Halfway through the first season of The Bastard Executioner, the show has begun dropping hints that a change of tactics is in order: Rather than employing extreme violence to solve their problems (and create new ones), characters seem to be considering sex and seduction as more effective methods of manipulation. Considering the name of the series, however, it isn’t too shocking when episode 5 ends with yet more burned and bloodied bodies. On The Bastard Executioner, whoever is comfortable inflicting the most pain holds the most power. Not even sex can compete with that.
“Piss Profit / Proffidwyr Troeth” — and now you can add cursing in Welsh to your list of party tricks — opens nearly two weeks after the events of the last episode. Lady Love is still not pregnant and, adding insult to injury, she’s just gotten her period. While asking her handmaid, Isabel, to hide her soiled garments, Isabel delicately suggests that there is a way to solve her Lady’s dilemma. For all her plotting and outsmarting, the Baroness couldn’t figure out that she needs to sleep with someone to produce an heir and get Edward II off her back? Conveniently, the show has set up Brattle as the obvious choice to sire the next Baron of Ventrishire.
Brattle is experiencing some marital stress of his own at the moment, however. He and his adopted son, Mica, meet Annora at the market, where the healer is selling her wares. Annora hands Mica a stick to gnaw on, and while the boy ecstatically chows down on the 14th century version of a lollipop, Annora cautions Brattle to be wary of his new wife, Jessamy. “Her angry ghosts push her close to madness,” the witch says, and you’d better believe it.
Back at work, Brattle and Prichard (alias, Marshal the Soldier) are trying to make their friends Ash, Calo, and Berber as comfortable as possible in their coffin torture chamber, when Chamberlain Corbett comes in and catches them. The Chamberlain exploits this moment of weakness to force a deal: If Brattle and Prichard intercept and destroy Pryce’s caravan of envoys, who are on their way to curry favor with the King, Corbett will release their friends. Last episode, it seemed that Corbett had allied himself with Pryce over their shared vision of getting rich off harbor tariffs. But, as always, the Chamberlain has only his own future in mind.
WANT MORE? Keep up with all the latest from last night’s television by subscribing to our newsletter. Head here for more details.
Lady Love is still fretting over how to produce a pregnancy, when she gets even more bad news: Weaselly Lord Gaveston has traveled all the way to Ventrishire to confirm she is with child. There were no cheap plastic pregnancy tests in medieval times, so Gaveston has brought his best substitute: the king’s own Progeny Prophet and Horoscoper — or, as the locals know him, the Piss Prophet. Gaveston only adds to Love’s dismay be haughtily pointing out that, should she continue with this farce and not confess to her lie, he’ll disembowel her and cut off her breasts. Corbett, also trying to weasel his way out of this latest dilemma, finds those ever-so-helpful twins and encourages them to loosen Gaveston’s tongue. Corbett wants to know what the French lord is really after.
The Chamberlain’s other plot, the hijacking of the caravan, is soon underway. Brattle and Prichard seize Pryce’s wagon, kill all his men, and set the thing on fire. Except, oopsies, they discover too late that Pryce’s ailing wife is trapped inside. The men have unwittingly just eliminated the last remaining obstacle preventing Pryce (and, by extension, the Chamberlain) from seizing power in Ventrishire by marrying the Baroness.
Brattle confronts Corbett — by punching him in his oh-so-punchable face — but the damage is already done. The twins show up to comfort Corbett and to relay that Gaveston wasn’t interested in their advances, but he made it quite clear that he’d welcome a visit from the Chamberlain himself. “I suppose that would have been an obvious turn,” he replies, smirking. (There is historical evidence that the real Lord Gaveston and King Edward II may have been lovers.) Sex, again, seems to be the smartest strategy.
Except that Lady Love isn’t quite as willing to take that route. She comes upon Brattle contemplating his woes in the castle garden, and realizes that he can connect her with Annora, who has knowledge of “the humors” (a.k.a. lady problems).
NEXT: Gaveston makes a grave error