TV-MA, 1 hr episodes, FX
Created by Kurt Sutter, Starring Lee Jones and Katey Segal
I was pretty stoked for The Bastard Executioner, and for good reason. This is Kurt Sutter’s highly anticipated TV show coming hot of the heels of a disjointed, but very good Sons of Anarchy TV show and the thrilling Southpaw. The short ads for this show also showcased stunning vistas and intense battles with bloodshed aplenty.
Bastard is a show that knows it audience. That audience is one that wishes Game of Thrones was on, but has to wait until April. So in the meantime, we get this medieval show. The plot was fairly interesting, and it just enough so to keep you hooked, but not so confusing that you didn’t know what was going on.
The star of the show here is Wilkin Brattle (Jones) who after a stroke of luck, survives an epic battle and comes into contact with a witch/healer of sorts, Annora of the Alders (Segal) who gives him a scar that is similar to an executioner that was in the battle and did not survive. Brattle then takes that identity, and travels to find somewhere to settle down and figure out what to do next. His family, along with his friends’ have been slaughtered and he pretty much has nothing. He doesn’t travel long before he comes to a Baron’s castle and has to execute the one man that still knows his former identity from the battle. Thus is the basis for the show, and we spend most of the next 10 episodes here.
Bastard gets the essentials right for an ultraviolent show like this. Before I continue, let me stress that this show is extremely violent. I really can’t stress that enough. It pushes the boundaries of what you think can be shown on TV and is definitely not for the squeamish. That aside, it’s very well done. It all looks and sounds very real, and the camera sometimes gets uncomfortably close. Just like in Game of Thrones, there are many people who do horrible things to others just to get by or fuel their own fires. Some characters do come full circle and learn from their wrongdoings, which did give the show some humanity and helped it feel less bleak.
The cinematography is also fantastic, and showcases some stunning landscapes and was shot in Wales, UK. This show isn’t extremely action packed, but when things do heat up the battle sequences are breathtaking, and definitely worth the watch just for those. Beyond that, the story was pretty solid, the characters were very relatable and the show doesn’t overstay it’s welcome with a perfect 10 episodes. So what went wrong?
Well, I have to address the elephant in the room here; and i’m referring to Katey Segal. She is by far the weakest part of the show, and her accent was atrocious. It just came off as a poor idea that they stuck with for some reason, and the intro music wasn’t very fitting as well. I would usually just skip through it. Segal was extremely miscast, and it’s a shame because if they had gotten a little younger character that doesn’t hail from the USA.
Besides that, there is some serious pacing issues. After some episodes I was asking myself: “Well, it didn’t seem like much happened here, but i’m still intrigued to see what happens.” It felt like these episodes were just a trail to the next one, but luckily there were just a couple of them.
So ultimately, this is a show that fills in the gap between now and April 2016 for Game of Thrones. It’s a decent, violent medieval show that gets a few things right, but ultimately it wasn’t enough, as the show is not getting renewed for a second season. As it stands though, there are a satisfying 10 episodes here to get through, and the finale does wrap up a lot of loose ends. Bastard is just interesting enough to keep you going, but it’s not nearly the experience that Sons of Anarchy or Southpaw managed to achieve.