The Last Kingdom on Netflix has been quietly supplying our Game of Thrones fix for years now. Season 3 of the series just dropped on the streaming platform and with it comes bloodier battles, more political machinations, and hotter Vikings.
Uhtred, the Danish swordsman currently sworn in service to the English King Alfred, faces a new threat and must make a choice between his heritage and the people that raised him as more men make a play for the throne and the hand of fate looms ever large. We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer and we'll be here recapping all of the murder, mayhem, and make-outs happening in medieval England this season.
The Bond Broken
Alyssa: Uhtred really doesn’t have more than a second to enjoy his victory before the reality of his wife’s death comes forward. However, if there is anyone who is good at delivering terrible news, it’s Hild. That woman is a rock.
Jessica: I guess nuns were like medieval therapists back in the day? But you’re right, only Hild could break that kind of news to Uhtred and still be standing. Their friendship is a beautiful, precious light in this dark, dark world so I can only assume something will happen to divide them at some point this season. For now, though, Hild is ride-or-die, helping Uhtred dig up the corpse of his dead wife and set it aflame. Good friends like that are hard to find, y’all.
Alyssa: Don’t you put that evil on them, Ricky Bobby! I refuse to believe in a world where Uhtred and Hild aren’t platonic soul mates. But of course, because the world is always stacked against Uhtred despite him being a handsome, able-bodied white man, the church has an issue with him digging up his dead wife. Why won’t these people just let Uhtred live?
Jessica: I do fear that white men everywhere will watch this show and use Uhtred as some kind of proof that their kind has had it rough too. Like, yeah, Uhtred’s been through some sh*t, but he’d have a much easier time of it if he didn’t feel entitled to a lordship, if he wasn’t so greedy, if he didn’t have such a terrible track record with women. Like, take notes bro. Learn what you should avoid. Uhtred had to know that digging Gisela up would rub Alfred the wrong way. He’s been serving under the guy for years. He’s aware of his brand of religious insanity. And as terrible as his decision-making skills are, Uhtred is not stupid. Why didn’t he just go to Alfred and request permission to burn his Pagan wife instead of disturbing burial ground? Maybe a case could’ve been made by Hild. Maybe all-out war could’ve been avoided. Maybe a dirty old monk could’ve avoided the bitch-slap of death?
Alyssa: Yeah, Uhtred once again let his emotions get the better of him, which is understandable considering his wife died, but damn, those are some repercussions. He really played into Alfred’s (and Aethelswith, still the worst) hand this time. While Uhtred isn’t stupid, neither is Alfred. He had to have known how Uhtred would have responded to his wife being buried in a Christian graveyard. This series of rash actions from Uhtred really gave Alfred what he wanted all along: locking Uhtred down for Edward’s use for the rest of his days. Not cool, dude. Not. Cool.
Jessica: Although, I will say, having Uhtred desecrate holy ground did give us yet another gem from that conniving turd Aethelwold. I for one got a kick out of him propositioning the monk by promising him a prostitute. “Fond as in fondling” will be a pick-up line I’ll whip out the next time I’m trashed and wholly unconcerned about what strangers think of me.
Alyssa: Fair enough! Aethelwold may have set the things in motion, but I don’t think he could have foreseen the complete breaking of Uhtred and Alfred. Trying to force him to sign away his entire life was a bridge too far for Uhtred (fair!), but pulling a knife on the king was never going to end well. But again, Alfred should have seen this kind of reaction coming! Uhtred has made it clear that while he is willing to serve Alfred, he is still very much his own man. This was never, ever going to have a positive outcome. You can sh*t your pants in fear, Alfred, but Uhtred is tired of cleaning up the mess now.
Jessica: I know Alfred is terminally ill with some mysterious digestive disorder but it’s hard to feel sorry for the guy, especially when he touts his intelligence and religion while constantly making idiotic decisions and judging others. I guess scolding him for digging up his dead wife was the final straw for Uhtred, who up until this point, has had the patience of a saint when it comes to his sickly king. Their falling out wasn’t necessarily surprising, but it does leave us with plenty of questions, namely: What’s Uhtred’s end game? We’ve been hanging out with this guy for three seasons now and I’m still unclear about his motivations besides acquiring wealth and banging women? Does he have dreams? Goals? A five-year plan?
Alyssa: Does he even want to go back to Bebbanburg anymore? I think Uhtred got comfortable living his life in Cocham, but our boy was made for war. And that means he’s heading back to Ragnar, which is honestly where he belongs. However, he acquires a pretty gnarly wound on his way out of Wessex, and you know what that means. Fever dreams!
I See Dead People
Alyssa: I for one was delighted to see Leofric again, even if it was just as a hallucination. As good as Finan and Sihtric are at being bros with Uhtred, Leofric really was the best at pushing him to be better. I think Uhtred knows that as well because his hallucinations were pretty harsh on his choices.
Jessica: Hallucinations induced by septicemia are rough, man, but I’d forgo all penicillin if it meant hearing Leofric uttered the word “arseling” just one more time. I appreciated that the show used Leofric and his bond with Uhtred to impress upon Uhtred the gravity of his decision. Uhtred is a man who acts impulsively and rarely contemplates his decisions once they’re made. Forcing him to confront the consequences of his actions felt like a way to set him on his own path, to solidify his arc, to fully-position him against Alfred. Also, and I say this with love, it’s immensely satisfying to see Uhtred receive a deserved tongue-lashing.
Alyssa: Yeah, reckoning with consequences is the thing, isn’t it? Uhtred is back on his bullshit, but this time he’s dragging a lot of people with him. He’s not just some young buck without any real responsibility anymore. He’s got a lot of people who are very, very loyal to him, and he didn’t consult with any of them whether or not they were willing to go to war with Wessex and Alfred. That’s… deeply uncool. Plus, you’re definitely right in the fact that Uhtred is going to rely more and more on Skade and her power, despite everyone around him warning him against her. That is not going to end well for Uhtred. It’s a pretty common theme of the show that people are more dedicated to Uhtred than he is to them, and I’m thinking that a few of his allies are really going to reach a breaking point, and soon. Except for Osferth. He doesn’t have a lot going on anywhere else, bless his heart.
Jessica: I think Finan will be the friendship ultimately sacrificed thanks to Uhtred’s wandering eye and ill-defined ambitions. As heartwarming as it was to see him play nursemaid to a sickly Uhtred, Finan seems to be a man done with fighting. He wants to settle down, to make his own way and Uhtred’s directionless plan already seems to be weighing on him. But as terrible a loss as Finan would be to Uhtred, it’s the uncertainty of his kinship with his brother Ragnar that feels like it may have life-altering consequences.
Back With The Danes
Alyssa: I think you’re definitely right about Finan. When Uhtred is fully done convalescing — thanks, Brida! — he’s pretty quick to jump straight into “I am 100% a Dane now despite spending decades fighting that part of my heritage,” and Finan is clearly not on board. Like he said, they still have friends on Alfred’s side, and not everyone is as quick to accept that they’ll be facing down those friends on the battlefield if they go this route. Plus, like you said, there was definitely a feeling that the years have strained the bond between Uhtred and Ragnar a bit. There is still love there, but these two have definitely walked different paths.
Jessica: Uhtred’s biggest flaw is not being able to choose a side, something you just had to do living in this time period. He can’t get away with toeing the line, keeping one foot in each camp. He chose Alfred and the Saxons for personal gain. Now he chooses Ragnar and the Danes for the same reason. His selfishness is going to cost him in the end and his lack of a moral compass, the fact that he’s missing a driving motivation in his life, that’s eventually going to alienate him from the people he loves. As the great lyricist Lin Manuel Miranda says, “If you stand for nothing, what do you fall for?” Uhtred’s going to fall because he makes promises in the moment, promises that further his immediate goal, promises he can’t keep.
Alyssa: If anyone sees that, it’s Brida. That woman continues to be wiser than the men around her, and she continues to be one of the few that truly calls out Uhtred’s lack of direction. Having her back in his life on a regular basis is going to be good for him, I hope, but I really, sincerely hope that they do not attempt to push those two back together romantically now that things between her and Ragnar have gotten complicated. I’m not sure how I feel about her infertility. It smacks of punishing a powerful woman for her femininity.
Jessica: Agreed. Brida has always been defined by her refusal to submit, her unwillingness to fulfill the “dutiful wife” role of her contemporaries. I can’t help but view her miscarriages and the fissure they’ve caused in her otherwise strong relationship with Ragnar as a kind of slap on the wrist. The patriarchy’s way of reminding us of the consequences of defying their formulaic femininity. Brida deserves better than that and she definitely deserves better than Uhtred.
Alyssa: It’s true. I think she’s going to be essential in the coming episodes because I think she’s one of the few people that Uhtred will actually listen to when it comes to Skade. While he is resolutely unwilling to kill her and end her screeching about a curse, hopefully, Brida will keep him cautious. Who knows! Uhtred is probably going to make the worst decision anyway. On another note, I’ve got to say that I am not that concerned for Uhtred, Ragnar, and the rest of the Danes at this point? While war is brewing, it doesn’t feel like any of the other sides pose that much of a risk. He beat Bloodhair pretty quickly the first time, Alfred is dying and his son is still terribly green, and I refuse to see the union of scabs — Aethelwold and Aethelred — as a real threat at this point. Now that the Ragnarsons are back together, is England theirs for the taking?
Jessica: Doubtful. While I agree that the English don’t pose much of a threat, I think Brida’s warning to Uhtred is a bit of foreshadowing. She tells him he must destroy Alfred to undo the past and prove he’s a true Dane while also cautioning him that if he betrays Ragnar, she’ll have no problem slitting his throat. I think the biggest risk Uhtred faces comes from those closest to him, especially once Skade begins to have a real influence on his life and his loyalties between his Viking family and his Saxon friends are truly tested.
Alyssa: While he always seems to manage a way out, I think Uhtred is finally going to face some consequences for his actions. Breaking with Alfred fully seemed relatively easy at the time, but I think Uhtred is going to realize that while he hated being at the king’s beck and call, the position also afforded him quite a bit of privilege. It’s all fun and games until you realize that you can’t go home to your family and your farm.
Jessica: Pour one out for that #farmlife. More hills look to be in Uhtred’s future.