Blood and Quiescence / Crau a Chwsg

[For The Bastard Executioner‘s “Blood and Quiescence/Crau a Chwsg” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
Blood and Quiescence / Crau a Chwsg In the first season finale, Wilkin and Milus lead an unlikely band of brothers on a life-threatening rescue mission.

You got that spoiler warning, right? Great! Let’s set the stage then:

Wilkin Brattle was a barley farmer. One night he and his fellow male villagers set out to beat up some tax collectors. Because violence. Because taxes. Because injustice in medieval England Wales; because Braveheart. The local Baron responds to this defiance by killing all the women, children, and elderly (including Wilkin’s preggers wife) in their protection-less village.

Unfortunately for the Baron, Wilkin is secretly one of the greatest living Knights, and has basically been masquerading as a barley farmer on account of being sick of killing folks (plus magic) (maybe). Wilkin and company kill the Baron with the help of Welsh insurgents in the very first episode.

But there are more people to kill! In order to find out about all the folks who could have wronged their village, Wilkin (with bff / sidekick Toran) takes up the identity of a dead executioner — Gawain Maddox — to install himself in the castle and uncover who killed which loved ones (to reap maxiumum vengeance). He is guided by the mysterious Annora. Plus ghosts. He is horrified over and over by the personal violence required of him to keep up his cover.

In the castle Wilkin takes up with…

  • Jessamy Maddox, who, unhinged, seems convinced he is actually her dead husband Gawain. Wilkin basically adopts Lucca Maddox and ends up a better, more beloved, father to him than his own ever was.
  • Milus Corbett (aka Vampire Bill from True Blood) is the conniving chamberlain of the shire, and recognizes Wilkin as the great knight… but facilitates his charade for his own agenda; which — horrendous tactics or no — genuinely seem loyal to…
  • Lady Love Ventris – the Baron’s widow. Love is everything her husband was not, a kind of fictional unicorn: wise, fair, kind, and genuinely good despite being a [hated] noble. Because this is tv she is also super hot. Love is desperately trying to retain control of her little Welsh shire from the crushing grip of English or even French dominance. Love harbors a secret though…
  • The Wolf — leader of the Welsh revolutionaries — is her brother! The Wolf is an all right guy, often aiding Wilkin or Love (and vice versa) on the side; but in 2015 parlance his day job would indeed be the t-word (you know, “freedom fighter”)

Woods witch Annora is married to show creator Kurt Sutter in real life; previously she was Peggy Bundy. On The Bastard Executioner she is the keeper of a great secret and seems to command actual magical powers!

Annora is opposed by the Rosula, a order of Warrior-Priests descended from the Roman soldiers who tortured Christ. They have not gotten any more pleasant in the ensuing thousand years but, connected directly to the Pope, are unbelievably powerful politically.

As we approach “Blood and Quiescence/Crau a Chwsg” Wilkin’s “son” and local parish priest Father Ruskin are in the power of the Rosula, who believe the two know where Annora is. Wilkin and wingman Toran tire of being in charge of torturing, maiming, and / or killing unarmed women as executioners, and just want to finish their vengeance. Wilkin largely blames Annora for putting him and his friends into a series of impossible positions; Annora, for her part, has just revealed she is Wilkin’s mom. Oh, and Lady Love and Wilkin have basically fallen for each other, which is all kinds of complicated.

“Blood and Quiescence/Crau a Chwsg”, the finale of the first season of The Bastard Executioner, begins, as is often the case, with a montage of different characters’ experiences and points of view.

Milus (Vanpire Bill) happens on the Reeve Leon praying in the chapel. It is kind of a weird shot. We all hate Vampire Bill right? Wilkin hates the Reeve the most! Does Milus hate the Reeve? Why is he looking at him like that?

In the caves, captive Father Ruskin, face all busted up, smiles on fellow captive Lucca, reassuring. Man, I hope they don’t get dead we all think in unison.

At Castle Ventris Isabel asks Love if she cares deeply for “the man who pretends to be our punisher” … Unsurprisingly, Love indicates she does. “It seems you have acquired the adventure your spirit longs for.”

Finally Toran mugs the Knight Locke who killed his wife and child. Toran outs himself while the Knight presses his throat against Toran’s blade, asking for no mercy.

“Make haste with your vengeance.

“I follow the orders of my commander but I alone own the blood my blade spills. I’ve earned no mercy.”

Inexplicably Toran hands Locke an axe and offers him the chance at a fair fight!

Which Toran loses!

In a reversal of the previous interaction Toran offers himself up, also asking no mercy.

“This is most fitting that you be the one to deliver me to my loving wife and boy.”

Locke says there may be no mercy in Ventris but there is honor. He spares Toran, declares all debts cleared and makes clear that he and Wilkin — the false punisher — have earned their places in his opinion; Locke will not give them up. Best buds with the guy who killed your family?

Roll opening credits.

Annora (aka mommy dearest) lays it all out for Wilkin.

According to Seraphim tradition, Jesus was just a man… But God spoke through him.

The Seraphim keep their records on their bodies (all tatted up); four of twelve have fallen to the Rosula already. Drum roll: Annora herself is the direct descendant of Christ!

Which — drum roll — essentially makes Wilkin (her son) Jesus Junior!

Macro myths aside, the Rosula have Father Ruskin and Wilkin’s kinda-son captive. Wilkin has to get them back but obviously can’t do it alone. He goes to Love for help.

There is a sweet little scene of Wilkin going to Love’s room, where handmaiden Isabel threatens “your torture devices cannot match the pain I will bring” if he does her wrong (presumably romantically).

This episode is basically Dar Williams’s first album:


Whatever secrets! Not-executioners are outing themselves! Wilkin tells Love about Annora, who the Archdeacon really is, and his own place in this amazing story. Love is loathe to oppose the Archdeacon (and Rome), but acknowledges the rightness of rescuing Father Ruskin and Lucca.

Speaking of the Archdeacon, he and pop star Ed Shearen (really) implore Ruskin “priest to priest” to tell them where Annora is. Of course he won’t relent; they threaten Lucca (because holding a knife to a young boy’s throat is so noble). Lucca himself flips! (and consequently keeps breathing)

Love goes to the one man who can get things done in this shire: Vampire Bill for help with the rescue mission.

“Your ability to turn complications into advantages is what makes you such a valuable chamberlain.”

It’s kind of a great scene. Love knows Milus is a monster, but he’s her monster… Something every good ruler probably needs. Milus can get a posse of “Knights and horsemen who will fight for pay” but they will probably still be outnumbered by the Rosula. Love has something — or rather someone — in her back pocket to help (and we can all guess who that is).

Jessamy gets in trouble (again) and tries, jealously, to clock Love (again) and gets thrown in the dungeon. Wilkin goes down to see his “wife” and encounters the Reeve in a scene mirroring Toran’s from the beginning of the episode. He points out that the Reeve is wearing (actual) dead Mrs Brattle’s cross; and the Reeve claims he did not kill her — could not kill a pregnant woman — and wears the cross as a reminder of “God before crown.”

They throw down anyway and Wilkin effortlessly defeats his wife’s presumed murderer. But wait! Ghosts!

Fake-wife Jessamy is replaced temporarily by the angelic ghost of dead-real-wife Petra (who we haven’t seen since her gratuitous-for-basic-cable-full-frontal scene in “Piss Profit/Proffidwyr Troeth”), who instructs Wilkin to spare his life.

So… All buddies / all good?

The Reeve realizes in that moment that Corbett always knew who Wilkin was, and turned him into “his obliging whore.” No hands are clean. No one is happy. All is brutal in medieval Wales.

Both the Reeve and Locke join the raiding posse. And Petra’s cross is returned to The Bastard Executioner.

It’s time for battle! Waiting for the Ventris Knights and mercenaries are the Wolf and a legion of Welsh insurgents. Vampire Bill &c. seem pretty surprised that Wilkin and Toran are already best buddies with the Wolf, but Wilkin points out that without their help, they will be badly outnumbered.

Two legions of Rosula riders meet our heroes (“heroes”?) on the field. The Dark Mute (who hasn’t been mute since the Pilot) declares “we will not defeat them on steeds” and tells the good guys to unhorse. We learn a lot about Kurt Sutter’s character in that moment. HE SETS HIMSELF ON FIRE and runs directly into the scrum of Rosula. Lots of the Rosula are thrown from their spooked steeds, making them easy prey for the assembled Knights and Welsh.

The Rosula are completely routed. Wilkin frees Father Ruskin and Lucca, who take up blades.

The Archdeacon tells Ruskin “If you kill me, Priest, you secure your place in hell.” Ruskin — formerly an assassin — is given pause, but Lucca just murders the Archdeacon from behind! Attaboy!

Ed Shearen, distraught at the death of his master, chases off Lucca, so Wilkin chases after them both. Then Lucca cripples the eff out of Ed Shearen, who is now in no position to fight the approaching Wilkin. Wilkin can obviously kill him but Lucca begs his father to stay and comfort him.

Everyone pats everyone on the head. Ventris lost exactly four men. The Rosula kept maximum one man (Ed Shearen), who according to Wilkin, was probably too injured to survive. The Dark Mute died a “righteous and most fitting death” from flames, not Rosula swords.

And now it’s time to tie a bow on Season One of The Bastard Executioner.

Love only had 2-3 months of masquerade in her. Corbett suggests “the child of Lady Love and Baron Ventris so special” it was “called to heaven before even born.”

A miscarriage might cover up one lie, but doesn’t actually secure the lineage of Love’s shire.

I don’t buy that Ed Shearen is dead. I don’t even buy that The Dark Mute is dead. That he was already burned to all holy heck indicates the self-immolation-to-harangue-horses was not his first rodeo. The Dark Mute was by all indications an invincible fighter — almost supernaturally gifted — so maybe he was also more fireproof than usual.

Of course the season ends with gratuitous butt shots of both Love and Wilkin, who finally smash; long, slow, and accompanied by the full cut of the show’s theme song. One of the macro concerns of The Bastard Executioner has been noble Love pairing with commoner Gawain Maddox; of course Gawain was always at least a great Knight, and now we know Wilkin is of the most noble blood of all! So symmetry.

Though The Bastard Executioner got officially axed today, Sutter made sure to leave us with plenty of mysteries unsolved. What’s up with those mutilated bodies? Can Love retain control of Ventris? Who’s good and who’s not so good? If not the Reeve, who killed Petra*? That said, I think he put a happy enough cap on the show that “Blood and Quiescence/Crau a Chwsg” can make for a satisfying series not just season finale. The good looking people end up together, accounts are largely settled, and even Milus is confirmed to be on the side of the Angels, even if he himself is a devil.


* In echo of Katherine‘s end-of-recap hot takes on Scream Queens I’ll vote here for Ash. Petra seemed like she knew her attacker back in the Pilot, and there is just something wrong with that kid. We’ll now likely never know.

Cynllwyn Bernadette

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

FX Summary:
The Bernadette Maneuver/Cynllwyn Bernadette Ventrishire encounters an old French foe as Wilkin gains new insight into his holy destiny.

Season One of The Bastard Executioner is almost over!

I. Ash makes an ass out of himself.

In the opening scene of “The Bernadette Maneuver/Cynllwyn Bernadette” the remaining twin (remember, Corbett had her sister tortured and killed in “Broken Thing/Toredig Pethau” to learn the location of the hated half-brother Gaveston) tells Ash that she is bound too tightly. Can he loosen her hands and feet?

Only if you promise not to run away.

Unsurprisingly, she runs away.

Oh, Ash.

Let’s not forget that it was Ash who got the entire tragic plot of this show moving, as he was the one who was seen by Castle Ventris-men, precipitating the attack on the village way back in the Pilot.

Oh, Ash.

II. Love and Jessamy

Jessamy awakes in strange quarters; turns out she is in Isabel’s room, a captive of Lady Love.

The conclusion of the previous episode saw a jealous Jessamy catching Love and Wilkin lip-locked, to no great amusement of the craziest cast member. Jessamy attacked Love… Which got her drugged (placated, mostly) by Father Ruskin and squirreled away for her own safety.

Love lays it out straight: You attacked a noblewoman. That’s bad news. Give up the fool notion that Wilkin is actually your [dead] husband Gawain Maddox and I will provide for your family forever. Persist in this… And I’ll ruin you (no one is going to believe a crazy woman anyway).

Love is uncharacteristically ruthless in this scene. Not ruthless for The Bastard Executioner, but ruthless for Love, certainly.

III. The Bernadette Maneuver

The Reeve takes the blame for the missing twin (he was the one who tied her up), and Ash reappears with the questing band bearing a doe he just trapped, Bernadette.

“She’s not much of a talker,” says Ash introducing Bernadette to the Ventrishire Knights et al… “I must admit I rather like.”

Milus Corbett / Vampire Bill notes that “a beautiful, silent, doe” is the “desire of every man.”

The implication here is that Ash likes shagging animals. A kind of sub-theme to this episode is about where any given character is sticking it, especially in secret, not just Ash.

Ash brings Bernadette to the gates of the Earl of Pembroke (who is assumed to be harboring the hated Gaveston). The goal is to get a feel for how many men Pembroke has by assessing the soldiers’ need for how much meat: The Bernadette Maneuver that gives this episode its name.

The Ventrishire Knights, led by Wilkin (of course) kill [almost] everybody thanks to the Bernadette Maneuver, knocking the first line of guards down to one last guy. Corbett threatens to stuff the last Knight’s mouth with the penises of all the other dead Knights and guardsmen if he doesn’t talk, which is horrifying and would make him the stuff of legend when he is eventually discovered. The questers immediately learn of Gaveston’s hiding spot.

IV. Militant padres share a moment.

The Archdeacon asks the same open mind Father Ruskin gave to Annora, to hear the Rosula’s side of the equation.

Basically, the Seraphim are heretics / zealots.

Um, no they’re not; I read their texts.

They will create chaos with their texts.

Again, I’ve read their texts. They will create chaos only in the Pope’s chambers.

The people are ignorant, driven by fear and fantasy. What they need are simple beliefs and sound moral structure… Which costs money.

Father Ruskin seems unmoved by the Archdeacon’s arguments various, but agrees to tell him where Annora is in return for letting Luca go.

V. The soft-spot Executioner

Corbett &co. Kill everyone but Gaveston, the Earl of Pembroke (harboring him) and the Earl’s mistress. The Earl of Pembroke was actually charged by King Edward to deliver Gaveston out of England, and claims loyalty to the King over any conspiring Barons. He will not sway from this.

That’s fine; Corbett will have his mistress tortured to death in front of the Earl unless he signs a writ giving Gaveston to the Barons.

Wilkin has to draw the line somewhere (apparently?) … He will not torture an innocent woman to death. Corbett points out that she is guilty of the crime of adultery, violating the Earl’s marriage bed, and can be legally punished as a whore. When that isn’t good enough, Corbett agrees to let Toran and Wilkin kill any remaining Knights they want to from the initial village attack, completing their vengeance.


As he prepares Pembroke’s mistress for torture, Wilkin whispers to her that he is not in fact going to kill her via a series of vaginally-themed devices, but she should just scream a bunch when he pretends to.

Predictably, the Earl of Pembroke breaks after a scream or three; Corbett notes that for all that pain there wasn’t a drop of blood (but he got what he wanted, so whatever).

VII. Milus and Gaveston sitting in a tree…

In a reversal and redux of their interaction in “Piss Profit/Proffidwyr Troeth”, Vampire Bill strongly suggests that Gaveston blow him in order to receive clemency.

Gaveston does so, or at least tries to, before Corbett cuffs him one. It is strongly implied that blowing the King was Gaveston’s main feature at court (before his expulsion).

I was actually under the impression initially that going after Gaveston was a King-sanctioned hunt, but it seems like the Barons are a little apprehensive about actually pulling the trigger on the kill.

Gaveston is convicted of “malicious counsel” to Edward, and ignoring a decree of “continental exile” … He taunts Corbett to great anger but Wilkin stops Corbett from killing Gaveston. There is a strong implication that the King will kill whoever kills Gaveston (when he finds out) and Wilkin believes Corbett is too useful to Love to endanger himself. So he’s back in Executioner mode. Toran actually strikes the first blow, making it easier for Wilkin to decapitate Gaveston… Who had it coming if anyone on this show did.

“I do not regret loving someone above my status.”

Famous last words, man.

VIII. Three reveals

Father Ruskin was an assassin before he was a priest, not just a soldier. He uses a bone fragment to undo his shackles, kills all the Rosula guarding himself and Luca, and gets the hell out of dodge… Before being surrounded and re-captured. But hey, he was pretty badass before that.

As they ride back to Ventrishire, the company passes what appears to be the naked corpse of the escaped twin from the beginning of the episode. She is beheaded and positioned weirdly, like the bodies from the first few episodes (the nominal reason Wilkin’s crew were captured back in “A Hunger/Newyn”). Ash has a weird, giddy, smile on his face as they pass, which I think is mad foreshadowing. These bodies — though we haven’t seen them in a month and a half — are an as-yet unresolved plot point. Could Ash be a serial killer?

When he finally gets home, having learned Luca and Ruskin are missing (but having a chance to smooch Love), Wilkin encounters Annora. He blames her for everything he’s had to do, calling his own actions “unforgivable” and declaring her the devil.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Annora declares him her son.

Annora’s mic drop brings the theme of sticking it — sometimes in secret — full circle. We have Ash in his animals; Wilkin [not yet] in Love (but a huge point of contention between Love and Jessamy, and the solution to Love’s pregnancy problem); the Knight and his threatened mouthful of dead compatriots’; Milus and Gaveston; Gaveston and Edward; and now Annora (and presumably the Dark Mute).

One more to go.


“Broken Thing/Toredig Pethau”

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

FX Summary:
Broken Thing/Toredig Pethau Wilkin, Milus and Toran team up to hunt down a fugitive.

Love is in the air in Ventrishire in “Broken Thing/Toredig Pethau”!

We open on Wilkin (aka Gawain) in the Maddox apartments with his fake-wife Jessamy; Jessamy wants to make sure she “gave pleasure” when the pair “lay together” back in “Behold the Lamb/Gweled yr Oen” … All good!

Meanwhile, in the nicer part of the castle, Isabel sews a pillow for Love to wear around; after all, Love is meant to be two or three months pregnant with the dead Baron’s baby.

“Is there anything I should know about our punisher?” Isabel asks.

Love is in the air — and then all of Love’s furniture is in the air. She throws a bit of a fit at the suspicions* surrounding her bff’s question.

We soon learn that our old buddy Gaveston — you know, the flip French nobleman who so bedeviled Love back in “A Hunger/Newyn” and “Piss Profit/Proffidwyr Troeth” — is now on the outs with the King. A cohort of Barons is now on the lookout for the exiled Gaveston; not only that, but visiting Barons invite Love into a kind of conspiracy [against the King]. They offer Love quite a bit of cash to help them in their semi-conspiracy; she negotiates the right to negotiate with the Welsh insurgents (aka her brother) in exchange for bringing in Gaveston herself.

Love is in the air in the caves as well. Annora unfurls the mystery of the Seraphim to the visiting Father Ruskin. Allegedly the Seraphim are caretakers of nine scriptures written by Jesus himself “one testament, one author”. Ruskin says if this is true the foundation of all he believes is shattered… Also it somewhat explains the marauding Knights coming after Annora and the other Seraphim.

The “Knights of the Rosebud” are descendants of the very soldiers who whipped and tortured Jesus. They believe he rose, forgave them, and charged them to protect the story of Jesus as they understood it. The [true?] Seraphim account is obviously a huge threat to all that.

Father Ruskin tells Annora that he is not a scholar or a prophet; she tells him what they need is a warrior.

… And in come the Knights of the Rosebud.

Love may be in the air in “Broken Thing/Toredig Pethau” but so are Annora’s hanging snakes. Some of them come alive and kill a Knight. Then a triggered ceiling-blade. Then a firebomb. All-in-all several of the invading bad guys are poisoned / stabbed / immolated, giving Ruskin, Annora, and the Dark Mute leave to leave.

Ruskin makes it back to Castle Ventris and tells Wilkin where to find the caves-fled Annora. They hook up, and Wilkin receives another vision: This one of a drowning baby; seemingly saved by a nun and a sword-toting Knight (you know, maybe Annora and The Dark Mute… but maybe not). Probably — cryptically? — baby Wilkin.

For no reason at all our protagonists are beset by a swarm of angry nomads. Remember when some Ventris Knights clashed with nomads last episode? Well Toran and Wilkin — on foot — dispatch multiple mounted nomads, while The Dark Mute strangles one to death with his bare hands without drawing his sword.

A second wave of 6-9 mounted nomads ride on, and The Dark Mute volunteers to handle them all. It really looks like Sutter is going to kill off… Well… Sutter, but instead he dispatches everyone.

Not a scratch on any of the three!

“Bury them in the soft sand,” says The Dark Mute.
“I thought he was without tongue,” concludes Toran, understandably.

We know from Gaveston’s visit to Ventrishire that the beautiful twins are actually his half-sisters. Vampire Bill is aware that they know where Gaveston hides; and has the Reeve torture one to death to find out. The other gets physically and mentally violated.

Vampire Bill cautions Love about Gawain/Wilkin. Love has become “formidable” in the absence of the Baron, and doesn’t want her individual time with Gawain to unravel her heightened political position.

In the climactic scene of the episode, Wilkin meets Love in the castle tombs, where her family surrounds her. They start making out… when fake-wife Jessamy appears! Uh oh. Jessamy, already feebleminded, flips out completely and reveals horrible scars from a torn dress… The handiwork of the “real” Gawain Maddox.

Father Ruskin helps Love and Wilkin to drug and calm down Jessamy while Wilkin goes off to help capture Gaveston. The nasty old “Knights of the Rosebud” capture both Ruskin (whom they know was with Annora) and little Luca Maddox!

… And so, the setup for next week.

Here are my big questions for this week:

  • Who is the “warrior” Annora was referring to… Wilkin or Ruskin? (I assume Wilkin)
  • For that matter, what was the significance of baby Wilkin?
  • Who, or what, is the episode’s “Broken Thing”? The tortured twin certainly broke — she gave up the location of her brother; but my bet is on Jessamy.
  • LOVE

    * “Suspicion is fear without truth” -Love (great definition IMO)

[For The Bastard Executioner‘s “Behold the Lamb/Gweled yr Oen” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
Behold the Lamb/Gweled yr Oen Wilkin and Lady Love come to grips with condemning an innocent man to death.

“Gawain Maddox was an executioner killed in service to your husband. I am one of the hooded bandits he pursued.”

So begins the confession of Wilkin Brattle, the eponymous Bastard Executioner, to Lady Love Ventris.

Love takes it shockingly well (especially given the fact that she’s been slowly falling for the ostensible commoner since almost the second episode).

Wilkin tells her, explicitly, some of the things we’ve been piecing together since the Pilot. He was a knight in Longshanks’s army; his commander — Ventris — sent Wilkin and his legion into a deliberate ambush. Wilkin survived, and fled into Wales where he took up another life.

Why is he confessing, and to Love, at this point?

Mayhap we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

At the outset of “Behold the Lamb/Gweled yr Oen” a rebel is brought to Castle Ventris, to receive “a death most agonizing” … The rebel is responsible for the death of Lady Pryce! A rebel, he was ordered to murder Lady Pryce by none other than the Wolf… A thick-waisted, red-bearded bear of a man.

We know, of course, from “Piss Profit/Proffidwyr Troeth” that none of the rebel’s story is true; Wilkin is the one who burned Lady Pryce to death (even if he didn’t intend to), and we know that the Wolf is anything but thick-waisted and red-bearded. The rebel is taking the fall for Lady Pryce’s death for some reason other than actually being guilty. It turns out he was headed to debtor’s prison — a debt that would have taken three generations to clear — and that if he takes the fall for Lady Pryce’s murder it secures the future of his family in Castle Ventris.

“You use his life as currency?”
Wilkin finds Vampire Bill’s behavior here deplorable.

It isn’t just a question of this week’s unsavory execution. All kinds of stuff goes down in Ventrishire throughout “Behold the Lamb/Gweled yr Oen”.

The Archdeacon of Windsor remains at Castle Ventris. He gathers up prisoners, conscripts the chapel, and uses it to rip off prisoners’ shirts, looking for “heretical marks” (tattoos, like the ones Annora has). He finds none.

Understandably, Father Ruskin wants to know what’s going on in his chapel, and the prisoners are mum. Berber tells him the Archdeacon was 1) looking for heretical marks, and 2) told everyone to stay quiet or the heretical marks would appear. They both know the heretical marks in question are quite literally tatooed on Annora. So, Berber asks the priest to warn her in the caves. Though the Archdeacon and his men are sworn to Christ… “they serve another.” Of course they’re overheard, and Ruskin will inevitably be followed.

The knights of Ventris (with Toran and Wilkin in tow) attack a nomad — NOT REBEL — camp… And do some murdering. One of the knights kills a woman in her tent, and plants the daffodil-and-dagger rebel mark on her. One of the knights responsible for the grisly events of the Pilot is killed by nomads; Toran and Wilkin are terrified that Corbett will blame them and take revenge on their loved ones.

Back at Castle Ventris, the twins approach Wilkin and tell him to meet Love in her bedchamber. Isabel tells Wilkin that the twins don’t serve Love… “I’m surprised those giggle wenches aren’t already warming Corbett’s bed,” before she dismisses him.

But while Wilkin was at Love’s, that gave Corbett the chance to strike. Calo, prisoner in the yard, is first ambushed, then beaten to death by Corbett, who puts the murder weapon in the hands of a nearby sleeping yard boss. Before he kills Calo, we learn a bit about Corbett’s childhood. He was the favorite plaything of a deranged halfway house manager, who called him Little Lamby as he sent his “gnarled meat into [Corbett’s] innocent bottom.” Well, that explains at least some of it!

The death of a friend (and all the other stuff) on his heart, Wilkin attempts to turn himself in and take responsibility for the death of Lady Pryce. He confesses to Love. It’s he, not the supposed rebel, who should be put to death. Wilkin has no interest in yet another innocent person being “punished” at his hands.

The next two things that happen are either quite surprising or completely telegraphed depending on your level of cynicism. First off, Wilkin and Lady Love lock lips. Then Wilkin tells”his Love” he had a vision of a boy child he believes to be theirs. But presumably the boy child will never come about given Wilkin’s confession. He asks for a few moments of reprieve before the end and goes to Jessamy in order to give her what she’s wanted since the second episode. He tells her she’s a good woman, a good wife, and a good mother. Then a millisecond after smooching Love, makes sweet love to his fake-wife.

First base and home run out of the way, Wilkin makes his way to the torture chamber and tears Petra’s cross from the Reeve’s neck, rallies Toran, and looks to be about to finish killing everyone he’d set sights upon. Until Love comes in, orders everyone to put down their swords, and calls the swordplay “a foolish boys’ test of virility” which appears to be medieval slang for dick-measurement. But not before Toran calls Wilkin “Wilkin” in front of the opposing knights. Love’s respite or no, the jig is officially up across the board.

Back at Annora’s caves, Father Ruskin warns the woman — covered in the heretical marks; which are not heretical at all, but presumably angel-speak.

The Dark Mute stands guard, all covered in his Teutonic Knight gear; we learn a little bit about him, and he still isn’t mute. It seems that there will be a four- or even five-on-one battle impending (depending on how useful Father Ruskin and Annora are), but that awaits in another episode.

“Behold the Lamb/Gweled yr Oen” ends with the rebel drawn and quartered at Wilkin’s signal. If you’ve never seen a man’s arms and legs torn from his body by horses running in opposite directions, “Behold the Lamb/Gweled yr Oen” can help you check that one off the old bucket list.

The biggest questions remaining are:

Now that basically everyone who matters knows Wilkin is Wilkin… What does that mean for his position?

How is Annora going to get out of being found out by the Archdeacon’s men?

This is a Kurt Sutter show so it is unlikely the Dark Mute is just going to kill them all.

How about Love’s fake pregnancy and Corbett’s machinations at marrying her to Pryce? Corbett, at least, knows the “Baron was barren” and no heir is currently gestating in the Baroness…



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

FX Summary:
Thorns/Drain Wilkin and Toran get a new timeline for their revenge and a surprising ally visits Lady Love.

All this stuff happens before opening credits roll for “Thorns/Drain” …

Wilkin wakes up to [fake] wife Jessamy basically staring at him asleep. “You are lovely when you sleep,” she declares creepily. The pair disagree about whether son Luca will end up a punisher like dear old dad (and now fake dear old dad).

The reeve brings a proclamation to Vampire Bill’s room to post. He doesn’t want to be disturbed but is admonished that the proclamation came overnight, and from the king himself. Out comes one of the twins, then a heretofore unseen little person, then after a moment the other twin… bearing a wooden cage filled with squirming rats. “It is best left to the imagination,” says Vampire Bill. Ew.

The proclamation, posted by deadly priest Father Ruskin, tells the world that Love is pregnant with the heir to Ventrishire (you know, what she spent the last two episodes convincing her enemies of [that is also not true])

In the wilderness caves, Annora is at work… Until a strange thorn emerges from her hand, as if by magic. Confirming something that has never really been addressed head-on on The Bastard Executioner, Annora’s wound, presumably overtly evocative of the stigmata, heals almost instantaneously.

Wilkin and Toran leave the castle with a cache of stolen weapons earmarked for the Wolf; remember in “Effigy/Ddelw” Wilkin cost the Wolf some supplies that he is meant to replace? Unfortunately, the weapons rattle in an obvious way, alerting a knight who volunteered to help get Wilkin and Toran where they are going. It seems Wilkin is beloved of the castle folks, as the knight says [he gives] “more delight than the whores and the minstrel.”

The knight goes to check on their wagon, discovers the illicitly procured weapons… And is immediately murdered by Wilkin.

And then the opening credits roll.

That guy probably killed someone Wilkin and Toran love.

Since another knight saw this one ride off with them, there is almost nothing that can be done. Wilkin and Toran resolve to free their friends (and Wilkin’s fake family), take what limited revenge they can, and get the hell out of dodge Ventrishire.

Wilkin and Toran meet up with the Wolf to deliver the weapons and negotiate a place to hide for after they quit the castle. The Wolf says they are very brave, etc. etc. but before anyone can pat himself on the back too much Wilkin forces the Wolf to promise not to hurt Love. He is specifically citing that Love was attacked on the road before, but she shouldn’t be a target. “No prob bro,” says the Wolf. “I will not attack the Baroness.”

… Cut to Isabel and Love being thrown in sacks and captured.

Cut to commercial.

Of course!

Unreal truth bomb: The Wolf and Love are brother and sister! The Wolf is an illegitimate bastard son of the former ruling Baron’s mistresses. They grew up together and seem to get along quite well [She repeatedly calls him “Griffy”].

“An independent Wales is my wish as well,” says Love. So the Wolf gets Love to fund his revolution. Love will bust into the castle crypts and give the Wolf something expensive, which he can use to pay / feed soldiers or whatever.

Back at the castle Wilkin is having no luck penetrating the mind of fake wife Jessamy Maddox. She is 100% all-in on Wilkin actually being Gawain Maddox and doesn’t want to flee in the middle of the night. Little Luca Maddox knows what’s what and is more worried that Wilkin won’t be his dad any more if they flee Castle Ventris. In a particularly touching moment, Wilkin assures Luca that even though he will never truly be his dad, he will never leave him.

Annora meets up with Ventrishire’s deadly Priest (remember his being a badass back in “Effigy/Ddelw”); she presents him a handful of thorns and says that evil is coming to Ventrishire; he is incredulous at first but then Annora pops a new thorn out of her breast… Which once again magically heals instantly. Good enough! Father Ruskin is on board.

Speaking of evil, the Archdeacon of Windsor arrives, looking for Seraphim to torture. Evil it is! Father Ruskin is on alert.

Elsewhere in the castle, Wilkin and Toran are figuring out how to get out; only they aren’t. Jessamy has betrayed Wilkin to Vampire Bill, which sets up the most interesting truth bomb sequence in The Bastard Executioner history (and this is in context of an episode that just revealed that the rebel leader is the Baroness’s illegitimate brother and that she is going to fund the revolution).

Vampire Bill lays all the cards out on the table. He knows who they all are. He knew “Wilkin the warrior” long before “Wilkin the barley farmer”. He is in need of loyal soldiers and will barter to make Wilkin and his friends into loyal soldiers. Vampire Bill hands them that other knight. Assuring both that he was one of the ones who burned down their village and murdered people they love — and is the only witness to their riding off with a knight they killed — Vampire Bill essentially gives them the guy to torture, get their revenge rocks off, etc.

I need smart and capable men who will serve me beyond the boundaries of manor law.

Essentially Vampire Bill hands our protagonists a measure of vengeance, but explicitly instructs them to leave the rest of the knights and nobles who might have been at the village burning a pass. This is despite his assurances that most of the knights are “soldiers of fortune” driven by profit, not trustworthy, and not ultimately worthy of his time.

An exceptionally long episode — over an hour and a half — winds down with no decrease in density:

  • Love gives the Wolf an ancient pearls-encrusted bauble to help fund his revolution. The Baroness and the bandit are officially partners in crime!
  • Toran tortures the knight into a bloody mess, deliberately driving himself to a kind of peace in madness. All their other bros (including a similarly crazy-eyed Ash) look on in horror but let him go about his business. Toran gets many names out of the mutilated knight before Wilkin puts him out of his misery.
  • The Dark Mute opens up an ancient closet and reveals his working gear from presumably another time: a knight’s armor and weapons, all marked with the red cross.
  • Wilkin and Love share a final scene (again) where he basically cries on her shoulder and she tells him what a great guy he is. You can almost see the gears turning in Love’s head (well I do need to get a baby inside me sooner rather than later and this guy is pleasant enough…)

We learn that — for want of a better word — magic is real and meaningful in the universe of The Bastard Executioner. This isn’t just herbs or proto-science. We don’t know how powerful Annora is quite yet, but she was able to heal the thorn wounds instantly, and sway the Priest to her side.

The Archdeacon of Windsor is in Ventrishire; and probably ultimately on the hunt for Annora.

Vampire Bill speaks openly about what he knows, and what he is ultimately going to expect from his new “soliders”

Toran, at least, gets some of the information that he has wanted since the Pilot. Whether he can act on it given Vampire Bill’s vantage point is another question entirely.

And yes, Jessamy Maddox is assuredly off her rocker. As loving and devoted to Wilkin Luca is, his mother may prove to be a problem, and has already betrayed her so-called-husband to the enemy at least once now.

Still soul-crushing throughout, though.


Piss Profit/Proffidwyr Troeth

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

FX Summary:
Piss Profit/Proffidwyr Troeth. The King’s right hand visits Ventrishire on royal business; Wilkin goes on a covert mission.

When we left the troubled landscape of Ventrishire…

  • Milus Corbett (aka Vampire Bill) was scheming with a rival Baron…
  • Wilkin (masquerading as executioner Gawain Maddox) was being forced to do things he didn’t want to do, and…
  • Widowed Baroness Ventress (our Lady Love) was telling scumbag French Earl of Cornwall Lord Gaveston she was pregnant (she isn’t) [in order to prove and heir and keep a hold of her little kingdom]

As “Piss Profit/Proffidwyr Troeth” opens, Love is in her chambers with best friend / loyal servant Isabel, handing her some very obviously bloodstained white clothes. She tells Isabel that they must be laundered separately, in secret; I suppose we know what the blood is from! (Love, remember, is supposed to be pregnant.) She is concerned about her lie, what it means, and perhaps most importantly, how to carry it through.

Isabel says maybe it isn’t / doesn’t have to be a lie:

“Every fertile field needs a serving of more than one seed to bear a good harvest.”

Love asks if that means she should open up her field for a good seed sowing; to which Isabel says that giving the Baroness advice is above her station (but that she will always be at Love’s service). Love and Isabel really seem as close as sisters [more on the closeness of sisters in a minute] but this being a Kurt Sutter show, I can’t help but be terrified that this is some cockeyed foreshadowing 🙁

Wilkin, with fake-son Luca Maddox, encounter witch / healer Annora at a local market. Annora gives Luca some “sweet calamus*” which lights the lad up like a christmas tree. The sweet calamus basically looks like a stick. But Luca sure seemed happy to be chewing on it!

We learn that Wilkin’s crew has been “lock knee’d” for twelve days in tight cells, but that “oils” provided by Annora (and smuggled in by Wilkin) has helped alleviate their pain.

Back at the castle, Vampire Bill catches Wilkin and Toran sneaking provisions to their imprisoned buddies. He offers to trade their freedom for a task accomplished by the fake executioner / fake tradesman. Just stop a caravan from Baron Pryce to the King (supposedly carrying a rare holy relic) to prevent him from gaining royal favor and your friends will be freed!

Of course the prospect of murdering Pryce’s soldiers and burning down their caravan doesn’t sit well with Wilkin and Toran, but they’ll do it anyway to free their friends. Oh Wilkin! What are you doing buddy? You already know that Corbett is the real “bastard” of this show!

Before we leave the castle we jump to Love, who sees a royal procession arriving. Visitors! That other bastard Lord Gaveston has ventured to Ventrishire to preside over “the declaration of heirs”. Basically, Gaveston, with a “progeny prophet” (“piss prophet”, or the “piss profit” in this week’s title) will test Love’s, you know, piss to scientifically** determine her pregnancy. Gaveston knows — or at least suspects — that Love was lying last week, having heard she is a barren Baroness.

Gaveston echoes the sentiments of Love and Isabel last week, proclaiming he hates the Welsh (remember, they both said, while visiting the King, that they hate the French). Gaveston notices Corbett’s twins, and Corbett notices Gaveston noticing the twins. They are sent on a mission.

Gaveston confronts Love in the chapel:

“Let us hope God will take pity. For when you are found to be a fraud the King will have your breasts cleaved off, your barren womb severed, and your head taken by sword.”
-Gaveston, to Love

What a pleasant visitor!

And then… The twins.

“What brings this horrid display of bacchanal*** to my chamber?”
-Gaveston, to the twins

Gaveston leaves Love to find the twins making love in his chambers. That seemed really weird to me. I mean, it was weird when the twins were making out with each other while menage-ing trois-style with Corbett; but maybe in the moment that was meant to be a turn-on for him in the moment? It is just weird in “Piss Profit/Proffidwyr Troeth” that they would be actively woohoo-ing before Gaveston even got there. No coy seduction. No “check out this novel fantasy experience we are offering up, collectively, to you, big boy” … More “well we were already hitting it incest-like, but there is plenty of room in this bed and our boss told us to so I guess you can join in”.

What might be weirder is that one of the twins openly tells Gaveston that they are there to loosen his tongue… WITH THEIRS (and then she Frenches the Frenchman)

Weird-est? Gaveston declares them “my girls” before diving between the two.

Out in the wilderness, Toran and Wilkin prepare to waylay Baron Pryce’s caravan. Toran starts to say, basically, that Wilkin is being too nice to Love (can’t be too serious about being civil to these nobles after all) but then it is time to get a-murdering.

Wilkin and Toran stick knives and arrows into the soldiers and their horses, then set the caravan on fire. They declare the “dirty deed complete” … Until they hear pained female screams from inside.

Wikkin busts up the wagon, and out pops a mortally burned woman. It is Pryce’s wife!

Oh Wilkin! You knew Knew KNEW Corbett was the wily one already!

Last week we pointed out that one of the barriers to Corbett’s plan was the existence of Pryce’s current wife. Well, I guess that is out of the way now.

Wilkin and Toran are understandably distraught. I mean they knew ahead of time that they were going to pull a drive-by on someone else’s soldiers, but apparently the death of a woman — and being used as assassins rather than regular-old murderers — was not on the planned menu. Wilkin and Corbett get into it back at the castle, which looks violent to us, but is apparently an exhilirating exchange of rasslin’ that Corbett was always in the market for.

The twins attend to the bloodied Corbett, and give him some allegedly uplifting news. According to the twins, Gaveston was not interested in their “wetted slots” but rather the handsome chamberlain only. Which sets up something like the third-of-n huge conflicts of “Piss Profit/Proffidwyr Troeth”.

Gaveston: Sup?
Corbett: Sup.
Gaveston: You sure have risen high for a poor village boy.
Corbett: I’m hitting my head on the commoner glass ceiling.
Gaveston: You are handsome and clever!
Corbett: “You flatter like a highly polished courtesan.”
Gaveston: Well enough small talk. How about you fallate me now? (also make sure you’re on your knees)
Corbett: Um… okay
Gaveston: Just kidding! “You honestly think I would let dirt-born lips tough a rod that knows only the holes of beautiful things? I’m sure there is a shit-scraper in need of a suckling.”

An understandably dejected Corbett takes his rejection out on his servant, apparently beating him to death.

Wilkin hooks Love up with Annora; and Annora figures out how to trick the piss prophet’s test, providing her with the urine of “a very pregnant wolf”

Wilkin has one of his regular hallucinations, which involves a VRERY naked**** Petra transforming into the dead, horrifically burned, zombie body of Baroness Pryce. Love brings him back to reality; Annora conducts a huge foreshadowing moment that seems to imply that there will be a substantial something between the two (which I’m sure no audience members predicted at any point before this).

Annora’s wolf-piss mixture (supposedly Love’s piss) is provided to the piss prophet, and applied to pins (to rust), blood (to swirl), and “the phallic bone of a goat” because science.

“The science arts continue to amaze me.”

So what is up with the twins? Apparently, all that ostensible incest makes perfect sense. The twins are Gaveston’s sisters (or at least half-sisters)! They are loyal to him (and apparently were all raised in a very strange household).

Annora’s magic wolf pee beats the test, which has Gaveston upset. He has to leave Ventrishire in a huff (instead of being put in charge of it and getting to cut up Love) but at least he got to have sex with his sisters.

The episode ends with a grateful, if troubled, Love embracing a still heavy hearted Wilkin in the chapel. Wilkin calls Love “my love” which is only a little bit weird (as her name is actually Love) but is set up as being awkward. They hug it out. Theis warm exchange is witnessed by Toran (already on record REE: Wilkin being too buddy-buddy with the Baroness) and Mrs. Maddox (already upset at the lack of romantic intimacy in her not-marriage, in addition to being possibly unhinged).

What a crazy episode! There is always a lot going on on The Bastard Executioner but there was actually a good bit of mystery revealing and plot resolution in “Piss Profit/Proffidwyr Troeth”; the most important of which has to be the macro characterization of Wilkin. The narrative given to the audience is that Wilkin is a good man driven into terrible but necessary circumstances; but the reality is he has ceased to be a good man (if ever he was one) already. At this point he is masquerading as an executioner solely to get revenge. So far he has executed an innocent man (if douchebag), chopped off the nose of a sweet young girl, choked a man to death with his dinner, and now unwittingly assassinated an infirm Baroness from the neighboring shire via the particularly grisly vehicle of “burning wagon”. We can infer from the descent of Jax Teller in Sons of Anarchy that Sutter’s position is that, however he started and whatever his original intentions, Sutter would likely ultimately call Wilkin irredeemable, but give him a glimmer of two or hope, just so he can get a little more leverage on the dagger-twist when his end finally does arrive. Wilkin seems completely aware of all this by the way; he was much more sulky than usual throughout.


* I looked it up and it can be used as a “substitute for ginger, cinnamon, or nutmeg” … That is, something with some level of flavor for the medieval palate.
** Not that scientifically, it turns out.
*** “Bacchanal” is one of my all-time favorite high school vocab words; I am not sure that Gaveston used it appropriately here; the twins may or may not have been wild, but there was no indication of drunkenness, no nod, specifically, to Bacchus. And horrid?
**** She was quite naked for basic cable and a lens flare from being well past the median episode of Game of Thrones. The camera came at her from a distance, and there was some weird Instagram filtering going on, but Petra was pretty shockingly full-frontal; heavy, in my mind, for basic cable.

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 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 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