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Drama
 

Wilkin Brattle, a warrior knight in the charge of King Edward I, trades his sword for a peaceful farming life — until the violence of his past finds him and forces him to pick up the bloodiest sword of all.

 
Episode Title: Pilot (1)
Airs: 2015-09-15 at 22:00
  • Verne Gay

    You've probably already heard Executioner is slow to get into. That's true. But (I think) the setup works, and (also think) it promises a satisfying series.

    Newsday Full Review
  • Tom Long

    As harrowing, dark and bloody as the premiere episodes are, and as open as the show’s direction seems to be, the comparisons [to Game of Thrones,” “Sons,” “Deadwood,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Sopranos,” and “The Walking Dead”] seem apt. This Bastard rocks.

    The Detroit News Full Review
  • Tim Goodman

    The ensemble cast is large and strong and littered with enough character intricacies to fuel long-tailed story arcs. And while there’s much to set up, the series moves briskly enough (and with enough action to liven up the detailed story setups) that everything gains clarity by the end of the second episode.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Hank Stuever

    The double-episode premiere drags like it has all the time in the world, leaving a viewer time to wonder if he or she has much room left for another show with swords, beheadings and rapey pillagings. But Sutter is skilled at balancing emotion and gore, and it isn’t long before you start to believe in this place and these people.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Jeff Korbelik

    If you’ve enjoyed “Sons,” you’ll be taken with Executioner. Sutter’s swapped swords and horses for the guns and motorcycles.

    The Lincoln Journal Star Full Review
  • David Wiegand

    The series is not for the squeamish. But, as with “Game of Thrones,” the violence is not gratuitous but rather a necessary tool in telling the story. The Bastard Executioner not only hits the mark, it sets the bar very high for the rest of the fall season.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Ellen Gray

    "Sons of Anarchy's" outlaw motorcycle-gang members, while splendidly portrayed, never struck me as particularly sympathetic. No, not even the cute one with the Hamlet complex. But transplant all that blood-soaked angst to early 14th-century Wales, as "Sons" creator Kurt Sutter has in his new drama for FX, The Bastard Executioner, and it's easier to find old-fashioned romance in a man compelled to do horrific things to prevent even worse horrors.

    Philadelphia Daily News Full Review
  • Mark Dawidziak

    The first hour of FX's The Bastard Executioner is a bit of a slog.... Just when you're thinking the battle is lost, Sutter goes all medieval on us and pulls everything together in a fiercely compelling manner. Patience is rewarded, and The Bastard Executioner suddenly becomes every bit as addictive as it is intriguing.

    Cleveland Plain Dealer Full Review
  • Nancy DeWolf Smith

    While the graphic gore has no discernible artistic function, the tale is a classically compelling one, revolving around a man who is striving to stay moral (and alive) in a wild and cruel world.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • Bruce Fretts

    The Bastard Executioner may need time to sharpen its storytelling. But by the second episode, when Brattle is ordered to give a rebellious 16-year-old tomboy the ax and Sagal’s sorceress yanks a demonic snake from the throat of a dismembered corpse, it’s already starting to exhibit signs of developing into a bloody good show.

    Time Full Review
  • Joshua Alston

    By the end of the third installment, Executioner has begun to find a rhythm, or at least demonstrate what its episodic storytelling looks like. But getting there requires committing to a two-hour pilot that shouldn’t be nearly as dull as it is given the amount of blood spilled.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Glenn Garvin

    The Bastard Executioner's opacity is simply a matter of trying to cram too much into a pilot episode, a not uncommon problem in television.

    Reason.com Full Review
  • Amber Dowling

    This resulting premiere is an offering that feels haphazardly stitched together--the audience often left pondering the relevance of each scene. By Episode 3 that pace and journey shift to relevant and thoughtful, but it sure is an exhaustive journey to finally get there.

    The Wrap Full Review
  • Tirdad Derakhshani

    Even though the first two installments seem like the unfocused, muddled ramblings of a drunken storyteller, The Bastard Executioner eventually takes us to a place so dark, shocking, and surprising that one feels compelled to keep watching.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Rob Owen

    Because it’s set in such an alien world and jumps around a lot introducing its myriad characters of assorted social classes while also setting in motion multiple plots, The Bastard Executioner gets off to a messy start. (When press notes offer more details on the many bearded and long-haired look-alike characters than the show itself, you know there’s too much going on in a series, and clarity has been sacrificed.) But Bastard Executioner improves as it goes. The question is whether viewers will stick with it.

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Full Review
  • David Hinckley

    In the broader picture, happily, The Bastard Executioner doesn’t require any extensive knowledge of British or Welsh history. It may require some patience to understand where it’s going and start heading toward the payoff.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Brian Tallerico

    After three episodes, this show is on a razor’s edge. It could easily tip into a parody of itself, as the writing isn’t strong enough to get us through long passages of dialogue like in “Game of Thrones”. And it needs to stop taking itself so seriously. Have some fun with it.

    RogerEbert.com Full Review
  • Isaac Feldberg

    Sutter clearly believes in dropping audiences in the middle of the action, and so The Bastard Executioner doesn’t offer much by way of lifelines. It’s committed to its visual nastiness maybe even more than its overarching plot--and the pilot suffers for it, clunking from scene to scene with all the grace of a knight in chainmail armor.

    We Got This Covered Full Review
  • Mary McNamara

    By the end of the third episode (the premiere will include the first two), it is still not clear what The Bastard Executioner is about. It has many promising elements: evocative locations, a potentially fascinating time period (hey, everyone, the Black Death looms!) and a very strong cast (Matthew Rhys plays a rebel leader, and Timothy Murphy is a priest reminiscent of Derek Jacobi's "Cadfael")

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Vicki Hyman

    Sutter's taste for chewy dialogue works well ("Make this a sight for deep memory," instructs Baron Ventris (Brian F. O'Byrne) before a slaughter, and his minions do). But Brattle and his band of rebels are frustratingly one-dimensional; the only character who comes to life is Stephen Moyer's Milus Corbett, the Baron's scheming chamberlain.

    Newark Star-Ledger Full Review
  • Jeff Jensen

    I wish the storytelling was ambitious as the concept. The aesthetic is too conventional, the grit not gritty enough. The action is rote, and the depravity ranges from sick to shruggy. The acting needs to go next level, too.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Zach Hollwedel

    The Bastard Executioner suffers from inconsistent pacing. At times meandering or sluggish, it then changes gears, rapidly springing a gory, adrenaline-infused battle seemingly out of nowhere.

    Under The Radar Full Review
  • Matthew Gilbert

    Sutter has invented a harsh world that, despite its resemblance to “Game of Thrones” and some of TV’s medieval-set series, has its own distinct identity, too, with hallucinogenic visions and twisted characters (including a sheep lover) amid portentous political struggles.... All the Annora and Dark Mute business put me in mind of a show that I definitely should not have been thinking about while watching The Bastard Executioner, namely the cheesy supernatural daytime soap opera “Dark Shadows.”

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Mark A. Perigard

    The maestro behind “Sons of Anarchy” returns to FX with this over-the-top gorefest that tries to outdo both “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead” for spectacle.

    Boston Herald Full Review
  • Joanne Ostrow

    The series is packed with intriguing characters and great performances in a mostly untapped period. If only we could tolerate watching through covered eyes, cringing and fast-forwarding through the goriest scenes, we'd probably be in for a rich and rough drama.

    Denver Post Full Review
  • Brian Lowry

    Too uneven to be satisfying--flitting from grisly violence to elaborate dream sequences to the occasional flourish seemingly plucked from Mel Brooks’ “History of the World.”

    Variety Full Review
  • Josh Bell

    The political machinations, led by True Blood’s Stephen Moyer as a devious chamberlain, are more interesting, especially when they delve into the complex dynamic between the English ruling class and the Welsh peasants. But Sutter seems more interested in severed limbs and mysterious pronouncements (he also gives himself the role of Annora’s disfigured, hooded companion, prone to delivering cryptic dialogue), at least so far.

    Las Vegas Weekly Full Review
  • Alan Sepinwall

    Bastard Executioner more or less picks up where "Sons" left off in terms of self-indulgence. The two-hour premiere is technically two episodes aired back-to-back, but with barely enough story to fill one.

    Hitfix Full Review
  • Ed Bark

    There’s a lot of gibberish and meandering accompanying the visceral bloodshed. The palace intrigues aren’t all that interesting.

    Uncle Barky Full Review
  • Spencer Kornhaber

    The Bastard Executioner feels a bit more like people playing dress up than the best works in its genre should. The only characters to not fall into cliched dichotomies of rag-tag rebels and power-mad gentry are the women--a mystic of unclear purpose and unclear accent, played by Katey Sagal, and a demure but calculating baroness, played with quiet intelligence by Flora Spencer-Longhurst. Outside of them, the intrigue factor is low.

    The Atlantic Full Review
  • Matt Roush

    This is one pretentious Bastard. [21-27 Sept 2015, p.17]

    TV Guide Magazine Full Review
  • Matt Zoller Seitz

    The images have a tactile richness but are never purely pretty. Unfortunately the script assumes an inherent level of interest in these characters that the dialogue and situations don't do enough to earn.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Ken Tucker

    Everything surrounding the colorfully bloody bastard-execution-ing is grungy soap opera.

    Yahoo TV Full Review
  • Sara Smith

    For its first two hours, every aspect of FX’s new medieval drama is obscene, from the needlessly degrading sex scenes to the gleeful throat-slitting. Its most heinous offense is burying its promising premise in a pile of corpses before a talented cast can find the story’s pulse.

    Kansas City Star Full Review
  • James Poniewozik

    The characters are many but thin, and compared with the lavishly imagined societies of “Thrones,” its 14th-century Britain is one turkey leg away from a Renaissance Faire.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Maureen Ryan

    Aside from the moments in which Stephen Moyer and a few supporting actors are on the screen, however, the show fails to ignite in any sustainable and meaningful way.

    The Huffington Post Full Review
  • Chris Cabin

    The series is marked by a half-hearted view of faith, lacking in anything even approaching insight, which is damning given that destiny (Sagal's mystic sees Brattle's place in a shifting political and spiritual landscape) is one of the central ideas at play here.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Willa Paskin

    An incoherent Game of Thrones knock-off full of senseless carnage, wooden performances, a dash of nudity, and a few scenes so poorly executed they play like farce.

    Slate Full Review

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  • rebellion

  • epic

  • corruption

  • traitor

  • peasant

  • monarchy

  • false identity

  • baroness

  • betrayal

  • knight

  • executioner

  • historical fiction

  • torture

  • disguise

  • intrigue

  • political intrigue 

  • assumed identity

  • medieval

  • mysticism

  • torturer

  • palace intrigue

  • rack torture

  • social class

  • historical drama

  • forbidden romance

  • british monarchy

  • assumed dead

  • left for dead

1