Bastard Executioner Premiere Review
by Julie Perez
I was an (over-obsessed) fan of Sons of Anarchy, so naturally I had a lot of expectations for The Bastard Executioner. However, I did try to go into the pilot episode with a clean slate; I was afraid that if I expected too much that I would end up disappointed. So I got comfortable in bed, I put my phone on silent and prepared myself to have my mind blown!
Kurt Sutter promised us blood and BOY WAS THERE BLOOD! A wonderful surprise was to have Ed Sheeran perform the Theme Song, which unfortunately is still not available on iTunes. For a Pilot episode it was pretty spot on; the episode provided you with enough back story to understand (almost) everyone’s role and it moved the story at a steady pace, as to not bore new viewers didn’t happen to be obsessed Sons of Anarchy fans. The story is one of revenge and immediately makes you aware that this story is going to have heart and no matter how much you try not to, you will end up invested in these characters.
Warning Spoilers ahead, but I mean it’s been a couple of days since the premier so if the show is spoiled now; you only have yourself to blame. The story begins with the knight Wilkin Brattle (played by the handsome Lee Jones) who has left behind his killing ways and is now a farmer who is married to a loving and very pregnant wife (Elen Rhys). What I love about Kurt Sutter is that he very clearly shows how happy this couple is, how great their life is and how much hope there is for their future together. You know, he shows you all of that before ripping it all away.
Wilkin and a few of his family members and friends go and raid the king’s tax collectors, they believe that they are in the clear because they wore masks. Unfortunately the King finds out who it was that raided his tax collectors and he goes to teach them a lesson. The consequences of the raid are that Wilkin and the rest of the men come back to find that the village has been burned down and their neighbors have all been killed, including Wilkin’s pregnant wife (who for a second you assume is going to get away, thanks Sutter for that last glimmer of hope that gets ripped away). When Wilkin discovers the remainder of his village he vows to take revenge and through a series of events, including some “guidance” from a Slavic witch, Annora (played by the wonderful Katey Sagal) he ends up impersonating an executioner and proceeds to infiltrate the castle. Thus, the journey begins …
Though some of the killings did feel like they were there more for shock-value than anything else, I can understood why Kurt Sutter and Paris Barclay may have decided to make it so gruesome so quickly. I also found Katey Sagal’s choice of accent to be a bit peculiar but I am willing to look past it (and hoping that it gets better with time) I realize that she is meant to have a different accent from the rest but it seemed a bit forced. I appreciate that Kurt Sutter’s character (the mute) is unrecognizable and I am intrigued by where his storyline could go. I read a couple of reviews that stated that the episode ran a little long, but I felt that the longevity was needed. It gave us enough time to understand premise of the story without feeling too rushed. The show is getting a lot of comparisons to Game of Thrones and Braveheart, I can understand the Game of Thrones reference being that it has the medieval with a bit of the fantasy mixed into it (think the mini dragon in the beginning and the angel/apparition that appeared throughout the episode). In terms of the comparison to Braveheart, I can’t really say, being that I’ve never actually seen Braveheart. I KNOW! I KNOW! Put down your pitchforks, I am aware that this is unbelievable; it’s on my to-do list.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the episode and I am looking forward to getting emotionally attached to a TV show that is bound to rip my heart out.