Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched this week’s episode of The Bastard Executioner, “Broken Things/Pethau Toredig" written by Ryan Scott and creator Kurt Sutter and directed by Ciaran Donnelly, stop reading now. Katey Sagal, who’s back Stateside after wrapping Season 1 in Wales, spoke to Yahoo TV about Annora’s vague ways, the fun of starring in a show with daughter Sarah White (Isabel), and what she’d like to see in the Sons of Anarchy attraction at that Fox theme park in Dubai.
Talking with Kurt earlier this year, he said that writing Annora was a different process for him than any other character in the show because of the way she floats through episodes as a spiritual guide. There’s so much mystery around her, especially in the beginning of the series, and viewers can only have little pieces of that puzzle. How much did you know about her story when you first started filming?
I knew quite a bit. Because the story of Annora and The Dark Mute is the big arc, I did know she was there with higher purpose, that her and the Mute were united. I knew what the writing on her was. I knew that she was linked to our hero in a very special way.
There’s a point in this episode when I wondered if Wilkin’s path has really been about getting him to this place and position where he could help protect Annora and the text.
No, he’s not there to protect her. She’s there to guide him. He has a higher purpose that is slowly being revealed to him. He gets the pieces of it as we go along the journey, and because he sees these visions too, and has his whole life, [he’s asking] what that is all about. And why is his life spared? Why is he this new guy? Why is he feeling this way about Lady Love? What’s going on? Those questions keep him tied to Annora, because she has the answer to a lot of those questions. She keeps leaving the bread crumbs of, “Just trust me, this is where you’re supposed to be. This is all in the right direction.” You’ll find out in episode 10 [the season finale] what a lot of this has been leading to.
There are just two episodes left this season. There’s been no word about a second season yet, but I assume there’d be room for more story?
Yeah. I don’t know that answer yet [about a renewal]. … I think Kurt comes from the writing school of not holding back. I think that the story will be really fulfilling for people that have been following along. Questions will be answered, and of course doors will be left open as well. We’ll get closer to understanding what Annora’s deal is, and why she’s moving all her pieces around. Some of those pieces will be explained. How does that sound? Vague enough? [Laughs]
Let’s talk about specific scenes in this hour. Annora and Wilkin shared a vision of a baby, and he decided it was himself that he’s been seeing: he’s the product of forbidden love between a nun and a swordsman. One of the things the series does well is even when you seem to get answers, you’re not quite sure that you can trust your interpretation of them, that there isn’t more there. Is that vision realization as clear-cut as it seemed in that moment?
It’s still a mystery. We don’t know. He’s getting sent little bits of information that he recognizes. It’s like he had that intuitive sense of, “Oh, yeah, I was there” or “I’ve seen this before,” but you don’t really know flat-out. At this point, Annora is the deliverer of these messages to him in her vague way. She talks in rhymes and circles. She’s really fed him what he’s supposed to know at the proper time.
Is the notion that Annora and the Dark Mute could somehow have been his parents completely insane? Like, is that a theory that we should even be entertaining?
I guess it is planted as a seed. Whether that is what happened, you’re going to have to watch the TV show. But I think that would be the intention of the writer to probably have the audience wonder about that because we’re not quite sure what the connection between Annora and Wilkin is. You will be. You’ll get fed more information.
Earlier in the season we saw a vision of the Dark Mute as a Templar Knight, pre-burn, watching a young Wilkin train. Will we see more visions of the Dark Mute and Annora’s backstory?
No, I don’t think we see anymore young Annora, or young Mute. I think no we will not.
I love seeing Annora and Father Ruskin have scenes together.
Me, too. I love Tim Murphy.
Why do you think that she trusts him?
Well, she’s still trying to figure out if she can trust him. It’s interesting, the backstory of the priest. We’ve seen that he has his own dark history, that he was a warrior at one point. Annora and The Dark Mute just know s–t about everybody. [Laughs] They just know stuff. They’re trying to figure out if they can trust him in their trials against the Rosula. I represent the Seraphim, and the Rosula is the bad guy. The bigger arc will explain to you that these are different belief systems. We’re trying to get the priest on our side.
When Annora sent Ruskin back to Castle Ventris, he got kidnapped by the Rosula along with Lucca. Do you think Annora sensed that was going to happen? Could she have tipped him off?
No. It’s weird: she has a lot of intuition about things coming, but she doesn’t know everything. Because that would be my question, too: Well, she sees he’s going to get kidnapped, wouldn’t she protect him? But it’s not like she’s clairvoyant. In my understanding, she is a person who’s lived many lives, has just been alive for a very long time and in various shapes — not like a shape shifter, but in various different forms. She’s traveled the world with this Mute and come from different places. She’s intuitive in a way that some of the others aren’t. Plus, there’s this spiritual connection that we’re exploring throughout the entire series that also gives her intuitive sense. The practical “Oh, this guy’s going to get kidnapped in the next five minutes,” she doesn’t necessarily know that.
When we talked at the end of Sons, you said you always looked at Gemma as a character on a sort of spiritual journey. That’s obviously something that drew you to this role.
Yeah. The difference is Annora comes from complete and total faith that we are where we’re supposed to be, that there’s divine order to the universe. It’s not only my belief system, but it’s also an interesting thing to play as an actor. As opposed to Gemma — who was just on guard most of the time, not thinking she’d be protected — here’s this character that just knows that in the most dangerous of circumstances she is protected, and that even when the bad s–t’s going down… as the Buddhists say, the discomfort is the lesson. There’s lesson in it.
On a lighter note, viewers are loving your daughter’s performance on the show. She’s wonderful as Isabel.
Good. Isn’t she great?
The more we see Isabel learn and cover for Love, the more we worry about her safety. I assume Sarah knows Kurt can kill off anyone at any time.
Yes. [Laughs] It’s been amazing to watch her. Because first of all, she’s the only American actor that talks with a British accent. I didn’t want to have to do that. Annora luckily has a Slavic accent, so I got a pass. I think Sarah was a little bit worried about that, but I think she’s done it masterfully. This is her first job on film — she’s done a lot of theater — and to watch her be so amazing… I think Kurt would say the same: He expanded her role because the relationship between Isabel and Lady Love is such a great way to tell that story of who [Love] really is. Of course as her parents, we’re just over the moon proud. As a fellow actor, I just watch her and think, “Wow.”
Now that you’ve wrapped Season 1, was there a ceremonial burning of the wig, or is it safe in storage for a possible Season 2?
Annora’s wig is very well protected. I love that wig, and talk about convenience: Even though it’s like its own character — you have to really manage it — it’s been so much easier than the Gemma hair. No makeup. Basically none of us wore makeup.
Related: Fox Theme Park: Our 'Sons of Anarchy’ Wish List
And the final question, I assume you’ve heard about the 20th Century Fox World theme park and resort planned for Dubai? There will be some kind of Sons of Anarchy attraction there, though they haven’t said whether it would be a ride or what.
What?! Actually, I think Kurt did mention that to me, that that was happening.
What would you hope would be included?
It should probably be Charming. You should come into Charming, and go on a little motorcycle merry-go-round. [Laughs] Let’s see, what else could you do? Go to the clubhouse and have an open bar, have a hooker… stripper poles maybe. [Laughs] I don’t know what that would actually be. That’s wild that that’s happening.
That’s the big question: will it have to be family-friendly?
Well it’s Dubai, so we don’t know. I don’t know what the rules are.
The Bastard Executioner airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.