Where do we even begin?
The Bastard Executioner Season 1 Episode 6 was jam-packed and eventful, with no shortage of shocking developments, emotional moments, and stomach-churning gore. This installment of the series took a few unexpected turns along the way, and I'm still reeling a bit, to be quite honest.
There was significant movement on each of the major storylines, as things are finally begin to really ramp up, action-wise.
First, let's talk about the overarching theme and recurring symbol throughout "Behold the Lamb." It was (you guessed it!) the figure of the lamb, which has typically been used to represent the general idea of gentleness/innocence, as well as the specific figure of Jesus Christ.
The figure of the lamb/innocence/Christ popped up in several different iterations.
Most notably and explicitly, the lamb appeared in Milus' disturbing confession to Calo (right before he murdered the man) about how he had been physically and sexually abused as a boy by a man of power in the foundling home where he'd been raised. The abuser called young Milus "little lamby."
Later on, in the final scene between the Baroness and Wilkin (when she has learned his true identity), the Baroness made a sarcastic reference to Wilkin as Christ –
So you choose who lives and who dies? Well, you must be so relieved to be down from that dreadful cross!Baroness
In a more subtle way, poor dead Berwyn Cairn was also an innocent, sacrificial lamb. Knowing full well that Cairn was innocent, Wilkin and the Baroness willingly sacrificed the man to protect Wilkin. Cairn-as-a-lamb was really underscored in the brutal and inhumane way in which he died.
Being drawn and quartered is the type of death you'd expect an animal to have, not a person. And yes, I'm aware that this was a very popular method of execution in the past, if you wanted a particularly gruesome death for them.
Paul Bullion, who portrayed Cairn, was very, very good. It was a noticeably terrific performance even though he had very little screentime. The actual death scene was almost unbearable to watch.
Cairn's panic and the tension was visceral – it made me catch my breath a few times. The Bastard Executioner is unflinchingly gory, and the violence is most often startlingly realistic.
The build-up in this episode to Wilkin finally confession the truth to Lady Love was incredibly well done. It was both shocking and inevitable. Wilkin's burden has slowly but surely been wearing him down all season.
The death of Calo at Milus' hand, which in a roundabout way kind of was Wilkin's fault, wasn't quite enough to push Wilkin to confess the truth and face the punishment that awaited him, though.
[to Wilkin] I don't want to do other things. I want to be just as you are.Luca
Interestingly, it was his surrogate son's well-meaning remark of admiration for his "father" that was the final straw to break the camel's back, for Wilkin. This felt perfectly in line with everything that's happened so far; the relationship with Luca is the most unexpected and beautiful things to come out of Wilkin's deception so far.
And yes, that also includes the Wilkin/Lady Love connection (though their romance is a close second!)
Wilkin's confession scene was SO good and incredibly acted by both Wilkin's and Love's portrayers. Their very last scene, when Lady Love convinces Wilkin not to sacrifice himself, was also lovely.
The dialogue in this episode was really strong, often lyrical and gorgeous. Some of the most beautiful dialogue was found in the Wilkin/Baroness scenes.
My name is Wilkin Brattle. I was a knight in Longshanks' army. Ventris was my commander. He sent me and my legion into an ambush of certain death. I was spared by a miracle and fled to your land... only to be roused again, in blood.Wilkin
I know the burden of your soul. I recognize it as my own. I do not know if what I feel for you is God's will or the work of a clever demon. But I am certain, Wilkin Brattle, that whatever the case may be, it is the thing for which I've been waiting. It is the other girl I hear in my heart. The other life that lives in the shadow of my own.Baroness
I couldn't just pick one example! The above quotes are my two favorite moments from their scenes and more excellent dialogue can be found in our collection of The Bastard Executioner Quotes.
One interesting thing to note: Wilkin confessed all to the Baroness – except for Milus' involvement. Why? Why hold back that piece of information from her? Why protect Milus? Best guess is he believes that if he exposes Milus, Milus will slaughter everyone else he cares about.
The obvious solution (to kill Milus) just gets more and more obvious from week to week. But again, if he does that – no show.
Lady Love was epic. She had so many strong moments. Even when I don't quite agree with her actions (allowing Cairn to die, for one), her actions were so strong and engaging.
Seeing her shut down the fight between Wilkin/Toran and the Reeve/Locke was amazing. Ditto her more subtle shutdown of Baron Pryce's rehearsed "romantic" overtures.
She is also whip-smart, and there were a few great examples of that intelligence here.
For one, she had the great idea to uncover the documents about the Cairn family, to identify who the innocent man was, and managed to uncover the truth about Milus' machinations. The only thing that doesn't fly is why she takes Milus at his word, believing he had nothing to do with Baron Pryce's wife's death.
Milus' continued existence on this show really defies logic, but I'm not complaining. Stephen Moyer is a powerhouse, and he is pouring everything into this role. As horrifying as the abuse confession and murder was, this piece of backstory was 1) not terribly surprising and 2) filled in so many pieces that explain his personality and aggression.
I wanted to cover my ears while he was talking, that is how unsettling the writing and his performance were.
Meanwhile, Annora, the Dark Mute, and Father Ruskin are dealing with the Archdeacon and his main man Absalon hunting down the heretics. This is still the least interesting storyline, but it is markedly improving thanks to the addition of Father Ruskin into it.
Who gives penance when the priest tells a lie?Berber the Moor
The scenes between Ruskin and Annora are very enjoyable, as were Berber's interactions with the priest. I also just love Danny Sapani and am honestly still traumatized by Penny Dreadful, so I want to see more of him here.
- Isabel calls Corbett's twin maidens "giggle wenches." I laughed out loud. Really.
- This obviously isn't a soap opera but that Jessamy/Wilkin sex scene screams oops-baby to me. Anyone else? The scene was beautiful though; the tears of happiness rolling down affection-starved, abused Jessamy's face were absolutely heartbreaking.
- Maybe the baby Wilkin/Lady Love saw is Jessamy and Wilkin's?? New theory alert!
- The Reeve is catching wise to all of the nonsense going down behind castle walls. When is Milus going to start worrying about him?
- I know he was pretty busy this episode but I feel like Wilkin could have spared a second to grab some of that sedative Annora gave him for noseless chick to give to Cairn.
- I knew that other scribe was up to no good! Damnit, scribe.
- A commenter on my review of The Bastard Executioner Season 1 Episode 5 helpfully pointed out that the Dark Mute was not just a knight but a knight of the crusades. Annora confirmed that in "Behold the Lamb," telling Ruskin that her companion was a knight of the Teutonic Order.
- Lady Love appears to be acting more warmly towards Baron Pryce, to Milus' visible delight. What's her game plan there?
I asked so many questions of you, readers, throughout this review, so please take to the comments and discuss this great episode with me! Also remember that you can watch The Bastard Executioner online here at TV Fanatic to catch up on anything you've missed before The Bastard Executioner Season 1 Episode 7.
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.