Following Alfred’s death, Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon) and his band of men are free to follow Uhtred’s long held dream of liberating Bebbanberg from his tyrannical uncle. Unfortunately even the best laid plans are open to ruin and Uhtred finds himself forced to retreat.
Meanwhile with Brida (Emily Cox) at his side, Cnut (Magnus Bruun) advances on Tettenhaal ready to take Mercia. This forces Aethelflaed (Millie Brady) into war to defend her unfaithful husband, Aethelred’s (Toby Regbo) lands. With her brother, Edward (Timothy Innes) on the throne of Wessex, surely he’ll come to her aid… or will he? Of course Uhtred can’t leave his beloved Aethelflaed unsupported and he finds himself dragged back into the nightmarish Saxon political landscape he swore was behind him.
Every season of the Last Kingdom has a core theme, alongside the ongoing themes of loyalty and destiny. This season the theme is very much about succession and legacy. Uhtred tries to reconnect with his son, Young Uhtred (Finn Elliott) and daughter, Stiorra (Ruby Hartley) and finds that he hardly knows them. Young Uhtred is a pious and devout Christian monk, whose disinterest in fighting baffles his father, while Stiorra is much like her father in mindset and proves eager to shape out her own destiny. At the same time Edward is torn between his two sons as well as his own ambitions versus his late father’s. And Aethelflaed tries to prevent her daughter from facing the same fate she has, Cnut tries to protect his twin sons and Brida plans the future of her unborn child.
Once again the brotherhood between Uhtred and his devoted men shines through although there is a horrible loss early on that I may never forgive Bernard Cornwell or the showrunners for. I liked the new characters that were introduced, particularly Eadith (Stefanie Martini) and her horrible scheming brother, Eardwulf (Jamie Blackley) as well as Dane warlord, Sygtryggr (Eysteinn Sigurðarson). I really, really missed Alfred though. The relationship between Uhtred and Alfred was so interesting and the show suffers from not having that to anchor it.
That said, it does give some other ideas and concepts room to breathe. Brida’s devolution due to the ruthless way she has been used and abused by every man in her life is a heartbreaking, yet fascinating watch. I also enjoyed the acknowledgement that the war between “Dane” and “Saxon” had stopped making sense as there were now so many “Danes” who had been born on Saxon soil and never even seen Daneland. It has haunting parallels to modern society.
As with Vikings I have issues with the ageing of the characters. They’re all getting older or not at different rates. Uhtred has got to be twenty years older than Athelflaed but they seem to be the same age. I mean Uhtred’s probably, what forty-five and he’s still an absolute beast of a warrior. I’m just not sure it really makes sense but hey ho… that’s TV, I guess.
Apparently a further season is planned but there was a finality to the ending of this season. As much as I love the characters and their journey there is enough closure to be able to reluctantly say goodbye at this stage. Let’s hope not though.