I stumbled on this series on Amazon Prime knowing nothing about it. I thought “that actress is familiar” and, of course, it’s Emily Blunt. Loved her in Sicario and Edge of Tomorrow. The actor was vaguely familiar and years ago he was the wolf in Twilight, Chaske Spencer.  

Terrible title, though: The English. As Mary Higgins Clark said once at a conference, a title should invite you in. This is, eh, what? Take it from me, the master of the bad titles (Eyes of the Hammer anyone?), title is important.

Brief summary: an English woman, Emily Blunt, arrives in the American west (in this case filmed in Spain, because) to avenge the death of her son. She runs into a Pawnee scout and across six episodes the two of them encounter a despicable, yet entertaining cast of odd (to put it mildly) characters.

There’s Black Eyed Mog, to name just one. Ciaran Hinds is a terror in the first episode. Rafe Spell has a great time being the antagonist for the series and he’s a nasty piece of work.

Nothing is quite as it seems in this story and I don’t want to give any spoilers. The opening is slow. It really takes a while to get into the story, a couple of episodes at least, which in a six episode series seems a lot, but the payoff is worth it.

There are references to the Civil War and Fetterman. The main action takes place in 1890. The initiating event in 1875, which is a year before Custer. But nine years after the Fetterman Massacre which I cover in Great Disasters.

There are plenty of surprises. In a Larry McMurtry way (perhaps Black Eyes Mogg is in homage to one of his characters?) the west in this series is brutal and nasty and life isn’t precious. It is also amazingly small with everyone running into each other over and over, again in a McMurtry way. There are some flashbacks to the initiating event and things around it. There are also abrupt jumps in the plot, but those work. Hugo Blick moves slow but doesn’t waste time in set up. It’s difficult to explain.

I preferred Godless for entertainment, which was more a straightforward western, but The English is worth it because its more unsettling. And deeper. The further I got into the series the more I enjoyed it and looked forward to what came next. Give it a shot.