If there is one common thing that has frustrated us over the past few episodes of “The Bastard Executioner,” it is the mass piling-on that the show has received courtesy of the majority of the media. We should preface that by saying that this is not a perfect show; rather, it has many flaws in its storytelling, little narrative consistency, and characters who have not exactly mattered on the level that we thought they should.
Yet, at the same time we find it deeply compelling. Maybe part of it is the strong visuals that have been produced, and the politics of the story with the Baroness and Wilkin Brattle, who clearly remain two of the most interesting characters across all of FX at the moment. We appreciate that the show is at its core about the search for redemption, and the toll that seeking out such things can take on a man.
What we understand some out there finding particularly frustrating is how long it has taking for said toll to be present. We are now in episode 9 of the show’s first and, at the moment, only season. (We’re still optimistic about a renewal.) It should have been weeks ago when Wilkin started to wrestle further with the emotional impact that these deaths have laid upon him. Even these revelations were short-lived in a longer story that was about the search for Piers Gavaston by Wilkin, Milus Corbett, and others. This story did still present one of the season’s funnier moments regarding a goat named Bernadette. A noble distraction, no? Anytime that a goat can be placed within a position of power in a TV episode is a time when we can stand up and celebrate.
We rather enjoyed the other, non-Annora story of the night where the Baroness basically used her influence to make Jessamy realize once more that Wilkin was not her actual husband, but that she will be properly cared for nonetheless. Why? It was human, and we don’t often need blood or sex for that to be made apparent to us. This is a show that has been at times the Tin Man, wandering around in interesting directions but doing so without that heart. It has been so interested in depicting gruesome, yet well-done, violence that it has not taken advantage as much of these story moments.
Following this story, we do at least feel slightly more set up for the season 1 finale than we were a week ago, and we also do not feel as horrendously depressed. Yet, upon looking at this episode in context of other reviews and other works on TV, we realize that we have perhaps been a tad easy on this show, relying on the past work of Kurt Sutter for what this show could be. Yet, it’s not there yet, and we cannot judge it with the assumption that it will someday become something beautiful. We have to wade through the mire first, and it is still up to our ankles. Grade: B-.
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