This The Bastard Executioner review contains spoilers.
The Bastard Executioner Season 1, Episode 5.
Let’s start with the negative and the obvious. Episodes of The Bastard Executioner are still punishingly, pointlessly long. There’s no need for 55+ minute-long episodes of a show that doesn’t have much to do or say. Maybe Kurt Sutter knows that the prevailing TV viewing experience means checking Twitter until a character raises their voice or the music begins to sweel and the viewer feels obliged to glance up at the TV. Fine. The episodes should still be shorter. Having said that “Piss Profit/Proffidwyr Troeth”* is the best showing for Executioner thus far.
*I kind of like the old Welsh spelling of episode titles, though they shouldn’t provide the modern English translation along with it. Thta’s what Google is for.
The reason is fairly simple: the characters are starting to interact with each other more. What’s interesting is that it’s clear every chief character is be working towards the same goal: creating a happy, safe and profitable Ventrishire. So far, however, everyone has gone about this differently. Lady Love fakes a pregnancy and bats her beautiful doe-like eyes. Wil swings his sword at things. And Milus is being devious because someone in a Medieval castle has to be. The nice part of “Piss Profit” is that it makes that connection and helpfully suggests that each character will soon realize they have similar goals and begin collaborating with one another. The Bastard Executioner has realized that if it’s not going to make interpersonal conflicts that interesting, it should just allow everyone to be bros instead.
With that in mind, I’d like to drop the review format for “Piss Profit” entirely and instead gauge the “bro status” of several characters.
Starting with the most overt: Annora and Lady Love. Being the upstanding Welsh girl that she is, Lady Love knows that when times are tough it’s best to seek out a pagan healer. Lady Love is in the weeds because after her pronouncement to the King’s Hand, Gaveston last week, the French bastard decides to turn up with a Chaplain of Progeny to conduct a formal Declaration of Heirs. Of course, Lady Love is not pregnant so she seeks out Sir Gawain’s healer friend. In one of the season’s few unambiguously great moments, Annora marvels at the innocence of Love’s small hands and Love bursts into tears, realizing how in over her head she is. It’s a nice scene of necessary trust building and it solves a critical problem for Love. The elixir Annora gives her works and fools the “Piss Prophet” into declaring she is pregnant.
Annora and Lady Love bro status = confirmed.
Love’s success with Wil/Gawain’s trusted healer also helps bring together Love and the titual bastard executioner. Plot-wise, Wil and Love need a reason to trust each other. They’re the “innocents” of this story as well as the moral core. Gawain’s recommendation of a healer saves Love’s life and now she has every reason to trust him. Trust him enough to impregnate her as well, it would seem. Love isn’t dumb, she knows she needs to actually get with child and fast so she begins what could be a pretty short and easy seduction of Wil. This could be seen as rather controlling and devious but it’s telling that Love isn’t just paying some tramp to knock her up. She knows Sir Gawain is at least a decent person and…not unattractive.
In short: Wil and Love bro status = confirmed.
Then there’s the most turbulent and interesting relationship in the episode: Milus and Wil. Somehow, I did not see Milus’ master plan to eliminate Baron Pryce’s wife coming. He literally announced last week that he has to kill Baronness Pryce but goes about getting Wil and Toran to do it so sneakily Iago, himself, would be proud. He dispatches them to destroy a sacred Bible en route to Baron Pryce from the king. If Baron Pryce gets said Bible, his shire will be far too influential or some nonsense. Wil and Toran complete their mission but not before discovering Milus’ trick. It’s too late, however, as Baronness Pryce is burned to death.
Wil then returns to the shire and beats Milus to a pulp. Still, as many good bros can tell you – wanton physical violence against each other is a good path to any two people becoming bros. Milus opens up to Wil about the purpose of this mission: to save Ventrishire and it’s clear that Wil is at least considering the merits of it. Later on, Milus is humiliated by Gaveston when Gaveston gets his undercover twins*to imply that he wants to hook up with Milus. Instead, Gaveston insults him rather viciously. So while he should be upset that Lady Love is pregnant with the previous Baron’s heir instead of Baron Pryce’s, he can’t help but he thrilled that Gaveston is defeated momentarily.
*On Game of Thrones, “The Twins” are a pair of two strategically significant towers that create a bridge over a small river. On The Bastard Executioner there’s some banging-ass brunettes. I don’t know exactly what that says about the difference between the two shows but I feel like it somehow speaks volumes.
Wil, Milus and Lady Love bro status = let’s save Ventrishire, bros.
“Piss Profit” is Bastard Executioner’s most complete dramatic thought yet because it has the best understanding of its character’s motivations yet and also understands that the most interesting part of the show is going them collaborating, not clashing. Episodes 1-4 have proved The Bastard Executioner can’t do petty squabbling well. Now it has the chance to do everybody bro-ing out well.
Still, not everyone can get along in Ventrishire. When Wil is sharing a long, sensuous hug with Lady Love, Toran, who is concerned that Wil is getting to close to the ruling class, witnesses it as does Sir Gawain’s wife, Jessamy
Wil, Toran and Jessamy’s bro status = very much in doubt.