‘The Bastard Executioner’ – Season 1 Episode 9 Recap and Review: The Bernadette Maneuver / Cynllwyn Bernadette

Bastard Executioner Lee Jones Episode 9
Lee Jones as Wilkin Brattle in ‘The Bastard Executioner’ (Photo by Ollie Upton / FX)

In the second-to-last episode of The Bastard Executioner, viewers learn a few things that might just have their jaws on the floor. Loose ends are starting to be wrapped up in preparation for next week’s first season finale, while others are just now being revealed.

Milus Corbett (Stephen Moyer) and his men, including Wil (Lee Jones), Toran (Sam Spruell), and Ash (Darren Evans) all head towards the Deddington Monastary in search of the elusive Sir Piers Gaveston (Tom Forbes). They wake in the morning at camp and gather around the fire, where Leon (Alec Newman) jokes that “Maddox” is set to cook them breakfast. Ash is tending to the livestock that have pulled the supply cart, which also happens to have the surviving twin in the back, tied at both wrists and ankles. She attempts to seduce Ash with flattery, telling him that he has the face of an angel before asking him to loosen her bindings so that she can feel her extremities again. He makes her promise not to run before he loosens them. The minute he turns his back, she has the ropes off and takes off for the woods. Who didn’t see that coming? Ash runs after her silently, not letting the group know what has happened.

Back in Ventrishire, Jessamy (Sarah Sweeney) wakes in Isabel’s room, tied up. Love (Flora Spencer-Longhurst) is there, attempting to convince her that her true husband died in battle and that Jessamy tried to help a man who needed it while creating a better life for herself and her children. She reveals that Wil is not Maddox. She offers the woman two choices: accept the truth of her husband’s death or face charges for attacking Lady Love and put her children into servitude when she is slain for her actions.

Annora (Katey Sagal) and the Dark Mute (Kurt Sutter) wake on the coast. She knows that the priest has now been taken, along with Luca. In the caves that Annora used to call home, the Archdeacon of Windsor (Trevor Sellers) feeds Luca (Ethan Griffiths) and attempts to reason with Father Ruskin (Timothy V. Murphy).

Later, Ash reveals to Milus and the men that the maiden has gone, showing untied ropes as proof, but neglects to tell them that he had any part in her escape. Milus asks who had tied the loose bindings and Leon Tell confesses he was the one who tied her up. Wil suggests that she did not escape alone and Milus suspects that Gaveston is to blame. They break camp and hurry to the monastery. They find guards surrounding the entry to the castle and Milus says he is sure Gaveston is hidden within, because he can “smell the arrogance.” The Chamberlain gets all the best lines.

Wil wants to know how many guards there are in total and suggests they draw them out. Ash happens by, a doe harnessed by rope following him. He calls her Bernadette, saying she isn’t a talker. Milus suggests that is the dream of all men, a quiet doe. Wil and Milus decide that Bernadette is the perfect way to draw them out.

Ash and the doe walk into the knights’ view, where he tells them he brings fresh meat for them. They say there are not enough mouths to feed on a full doe, but more men will arrive the next evening. Ash leaves, stating that he can’t put the doe near the horses, because it spoils the meat. The knights think nothing of it and go about their guarding business.

Meanwhile, Lady Love brings food for Jessamy, who is still tied up. She asks to see her children and then tells Love that she can’t eat if her hands are bound. Love offers to feed her and Jessamy says she is not a child. Love says she will eat from Love’s hands or not at all, so Jessamy gives in, but then asks about the choices Love offered earlier. Love reiterates that if Jessamy accepts that Wil is not her husband, then the attack will be as though it never happened and Love will look after them and provide for her children.

Wil and Ash approach the knights as night falls, sparring verbally in front of them as a distraction. Milus and his men attack and enter the monastery, searching for Gaveston. They kill all they find, except one. Milus holds a sword to his throat, telling his men to pull all the pants down from the dead men. He tells the remaining guard that he intends to kill him, strip him naked, then cut off all the cocks from the slain guards and stuff them in the man’s mouth. Ash laughs, teasing the scared man. “The naked knight with a cock-stuffed mouth!” Everyone laughs. The man gives up the whereabouts of Gaveston rather than eat a bunch of dead cock. Milus and his men burst in on Gaveston, who is eating. Milus punches him in the face, saying he is here to “rescue” him. Meanwhile, Ash appears to be hiding human body parts in the wagon of supplies.

Back in the caves, the Archdeacon Robinus questions Father Ruskin, who reveals to the man that he was once part of the King’s army. The Archdeacon tells Ruskin that the order of the Seraphim are dangerous, carrying and protecting heretical gospels that will cause chaos to their people. Ruskin says that the only chaos that would be caused by these gospels is inside the chamber of the Pope. Robinus says that it is their goal to find all the gospels and destroy them before the gospels destroy faith as they know it. He asks Ruskin for the location of Annora.

The Earl of Pembroke (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and his whore are roused from their beds and brought to Milus, who has Gaveston tied to a chair and gagged. Pembroke tells Milus that he swore to King Edward that he would get Gaveston out of the kingdom safely and so would not give up Gaveston to anyone. Milus offers a cover story so that the king doesn’t take his anger out on Pembroke: The monastery was attacked and Gaveston was taken. When Pembroke still refuses, Milus has Wil prepare his tools. He wants to torture Pembroke’s whore to get him to give Gaveston over. Wil tells Milus in private that he cannot do this, she is innocent. Leon enters to advise Milus that he sent a rider to the Earl of Warrick to let them know that they have Gaveston. Milus dismisses Leon, who once more looks irritated at the preferential treatment Maddox receives over him. After he leaves, Milus tells Wil and Toran that if they do this, he will allow them to complete their vengeance by killing Leon and Locke (Ross O’Hennessy).

We briefly return to Lady Love and Jessamy as they talk about Wil’s feelings for the noble woman, wondering how they could be together. Jessamy asks once more to see her children.

Wil and Toran have agreed to torture Pembroke’s woman, but have created a way to do so without actually harming her. They tell Leon to go and get Pembroke, then tell Locke that he should stand far away as the blood and piss are bound to fly. Wil leans down, whispering to the frightened woman that he will only pretend to place the device, a spike, inside her. He says that she must scream as if in pain, enough to make her man believe that the torture is real when in reality, the spike will only be wedged between her thighs. Milus enters with Pembroke, who sees his woman bound to the chair and crying. The Chamberlain places a document on the table, asking him to sign the writ, a pledge stating that he willingly gave Gaveston to the Barons, then he and his whore can leave. Pembroke refuses and the “torture” begins. She convincingly cries out as the Earl looks away in disgust. Toran then grabs a hook, and says it will rip soft flesh. She screams again as Wil once more pretends to hurt her and Pembroke gives in. He signs the document and as they are released, Milus looks down at the chair where the woman was sitting, noticing there is no blood. He remarks on this and Toran grins at him. Milus is happy that he got what he needed and doesn’t really care that no harm was done to the woman. Toran then confesses to Wil that he feels more himself with each act of violence than he ever did worrying about crops in their village.

Father Ruskin is fed by the Archdeacon’s henchman Absolon (Francis McGee), who is interested to learn that Ruskin was a soldier. Ruskin reveals that he became a soldier out of anger as a child, but became a priest when his remorse as a man overwhelmed him. Robinus returns to talk to Ruskin again, who tells Robinus that the child had nothing to do with the order of Seraphim. Ruskin says he will take him to the healer and scarred man if Luca is released. The Archdeacon says after he has them, he will release Luca.

Milus, secure in the writ signed by Pembroke, confronts Gaveston alone. They share a drink and Gaveston states he is surprised to see a leader like Milus following the Barons like a sheep. He asks him what his plans are. Milus stands, drops his trousers and repeats the same line Gaveston gave him at Ventrishire, that his lips will loosen with a mouth around his cock. Unlike Gaveston, Milus allows Gaveston to actually place his mouth around his cock, then holds his head there, choking him. A few seconds later, he pushes Gaveston back, telling him that his cock is as limp as a palm frond and that Gaveston clearly no longer arouses him. He has Gaveston tied back up, calling him a “French bitch.”

Lady Love is concerned back in Ventrishire when she learns that the priest and Luca have been missing for two days. Jessamy holds her infant daughter, unaware that Luca is really missing. When she asks for him, Love tells her that the priest took him fishing. Jessamy agrees to Love’s choice, to accept Love’s truth about her real husband in return for the noble woman’s care of herself and her children. She wants proof however, but Love tells her that no decree can be written to prove their agreement. Love gives her word before God and before Jessamy’s daughter. Jessamy apologizes to Love for her attack.

Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warrick (Rod Hallett), arrives at the monastery to hold trial over Piers Gaveston. He gives Milus the compensation required, stating silver would arrive by week’s end. Milus gives the sworn writ of allegiance from Pembroke. The Earl announces the charges leveled against Gaveston – treason, malicious counsel and the willful disregard for the decree of exile. Gaveston says that they are making a mockery of the law and that he will die a martyr, as King Edward will surely take the head of those who take his. The Earl votes Gaveston guilty, as does Milus as Lady Love’s proxy. Gaveston is sentenced to death by beheading but neither Earl of Warrick or Milus wants to actually do the deed. Milus offers his sword, stating he can’t possibly do it because he is not of noble blood. Gaveston begins to spout off at the mouth, saying he expects the cowardice of the Earl but not from Corbett. He attempts to shame Milus by stating that the Lady of Ventrishire has bigger balls that he does. As Milus angrily strides forward with his sword in hand, Wil steps in as punisher. He tells Milus it is best that he does this, as Lady Love will need her Chamberlain.

Gaveston, now aware that he cannot escape the sentence, looks off into the distance. “I do not regret loving someone above my status, even if this is the fate.” Wil pauses a moment as he takes the statement personally, drawing in his mind the parallels of his feelings for Lady Love. He then beheads Gaveston, slicing his face in two. The top of his face falls to the side and onto the grass, and Gaveston’s eye blinks. Creepy and disgusting.

Meanwhile, Ruskin and the henchman discuss where Luca is. After he is assured that Luca is unharmed, he asks the henchman if the Archdeacon told him what Ruskin did for the King. When the man says no, Ruskin escapes his chains and tells him that he should have, because Ruskin was an assassin in the King’s army. He kills the man, frees Luca and the pair run from the cave. As they reach the top of the hill, they find themselves surrounded by armed men, including Sir Cormac and the Archbishop.

Bastard Executioner Darren Evans
Darren Evans as Ash y Goedwig in ‘The Bastard Executioner’ (Photo by Ollie Upton / FX)

Milus and the men head back to Ventris. Ash drives the supply cart, a large smile on his face as they pass a patch of high weeds. The view dips into the weeds as they pass, revealing a naked female body, hands and feet missing and head separated from her neck. While the body is face down, the head is face up. It’s the missing twin, her blue eyes staring up at the cloudy sky, seeing nothing. Who knew Ash was a killer? Anyone see that coming?

Back in Ventrishire, Milus meets with Lady Love, providing her the compensation for delivering Gaveston to the Barons. She thanks him but does not look happy at the financial windfall. He asks her why and she reveals that the priest and Luca are missing. Milus offers to take men and start the search. She seems surprised and thanks him. He then asks if Maddox has been told yet, and when she responds that he hasn’t, he suggests that Lady Love break the news. Maddox seems to become a different man around her. Not sure what his angle is here, but obviously Milus thinks there is something to gain from Wil and Love together.

As he leaves his lady, Milus passes Frenchie (Matthieu Charneau), who still bears the cuts and bruises from the beating Milus gave him after Gaveston shamed him. He reaches out to touch Frenchie’s cheek, who backs away in fear. The look on his face reveals that Milus regrets what he did to Frenchie, who also appears relieved when Milus turns and continues to walk away from him. I say, we need more Frenchie!

Wil watches Jessamy sleep until Lady Love beckons him into the hallway. She confesses she is happy he came back unharmed and reveals that Jessamy has accepted that Wil is not her husband. She tells him of the deal she struck with Jessamy to provide for them but that Luca is missing. She fears that if Luca is not there in the morning, the deal will be undone and Jessamy will think that Love’s word means nothing. Wil says he will find Luca and bring him back.

Meanwhile, Toran is in the local bar and sees Sir Locke with his wife and two children. In slow motion, Toran stares at them, then his eyes find Sir Leon Tell sitting alone eating a meal. I feel like it’s about to go down in the finale. It’s only a matter of time before those two meet their end.

Wil enters his house, finding Annora waiting for him. She tells him that Luca and the priest were taken because of her. Wil becomes angry, wanting to know who has taken Luca and where they are. She wants to tell him things he is not ready to learn yet and he yells at her, stating he doesn’t want to hear about his holy destiny or learn any more lessons. She tells Wil that she didn’t know the boy was with the priest and he scoffs at this, the great seer not seeing that Luca was with him. He talks about how all he has done has weighed him down in unforgivable sins and blames her, calling her the devil. As he turns to leave, she cries out, “Wilkin, no! My son!” He turns and stares at her, stunned.

There’s a lot that happened in this episode that will surely play into next week’s season finale. Both Ash and Father Ruskin are killers, Milus has other plans for Lady Love and Wil, and is it just me, or do we think that Toran is about to lose his shit? The teaser preview for the finale shows a battle on the beach, including poor Luca at the end of a sword. Wil questions his devotion to God, but Annora tells him not to. There was also a clip of a shirtless Wil and an undressing Lady Love, but they’ve made us think that WiLove was about to get it on before, so I’m not trusting that editing on this teaser.

Also, Leon Tell is totally about to die, as Wil confronts him about the cross he wears. Leon swears he didn’t kill the woman who wore it, and we all know he’s telling the truth since it was revealed in episode two that the murderer was actually the Dark Mute, on Annora’s command. If Wil is Annora’s son, then why would Annora be willing to sacrifice her own blood by killing Petra (Elen Rhys) and her unborn child? Is the Dark Mute also Wil’s father, or did he simply fall in love with Annora after she had the child and helped her to rescue him from the nun who was trying to drown him as a babe? So many questions! I hope that the finale answers them all, but if I know Sutter, the final episode of season one is only going to leave me with more questions.

Season 1 Recaps: Episode 1 & 2 / Episode 3 / Episode 4 / Episode 5 / Episode 6 / Episode 7 / Episode 8

Aimee Krenz
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