The Bastard Executioner (FX) preview: Kurt Sutter is one son of a bitch! Here’s another proof…

bastardexec

Written & produced by Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy, The Shield, Southpaw). Co-produced by Paris Barclay, Francie Calfo & Brian Grazer (24, Parenthood, Friday Night Lights, Arrested Development). Directed by Paris Barclay (Sons of Anarchy, In Treatment, NYPD Blue, Cold Case). For FX, FX Productions, Fox 21, Imagine Television & Sutter Ink. 65 pages.

Description: In the 14th century in England, the story of Wilkin Brattle, a warrior knight in King Edward I’s charge, who is broken by the ravages of war and vows to lay down his sword. But when that violence finds him again killing his wife and unborn child, he is forced to pick up the bloodiest sword of all. He infiltrates his old kingdom that betrayed him, determined to destroy it from the inside…

With Lee Jones, Stephen Moyer (True Blood), Flora-Spencer Longhurst, Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy, Married With Children, 8 Simple Rules…), Kurt Sutter, Elen Rhys, Timothy V. Murphy (True Detective, Sons of Anarchy), Sarah Sweeney, Darren Evans (Galavant, My Mad Fat Diary), Sarah White, Danny Sapani (Penny Dreadful, Misfits), Sam Spruell (The Last Ship) & Matthew Rhys (Brothers & Sisters, The Americans) as guest…

PREMIERING SEPTEMBER 15TH ON FX

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Kurt Sutter is one son of a bitch. Ahem. It’s a little scary writing an article about a show penned by Kurt Sutter, I must admit. Because I know he might end up reading it. He’s out there. I mean: he tweets. And when he’s angry, he can become some sort of… bastard executioner. Heads roll. Not that he’s mean or anything. It’s just that he says exactly what he thinks, and we all admire him for that but it can be violent, you know. Since I feel pretty safe hiding behind my computer screen, it’s my turn to say what I really think about this pilot script he wrote. Honesty is more valuable to him than anything else, right? Everything’s gonna be okay. And it’s not gonna hurt. I guess. So where was I? Oh yeah: Kurt Sutter is one son of a bitch!

First things first: I have to confess that I was not a fan of Sons of Anarchy. I watched a few episodes and I abandoned it. Not my thing. No hard feelings though. But somehow I happened to know everything about the show’s every twist and turn over the course of its entire run -sometimes I was impressed- and from what I understood almost everybody died at some point in atrocious circumstances! Which is interesting since in The Bastard Executioner‘s pilot at least three characters we think are important die. Just like that. And the cruel but smart strategy is: here are those characters, this one you will adore, this one you will love to hate and boom they are dead, you will never seem them again. Deal with it! This is a son of a bitch move and it’s brilliant. We’re instantly amazed, sad and intrigued. But, ‘cos there’s a “but” (and many butts but we’ll get to that later), I’m puzzled about one death in particular. Without spoiling too much, let’s just say the one who can be considered as the main antagonist of the show is killed. Meaning, our hero’s quest for revenge is done in the end of the pilot. So what’s next? Other villains can be introduced and some characters already there can become villain (one is on the verge of being one) but it feels like what could have been the main focus of season one has disappeared into thin air for the sake of being original. It also questions Wilkin Brattle’s intentions. Are we moving towards a Breaking Bad-like story, where a simple man slowly turns into a very bad guy? Seems like it. Not sure I want to see that again even if the context is totally different. On the other hand, I don’t want to see Revenge in the middle ages either. God no!

So, about the butts. It’s not what you think. Well, there’s a scene that will certainly be very talked about and remembered whatever happens with the show: while the Baron character is talking about strategy with his right-hand man, he takes a shit in his chair and then a servant comes to wipe his shitty ass. It’s gross but it’s Middle-Age tradition. No more no less. But it’s something most historical movies and series quietly ignore. Not Kurt Sutter. He clearly has a hard on writing it. And we can’t blame him, especially since it’s a detail that strongly tells the audience: forget what you saw of this period, I will tell you the true story without poetry. That’s how he’s making history! The rest of the pilot is less surprising, with an inevitable rape, some Braveheart feels, a LOT OF violent fights… what you can expect from this type of story. Two female characters are really interesting: Lady Love -all is in the name obviously- who’s sexy and bored, a little lesbian maybe, a woman of paradox and mystery, I could watch the show only for her; and Annora, Katey Sagal’s character, some sort of witch who helps our hero but has her own agenda… She’s secretly in love with a disfigured beast, who happens to be played by her own husband… Kurt Sutter himself! That’s exciting in a weird way.

After using Shakespeare’s Hamlet to structure Sons of Anarchy, Kurt Sutter bets on The count of Monte Cristo to build his new show around, meaning it’s another soap hidden behind an historical background, great violence and those WTF? moments he loves so deeply. And it’s working, mostly. The Bastard Executioner can and will be considered as FX’s answer to HBO’s Game of Thrones, probably hoping it gets more attention than The Strain, FX’s answer to AMC’s The Walking Dead.

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