The Bastard Executioner Season 1 Episode 3 Review: A Hunger/Newyn

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And so, the plot thickens.

The Bastard Executioner Season 1 Episode 3 was very good, and probably the best installment so far. With excellent pacing, plenty of plot developments, and some great twists, this was an all-around enjoyable hour.

We already knew, from our limited view of this bloody, medieval world, that Milus Corbett was a master manipulator. What we didn't know was that the very clever Lady Love was right up there with him.

There were several major stories twisting and turning and weaving into one another in "A Hunger/Newyn." One followed Isabel and Lady Love on their journey to meet with King Edward II about the fate of their shire.

Another dealt with Milus deceptively luring Baron Pryce over to Ventrishire in Lady Love's absence in an effort to bring him in on a very far-fetched plan for seizing control of the shire. Yet another explored Annora's mysterious religious faith.

Good news: I'm finally starting to really care about some of these characters! This is a relief, because the whole too-split-focus thing that has prevailed throughout the first few installments was really not working for me. Luckily, this installment kept the majority of the focus to major players like Brattle, Annora, Milus and Lady Love.

Obviously there were occasional interludes featuring other characters but, importantly, all of the interludes clearly tied back to the main plot points. A cohesive world and a cohesive story are being ironed out, slowly but surely.

I'll start with the Baroness' subplot, which was easily my favorite of the bunch.

I love the relationship between Isabel and Lady Love. The actresses portray that familiarity of being childhood friends so well, alongside the complication that Isabel is technically a servant (and not just a pal) of Lady Love.

It's weird that the relationship doesn't feel awkward in that regard, but it really doesn't. The story about the boy Morgan ("the Boor") was also very amusing and characterized Lady Love very well.

Isabel: I don't like the French.
Lady Love: The French will survive without your support.

Also, the two women were so funny, smart and strong this episode.

I enjoyed watching Lady Love's interactions with Piers Gaveston, the Earl of Cornwall. As smarmy and disgusting as he was to her, the Baroness successfully held her own and refused to be cowed by the incredibly obnoxious Frenchman.

Even in the earlier moments, when she was still attempting to be cordial to ensure a fair discussion about the fate of her shire, she managed to acquiesce to the Earl without seeming floored by him. She's a super classy lady – when he insulted her state of dress, she coolly agreed that they had indeed had a long journey, rather than show her offense at the comment.

Moments like this were great character-building tidbits, as we were able to explore how Lady Love deals with difficult men (and there are so many difficult men in this show for her to deal with). She has certainly had a lot of practice doing so, and it shows.

The way she dealt with King Edward II, that overgrown teenager, was also really controlled but stern. I enjoyed that entire scene, and laughed out loud at how oblivious and useless the King seemed to be. It nicely demonstrated how he was clearly just a figurehead, and that the actual power was in the hands of jerks like Gaveston.

Lady Love's quick-thinking really paid off in the end. After struggling to have a fair talk with either the King or Gaveston about her land for a completely ridiculous amount of time, the Earl cruelly informed her that her shire would be split up and removed from her control.

I was annoyed on her behalf, and basically stood up and cheered when she came up with that brilliant lie. Flora Spencer-Longhurst did a fantastic job in that scene: she nicely portrayed the momentary lapse of anger and panic upon hearing the planned decree for division, but snapped out of it within a moment to basically cut Gaveston off at the knees. It was a wonderful moment.

Milus: Brattle! This is our mother's milk, this is what we are. What we know.
Wilkin: I'm not a man who does this.

Plus, the baby lie is going to propel so much plot. I have a lot of hope for this, and I'm dying to find out how Isabel and Lady Love manage to pull off this fib about Love having Ventris' heir. They'll need to either fake a pregnancy and "borrow" a baby from somewhere, or get Lady Love impregnated asap.

Recall, too, from the premiere, that either the Baron or Lady Love was unable to conceive. For Lady Love's sake, I hope the problem was on the Baron's end.

Milus also had quite the busy few days. He lured Baron Pryce to Ventrishire until false pretenses, and (apparently) managed to successfully convince Pryce to throw in with him to take control of Ventrishire.

What is so strange and intriguing to me is that, by all appearances, Milus does not seem capable of actually being in charge himself (or to even really want to be). This is likely due to the fact that he was not born to such a position that would ever allow him to become a ruler.

It makes him such an interesting character. He can't be in charge, but he'll fight like hell to be the chief snake whispering in the ear of whatever man is in charge.

I was surprised that Milus would be so bold as to tell Pryce the whole plan. When Pryce arrived, it was clear he wasn't a huge fan of Ventrishire in general or Milus in particular. I was a bit flummoxed about what indicated to Milus that he would be successful in suggesting his plan to Pryce.

Essentially, I'm impressed that Milus had the cajones to dare to bring up Pryce's wife hopefully dying so Pryce could marry Lady Love and inherit Ventrishire. I guess Milus is just a great reader of people and knew that Pryce would be swayed by the promise of cash and sex with those lady twins.

Obviously the real kink in the plan (aside from Pryce's wife being alive) was that Pryce's own Chamberlain, Dyer, had great sway over the king who would need to approve the building of the port. Plus Pryce was sure that Dyer wouldn't be thrilled about losing his Chamberlain position i favor of scheming Milus.

As soon as Pryce voiced that issue, I knew we would be bidding farewell to Dyer.

Milus' plan to get rid of Dyer was brilliant, as villainous as it was. He skillfully manipulated everyone involved so that Wilkin would be forced to kill Dyer. He apparently even had a back-up plan in case Wilkin refused to murder for his own self-interests (which, naturally, Wilkin did) – he had Wilkin's village buddies arraigned and imprisoned under false suspicions of that satanic murder/sacrifice.

Milus: Brattle! This is our mother's milk, this is what we are. What we know.
Wilkin: I'm not a man who does this.

He's one smart cookie, that Milus.

Finally, we got some clarification on the whole mysticism/Annora's religion aspect of the series. Annora is clearly involved with these Seraphim folks.

Seraphim are (to my understanding; correct me if I'm wrong) some type of heavenly/angelic group of beings. It seems unlikely that Tobias and his ilk are angels in the literal sense, so I am assuming that the name of their order is the Seraphim.

This wasn't the best part of "A Hunger/Newyn," but I did enjoy it because the mystical/religious elements of the show (a distinct weak point of the series, for me) are obviously not going anywhere. So we may as well get some story/back-story/useable information of any kind on that front.

I also enjoyed the tie-in back to the Baroness' story. When Robinus, the Archdeacon of Pain Wales, headed up from the catacombs and popped up in Windsor Castle, I appreciated the story more, knowing that it was tied to other characters (besides Annora, who we see is psychically linked to the Seraphim or something).

Robinus, along with Sir Cormac and the others of their order, are apparently attempting to decipher the tattooed back skins of Tobias and the other Seraphim. To that end, Robinus has gathered quite the collection of back skin posters on his chamber walls.

In other news, Jessamy (the real Executioner's wife) seems to be a complete nutbar, or is experiencing some kind of severe type of Stockholm Syndrome or something. I really feel for that little boy and am loving the relationship developing between Wilkin Brattle, who never had a real father, and this boy, who had a phenomenally awful one.

Stray Observations:

  • I knew that Ed Sheeran would be guest starring, but I wasn't expecting to be terrified of Ed Sheeran.
  • I was terrified of Ed Sheeran. The man unexpectedly does the whole sadistic torturer thing very well. Not what one would expect given his very particular brand of pop song. Well played, Sir Cormac.
  • Isabel's reaction to Lady Love's baby fib killed me. She was so shell-shocked, it was wonderful. Similarly, Piers Gaveston's annoyed sneer was the most impressive sneer I've seen on a face since the days of Chuck Bass.
  • I'd like Toran to have more to do. It was strange, to me, that Calo, Berber and Ash appear to be getting more meaty screentime than Toran. (I have also loved Toran ever since he stabbed Baron Ventris right through the head, so I may be biased.) Right now, Toran is basically Wilkin's conscience, and that's about it. Kind of a waste of a perfectly good character, if you ask me.
  • The specter of Petra is not really doing anything for me. Just seems repetitive at this point. More often than not, she seems like a plot device to verbalize some exposition. 
  • The dismemberment of Tobias was excessively gross.

What did you all think of "A Hunger/Newyn"? Were you more or less impressed with this installment than the last few? What did you think of Lady Love's and Milus' plans to retain control of Ventrishire – and most importantly, who has the best chance of successfully doing so?

Remember to watch The Bastard Executioner online right here at TV Fanatic to catch up on anything you might have missed!

A Hunger/Newyn Review

Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (6 Votes)

Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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The Bastard Executioner Season 1 Episode 3 Quotes

Milus: Brattle! This is our mother's milk, this is what we are. What we know.
Wilkin: I'm not a man who does this.

King Edward II: I offer sadness and deep sympathy over the Baron's passing.
Lady Love: Thank you. Your gifts of condolence were quite generous.
King Edward II: Yes. Good. You are but un petit scarabée d'or...
Lady Love: Oh. A little golden beetle?
King Edward II: Yes!