Through the past several weeks, FX has presented to us in “The Bastard Executioner” a show that is firmly steeped in both politics and brutality. Interestingly, we find it better when it is focusing on politics.
Take, for example, the story this time when it comes to Lady Love that ended with the “accurate” test to show that she is with child. The implications of this are huge for Ventrishire given that it means at least some further protection for the realm with Ventris gone. Going into this test, the problem was fairly simply: The Baroness was not actually pregnant. Here is, once again, where Annora enters the fray. The queen of mysticism (who is not actually queen of anything, mind you) was able to use her ways to ensure that Love passed the test, which of course is enough to send Gaveston into a fit of rage given the fact that he was sure that this was all a lie. (He threatened to do some pretty terrible things to her earlier in the episode in the event the truth was to come out.)
There were many different components to the Annora story, from Wilkin recruiting her to eventually her subsequent time spent with the Baroness. What matters to us, at least for now, is that she is making herself active in the series and involved with many of the characters. That has been the problem with her until this point; she is fascinating and Katey Sagal is doing great work in the part, but how relevant was she beyond just prophecies? At least this was a prophecy-of-sorts (through urine, no less) that would help someone in the now.
Elsewhere, our joy this week at seeing a violent Wilkin / Milus showdown was spoiled slightly at the thought of what Wilkin was forced to do: Accidentally kill Baroness Pryce when he felt that he was taking part in a very different mission. We’re somewhat frustrated with Wilkin for continuing to put too much trust into a pretty awful man. Yes, he does hold some power over him thanks to the whole “I know who you are” problem (he even said his name out loud with other people in the room), but Brattle better prepare to take some more precautions in the future to keep these sort of issues from happening once more.
You could argue in the end that Milus is making a mistake of his own in not letting Wilkin be murdered. He’s had his chances, but continues to use him as a pawn. Milus is a prideful man, and the more we see that, the more convinced we are that this will be his downfall in due time. He’s not always better than everyone, contrary to his own belief.
Also, we are very much convinced at present that this, in between Annora’s rise and some of the subtle moments between Wilkin and Lady Love, is the strongest episode of “The Bastard Executioner” yet even in spite of aforementioned frustrations. Grade: B+.
If you want to get a sense as to what could lie ahead, our preview piece for this show is up over at the link here. Meanwhile, you can sign up now to have some additional TV news sent right over to you via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: FX.)