In a surprise to probably no one, even the handful of people who watched the series until the end, The Bastard Executioner will not be getting a Season 2. Kurt Sutter’s latest FX series failed to ignite the interest of viewers, critics, and ultimately, even Sutter (he admits he had fallen way behind on the scripts). I wasn’t much of a fan in my review of it, but I also acknowledged it wasn’t terrible … It just wasn’t very good. We even ran recaps here on the site for a few weeks, until we realized no one cared. It was killed, basically, by a resounding “meh.”
But what’s fascinating is that it wasn’t FX who chose to end the series, but Sutter himself — that’s an extremely rare thing. He clearly saw the writing on the wall, though. As he told THR, “I don’t want to write something that nobody’s f—ing watching.”
The Bastard Executioner was something very different for FX, being set in 14th century Wales (FX rarely, or never, does period dramas earlier than the 1980s), but the network was ready to follow Sutter’s creative impulses after his 7-season run of Sons of Anarchy was such a huge ratings hit. But like in the later seasons of Sons, FX was also extremely indulgent with Sutter, allowing for ridiculously long run-times and extended episodes filled with full song-length montages week after week. Most creative people are at their best when they’re restrained, and have to work within the confines of a small budget, or a shorter runtime. The Bastard Executioner seemed like the result of that failure of restraint in the Sutter/FX partnership.
Sutter himself said of the show’s low ratings and his desire to cancel it (via an ad in the Hollywood Reporter) that,
I think the mythology was a little too dense for some people. There’s a glut of period pieces on right now, and I’m sure timing has something to do it. There’s just so many f—ing variables involved in that formula. My sense is that a year from now, people will be like, “Why didn’t you make more?” (Laughs.) I mean, I get so many people telling me they’re on episode four of Sons.
But perhaps the harshest truth comes from his comment that, “And yes, some of that is ego. But some of it is just, [if no one’s watching] then I’m not necessarily doing my job.”
FX is certainly not giving up on the showrunner, though — Sutter is locked into an eight-figured three-year deal with them, which will include the development of his Sons of Anarchy spinoff focusing on the Mayans. He also has a few other TV ideas percolating, and according to THR, is also looking to get his old film script Delivering Gen made (it’s the love story between a junkie and a hut man — Jax and Wendy part 2?)
Let us know if you’ll miss The Bastard Executioner in the comments below, and also be sure to check in on the cancelled or renewed status of over 150 scripted shows with our TV Lifeline.