Tuesday night saw the two hour premiere of The Bastard Executioner, Kurt Sutter’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to his Shakespearean motorcycle juggernaut, Sons of Anarchy, on his favorite network FX. In an effort for full disclosure, I will admit to not really caring much about this. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to watch it until The Maestro threatened me with a full month of dick-pics and the “Oops, I sat in gum” delights that only those in the inner circle are treated to. So, as you can probably guess, I figured out a way to fit this show in my schedule. Here is the part where you would think that I would say, “Man, am I glad he made me watch it”. You would think wrong.
I watched it. And I really thought I would have loved it. It’s got history, and plenty of violence. Paris Barclay directed it. It even had everybody’s favorite “Sookie!”-lover, True Blood’s own Stephen Moyer and The Americans’ spy-dad, Matthew Rhys. But after all was said and done, I didn’t think it was all that special. It felt discombobulated and hastily thrown together.
You have your main guy, Wilkin Brattle (played ably by Lee Jones), whom I didn’t connect with. The story revolves around him more or less, and while he wasn’t bad, he wasn’t great. Sutter’s wife, the very talented Katey Sagal, is stuck playing a healer of sorts, and isn’t in enough of the opener to make the episode better. I get the feeling that she will remain crucial to the overall plot, so we should continue to see her, which is a good thing. The rest of the cast is good enough, but nobody jumped out as potential scene stealer. The story may be the big problem here. In his previous show, Sutter had a central storyline that people cared about. Each season had its own subplots and directions, but the one underlying theme never wavered. With Bastard, I just didn’t care all that much about what was going on.
Look, I won’t say that the show stinks. I think that Kurt Sutter is as good as or better than anyone in that town. Combine that with a pretty solid cast and good directors and he can steer this show to the top. What I am saying is that he is using a period in history that should be pretty cool. The previous king of England was Edward Longshanks; the same Longshanks that most men will remember from one of the best guy movies ever, Braveheart. His son, King Edward II, who was known to be a little “lacking” in the manly department, is now on the throne. All of this information should add to this show in positive ways. The main character is an executioner for God’s sake. Another point in the cool as shit category.
I am going to continue to watch to see if Mr. Sutter can make me love it. If there’s anyone who can do it, it’s him. I’m giving this a:
Three Episode Maybe