing new mascot.

Grace and Zayday then take the security guard to Chanel No. 2’s mansion where they talk to her parents about how she’s still posting on Instagram, even if the pics aren’t particularly cute. Chanel’s parents are shocked by this undeniable lack of cuteness and declare that OMG their daughter “must be drinking again” and it’s so disappointing because they thought all was well due to her boyfriend Chad. The parental duo show them a letter from Chad declaring Chanel No. 2’s “hotness,” describing a weekend visit Chad made to that very same mansion and how he enjoyed the boning that thus commenced between them throughout said weekend. The mystery of Chad’s role remains.

Grace attends her first film class and it’s surprisingly taught by her dear old Daddykins – so she flees in horrified shame. Though her father, Wes, teaches literature and the whole reason he was teaching the class (Grace) just left, he teaches this film class anyway. His first order of business – showing them The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Wes ends the class with, “Aren’t we all running from the chainsaws of our past?” Um, no, weirdo but we’re all certainly wondering about you now. Except for his fellow teacher, Gigi, who apparently finds him all the more attractive now.

Next we meet Aaron Cohen, shorty McIceCreamery, the little guy inside the Coney costume. He’s finally found bliss walking the campus inside his shiny cone… but it’s not meant to be for Coney and he’s soon chainsawed in the costume closet by the Red Devil – victim #1 of episode three. Returning to Kappa house we find Chanel No. 1 in her Paris apartment-sized closet where Hester awaits with probing questions. Chanel then realizes she could prove Chad wrong about Kappa’s “ugly pledges” if she gives all the newbies makeovers and what better place to start than Hester – the Platonic ideal of scoliosis?

Chanel No. 3 then confesses to one of the pledges that her biological father is actually Charles Manson. That means if anybody finds out Chanel No. 3 will need an alibi to prove she’s not just following in Daddy’s footsteps as the killer. So, they become “alibuddies” promising to be each other’s alibis in case they each get accused of being the killer. Grace and Z return to Kappa and find out that it wasn’t just Chanel No. 2 but also 3 and 5 who were dating Chad behind 1’s back last year. Though 5’s heart wasn’t really in their one date, but of course she slept with him anyway… So, Chad’s officially really into boning Chanels every chance her gets. Grace will soon wonder if this means he’s a sociopath, as if that’s the only possible reason for such behavior. Chanel No. 1 then slowly descends the stairs as she introduces her made over Hester. Now glammed up, just like a Chanel, and it’s all pretty magical aside from Hester talking through clenched teeth and about to pass out from the pain of not wearing her neckbrace.

Next Chad does a jaunty presentation for his bros, explaining how Boone was, in fact, gay but still couldn’t possibly have killed himself. He must’ve been murdered, Chad explains. So now they’ve got to do their bro duty and avenge it by drinking too much then roaming the streets dressed all in white and flailing baseball bats. But when the bros in white encounter the Red Devil it turns out to be two Red Devils with chainsaws this time. Killing commences. Baseball bats don’t hold up too well against chainsaws… and neither do frat boy arms.

Grace heads back into Veronica Mars territory with a visit to the barista (Pete) in his dorm room to discuss who the murderer might be. He’s been investigating on his own and wants to take her on a mission. They immediately leave town together. The security guard then collars Zayday, certain she’s the killer for reasons including a tweet to @ShondaRhimes about the hit show How to Get Away With Murder and the chainsaw Zayday keeps under her bed “for protection.” Then back at the sorority house Dean Munsch gets between Gigi and Wes on their “date” but it’s more of a salad dressing taste test than a date as the three of them eat salad with about twelve dressings to choose from on their Kappa House dining table. Luckily Dean Munsch brought all that salad dressing along to keep things truly tantalizing. She calls dibs on Wes so it makes perfect sense that she’d join them on their date – right? But who has time to protest? Wes leaves super early anyway – something about being worried his daughter Grace has just left town and will get murdered.

Soon after Gigi and the Dean settle into silky twin Kappa House beds for nighty night until the Dean’s “white noise machine” turns out to be a more of a horrifying noisemaker. So, Gigi trots downstairs to the living room couch with her pillow. But guess who awaits there? It’s the Red Devil with his chainsaw! Wes hears the revving chainsaw from his car outside where he apparently fell asleep just before driving away to save his daughter. He rushes into Kappa and scares away the Red Devil. When Dean Munsch comes down to see what all the fuss is about he says, “Aha! You’re the killer!” They call the cops and the episode ends with Dean Munsch as the show’s primary suspect. Thus, we’ll have to change our guess for this week and pick another character as the killer. We can’t take the easy route… so, we’ll take the second easiest route. Who falls asleep on the way to save their daughter, anyway?

Tonight’s guess for who the Red Devil killer is: Wes

–Katherine Recap

The Voice Season 9: Hot Takes Week 1

Posted by Brian David-Marshall | Hollywood, TV

I watch an awful lot of television but it is predominantly of the scripted variety. I have watched very little of the shows in the Reality Show Pantheon such Survivor, So You Think You Can Dance, The Amazing Race, and so on. The shows that I do watch are Chopped (which is probably more of a cooking game show than traditional reality show), Top Chef and The Voice, the last of which is currently about a third of the way through their Blind Audition round of shows.

The idea behind the Blind Auditions on The Voice is that a hopeful singer comes out on stage and performs one single song in front of four potential coaches — this season’s lineup is Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams, Gwen Stefani, and Adam Levine — who sit with their back turned to the stage. They cannot see the contestants and have to decide based solely on that performance whether or not they want to turn around and offer the singer a spot on their team. Even one chair turning means a player will advance beyond the Blinds. It is pretty much The Hunger Games from there on out as each player is groomed by the coaches to be pitted against each other until only one is left standing — how amazing would it be to get the Lenny Kravitz crossover?

The winner either receives a recording contract or is sold to the makers of Soylent for processing. Nobody knows for sure since we rarely hear from the winners ever again. I don’t know why this is the reality show that I have latched onto but here I am back for Season 9 to deliver my hot takes on the contestants who make it past the Blind Auditions over these next couple of weeks. As of this writing two shows have aired and each coach has between four and six players on their teams.

Team Blake: Barrett Baber
Barrett Baber
The High School teacher from Arizona has the corny white guy category all but locked up and could be around for the long haul on the show. He will have to sweat a couple of head to heads with other corny white guys — there tend to be a lot of them on Team Blake — but should make it to the Live Rounds where the public will love his heroic story and the Blake Shelton country machine will get the vote out. In his backstory it was revealed that he survived a plane crash and rescued some other passengers. He thinks maybe this show is why he survived. Has to worry a little about seeming too fanatical about his “destiny” as hubris does not play well in the Lives.

Prediction: Makes it to the Live Rounds.

Team Blake: Blind Joe
Blind joe
Barrett Baber had better hope he is not paired up against Blind Joe in any of the culling rounds where coaches make their own team members go head to head. Joe has a compelling story, more than enough talent, and a down-to-earth sense of humor about the bad hand he has been dealt in life. He was not expected to live as a baby and was blinded during his care by poor care. I expect to see him make a deep run on the show and could see him being one of the many Team Blake alums who go on to have Country Music careers.

Prediction: Made man in the Country Mafia opening for the Swann Brothers next year.

Team Blake: Emily Ann Roberts
emily ann
In her pre-Blind roll-in, Emily talked about her love for old country and invoked the names of Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton. She talked about getting double takes when she sings Folsom Prison Blues as a fresh-faced teenager at the local coffee shop. Then she went and performed wedding staple I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack for her audition. Pretty disappointing after that build up but she is good. Could get lost in the shuffle if she doesn’t let that old soul out of the cage.

Prediction: Stolen by Adam Levine

Team Blake: Nadjah Nicole
Her performance of Tightrope was one of my two or three favorite in the Blind Auditions so far. She left behind the possibility of a music career years back to take care of her child and should only get stronger as she gets her performance muscle memory back. She chose to be on Team Blake over Team Adam which seemed like a misclick on her part. I don’t have a ton of confidence in Blake’s ability to pick songs for her or to be able to best showcase her talents.

Prediction: Most likely to make me curse and scream when she gets cut in favor of one of the many inevitable corny white guys (hereafter knowns as CWG) on Team Blake.

Team Blake: Zach Seabaugh
Super boring and not much in the way of character but has a better look and sound than many of the CWGs that have made deep runs on previous Blake teams.

Prediction: Eliminates Nadjah Nicole head to head.

Team Pharrell: Evan McKeel
The judges clearly heard something I did not because his Blind Audition was pretty forgettable but he got multiple chairs to turn, including Pharrell who implored him to sing a little Stevie Wonder. He utterly crushed Overjoyed and shot right up the power rankings for me as one of the competitors who can go far if he can stick to music that inspires similar performances. Emily Ann Roberts, take note!

Prediction: Eliminated late in the Live Rounds on a tarnished version of Titanium

Team Pharrell: Ivonne Acero
I have to admit I am always a sucker for the Blind Auditions when someone who did get any chair turns in a previous season comes back, implements the notes of the coaches (usually “don’t pick such a bad song”) and lands themselves on a team. That said, Pharrell and Adam may have hit their buttons a little too soon here.

Prediction: Good story albeit a short one

Team Pharrell: Mark Hood
He opened the show with a four chair turn but did not strike me as a four chair talent — they usually have something really unique and emotional in their voice. Mark may well be the corny black guy of the show. And that might be okay for him since there is not a glut of corny guys, white, black or otherwise, on Pharrell’s team for him to have to battle with in the early rounds.

Prediction: Knocked out performing Radioactive

Team Pharrell: Siahna Im
It is utterly bewildering to me how a teenaged girl with a mouthful of braces — and a speaking voice like a cartoon character — can come out and crush a rendition of Peggy Lee’s Fever. But Sianha was more than up to the task and is, for me, a favorite to go through to the finals.

Prediction: Makes tabloid headlines when she attends prom with last season’s winner Sawyer Fredericks.

Team Gwen: Braiden Sunshine
The youngest performer so far — just 15 years old — gets points for staying focused in his performance despite the fact that Gwen and Pharrell both sandbagged their chair turns until the very last second. I have become pretty jaded about younger performers after Sawyer Fredericks just steamrolled the field last season. He is going to need to establish a musical identity because being young is just not enough.

Prediction: Cloudy future for Sunshine.

Team Gwen: Ellie Lawrence

I love a good rearrangement of a bad song and Ellie Lawrence took a chance with an indie rock version of We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off. It was a risky move that might have been better held in pocket until she had already secured a berth on a team. It resulted in her landing on the team of her Ska idol Gwen Stefani. Perfect pairing that could pay off for Stefani who is the only coach this season without a win on that show.

Prediction: Most likely to actually sing a song that is on a CD gathering dust on my shelves.

Team Gwen: Noah Jackson, Hanna Ashbrook, and Tim Atlas

A handful of artists whose auditions where not shown. Not enough information to make much in the way of predictions. Gwen was the only coach who turned around for all of them and expect them not to be around for long.

Prediction: Knocked out in Battle Rounds.

Team Gwen: Kota Wade

There was an episode of Hannibal during season two featuring a serial killer who was preserving and stitching together corpses into a grotesque Pantone color wheel. I am not saying that is what Gwen is doing with the hair colors of her female contestants this season but… Wade claimed rocker roots but her voice had a twang that means she might stay on the show when she is inevitably paired off against Ellie Lawrence.

Prediction: Stolen by Blake Shelton.

Team Adam: James Dupré

The running coach storyline on the first two episodes was Adam Levine’s quest to steal a country artist from Blake’s clutches. Blake has churned multiple country artists into recording contracts regardless of how far they go on the show. If you have any twang at all in your blood, and Blake turns his chair, you would be a fool not to go with him. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you country artist and Nashville resident James Dupré.

Prediction: Back in Nashville very soon.

Team Adam: Jordan Smith

“You’ll never leave Harlan alive,” recalled Jordan Smith, who hails from Harlan, Kentucky, of the experience growing up in a small Southern town and not fitting in. He obviously struck an emotional chord with the audience and the judges and could go very far. He is waaaaaaay more talented than previous square pegs who have gone far on the show and is from the same town that my favorite TV show, Justified, is set in.

Prediction: Last person standing for Adam.

Team Adam: Keith Semple

The problem with covering a Bon Jovi song is that you tend to sound like a Bon Jovi cover band.

Prediction: Livin’ on a prayer.

Team Adam: Regina Love

Once signed to a recording deal by heavyweight champion Evander Holyfeld, Regina Love has a powerful voice but nothing that distinguishes her as an artist — at least in this audition. She will be able to go toe to toe with some of the weaker links in Adam’s team but is going to have to really put up a surprising couple of performances to make it far beyond the Battle Rounds. There have been older R&B artists on previous seasons similar to Love, with strong instruments but dated song choices.

Prediction: Most likely to sing Proud Mary.

[For The Jim Gaffigan Show‘s “Wonderful” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

TVLand Summary:
Wonderful. After getting frustrated with sick, lice-infested children, Jim wishes that he never got married.

The final episode of The Jim Gaffigan Show had so many inside jokes it ate itself. In the first scene Jim and his friend, Dave run into John Mulaney on the sidewalk and Mulaney talks about how he just “got offered another show on TVLand… what? TVLand, yeah sounds like an amusement park but it’s a TV channel.” Gaffigan, who was just saying he’s not disappointed he can’t go to an Australian comedy festival with Dave, now has yet another great opportunity to secretly envy a fellow comic. He grumbles and groans, like everybody else in line at Katz’s, turning Dave’s stomach so he loses his appetite, but Dave’ll get lunch anyway since it’s always on Jim. Then, finally, Gaffigan admits that yeah, he’s getting soft career-wise. In fact, at this point he’s “probably like half pillow.” Jim starts thinking maybe he should just bite the bullet, leave the family and go to Australia for the comedy festival. This will give him a chance to escape not only the stomach flu that’s ravaged his whole family for weeks but also the lice infestation he’s about to face entering the apartment.

Next thing he knows, Jeannie picks through Jim’s hair and says she didn’t find any lice but adds, “there might still be those invisible ones, though.” He consoles himself with a good solitary cry on the toilet a moment later and then the youngest Gaffigan trots in with Jim’s MacBook Air and dumps it in the full bathtub. THAT’S IT! Gaffigan out! Jim rages and then storms out into the street. It’s now time for Gaffigan’s out-of-body experience thanks to a group of hipsters on Citibikes and an oblivious Steve Buscemi listening to Call me Maybe on his headphones.

Bikes, Buscemis, and Gaffigan worlds collide so that suddenly we’re in an alternate version of Jim’s life a-la It’s a Wonderful Life. Here’s where we get the meaning behind the last The Jim Gaffigan Show episode’s title Wonderful. After all, he did just scream that he hated his life and wished he’d never gotten married. This is the natural next step – angels and lessons and celebrity guests, oh my!

Gaffigan returns to his apartment but now it’s a clean and empty bachelor pad that Jim apparently shares with Dave and apparently his old school full head of luscious hair. But then a gross one-night-stand and the fact that he owes Dave back rent sends Jim back out to the sidewalk where his Buscemi/Angel awaits. Buscemi explains that Jim’s been granted the wish of never having married Jeannie. He also explains that he only appears to Jim as Steve Buscemi but is actually a guardian angel. His angel could’ve looked like Whoopie Goldberg… but with her role in Ghost that might have been too confusing.

Gaffigan momentarily brightens with the news that he’s still a comedian in this alternate angel world. He’s excited to go to a comedy club where he might finally feel comfortable and at home again. But once at the comedy Jim immediately falls into a deep pit of despair because it turns out that in this world he’s a filthy mouthed douchebag comic who disses and slutshames cool women like Whitney Cummings. This Jim offends wife-and-kids Jim. At this point Gaffigan starts begging Angel Steve for his family life back. On the sidewalk a shrieking Jim yells at Guardian Buscemi (invisible to all others) for not telling him where he can find Jeannie. This draws scoffs and mockery from nearby Alec Baldwin and – who else – but the ever present Macauley Culkin, now with his hair back in a manbun.

Jim finally gets Steve to help him locate Jeannie. Turns out she owns a bar, has a David Beckham haircut with matching tattoos up the wazoo and married Daniel, her real-world gay best friend. But in this world Daniel loves Jim’s comedy and Snicker bars… a real shock and almost a letdown given that this can’t possibly be an authentic Daniel. He’s living a lie because everybody knows Daniel’s loathing for Jim is his favorite feeling. This world’s Jeannie is also an opposite. She has major anger issues and punches Jim right in the kisser for even mentioning the notion of her having children. She hates kids!

Wonderful then leaps into the clouds of TV episode wonderland and everything shifts gears yet again. The punch from Angel-world Jeannie knocked Jim out. He wakes up on the sidewalk in the real world where it turns out he’s just hit his head. Steve Buscemi is there but he actually is Steve Buscemi. We take a turn into META town now as Gaffigan returns to his apartment with a new, more grateful perspective. Jim can’t wait to get upstairs and when he does things are about to get REAL. We’re talking real life real.

In his apartment Jim’s actual wife and show co-creator, Jeannie, awaits rather than the actress that plays Jeannie. His real kids are in the apartment too hugging Jim, and we can even see the crew shooting. Gaffigan tells Jeannie, his real life wife, how he had this dream that they made a TV show about their family and actors played her and the kids but he played himself. Jeannie replies, “Yes, and they’re all here.” Then the cast of the show comes out of the back bedroom so they can all sing Auld Lang Syne together, arms around each other, smiling, and swaying with the tune. The cast and crew toast to a show well done. The episode exits Season One with a big “Thank You” onscreen from The Jim Gaffigan Show – so polite and typical of Gaffigan, the boy scout comic. Thank YOU, Jim and Jeannie, for the creative fun and endless laughter. We’re truly looking forward to Season Two.

–Katherine Recap


[For The Bastard Executioner‘s “Effigy/Ddelw” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
Effigy/Ddelw. An unlikely suspect is charged with treason; Wilkin carries out his dutes at the new executioner.

“This is such a morbid show,” says Katherine Recap to me as the second episode of The Bastard Executioner opens. She has switched her Tuesday night — ahem — recap-responsibilities to the also-bloody (but ostensibly more charming) Scream Queens (you should probably check that out).

I can’t disagree with her. That morbid opening of this episode has hero — or at least main character — Wilkin Brattle with woods witch Annora, reluctantly knifing a carcass.

“Morbid,” she echoes. “Dead animals and rain.”

Just as Wilkin cuts, the scene cuts to a pair of stonemasons producing a bust of the now-dead villainous Baron. “Too much force… a gentler hand,” is the surprising piece of dialogue.

Cut again to Love, the kindly Baroness, and Isabel, her faithful servant. Love instructs Isabel to select a more colorful dress (“something cheerful”); her time of mourning that bastard of a Baron has apparently ended.

While the Baron’s widow is refocusing on cheer, his former right hand man, Milus Corbett (you know, Vampire Bill from True Blood), is anything but. Corbett is all crying over some weird grass action figures and a little medieval-style illustration of the dead Baron.

Cut back to Annora and Wilkin… It seems that body-chopping was Annora teaching Wilkin “remedies of the body”.

We then get a magical flashback, with a little boy dressed as a nun kicking the bejeezus out of some other cats also dressed as nuns with a quarterstaff… And a not-burned Kurt Sutter is watching! This is actually a pretty telling scene as far as the enigmatic The Bastard Executioner goes. It seems that The Dark Mute wasn’t always burned (we already know from last episode that he is not actually mute), and it seems used to be a monk; probably even warrior-monk, you know, like in D&D.

Wilkin tells Annora he was left with the monks by a nun, who told them he was fatherless. Was she his mother?

Annora says Wilkin’s mom’s story ended. This viewer wonders if Annora is actually his mom. Because reasons.

Back at the castle, a wagon is prepared with the bust of the dead Baron; while in the woods, teenagers with their left cheeks painted colorfully — almost like college football fans — argue about who gets to do what. An older youth, on horseback, tells three others that “they” approach; and instructs his little sister Nia (a wee ginger cutie) to wipe the color from her face, that she is only supposed to watch. She, of course, will have none of that; because foreshadowing.

Or as Sondheim once told us:

What happened then — well, that’s the play,
And he wouldn’t want us to give it away

Wilkin meets up with some of his old buds from the village. Discussion gets a bit heated. For those of us who were a bit confused about why the heroic (or at least heroic-ish) Wilkin is posing as a castle executioner — who will be presumably called on to punish or even put to death the innocent, or at least his countrymen — that is made clear. Wilkin and wingman Toran are there to determine the identities of those who burned their village and killed their families in the Pilot.

For his part, Wilkin can barely hold in his rage, “knowing” with certainty that Leon Tell is responsible for the death of his wife Petra (wearing her sapphire cross and all). Of course we the audience know that Leon actually spared Petra. The only thing certain about this situation is that it is quite going to end tragically :/

Wilkin and Toran have determined that four other knights as well as their new reeve (Vampire Bill) were responsible… It is just a question of which knights.

The ball proper gets rolling when the wagon carrying the stone likeness of the Baron is set upon by our face-painted youths.

“Noble cowards!” They chide, taunting men away from the wagon, berating them with slingshots.

Little Nia jumps onto the stone likeness, breaking off its nose… Then is immediately captured 🙁

Meanwhile, in the Maddox home, apparently the executioner’s widow has no idea that Wilkin isn’t actually her husband, and is only posing as “punisher” Gawain Maddox. Wilkin seems to think that she is just not breaking kayfabe (even when they are alone in the apartment) but this viewer at least gets the feeling that she is actually just unhinged from having such a particularly terrible life.

Wilkin doesn’t get much chance to solidify her understanding as he is called in to deal with the captured Nia.

Remember when Katherine called this show “morbid”?

The first suggestion is to pull Nia’s fingernails out to get her to talk [about rebel movements]; then someone else says “the pear” will be quicker.

WTF is the pear?

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Does “the pear” have something to do with what Monica on Friends used to refer to as “her flower” in the fat Monica flashback episodes?

Wilkin doesn’t know what to think, examining a LITERAL medieval torture device.

“You stick it in her slot,” says Toran, settling our wonderment.

“God in heaven,” replies Wilkin (echoing 100% of audience members).

Love will have none of this torturing a fifteen-year-old girl, suspecting that she was just part of some childish shenanigans rather than an actual rebel insurgent. Unfortunately Wilkin has already removed one of Nia’s fingernails before Love can get there. Also unfortunately, Nia ain’t talking.

… Not even her name!

“Giving me your name will bring no harm to anyone.”

Baroness Love figures out which village Nia is from via a combination of observations and general being-Welsh knowledge of the area. She wants to find the girl’s parents so that they “can make recompense” and she has an excuse to spare the girl torture and death.

Let’s all go! says Love. Assemble a caravan! Milus tries to object, but Love simply tells him to bring both their priest and their execration. I mean, who’d mess with that combination of redemption and revenge? Exactly.

Annora does something inexplicable with blood and a magic(?) snake. Shrug. Cut to commercial.

Love and her caravan of knights and nobles descend upong Nia’s fishing village. Nia’s mother sends for rebel leader the Wolf (Philip Jennings from FX sister-show and BDM darling The Americans), and tells her older son — the one who told Nia she couldn’t play at the top of the episode — that “that noble waif is the only thing keeping me from gutting you like a cod”.

Love offers Mother fair trade… Her daughter’s life for a meeting with the Wolf (little does she know Mother has already summoned him, or at least his forces). All mother has is “fish and poverty” for trade, claiming not to know the Wolf; the death of Nia would just mean one less mouth to feed.


After this non-exchange, Wilkin identifies the older brother as just having been chewed out by Mother. Maybe he can get something out of him?

Big brother gives up his name (Mabon) after simply being asked one time. “I ripped out your sister’s fingernail and she didn’t give me her name.” Wilkin and company make Mabon feel pretty pathetic, informing him that they might kill her essentially for his mistake. Mabon gives them information about a secret cache of weapons as trade for Nia’s life… Under the condition that his Mother never find out it was him who gave up the goose… err… goods.

After a short interlude about bible stories and Quran-quoting, we see Love’s caravan ambushed by Welsh rebels. Wilkin spirits her away, showing off masterful sword skills in the Baroness’s defense. The priest Father Ruskin (Osip from True Detective) is surprisingly effective as well, both with mace and a hidden dagger. Toran begrudgingly saves the life of one of the knights… Who probably burned down his fillage and killed his family and stuff :/

Back at the castle, Milus tells Love that the deal Mabon made happened before the cowardly ambush, and that her head must roll or they will look weak in the face of rebellion.

Love says she will think on it.

Both Father Ruskin and Love separately notice how good Wilkin was during the rebel ambush; he tries to pass this off as handling a blade being part of his job. Love will have none of it! Swinging an ax is brutish: He’s an artist with a refined discipline.

But enough on the niceties. Love tearfully hands him her decison on Nia 🙁

The ghost of Petra appears to either help or haunt Wilkin. Love’s note becomes a snake that encircles Wilkin’s neck… and becomes paper again.

Wilkin runs to Annora for help, showing her the note. Annora gives Wilkin what we all presume to be poison, and tells him to give it to Nia about an hour before he has to do his work.

As Wilkin gives Nia Annora’s potion, Vampire Bill returns, and tells him never to open his big fat mouth in the direction of the Baroness again.

But… “I serve the Baroness,” he points out.

“Gawain Maddox serves the lady,” Milus clarifies. “Wilkin Brattle belongs to me.”

What what???

As we the audience absorb the idea that the show’s villain knows who the bastard executioner really is, we cut to the doom of poor Nia. It turns out that Love’s decision was merely to cut off Nia’s nose — in mirror to what happened to the Baron’s bust — not to actually kill her.

I am reminded of Katherine’s comment about how morbid The Bastard Executioner was at the top of the hour. There are not many shows where seeing a lovely young girl get her nose chopped off would be considered a happy ending relative to setup and expectations.

Top 8 Observations for “Effigy/Ddelw”

  1. Sutter totally cheated on this one. Perhaps he’s just assuming his base audience for The Bastard Executioner are 100% transplanted Sons of Anarchy fans? A cold viewer would have had no idea that the burned The Dark Mute was the not-burned guy watching a young Welkin learn to fight in the flashback scene.
  2. Man! Sorry… woman! Welsh women are tough! Nia won’t give up a word — not even her name — even after some medieval torture (though it is unclear how much Nia actually knows about Welsh rebels); and her mother was like steel and stone in the face of losing her child when negotiating with Love.
  3. For someone who has devoted much of his adult life to a game called Magic… The magic / mystical elements of this show are driving me nuts. Blood, visions, angels, demons (which are apparently imaginary?), and snakes… The hoodoo abra cadabra is my least favorite part of the show right now.
  4. The setup of Welkin getting Nia’s doom was super interesting, and not just for the plot twist; Love assumed Wilkin (Gawain) could read.
  5. I’m all for a romp with some hot twins (Vampire Bill’s last scene being a team event with a two-girl gift package from the King), but wasn’t he secretly gay last week?
  6. Maybe that’s why Milus was crying over the grass action figure at the beginning of the episode? Was he secretly in love with the Baron? I thought for a moment he might be remorseful for his executed brother but the little illustration swayed my opinion on that one. Also if I were being tag teamed by the aforementioned twins, I don’t think I would have leftover concentration to be playing with the aforementioned little doll (which he was).
  7. The conflict in The Bastard Executioner to this point seems largely driven by the incompetence of young people spoiling the execution of otherwise sound acts of rebellion. In the Pilot Ash gets spotted and semi-identified, leading to the village burning and murders central to our protagonist’s motivations, and in “Effigy/Ddelw” had Nia “just watched” as she was instructed a lot of the violence would have been entirely avoided. The rebels gained very little and much of the cost has been dropped straight on Welkin’s shoulders.
  8. Googling the word “ddelw” mostly just produced other recaps of this episode and did not give me any satisfying context to make my own better :/


[For Scream Queens‘ “Pilot; Hell Week” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
Pilot; Hell Week The most popular sorority, Kappa House, faces changes and a devil-clad killer wreaks havoc on campus.

There are several reasons to watch the newest iteration of charm and fright from Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, creators of the respectively charming and frightful Glee and American Horror Story. Scream Queens has a cast loaded with certifiably talented stars and the show creators’ solemn promise that they’ll kill off at least one main character per episode. This cast’s promising amalgam of cuteness and aptitude includes such teeny-bopper-beloved talent as Ariana Grande, Keke Palmer, Lea Michele, and Emma Roberts. No matter how you may feel about the verisimilitude of said “talents” before watching Scream Queens, you will certainly be assured of their many abilities after the experience.

We begin with a bit of backstory for the sorority Kappa Kappa Tau, the primary haven of horror in Scream Queens. Our story begins on a wretched dark and stormy night when one of the sisters has a surprise baby (she totally didn’t know about it, guys!) and then dies the minute her sorority sisters leave. They do what any good sisters would and immediately hide the body, though we don’t find out what happened to that incredibly unlucky baby.

Then the 2015 story opens on current Kappa, a sorority where all the prettiest girls are named Chanel, just like in real life. And they all wear pastel Chanel suits, just like college girls so often do these days. It’s clear from moment numero uno that this is a mean girl’s world and Emma Roberts plays queen mean girl, Chanel #1. Within mere minutes of episode onset we’re already wondering if she’s an actual killer or just a killer bitch. The new Dean of the University, played by real-life scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, has a major league bone to pick with the Greek System and she starts off on her mission to destroy by calling Chanel #1 into her office for menacing threats and accusations.

Next we meet innocent curly goldilocks, Grace chatting sweetly as her widowed Dad drives her to the first day of college. She may have a link to the opening Kappa Kappa Tau scene, so guess where she’s headed? Yes, Grace will pledge Kappa Kappa Tau, right after a waterworks hug goodbye with daddykins in her bleak dorm room. But then the room gets a helluva lot sexier when the stunning and sprightly Keke Palmer enters tp announce that she’s Zeyday and they’re roomies. Grace quickly convinces Zey to rush Kappa with her because how else is Zeyday going to fulfill her dream to be the first black woman President?

Unfortunately for KKT, that night the Dean extracts every last drop of elitism from their first pledge party when she declares that according to new school rules anybody can become a member of Kappa. This is where Lea Michele comes in as Hester, a disabled Kappa wannabe and now pledge. Hester wears a ridiculous neckbrace and thus suffers with that nickname henceforth. Still, her character is a gem and not just fodder for stereotypical disability cheap shots that fall easy from the totem of wisecracks – a stultifying medical device.

One of the funniest scenes involves a text conversation between murderer and victim standing just feet away from each other. In this scene we laugh and laugh because the only sad part is that the writers take out Ariana Grande, a fan fav for certain in this fabulous mockup of the movie Scream. But she died honorably, for the sake of the funny. The truly funniest scene, though, is the heart to heart Hester (Lea Michele) has with the top Chanels about her obsession with death and body disposal. She tries to help them deal with Chanel #2’s (Ariana Grande’s) body with her perfectly executed awkward and vulnerable yet all-knowing Hester. This is followed by a slapdash security guard visitation to the sorority house. Sent to protect the sisters from imminent death, the guard manages to only frighten them further. If you’ve ever been utterly flabbergasted by the inadequacy of an alleged professional sent to do a job, this scene rings true and funny too.

Scream Queens has it all, even a Veronica Mars side plot with goldilocks Grace and an intrepid barista/reporter digging up dirt on Kappa. They fall for each other in a stock scene hilariously ripping on multiple Taylor Swift videos. Grace does all the investigative work (of course) and finds out all the info but barista boy appears to kiss well enough for her to keep him on as partner. Problem is he happens to own the outfit the killer wears… though barista boy claims it’s his school mascot costume. Another subplot involves the Dean getting the hots for every male character while also seeking some sort of revenge on all female characters. Yet another side story involves a closeted gay Jonas brother who faces an outing by Chanel #1 but then gets his throat slashed – the last of many characters killed by the shiny devil in the seemingly inexhaustible sequence of death after death after death. But then a surprising twist at the end brings him back to life when the glossy red devil opens a morgue drawer and awakens the not-actually-dead Jonas brother. Turns out they were in cahoots! Still no clue really about who the devil actually is but we certainly know a tiny bit more than nothing about him now and that’s something – right?

Pilot; Hell Week is packed with action, sillyness, and mystery – a splendid smoothie composed almost entirely of pretty girls in tiny cute costumes. The music is perfect. The tone resplendent. The story gripping. The horror satisfies even though it’s not particularly horrifying compared to most gorefests these days. Even though shocking things happen and there’s lots of blood, it stays tame because of this funny, glittery, over the top world where jokes land like gold medal gymnasts doing cartwheel after backflip after roundoff. It’s a laughfest that indulges us in the comforting balm of familiar cultural references. There’s also a glorious mockery of everyday events like when divas scream at baristas for extra hot, no foam, half caff, pumpkin spice lattes. And throughout we revel in the teasing mystery of a murderer/conman who’s working the whole campus in a gleaming red devil suit.

Tonight’s guess for who the devil that killer is: The Dean

–Katherine Recap

[For Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll‘s “Because We’re Legion” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
Because We’re Legion Greg Dulli sets Gigi up with a well-respected producer from the West Coast.

Gigi breaks up with Flash in the first scene of the Season Finale for how insensitive he was when he didn’t protect her from the record company trying to selling her bod and ignore her huge talent. Johnny sits smug and righteous about this right up until Gigi’s phone rings and it’s Johnny’s eternally sworn nemesis Greg Dulli calling. Since episode one Johnny has ranted and raved about how Dulli ‘stole his vibe” back in the early days of Johnny’s career. It’s been his rationale for failure ever since he first faltered onstage all those years ago. Dulli’s doesn’t get involved with Gigi beyond phonecalls, though. He sends the Assassins a Vibe Advisor who’s flying in from LA to help them fix their vibe and write current hits/ future classics. Gigi takes charge – like she does – and says this is happening no matter because it’ll help the band succeed. So, Johnny’s gotta get Rehab and Bam Bam back into The Assassins to complete their ensemble.

Johnny and Flash sit down with the infinitely helmeted duo at a negotiation table for a hilarious scene of misunderstandings and general ridiculousness that ultimately ends with a reunited Assassins. Immediately after the band reconnects in the recording studifor a battle about which Beatles they all are. Ava declares herself Not Yoko and Gigi follows up on that by saying, “Well, I’m certainly not Linda, I can actually sing!” Then their Vibe Advisor, JP suddenly shows up a day early and crashes their Beatles battleground, silencing the sillyness. JP turns out to be Rob Morrow, seemingly in town for a Northern Exposure reunion with Jon Corbett, who plays Flash. JP explains that he likes to come earlier than schedules to catch clients off guard and get an authentic initial read on their vibe. It must work because right away he’s got a crystalline picture of the band, pointing out that Ava and Johnny have been together forever, that Gigi and Flash just broke up, and that Johnny and Flash are a massive, festering heap of emotional issues.

Going forward in his Vibe Advisory role, JP cultivates massive quantities of sexual chemistry with Gigi and flaunts it in order to inflame Flash’s sexually spurned angst. JP also surreptitiously listens in on the band’s secret whispering and finds out that Ava and Flash slept together way back when as revenge after Johnny and Flash’s wife cheated. Gigi walks in on the end of their conversation about it and notes that they seem suspicious. They’re clearly nervous that she’s figured it out. So, when it’s just seconds before they’re about to record their newest song, Complicated, JP plants feisty seeds all over the studio. He tells Flash and Ava that Gigi knows they slept together then tells Gigi that they did – making it true. Because of all his pot stirring the already awesome song has a profound vibe on the recording. Tension apparently makes great music.

Complicated is so exceptional that Sub Pop is ready to sign a recording deal with them including money to assist them in writing more songs for an album. But then Sub Pop pulls out because that perfume deal Rehab and Bam Bam made with Gigi’s song What’s My Name backfired into loser town. The commercial turned out to be for vaginal itch spray and it’s playing on a nationwide TV loop. Thus, The Assassins are just not cool and edgy enough for Sub Pop after all. The Season (possibly Series?) Finale then concludes with Gigi and Johnny leaving the studio with Ava and Flash left behind to rewatch the vaginal itch commercial together.

The refreshing elements of the show hopefully can keep it alive for a Season Two but there’s still no decision on this prospect as of the Season One Finale. The show’s first season with all plotlines up for grabs and an anything-can-happen question festival when it comes to the stakes of the show. Will the band ever be unified and happy? Can they make it big? What about solo careers? Are Flash and Ava rekindling a romance? Will Gigi date every man over forty in the music business? Though certainly not cliffhanger material, it’s cool that this is a season that ends with ellipses rather than a period. Tons of possibilities with these characters and storylines lend a sense of promise for even more laughs the future. So Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is certain to be a hilarious ride if FX rolls forward with another season.

–Katherine Recap

[For The Jim Gaffigan Show‘s “Maria” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

TVLand Summary:
Maria. When Jeannie’s baby sister goes on a date with Dave, Jeannie and Jim are determined to follow them.

Sitting in Katz’s, the same place where they eat lunch every single day, Dave explains to Jim that he dumped his girlfriend out of boredom with the same old thing day after day. Just then, Jeannie’s younger sister, Maria, visiting from out of town, drops by to pick Jim’s baby up from him. To Dave’s delight, Maria’s his “favorite kind of girl, beautiful AND from out of town.” Just so happens that Maria also just broke up with her boyfriend and whoopsie, next thing you know Dave is breaking his cardinal rule of never visiting Jim’s germ-ridden, kid-filled apartment. So, that way he can get to officially meet Maria, who left pretty quickly with the baby at Katz’s. Maria thinks Dave’s cute and then he invites her to his show that night and things are spinning into a pheromone frenzy right before Jeannie’s horrified eyes even as she pushes Dave out the door of their apartment.

Jim makes a special trip to Dave’s pickup bar where he’s in the process of convincing an ex to give him another chance. But just as she agrees to give it a shot Jim approaches damning Dave for hitting on Maria that very morning. Thus, another one bites the dust for ladies man Dave. Then Jim gets him to agree to not ask Maria out again, for Jeannie’s sake. Dave gives Jim his WORD he won’t.

The next morning Jeannie awakens Jim with his favorite breakfast; a toasted everything bagel with cream cheese from Russ & Daughters, an iconic NYC establishment. She holds it under his nose so he can relish the amazing aroma. But just as Jim is really awake and ready to reach for it, Jeannie cuts it into little pieces and flushes it down the toilet right in front of him. Jim declares her a psychopath… however it turns out she’s responding to the fact that she just found out Dave has a date with Maria. Apparently they hooked up on Facebook overnight and will be going out to dinner this very evening. The horror. The horror.

That night Maria’s dress is ultra skimpy and Jeannie’s expression’s completely aghast. After her sister leaves for her date with Dave wearing what appeared to be only the lining of a slip dress, Jeannie bursts into action. She forces Jim to abandon his beloved Chicago deep dish pizza, now cooling on the counter, to join her in a sister-on-a-date-with-Dave stalking mission. That Gaffigans are now officially on The Mysterious Case of Maria, Dave, and the Ultra Skimpy Dress. They follow behind the tawdry couple to the restaurant, leaving Blanca behind to watch the kids along with a completely vulnerable and unprotected Chicago deep dish.

Jim and Jeannie watch the couple from across the restaurant while Jim shovels linguine into his yap and Jeannie wrings her hands that she can’t hear anything. She just knows Maria hates Dave and must be having a horrible time, though. She has to be! Suddenly, Maria and Dave leave – barely escaping detection from the crackerjack Gaffigan duo of detectives only a few tables away. Jeannie and Jim miss their entire exit and have to get the scoop from a nosy table sitting slightly closer to the couple. That table’s busybody lady dishes to the Gaffigans that Dufus Dude and Girl in the Hooker Dress went to Bowery Ballroom.

The mission now back on track, Jim gets the rest of his linguine to go so he can eat it while walking. With Law & Order transition music and location markers onscreen to note each place, the Gaffigan detective duo follow Maria and Dave to several hopping late night NYC locations. Thanks to bartenders and clubgoers with impeccable memories and professional level facial recognition, everybody remembers Dufus Dude and Girl in the Hooker Dress. These witnesses even know exactly where the couple were going next – just like in Law & Order… Then as night slips into morning Jeannie and Jim run into Macaulay Culkin making yet another The Jim Gaffigan Show appearance exiting a strip club, his incredibly long hair somehow even longer than in the last episode.

When the Gaffigans get home that night they’re deflated – failed detectives after a prolonged chase through the sultry NYC streets. But who do they find crashed on their couch in comfy PJs? Maria! Right away Jeannie’s sister confesses that she made a terrible mistake that night. Jeannie stays big sister strong and refuses to admonish but won’t let Maria finish her sentence either. She’s too busy telling Maria how she’s an adult and her choices are her own. Then Maria explains that she actually came home right after the dinner with Dave and her big mistake was that she ate Jim’s entire deep dish pizza. Jeannie’s delighted with this news but Jim screams, “Whore!” Raising a pizza cutter to the ceiling with rage, Jim’s clearly filled with a profound yearning for revenge… and then Mariska Hargitay shows up to collar the killer of a truly special victim because it appears Maria got sliced wide open at the mercy of Jim’s deep dish vengeance.

Only one more episode of The Jim Gaffigan Show left this season. It will be sad to see it go and hopefully there will be more episodes for season two – eleven isn’t nearly enough Gaffigan! The great thing about this show is how guest stars and minor characters bring the show to a higher level and make it about more than just the Jim and Jeannie story. The cool NYC locations and colorful side characters make it feel fresh and alive, like living in the city while taking advantage of its color and multiplicity. That’s the magic of The Jim Gaffigan Show, it really knows its place and makes the audience feel like we belong there too.

–Katherine Recap

[For The Bastard Executioner‘s “Pilot” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
Pilot. Wilkin Brattle, a warrior knight in the charge of King Edward I, trades his sword for a peaceful farming life — until the violence of his past finds him and forces him to pick up the bloodiest sword of all.

Have you been brushing up on your collected works of Shakespeare? Are you set up with tissues handy, prepared to shed an endless torrent of tears into your sad sack? Actually, you may want to invest in the family size box of tissues. A pack won’t cut it because The Bastard Executioner piles sacks of sadness on top of more sad sacks and so on and so on until an infinite abyss of sad sacks rolls with the credits. But hey, in their defense, this is 14th century England and it’s a safe bet that life pretty much sucked back then. In just one of many glaring examples of such realities, an initial scene introduces the Baron Ventris character grunting mightily on the toilet with his trusty butt cleaning assistant at his side, ready to wipe. Then two scenes later there’s a torture scene so gruesome you start think of Ramsey Snow (Ahem, Bolton) from Games of Thrones as a comedic character.

Wilkin Brattle, our main character, was a valiant warrior for King Edward 1st of England. After a horrific battle loss a child angel has Wilkin lay down his sword because Brattles “savior needs him to lead the life of a different man.” Then a few minutes later he’s sword-free and some sort of demon-dragon-type-fetus flies out of a dead soldier’s heart to attack him. Is Brattle dreaming? It seems so because then he awakens and life seems rather sunny all of a sudden with his glorious pregnant wife holding hands with him as they skip through meadows. It’s unclear if it was all a memory of what really happened. But what becomes crystalline quite soon is Wilkin’s intense need for vengeance on the English, specifically the Baron who rejoiced when Brattle and his men lost their battle against the Scots.

Meanwhile back at the shire, Wilkin works as a Che Guevara type, rousing the rebels and shooting flaming arrows at the taxmen sent to town by the devilish Baron. Then it turns out the scene with the angel and demon on the battlefield was five years ago but we never find out if it actually happened or was some sort of post traumatic delusion. The angel turns up again toward the end of “Pilot” but happens to appear alongside a character we know to be dead, so the jury is still out on the reality of the angel situation. Perhaps Wilkin represents a male Joan of Arc… the period for The Bastard Executioner is actually perfect for that to be the case because she was a 14th century warrior – just like Brattle.

The Baron who sent those taxmen with a mission to fleece the peasants of their pennies concocts his villainy alongside an advisor, Milus Corbett, (Vampire Bill from True Blood) a perfectly wicked right hand man. Meanwhile Baroness Lowry “Love” Ventris, the Baron’s mistreated wife empathizes with the rebels (her countrymen) while openly hating on Vampire Bill. After hearing of the attack on their tax collectors, the Baron and Vampire Bill ride out to the peasant village with their men in moonlight to seek revenge on the rebels. But when they get there it’s only women, children, and “useless elders.” So, they do as villains do and murder all of them anyway, including Wilkin’s pregnant wife, then burn their village to dust. But the corpses are somehow all still fresh and bloody on top of all the ashes. So we’ll be sure to see every bit of the grisly gore along with the rebels when they return home the next morning.

Thus, at the midpoint of “Pilot” Wilkin returns to town to find his own circle of hell waiting. His wife’s disemboweled body with fetus hanging out lies in wait seemingly on display in the center of a town massacre. Brattle now has nothing to lose and, filled with fury, prepares to wreak vengeance. He digs up some swords and swears to avenge the rebel families. Joined by BFFs, Toran and Berber along his band of morbid, rather than merry, men they journey to the Baron’s castle. On the way they meet the mysterious mystic, Annora of the Alders, played by Katy Sagal in a hayfield. She considers herself destined to help them with blood magic and a hooded mute played by her real-life husband and the show’s creator, Kurt Sutter.

Annora gives Wilkin a plan to secretly infiltrate the castle by replacing the executioner. We already know it’s “destined” to work out because the current executioner just got only half his wage and blew out of town with a serious case of crankypants. Before the executioner leaves he makes sure to beat his wife and child because, you know, gotta keep the cruelty and heartache of the story on task. The Baron and Bill (OK, Corbett) hear the rebels are approaching their castle area so they suit up, jump on their horses, and ride out to greet them. In the ensuing battle of yet another ghastly sword and axe fight scene with blood spurting and limbs flying off bodies, Wilkin and the Baron clash swords face to face. Finally Brattle takes the Baron down, punches his lights out, and then one of his morbid men kills the Baron with a stab through the back of the skull.

Before he died the Baron stabbed Wilkin deep in the gut, so here’s where having the witch who can do blood magic comes in handy. Annora marks his face with a cross brand so it looks just like he’s one of the Baron’s men. Brattle wakes up bummed out like a teen with a zit on prom night when he sees that new cheek in his sword’s reflection. Annora tells him the plan to replace the executioner and he’s all like no way until she reminds him of the angel from five years ago. This is her ticket into his trust (how could she know?!) so he goes with her flow from that convo forward and pretends to be the executioner. For his first step on this mission Wilkin brings the Baron’s body to the castle. The issue immediately arises whether or not he’s actually the executioner so they bring out the guy’s PTSD suffering battered wife for proof. Luckily Brattle is hot as well as kind and gentle, so he immediately bonds with her. The executioner’s wife takes one look at him and just goes with it. She calls him “my love.” Wilkin is indoctrinated into the executioner’s family and career track just like that… and then later that night in the chapel the Baroness seems to like him too.

Corbett’s dismayed by this effect the executioner seems to have on the womenfolk and probably wonders why he doesn’t seem familiar given that Corbett is a high level castle official and the executioner works for him. So when Wilkin says he’ll be moving on now Corbett insists he stay and continue to work for the castle. Keep your enemies closer it would seem. This means Brattle will be a palace insider, yes. But it also means he’ll be forced to execute the very people he seeks to avenge, innocent townspeople, as his new job.

Then right before the end of the infinite episode, Annora’s mute talks. Hold on! The executioner is not an executioner and the mute’s not mute. Next you’ll tell us the bastard’s parents were happily married upon his conception… But then the last scene initiates Brattle into his role as executioner and he truly becomes one when he raises the sword and does the deed. He’s inspired to the macabre task after he sees the cross his wife wore upon her death on a man in the crowd. What Wilkin doesn’t know is that this was the man who spared his wife and the one who killed her is unknown, even to us. At this point the audience has only seen killer’s dagger and not his face.

The Bastard Executioner starts off wearying and weepy with little hope for redemption. Clearly the Baron dying didn’t do the trick, so how many men should Wilkin have to kill in order to qualify for actual vengeance accomplished? Also, isn’t he tipping the scales by taking this employment which forces him to kill innocent peasants? Et tu, Robin Hood? So much carnage and brutality fly at us in this first bit of the show that we’re left with a raw, wounded feeling. It’s time for some hope around here in this renaissance festival of a town. Seems like their best chances for redemption in this story may come from the women characters, either Annora with her blood magic or Lady Love with her title as Baroness and empathy for the common man. That might be a reason to keep watching The Bastard Executioner but keep those tissues in tow just in case.

–Katherine Recap