I don’t know how everyone felt about last week’s two-part premiere and how that may have formed the excitement for the third episode of The Bastard Executioner, but I’m already in love with the series. There are so many internal conflicts happening for each character that it makes the show such an interesting watch.
In the new episode titled “Effigy / Delw,” we find Annora of the Alders (Katey Sagal) training Wilkin Brattle (Lee Jones), who I have come to call Wil, his new art as the punisher for Ventrishire. There are many slain animals that cover the forest floor, where the pair set about the business of making his actions as believable as possible. For those who thought they might enjoy a light snack during the show, just don’t. You might get a bit queasy, what with the slicing, butchering, and flaying going on.
The scene quickly changes to Milus Corbett (Stephen Moyer), who is on his knees beside an open chest. Inside, straw dolls and a portrait of the late Baron Erik Ventris stare back at him, as tears streak down Milus’ face. Last week, I had my suspicions about their connection and this scene only further solidifies it. Milus and Erik were … involved. There will be another hint before the episode is through, and a few more through the series, I’ll bet.
A pair of wood workers have carved an effigy of the late Baron and place it in a wagon to be taken to Ventris, escorted by guards from the castle.
We then look in on the Baroness of Ventris, Lady Love (Flora Spencer-Longhurst), who waits for her handmaiden Isabelle to come and help her choose a dress. Lady Love decides she is no longer in mourning for her husband and wants something more cheerful.
Annora once more guides Wil in deep in the forest, where he and his men from the now burned village are living. She watches Wil do as she says to each animal they slay and carve, then asks him why he has not yet asked her how she learned to do this. He gives her a small, knowing smile, saying there is much about her to be revealed. Instead, he wants her to reveal information about him. She holds out her hand, and Wil takes it.
He is transported back in time, in his memory, to a sunny day in a field, where a young, blond Wilkin Brattle spars with three others while his father looks on. When he stands triumphant and looks to his father for approval, he finds it and smiles. The vision ends.
Later, Annora meets the Dark Mute (Kurt Sutter) in their Cave, and the Mute (as we now know is NOT really mute!) asks how it went. Annora tells him that Wil is lost. The Mute replies, “As were we.” Annora repeats the same sentence.
Along the North Trail, Inner Ventrishire, a band of young rebels with yellow markings on their faces, including a young girl, begin to talk about attacking the soldiers who come riding near their home. The leader, the young girl’s brother, tells her to stay. After he leaves, she follows anyway, saying she holds for no one.
Wil and his men discuss going back to the Castle to continue their search for the men who killed their families. They believe there are at least four others. Wil fights with Toran (Sam Spruell), who has been going by the name Marshall while undercover with Wil. Wil wants to murder Leon Tell (Alec Newman), the soldier who had Petra’s necklace. Toran says that all of them deserve justice and to kill Leon without getting all the names is not fair.
As the young rebels draw the soldiers away from the wagon holding the statue of the Baron, the young girl, her rebel colors painted on her face, a bright yellow, jumps down from her hiding spot in a tree and directly onto whatever is covered in the wagon. She hears a snap and falls out of the wagon, only to find herself surrounded by two guards. The effigy of the Baron is now ruined, the nose broken away from the face.
Wil has returned to his new home within the walls of Ventris, to the wife of his new identity. His wife Jessemy (Sarah Sweeny) refuses to give up the lie he began, still calling him Maddy and telling him how much she loves him. Wil tells her that when they are alone, they can be who they really are. He appreciates that she is “devoted to this farce” but doesn’t like it at all. Before he can say any more, a knock comes. The punisher’s services are needed for a young girl captured on the North Trail.
Father Ruskin (Timothy V. Murphy) meets briefly in the church with the Baroness and she reveals that in two-weeks time, she is to head to the King to receive instruction on how Ventrishire will move forward. The good father quietly tells her to “stay inside your truth.”
The pair are interrupted by Milus, who advises that the effigy of the Baron was vandalized and that a young girl was captured as part of the rebel party that damaged it. He calls the party an act of rebellion but the Baroness believes it may have just been young children. The Chamberlain is convinced that the girl should be punished by death for it. Lady Love states she will see the girl before any harm comes to her by the punisher.
Meanwhile, in Mid Ventrishire, Annora searches for Ash (Darren Evans), who has not been seen as of late. She searches with Berber the Moor (Danny Sapani), who find a number of wolves slain in the forest along a trail Annora is familiar with. They also find a dead man, whose arms and legs have been removed and swapped, legs where arms should be and vice versa. The body of the man is displayed inside a dark triangle on the ground, which appears to be drawn in blood. Is this Annora’s doing or something darker? The Dark Mute perhaps?
Back in the punisher’s room, the soldiers tell Wil that they must have the girl’s name, the name of her rebel conspirators, and where they are. One suggests Wil start with pulling nails from her nail beds. Wil’s “son” Luca (Ethan Griffiths) hands him the tools and as the soldiers leave him to his work, Wil puts them down and approaches the girl. He tells her he doesn’t want to hurt her and so to make it easy on herself. He says he WILL get to her truth. She replies that he doesn’t know her truth, his own truth or anyone else’s truth.
As the Chamberlain and Lady Love make their way to the punisher’s room, the girl lets out a scream of pain. Milus is unfazed, stating they are too late. Lady Love storms past him and into the room, where another soldier tells her they hadn’t gotten to the punisher in time. She spies the young girl in her cage, holding a bloody hand, where the nail has clearly been removed. Outside of the room, Milus notices new women, and is told by a guard that the King sent condolences in the form of a set of twins, six horses and a baker. Milus seems excited.
Back inside, the Lady asks for privacy and sits next to the girl, who tells her she can’t tell her anything. Lady Love asks why they attacked her soldiers, and the girl replies they want to take back their country – they want the quiet again. The Baroness instructs someone to see to the girl’s finger, then orders Milus to gather soldiers to go to the girl’s village. Milus is confused, asking how she knows where that is. The Baroness tells him that her eyes told her everything – her skin is wind-burned, her clothing made of material found on the coast. Milus tells her they should send soldiers only but the Baroness insists – she will go and speak to them herself, and that if Milus is concerned, they may bring the punisher and Father Ruskin.
Back at the scene of the slain man in the forest, Annora mixes herbs and spills them over the body, which has been carved in the chest, similar to the tri-panel one would see in an autopsy. The liquid smokes and looks to burn, though the dead man surely cannot feel it. Soon, Annora reaches into the mouth of the dead man and pulls out a black snake with orange markings, then stabs it.
In the coastal village of Pentras Mawr, they find out the name of the girl captured is Nia. The brother is chastised by his mother for bringing this upon them and instructs another villager to go to friends and tell “The Wolf” they need help. The Baroness approaches the woman, offering a fair trade: her daughter Nia for a meeting with “The Wolf” (Matthew Rhys). The woman denies knowing “The Wolf” and asks what the lady wants, to which she replies, “A peaceful resolution.” She asks why she would sacrifice her daughter rather than arrange a meeting. The woman tells her it’s one less mouth to feed, then asks the Lady a question. What does she want with such a person? “I have one intention – to stop the bloodshed and oppression of my people.”
As it is clear the woman will not yield, the Baroness turns back but Wil tells her that the brother was in a fight with the woman prior to their arrival and may know something. Milus is not happy about Wil having Lady Love’s ear and pushes it off. However, Lady Love agrees that it should be investigated. Wil and Toran speak with the boy, who says he will speak only if they can guarantee his mother never finds out he did. He didn’t mean to get his sister in this situation and if they head to the trees near the entrance of the village, in the third hovel, they will find what was taken from the soldiers. Wil agrees that he will spare the sister’s life for the information. Somehow, I don’t have a good feeling about this, especially given the stinkeye Milus keeps throwing Wil’s way. Wil tells Toran to tell “The Wolf” to stay away for now, that they will get their supplies.
Back in the hidden camp of Wil’s friends, Annora is gathering wood and comes across Berber the Moor, praying over his Koran. She quotes from chapter six, impressing the Moor and showing him that she is more than just a natural witch.
The Baroness and her party begin the journey back to Ventris but are attacked on the road. Wil rushes the Baroness into the woods, gives her a small sword and backs her up against a tree. Fighting breaks out all around her and Toran is forced to save one of the soldiers he is sure killed their families. Milus sees how Wil has protected the Baroness and doesn’t like it one bit.
The next morning, back in Ventris, Milus meets the Baroness about the punishment for Nia. She says all supplies were returned and so no punishment is necessary. Milus says if they do not, it will be seen as a sign of weakness and could look to England that she is ruling with “feminine frivolity” and her “Welsh leanings.” Lady Love asks that she have time to think deeply on the matter before reaching a decision, while also reminding Milus that while she appreciates his advice, she is not her husband. He has been dismissed.
Father Ruskin meets Wil in the church, says that he is always there if Wil needs to talk. Wil says his sins are between God and himself. Wil notes that the Father has shown some skill with a sword, certainly not learned in seminary. The Father states everyone has a past. The Baroness enters, a paper in her hand. She sits next to Wil, remarking also on Wil’s skill in defending her in the forest. She says he fights better than her knights, with a “refined swordsmanship.” She hands him the paper, her decision on the girl. She says her decision is a forced obligation. Wil hangs his head and crumbles the paper in his hand.
As the Baroness leaves the room, the light changes and suddenly Petra is there, dressed in white. “Do you show yourself to help me or haunt me?” he asks. She says, “You must decide.” He apologizes to her, but she puts him off, stating that she left at the right time and for the right reason. The vision ends and Wil sits once more next to the crumbled paper, which slowly turns into a black snake with orange markings. It writhes up his leg and arm, to wrap itself around his neck. He fights as it squeezes the life from him and when he screams, the second vision ends and he is fine, the crumbled paper still beside him. Panicked, Wil heads to the forest to see Annora.
He says that she sees his angels and his demons that wrap him in fear, and he fears he is about to make another. He doesn’t want to kill the girl. Annora tells him that his brothers need him, to continue the ruse. News of Ash interrupts further conversation as Ash arrives, his ewe in tow. Annora calls him the Mad Trapper to welcome him back. She then gives Wil a packet of herbs, telling him to give it to Nia with some water an hour before she meets her fate, it will ease her pain.
Back at Castle Ventris, Wil gives the girl the drink, who reluctantly does so. Milus comes to visit Wil, and it becomes clear that he does indeed recognize Wil for who he really is. He tells Wil that he will no longer offer his opinion to the Baroness, but rather to Milus, who will determine if the Lady needs to hear it or not. When Wil retorts that he serves the Lady, Milus shoots back that Gawain Maddox serves the Lady, but Wilkin Brattle serves Milus Corbett. To hit his threat home further, Milus states that if Wil brings anything up to the Lady, Milus might lose his position in Ventris, but Wil, his new wife and son will surely lose their lives.
Nia is dragged from her cell to the wooden dais in the town square. She is chained and Toran pulls back her hair. Little Luca hands him a curved blade and Wil looks at Milus who nods. The Baroness looks uncomfortable. Wil reaches down and … slices Nia’s nose off from the bottom to the top. Toran quickly presses a cloth to the bleeding injury and Wil stares down Milus. A fair trade has taken place – the effigy lost its nose and now, so has the one who robbed it of it.
The show ends with a series of quick vignettes:
The Dark Mute and Annora meet again in Casa de Loco, where the Mute has strung the snake Annora killed with some wire. She takes it, and a torch, further into the cave and hangs it – among hundreds of other black snakes with orange markings.
The Chamberlain is making good use of the gift from the King by having sex with the twins in his bed. A bit weird however, is the fact that Milus is now holding one of the straw dolls in his hand and staring at it, further solidifying the fact that he was in love with the Baron Ventris.
The Baroness looks at a book in her room, which opens to reveal the wooden nose from the effigy.
Soldiers eat in the castle with Wil and Toran, who ask about the burning village. One man admits they were there and burned it to the ground while the other tries to hush him. As the two men leave, Wil and Toran give death glares to the soldiers. They now have another name to add to their list – Sir Norton joins Leon “the Reeve” who had worn Petra’s cross around his neck. Wil promises Toran that the Reeve will live, but the devil inside will die.
There wasn’t much of a preview for next week’s new episode, “A Hunger / Newyn,” except to show Wil talking to his son, who he knows was beaten by his real father. When the child says they deserved it, Wil tells him that no innocent deserves that.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Do you think the hints of a relationship between the Baron and Milus are real? Or is he emotional for other reasons, such as seeing his dreams of rising in society are now threatened? Let us know by commenting below!
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