What a tidy conclusion to a busy, occasionally messy and often exhilarating first season of The Bastard Executioner.
The Bastard Executioner Season 1 Episode 9 ended things so cleanly that it could really serve as a series finale, in the event that a second season isn't ordered.
On the other hand, there were enough new developments and open threads remaining by the end of "Blood and Quiescence" that I, for one, would absolutely love to see a second season. Particularly if it means they cool off on the Rosula stuff, now that Robinus is dead!
Toran, fully prepared to die, finally confronted Locke. He revealed his identity and revealed that Locke had killed his "robust" wife and his son. (Did anyone else find it a little ridiculous that Toran took this dramatic moment to qualify his wife as robust?)
All said, this was the natural progression of Toran's character arc. He was never going to wind up anywhere but here, and so the confrontation with Locke was fitting and expected.
The unexpected: Locke was far more gallant than I had anticipated! I kept thinking, what's the catch? I kept waiting for Locke to spin around and kill Toran suddenly, taking him off-guard.
Perhaps Locke sympathized. After all, Locke has his own robust wife and he most likely imagined himself in Toran's place in that moment.
I follow the orders of my commander. But I alone own the blood that my blade spills. I've earned no mercy.Locke
That clearly didn't happen. Locke accepted responsibility for his actions and was prepared to meet his maker for them.
Toran, noble in a much more expected way, offered Locke a fair fight once Locke acknowledged his culpability in the murder. Locke won, easily, making me think that Toran was sort of throwing the fight on purpose.
Toran wanted to die. He wanted to be with his wife and child again, and he's been tormented throughout basically all of The Bastard Executioner Season 1.
Where Wilkin had the comfort of Lady Love, Toran had the comfort of the blade. He found comfort and reprieve from his self-defined "madness" in his torture and bloodshed, as he admitted to Wilkin on several occasions.
It's dark. Real dark. Toran's storyline is one aspect that was left clearly open for further exploration in still-hypothetical season 2.
Meanwhile, Wilkin also revealed himself to Leon Tell, the Reeve, later on in the hour. This fight was less exciting, less compelling. I don't know about you, but to me the fact that Wilkin was stopped by the surprise reappearance of long-absent spooky-glowy ghost Petra was less interesting than what went down between Toran and Locke in just about every way.
Annora's Secrets and the History of the Seraphim
We learned that Annora is a descendant of the Nazarene, Jesus of Nazareth. In a scene I like to call "Here's all that exposition you've been missing, all at once!" Annora clarified all of the bad blood between the Rosula led by Robinus and the Seraphim.
Namely: the Seraphim consist of one who carries the blood of Jesus (Annora) and twelve (as in the twelve disciples) who are tasked with protecting the blood-carrying one.
The Seraphim guard the word of Jesus, which apparently revealed that the establishment of the church is a big no-no, that it would lead to greed and corruption and that God wouldn't like it. Annora's texts also revealed that Jesus was just a man granted divine insight, not the son of God.
The Rosula aim to destroy the texts because they're kind of into the whole "church thing."
Though Annora explicitly called Wilkin "my son" in The Bastard Executioner Season 1 Episode 8, she (for some odd reason) resisted definitively stating this in the finale. Why? That was really strange and unclear.
Regardless, it was implied to the point of being outright confirmed that Annora and the Dark Mute were Wilkin's parents. Annora also said that they'd lived many lives, under many different names, so maybe they're like immortal or something too? Unclear, again.
I've mentioned (ad nauseam) that the religious plot of Rosula vs. Seraphim was my least favorite part of this season. I stand by that. It is far too murky and convoluted. I'm glad that it appears to be done with, for the time being.
Prepping for Battle
Every single thing leading up to the battle was awesome. It was great to see all of these disparate characters come together to rescue Luca and Father Ruskin from Robinus and creepy Ed Sheeran (er – I mean, Sir Cormac).
The Welsh rebels led by the Wolf, Locke and Leon Tell, Berber and fellow indentured scribe Aiden.... It really made the entire season fall into place, having all of these fringe players come together for a central purpose.
Wilkin revealed most of Annora's story to Lady Love. Interestingly, he left out the whole "these two are probably my parents" bit, and the "descended from Jesus" bit. Which is fair, because that might have freaked her out a little bit and put a damper on the later sexytimes business between the two of them. He requested recruiting his pals, in exchange for their reduced servitude sentences, and she agreed.
Love, in turn, suggested bringing Milus in on the plan, so he could recruit additional men. Wilkin then revealed to her that Milus already knew his identity, and had from the get go.
Of course, he didn't say so in as many words; he did the typical The Bastard Executioner thing of speaking in a cryptic one-liner and somehow imparting all pertinent information to the listener.
Love and Milus scenes are always fantastic. Flora Spencer-Longhurst and Stephen Moyer are two incredible actors, and their two characters have been the breakout stars of the season. They have such chemistry!
We were treated to two Love/Milus scenes, book-ending the battle. The earlier scene saw Love reveal that she knew Wilkin's identity and, more importantly, that she knew Milus had known (and kept it from her) all along.
It wasn't shocking that she accepted this. Love, it appears, has always known that Milus' actions are what is best for the shire.
As horrible as those actions may sometimes be, he has the right intentions. Of course, she doesn't know even the half of what he's done, so it remains to be seen (next season!) whether she can accept some of his more heinous acts.
Lady Love: Despite your aggressive, secretive and often illicit tactics, I am quite fond of you, Milus.
Milus: I believe you left out godless. I am fond of you as well, dear Love.
Their closing scene, post-battle, was truly lovely. It was great to see Love seek counsel from Milus about the faux-pregnancy situation, putting her full trust in him. His response, suggesting gently that they fake a miscarriage, was more tender and heartwarming than I would have expected from someone like Milus.
Does Milus love the Baroness? There have been glimmers, recently, of the Chamberlain holding something beyond respect for his Lady. The finale really ramped up that idea.
At some point in the earlier conversation, he appeared to reach for her hand when counseling her to accept Baron Pryce as a potential husband. That was strange, and stuck out to me. I'm intrigued.
My aggressive, secretive and illicit tactics are always at your service, my lady.Milus
The Actual Battle
This show has always done action sequences well. As expected, the battle between the Rosula and Wilkin's men was well choreographed.
The Dark Not-so-Mute sacrificed himself in quite the pyrotechnic show, so maybe he and Annora are not so immortal after all? I have no idea what he ignited himself with, but what he did was pretty damn cool and epic.
The standout moment of the battle, which was largely a sequence of clanging swords and stabbings, was obviously little Luca killing Robinus and singlehandedly escaping Sir Cormac.
I love it when a show surprises me, and this definitely surprised me. The entire finale was replete with small moments of Luca being clever. He diverted Sir Cormac's attention from killing him by reporting Annora's supposed location, when Ruskin wouldn't, which was smart.
It should have been clear that Luca was going to do something serious with all the angry looks he was throwing around when he and Ruskin were in captivity. I really didn't see Luca stabbing Robinus coming, though. I actually had to watch it twice to realize what had happened.
Even more interestingly, Luca kind of saved Father Ruskin's soul in an odd way, by taking the murder of the holy man on himself. That little nod of understanding between Ruskin and Luca, after Luca stabbed Robinus in the back, was an amazing moment.
Luca also managed to fight off Sir Cormac, before Wilkin arrived and scared the wounded Cormac off. Luca begged Wilkin to stay rather than finish off Cormac, which was obviously a poor decision that will clearly come back to haunt them (in season 2!)
Jessamy Hits the Road
Okay, this heading is misleading. Jessamy technically did hit the road, but she was unconscious and hidden under animal skins in a wagon. The French servant, at the behest of Milus and with the help of Isabel, spirited sleeping Jessamy away under the cover of night.
This was really the only option for Jessamy's character. After she escaped her confinement (Isabel's fault) and realized her son was missing and her "husband" was conspiring with a group of prisoners and nobles, her mind totally cracked in half.
A conspiring table... full of adulterers, liars and witches!Jessamy
She nearly killed Lady Love, which was awful, but really why on earth would Lady Love have tried to approach and reason with the raving mad woman after what had happened the last time? That was dumb.
After this debacle, Jessamy had to either die (less preferable) or be ushered off screen, to reappear in a later season at the most dramatic and inopportune possible moment (much, much more preferable).
Smart money is on Jessamy being heavily pregnant whenever she inevitably reappears.
Lady Love and Wilkin Get It On
This scene was beautiful. The theme song worked so much better here than in the opening credits. As usual, the dialogue exchanged between the two was lovely –
Lady Love: Tell me, dear man. Who am I to lay with this night? Honored warrior? Barley farmer? Maddox the Punisher?
Wilkin: Which would you prefer?
Lady Love: Perhaps all three.
The above quote, in particular, was so full of significance. Love is aware of who Wilkin is, every aspect of him, in a way that even his beloved dead Petra was not. She knows his past, she knows what he's done, and she loves him in spite of (or perhaps because of) it. Gorgeous writing.
The only strange part was that there was literally zero foreplay. That was a little odd. Wilklin treats Love so tenderly, I was expecting there to be more build-up to the sex prior to the actual sex. But I guess they had to get straight to the baby-making post-haste to preserve Love's pregnancy lie!
- Milus put the moves on Isabel, and Isabel totally reciprocated. It was a pleasant, titillating surprise and it cemented how much I love the character of Isabel.
- The French servant reappeared, and was actually conscripted to help out. Milus gave him another affectionate cheek pat (and his cloak), which was sweet. Isabel called him attractive, but dumb, which was a fantastic humorous moment in a rather tonally heavy finale.
- So... Ash is crazy, and mutilates corpses. Remember how that was a thing? More on that, please.
- I wasn't expecting Ruskin to survive, and now that he has, I want to see 4x more of him next season.
- It was great to see Matthew Rhys again as the Wolf, but he was underused. His appearance felt gimmicky, though I did like his exchange with Milus.
- Milus totally suspects that Love had something to do with the Wolf's appearance.
- Leon Tell is not pleased with his Chamberlain having kept so many secrets. Bad things are a-brewin' between those two.
What was your take on "Blood and Quiescence"? Was this a satisfying season or series finale? Are you interested in a second season? Remember to watch The Bastard Executioner online to relive the entire season and share your thoughts by commenting below.
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.