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The Bastard Executioner recap: The Bernadette Maneuver / Cynllwyn Bernadette

Gaveston’s fate is sealed as Annora and Wilkin’s connection is revealed.

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Ollie Upton/FX

The Bastard Executioner

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Stephen Moyer, Darren Evans, Kurt Sutter

“Unforgivable sins.” These are what plague Wilkin as he discovers truths about his path thus far and the people who surround him in “The Bernadette Maneuver/Cynllwyn Bernadette,” but unforgivable sins aren’t just reserved for the titular character of The Bastard Executioner. No, the ninth and penultimate episode of Season 1, and the series in general, shows the characters engaging in all kinds of unforgivable sins and how they handle the burden of carrying those sins with varying degress of difficulty. 

On the road to Deddington Monastery, Wilkin and Corbett sit with the other soldiers as Corbett attempts to begin the day in a good mood. “Perhaps one day they will sing songs of our bravery,” Corbett cheerily states. But those words of encouragement are immediately dashed as Prichard and Wilkin reply in pessimistic tones to the statement, “And it will be a short and clumsy tune.” “Full of sour notes and harsh rhymes.” 

Sweet, supposedly innocent Ash is seemingly tricked by the living Twin via seduction (as per usual) to loosen her binds so that she can escape from the men. Ash attempts to cover up his stupidity by placing the blame on whoever tied the Twin’s binds rather than himself for loosening them in the first place, but something seems a bit off by how nonchalantly he let the woman escape without making haste to capture her or let the others know.

While it’s clear that the hunt for Gaveston is the main story line in “The Bernadette Maneuver/Cynllwyn Bernadette,” we quickly find ourselves back at the Castle with Jessamy who has now been bound to a bed in the maiden’s chambers of Lady Love. “You are restrained because of your misguided rage,” Lady Love tells Brattle’s fake wife. Jessamy to her credit (or way more accurately her insanity) still refuses to believe that Wilkin is not in fact Maddox, and that is Lady Love’s purpose in binding Jessamy. “The grip of that illusion must be broken,” Love tells the poor woman, but seemingly nothing can reverse her thinking at the moment. It takes only about a minute of effort for Love to break from her illusion of kindness. Love tells Jessamy that if she refuses to admit the truth about her fake husband’s true identity, she will be charged with assaulting a baroness, she will be put to death, and her children will be taken away by what is basically old-timey Child Protective Services. Love leaves Jessamy to let those consequences properly sink in. 

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Of course, no one seems to realize just yet that Luca Maddox has been kidnapped with the Father Ruskin aside from Annora, who suddenly wakes with the knowledge and lets the Mute know. But thankfully for now, Luca is not in danger. Luca’s captor, Robinus, feeds him but has much more sinister plans in place for Ruskin and his faith. After realizing that torture is not the way to get Ruskin talking, he switches to a new game plan: to discuss the dangers of the Book of the Nazarene (which, as Chris has explained in his previous recaps, will eventually become known as the New Testament).  

The men quickly make their way to Deddington Monastery but find that getting inside to nab their weaselly little Frenchman will be more difficult than planned. Here we get quite possibly one of the best moments of the episode as Ash introduces his new lady friend to the gang: Bernadette, a pet deer who will ultimately be used as bait for those guarding the monastery. Ash is sent in to find out how many men are inside defending Gaveston and just how long they plan to stay in their current location by using the animal’s meat as a lure. Later that night, Ash returns to the men with Wilkin in tow to once again use Bernadette’s meat, though this time it’s as a distraction as we see one of the monastery soldiers take an arrow through the face by Prichard, Corbett, and the rest of the men. 

It doesn’t take long for the men to make their way inside the monastery and get Gaveston’s location after Corbett threatens one of Gaveston’s men with an insane punishment: Killing him and stuffing the…ahem, nether regions of his fallen friends in his mouth and being left at the door to “be found by noble guests.” If that doesn’t make a man talk, I don’t know what else would. Gaveston is found moments later relaxing upstairs with some dinner. 

He is quickly bound, and the man in charge of keeping Gaveston safe, Lord Pembroke, is brought out to sign off on handing over Gaveston. When Pembroke refuses, Corbett tells Wilkin to torture his mistress as punishment. He refuses at first, as does Prichard, but Corbett tells them that if they do as he says, he will allow them to “complete [their] vengeance,” meaning the deaths of reeve Leon and Locke are on the table. “Only you, Corbett, would use death to buy pain,” Wilkin says, but ultimately he and Prichard agree to the terms… Kind of. Wilkin begins his “torture” of the mistress, but in truth, he tells the mistress to feign much more pain than he is actually inflicting in order to sell the lie of injury. The plan works as Pembroke signs an affidavit of sorts, saying that he willingly handed over Gaveston to the Barons. Of course, Corbett isn’t an idiot and finds it rather suspicious that the torture of the mistress yielded no blood. 

NEXT: Annora & Wilkin’s true connection is revealed