The Last Kingdom Discussion: Season 3, Episode 3 shows shifting loyalties

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Dec 6, 2018

As the battle for England rages on in the third episode of The Last Kingdom's third season, the line between Saxon and Dane continues to get murky. Uhtred feels the pull towards the Danes thanks to his kinship to Ragnar, but past loyalties to many of the Saxons leave him confused about his path forward. Netflix's The Last Kingdom continues to mix complex relationships with thrilling adventure as the third season barrels on, always keeping viewers on their toes. 

Switching Sides

Alyssa: Well, Uhtred might be making incredibly impulsive decisions like it’s Season 1 all over again, but now he’s got the good sense to at least feel a little guilty about them. I am loving Leofric as his conscience because someone needs to stick up for Osferth, the sweetest boy in Wessex. But seriously, Uhtred is regretting his decision to go full Dane much quicker than I expected.

Jessica: Maybe it’s because Alfred’s sanctimonious ass is a slowly decaying hump of repetitive boredom at this point, but I’m struggling to understand why anyone would choose to be Saxon over Dane at this point. What’s the payoff? A life of atoning for sins and watching as abbots fatten their churches with gold that could feed your family for years? Give me village raids and a good land conquering campaign any day. But who cares about Uhtred’s dilemma when we have Leofric back? The fever dreams have passed but Leofric is here to stay, bitches. Personally, I enjoy watching Uhtred argue with his old friend, but I’m wondering if anyone else is catching on to this descent into madness. I have to think, even though mental health wasn’t really a concern back then, that someone might notice Uhtred needs to take time for some good self-care. Maybe a relaxing dip in the frigid England waters? A rejuvenating mud mask?

Alyssa: If anyone deserves a break and a trip to the spa, it’s Uhtred, but I don’t think that is in his future any time soon. And while I agree, it seems like being a Saxon is a huge bummer all around, I do think that Uhtred’s hesitance shows that ultimately he is thinking about the people in his care. Uhtred has spent years largely making decisions solely based on what he wants, but he’s not an island. He can’t just make blanket choices that affect a lot of people without thinking of the consequences. Plus, as overly pious as Alfred is, I’m not sure the Danes are a better option. Sure, Ragnar rules, but there is just as much scheming going on amongst the Danes as there is in the Saxon court. I’m not sure either of these armies has a chance at staying united. At least with the Saxons, there is a slight bit of duty to their people. Most of these Danish leaders — Haesten, Bloodhair, Ragnar’s cousin Cnut a.k.a. the Walmart version of Tormund Giantsbane — are all after their own glory. These are not men that will play well together or with others.

Jessica: You’re right. All of these Danes reek of the result of bad parenting. A bit too much plundering and murder as children has turned into grown men throwing tantrums over evil sorceresses and juvenile insults like Dane-slayer at the dinner table. Not a good look. And any people that consider the opinion of Aethelwold as something of value has a concerning lack of good judgment. What a gut punch for Uhtred to hear Aethelwold compare the two. He’s a measly little maggot, but he’s not wrong. Both men have abandoned Alfred, both have left an opening for others to take the throne, both may inadvertently start a war. Uhtred’s in need of a wake-up call and quick if his rock-bottom is being likened to a passed-over king with a serious drinking problem. Unfortunately, as right as you may be about Uhtred’s need to consider more than himself in his decision-making, his inability to pick a side seems to slowly be his undoing.

Alyssa: That’s the thing that I hate about Aethelwold. He’s usually a fool, but sometimes he says something that is correct and painful, sending everything into chaos with a sh*t eating grin. Unfortunately, something terrible occurs with Uhtred’s allies, making his already shaky decisions to go full Dane even more of a question mark.

A Lady’s Request

Alyssa: So, Aethelred is going to try and kill his wonderful wife, Aethelflaed, in earnest now. I am not sure how he thinks that this will end well for him or Mercia, but whatever. He still bitter that she loved Erik and had his child instead, and resentment is a powerful motivator. However, I am pretty shocked that Adhelm, his right hand, was willing to go against his lord to warn her.

Jessica: Shout-out to Adhelm for being the only man in Mercia we don’t immediately want to chuck off a high cliff. It can’t be easy serving that parasite Aethelred and he’s getting no judgment here for betraying his lord and helping Aethelflaed escape her husband’s impulsive assassination plans. I wouldn’t go as far as to dub him an “ally” but, by medieval standards, Adhelm seems pretty woke. Still, with her husband wanting her head and Haesten still holding a grudge, Aethelflaed’s making some powerful enemies. I’m worried about her longevity on this show, particularly since her course of action seems to be relying on Uhtred and his oaths. He’s made so many at this point, and he’s so conflicted, I just want Aethelflaed to have a more solid Plan B, ya know?

Alyssa: Honestly, never plan on anyone’s longevity on this show. People are dying left and right. While I agree that Uhtred is being pulled in many different ways, I don’t think it was ever a real question of whether or not he would help Aethelflaed. He’s always been very fond of her, and his immediate circle is the same. There is no way Finan would have allowed him to do nothing when Aethelflaed is in such dire straits. But at the same time, I kind of wish people — even good people like Aethelflaed — would stop taking advantage of Uhtred’s sense of honor and just let him rest. No more oaths, no more reasons to threaten Aethelwold (as much as I enjoy it every time), no more expecting him to go to war for others.

Jessica: Finan, my sweet little loaf of Irish soda bread. Hold your baby monk close. Things are about to get rough. No, I agree. Uhtred is constantly being taken advantage of. You know what really prunes my pears? Father Beocca. The guy claims to be a man of God, he claims to love Uhtred and want the best for him, and yet, at every opportunity, he’s pushing Uhtred to do something stupid and dangerous in the name of the king. If Beocca wants a united England, if Beocca wants Aethelflaed saved, he can put on some chain mail and do it his damn self.

Alyssa: Ugh, Beocca! Beocca is equal parts good man and slippery eel. While I do think that he cares for Uhtred, considering all of the times that he has talked him out of a jam in Alfred’s court, I think he loves the church and England more. He has no problem sacrificing Uhtred to the cause time and time again because he would sacrifice ANYTHING for the cause. While he may not be as openly fanatical as Alfred, his goals are the same: A united, Christian England. He may have a Danish wife, but he is all Saxon.

Alfred’s Legacy

Jessica: Poor Alfred. Dude is so sickly he can’t even keep his breakfast down. Maybe he’s eating too early in the morning? Maybe, and I’m just throwing this out there, he should think about ditching all the starches and eating something of sustenance? Either way, his elegant explanation for basically hurling up his food will be something I use from now on when I want to upchuck, but still keep it classy. “My lady must part with the little she had for her breakfast, if you’ll excuse me,” sounds much more sophisticated than “Guys, I’m hungover. I’ve gotta go puke.”

Alyssa: It’s true. Say what you will about, oh, just about everything he’s done, but there’s no denying that Alfred has impeccable table manners. I’m curious as to whether his health issues are being exacerbated by the fact that his kingdom, his legacy is really falling apart. To quote the great 90s sitcom, “so no one told you life was going to be this way.” His son doesn’t want to be king, his people don’t want to fall into line, and Uhtred doesn’t want to sign away his entire life to merely do his king’s bidding. Shocking! For all of the time and blood that Alfred has put into being king, it is going surprisingly poorly. I probably wouldn’t be able to keep my breakfast down either.

Jessica: Again, just shooting the sh*t here, but if Alfred put as much time into certain relationships with certain allies as he did writing his scrolls, things might be different. I do wish Alfred had better advisors besides his religiously devout wife. If he did, they might have told him it’d do more good to remain in Wessex rather than visiting his constituents on the road. Sometimes the fantasy of a healthy, able-bodied king is better than the reality my dude. Just like the fantasy of having a capable, dutiful son to inherit your crown and continue your legacy is often better than the reality that you’ve raised a spoiled teenager who is, as Brida would say, led by his cock.

Alyssa: Yeah, you would think that his wife, someone who sees him in his lowest moments, would realize that maybe Alfred should sit this tour out and heal, but appearance is everything. Gotta make sure the people know that their king is fine! Honestly, I think Alfred’s true legacy is coming between the Ragnarson brothers. They’ve certainly parted ways before and been on opposite sides, but this was different. Claiming that Uhtred is “no longer a Ragnarson” is a big deal, and it hurt my feelings. I guess I just assumed that these two (and Brida) were an unshakable duo, despite everything.

Jessica: It definitely felt like a chapter closing on this show. I can’t blame Ragnar for having that response. To him, Uhtred choosing a Saxon over his Danish family (again) is a betrayal. Ragnar has risked his life for his brother many times over, rescuing him from slavery, defending him against their shared enemies, and yet, when Ragnar needs Uhtred to return the favor, to stand by his side as he unites the Danes, Uhtred goes running to the call of a Saxon princess. It had to be heartbreaking for the guy, to see his brother choose a stranger over his own family. And of course, instead of confronting and dealing with their emotions, Viking men make impulsive decisions that end bloody.

Alyssa: I understand that Uhtred has found himself in a difficult position, that tricky spot between duty and familial love. However, he really doesn’t put himself in Ragnar’s position at all. Uhtred is going to do what Uhtred thinks is right, and for some reason right now that includes Skade? PLEASE, Uhtred, I’m begging you, Finan’s begging you, everyone is begging you: stop with this witch. There is no way that this is the hill that you should die on.

Looking Ahead

Jessica: The future looks darker than usual for poor Uhtred. He’s got a fight to the death with Bloodhair to look forward to and his prize should he win is the witch who cursed him. I can’t imagine Uhtred dying on this show, especially so early in the season, but if refusing to serve in your brother’s army wasn’t enough, killing one of his commanders for a woman you want to bed/murder (what’s the difference really?) seems like the final nail so to speak.

Alyssa: Uhtred certainly isn’t going to die, but his Dane side is. He’s burned that bridge for sure, and for what? A sense of honor? The glory that Alfred will never give him? Our hero is certainly in a rough spot, and I don’t envision that getting any easier for him any time soon. Here’s hoping he can at least save Aethelflaed in the process.

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