The Last Kingdom Discussion: Season 3, Episode 1 resets the board

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Dec 4, 2018

Netflix's The Last Kingdom is back for its third season, and things in 9th century England are as turbulent as ever. While Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon) ended Season 2 in a position of relative peace and power, the status quo is quickly shaken up as new players emerge and old foes creep in at the corners. His relationship with King Alfred (David Dawson) has always been fraught, the tension is soon going to reach its boiling point.

We're going to be breaking down every twist and turn throughout the season, so strap in, folks. The Last Kingdom is always a rough ride.


Resetting The Board

Alyssa: So, right off the bat, we are introduced to our newest villain: Skade (Thea Sofie Lock Naess). As much as “only the women may look at me!” is a 2018 Mood, I am very disturbed by this girl’s vibe. She’s going to be trouble. While she spends most of her time onscreen cutting throats and stabbing out eyes, I get the feeling that she’s one gutting away from telling me about that time that she did mushrooms at Burning Man.

Jessica: Boy, do I wish I could tell most men in 2018 to turn their gaze or I’ll take their eyes. Skade is a piece of work, sure, but she’s a woman wielding influence in a heavily male-dominated field. There are no glass ceilings to break yet, but there are abbots to torture and villages to burn, and if a woman is going to make it in this Viking business, she’s got to assert herself. I’m not sure what her plans for Uhtred are at this point, but any white woman with dreads and face tattoos has to be up to no good. I mean, she looks like the female medieval Post Malone right now.

Alyssa: It’s true. Don’t ask your man to kill you a host of monks; do it yourself! Speaking of Uhtred, he has a trashy hipster undercut now, which of course means that I am 75% more into him than I have been in the past. However, I do wish the show was a little bit clearer on the passage of time. They don’t do *that much* to age people up, but Alfred’s son Edward (Timothy Innes) is a teen now and he was a baby like 10 episodes ago. Call me a dummy, but I could use a few more “XYZ YEARS HAVE PASSED” cut screens.

Jessica: I mark the years by how sickly Alfred looks, to be honest. The paler the skin, the more sunken the eyes, the moaning about wanting to eat meat but stuck with gruel and apples count for years in my book. But you’re right, there’s heightened tension between Uhtred and Alfred that can only be born through YEARS of arguing and quietly opposing each other. It’d be nice to know just how many years.

Alyssa: I liked seeing how Uhtred’s crew has matured in the intermission. Finan (Mark Rowley) in particular has grown into a trusted second hand (give me a cocksure Irishman with a sword casually over his shoulder PLEASE), and Osferth (Ewan Mitchell), god bless him, is still trying his best despite being the dweebiest dweeb in all of England. I was really sad to lose some of the best side characters over the past two seasons, so I am glad to see these guys getting some depth and interest. Even though Hild (Eva Birthistle), love of my life, is largely MIA. Hopefully, this is rectified in the future.

Jessica: Personally, I like to think of this as a show about a wild-eyed Irishman with a cheeky personality and a penchant for violence, traipsing through the English countryside with his Viking boyfriends and their baby monk son in tow. I know Uhtred is supposed to be the star of this thing but damn, Finan gets the best lines. He’s also Irish so … you know what that means. I do miss Hild, especially her influence over Uhtred. Gisela’s a nice girl, but you get the feeling she’s been letting her husband have his way a bit too much. Uhtred needs someone to curb his cockier impulses and Hild is that someone.

Alyssa: Agreed. And while our heroes have been blossoming in the off-season, unfortunately, so have the douchebags. I feel like Aethelwold (Harry McEntire) is positioned on this show to be the Littlefinger, always scheming and trying to get a leg up on everyone, except that he is, at his core, very stupid. He may be able to grow a beard now, but he still can’t get a good plot off the ground to save his life. Also, I wasn’t pleased to see Aethelflaed’s attempted rapist, Haesten (Jeppe Beck Laursen), still around. He could die in a fire and I would toast to his remains, man. Ugh.

Jessica: Aethelwold is very much a jester with kingly aspirations. Even his own father saw that. At least with Littlefinger, there was a sense that he had moves planned for all of the pieces on the chessboard. I doubt Aethelwold even knows how to play chess. At this point, I still see him as a character who likes to create chaos, not a real threat to Alfred’s throne, but that could change when and if Alfred dies seeing as his son is about as yellow-bellied as Aethelwold himself. And Skade can string Haesten up by the feet and roast him with the monks for all I care. The guy is the embodiment of toxic masculinity with heavy eyeliner and unwashed hair. He deserves an eternity in a burning pit.


God Save The King

Alyssa: So Skade and her lover/warlord, Bloodhair (Ola Rapace), take their killing spree on the road, and I am once again reminded that I could never survive in this period of time. The stress of waiting for something terrible to come would be enough to kill me. Is today the day that the plague hits my village? Is today the day that a roving band of Danes sacks my town? How did anyone get anything done with the constant threat of terrible things happening so close to home?? Skade starts killing monks, and so, of course, Alfred calls upon Uhtred to be his enforcer. And yet after all these years, he doesn’t give Uhtred the respect that he deserves. I think at this point, Uhtred really should realize that he is always going to be the side chick, never the wife, so to speak.

Jessica: Being doomed to side-chick status is a tough thing to accept but you’re right that if Alfred doesn’t see Uhtred as his equal by now, it’s never going to happen. I think the problem is twofold for these two: Alfred fears Uhtred’s ability to inspire loyalty in men, as any king should, and he also still views Uhtred as a heathen for not accepting God as his lord and savior. For Alfred, choosing to remain a pagan means you’re somehow lesser than him. It’s the thing that’s going to prevent his dream of a unified England and probably the ideology that will get him killed. Also, and this is probably a stupid question, but was there any kind of natural Xanax back then? I mean, the local witch doctor had to have some kind of herbal anxiety medicine right? People just can’t exist in that state of terror and dread for their entire lives.

Alyssa: What’s so frustrating to me about Alfred is that secretly he doesn’t think that the Danes' paganism is nonsense. He’s perfectly content to use their magic (?) for his own personal use. He did this with the Shadow Queen saving his son, and he does it again in this episode when he clearly believes Skade’s foresight about his impending death. He’s like a pro-life Senator buying his pregnant mistress an abortion: not good for the public image, but privately he’s down. The hypocrisy is absolutely astounding, and there is no way that it doesn’t catch up to him. Alfred needs to either decide if the Danes that he can use are worth a damn, or he needs to cut them loose altogether. But constantly requiring everything from Uhtred while simultaneously cutting him down as a pagan is not a good look for a dying man. But he’s definitely not done with that nonsense yet. Once again, he’s ready to throw Uhtred and his sword at the problems at hand.


The Lady Of Mercia

Jessica: Over here at SYFY FANGRRLS, we stan a true queen and in The Last Kingdom, that just so happens to be Aethelflaed, the Lady of Mercia. Aethelflaed (Millie Brady) is really a cinnamon roll at heart, but she can kill you if you push her to it, something her scheming worm of a husband (Toby Regbo) should know by now. Seeing her leading an army of men to battle to help Uhtred defeat Bloodhair, that’s the kind of woman with power I can really get behind.

Alyssa: I definitely had a “that’s my baby, and I’m proud” moment seeing Aethelflaed leave her snake husband behind and getting sh*t done herself. Also, I understand the importance of terrain in a battle, but it’s almost hilarious how often Uhtred’s answer to everything is just “a hill.”

Everyone: “Our numbers are too small! We will never win!”

Uhtred: “Ok you guys, hear me out… have you heard of hills?”

I’ve seen Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith enough times to know the importance of the high ground, but this is becoming a bit of a crutch for our boy. Still, I love a good battle scene, and this one delivered and started the season out with a bang.

Jessica: I’m no terrain expert so maybe pointing out a hill and standing atop it is actually enough to win a war, but my question is, how does Uhtred know where all these hills are in the first place? I couldn’t even tell you how many ant mounds have accumulated in my backyard at this point. Does he have a “map guy?” I hope he’s paying him well if so, because his knowledge of the English countryside seems to be his campaign slogan as Alfred’s number one at this point. “I’m Uhtred and I promise, if you choose me to be the man to cut down your enemies and bloody up the Viking hordes teaming on your shores, I’ll give you all the hills you could hope to win battles on.”

Alyssa: Listen, there was not a lot to do back then, so riding around the countryside and learning it like the back of your hand was kind of their version of Netflix. We may be milksop babies who like to sit on our couches and watch people ride around the countryside, but they actually did it. I wouldn’t give up Waze, but I do wish I had a fraction of Uhtred’s sense of direction. Seems pretty invaluable. Unsurprisingly, Uhtred and Alfred’s forces are victorious over Bloodhair, but that doesn’t mean that the episode is without tragedy. Did we call it or did we call it about Gisela (Peri Baumeister) being killed off?

Jessica: Uhtred can keep his hill knowledge. My superpower is predicting when a TV show centered on male characters will resort to fridging to further the plot. I knew Gisela wasn’t long for this world, but I was still sad to see her go. Granted, I really knew nothing about her beyond her impressive ability to stand silently at her husband’s side in public while whispering words of encouragement to him when they humped in their tent at night, but still. I assume she was an interesting, layered person with her own hopes and dreams.

Alyssa: I swear to god, if offing Gisela was just a method of clearing the way for Uhtred to bone Skade, I am reaching through my screen and cutting off his dick myself. Surely he’s not THAT stupid anymore.


Looking Ahead

Jessica: Oh, Uhtred’s definitely going to get weird with Skade at some point this season. There is no shame in her game — she cursed him and propositioned him while chained, all in one episode — and Uhtred’s will to resist a woman, even one as batsh*t as a Viking sorceress, cannot be counted upon. I think Skade’s influence on Uhtred will only grow this season.

Alyssa: Yeah, despite her limited screen time so far, Skade has made a real impact and that’s going to have repercussions on everything this season. Uhtred is by nature a bit superstitious, and being cursed is going to crank that tendency up to 11. It’s pretty clear that his days with Alfred are numbered, so here’s hoping he can find someone else to talk some sense into him. On that note: there was a tragic lack of Ragnar (Tobias Santelmann) in this episode, so here’s hoping he and Brida (Emily Cox) return soon.

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