sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Bastard Executioner (Series Review)

“God made the vittles, but the devil made the cook,” was a popular saying used by seafaring men in the last century when salted beef was staple diet aboard ship.

This tough, cured beef, suitable only for long voyages when nothing else was as cheap or would keep as well, required prolonged chewing to make it edible. Since men often chewed one chunk for hours, just as if it were chewing gum, they referred to this practice as chewing the fat.

Today this term is used to describe a conversation, and I wanted to share a review today of a new television series, which (Warning) does show very graphic violence -- however, there is a reason for the violence that is 'fleshed out' in the series. Thus, while it is graphic, it is not necessary senseless.

The Bastard Executioner (Series Review)

There have only been two episodes of this new series on FX (technically three because the pilot was officially two episodes), however I will offer a few thoughts on the latest work by Kurt Sutter, who created of the popular television series, Sons of Anarchy. (website)

In short, I like it. The series is very violent and very graphic as it follows the development of the 'savior of the Welch people,' who are living in what was called the Welsh Marches at the time. From the days of William the Conqueror until the early 1300's, the area had been fraught with rebellion and the English barons who controlled the territory were required by necessity of control to exercise harsh measures. The Welsh were naturally not happy about that.

The plot involves the somewhat mystical destiny of Wilkin Brattle (Lee Jones), a knight in the service of Edward I, who ends up living the humble life of a farmer on the Welsh Coast after he and his men were intentionally led into an ambush. He is guided by Annora of the Alders (Katy Sagal), a witch, who acts as a spiritual advisor. Wilkin is guided to assume the identity of Maddox, a traveling/journeyman executioner and punisher as part of God's plan. 

There are hints that Wilkin's mother and father may be Annora and her badly burned traveling companion, but that has yet to be explored, possibly in future episodes.

The arms and armor in the television series are exceptionally well done as is the period representation of the sets. I'm accustomed to seeing these things done "half-assed" but credit goes to Sutter for research and effort to get it right and to have his characters act the way people would have acted in 1300, without the political correctness of 2015.