With Alfred’s (David Dawson) health failing he starts to prepare for his son Edward (Timothy Innes) to become king but Athelwold (Harry McEntire) continues to lurk in the shadows, convinced he should be king. Meanwhile wracked by grief, Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon) crosses a line that sees him banished from Wessex and returning to his Dane brothers. Things are not quite going to plan for the Danes though as no army has ever prospered with three conflicting leaders and Uhtred will be will be forced to question where his loyalties lie when he discovers that his beloved Aethelflaed (Mille Brady) is in danger. If that wasn’t enough, he’s been cursed by Skade (Thea Sofie Loch Næss), a powerful witch who wants Uhtred for her own.
If season two of The Last Kingdom was about loyalty, season three is about leadership and what makes a good leader.
There is no question that Alfred is a good king. He is steadfast, strong and often willing to compromise for the greater good. His fears that Edward may not be ready to lead cause him endless worries and drive him to some questionable decision making. Dawson once again gives an outstanding performance as a man facing his mortality and fighting through extraordinary pain.
Uhtred too is a strong leader but of a very different variety. He leads through charisma, charm and an unerring belief in his own judgement. His loyalty to those he loves is unshakeable, which can be seen in his inability to let Aethelflaed perish. Dreymon’s performance has gone from strength to strength and the chemistry between him and Dawson is part of what makes this series so special. Although they are very different characters with very different ways of doing things the love and respect they have for each other is another facet of true leadership and there is one scene between them in particular that had me on the verge of tears.
It is Aethelflaed’s leadership that enrages her husband, Aethelred (Toby Regbo). He is unable to inspire the love and loyalty that Aethelflaed does because his motivations are always purely selfish. His lack of leadership means the only recourse he can ever see to resolve is problems is to eliminate them, aggressively, which eventually even impacts his relationship with the ever loyal Aldhelm (James Northcote).
The Danes are also beset with leadership issues. Ragnar (Tobias Santelman) is full of life but far too easily swayed and much too fond of games. It is Brida (Emily Cox) who is the true leader but her inflexibility is also her downfall. Haesten (Jeppe Beck Laursen) is selfish, mercenary and changes rainbows every five minutes. And Bloodhair (Ola Rapace) is so deep under Skade’s spell that he can barely function without her. All of this leaves them open to Aethelwold’s bitter influence, never to the good.
In this season Uhtred’s merry band of loyal followers get a bit more character development. I became particularly fond of Finan (Mark Rowley) who is more often than not the voice of reason, despite his happy-go-lucky demeanour. Osferth (Ewan Mitchell) also finds his feet and makes steps to becoming a warrior and well Sihtric (Arnas Fedaravicius) marries a prostitute and looks cute.
For me this was the best season yet and I cannot wait to see what happens in the fourth season, which is currently being filmed.