Netflix's The Last Kingdom is a show filled with Vikings, medieval battles, political backstabbing and death, lots of death. The show follows Uhtred, a Danish warrior who's pledged his sword to the Saxon cause.
We're Alyssa Fiske and Jessica Toomer and though we may not be history buffs or battle strategists, we do consider ourselves experts of a sort, especially when it comes to hunky Viking thirst traps and a bit of backdoor scheming for the throne. Come along as we recap the fourth episode of the show's third season, one that begins and ends with betrayal.
Alyssa: This episode starts bloody with the fight between Uhtred and Bloodhair, but for me, Brida screaming for Uhtred’s death was the most devastating blow. While Uhtred has wavered in his devotion to the Saxons and the Danes, Brida has been a Dane since the beginning. Brida is a ride-or-die kind of woman, whether it is for the Danes in general or Ragnar specifically. I knew that she wouldn’t handle Uhtred’s decision to leave again well, but the sting is real.
Jessica: It’s true. Hearing Brida chant for Uhtred’s death felt like a real tit punch. But I’m not surprised. Brida is driven by her emotions. She feels things, sometimes to the extreme. And she has a real sense of loyalty, to the Danes and to Ragnar. I think, more than anything, seeing Uhtred choose Alfred once again over their family just broke her spirit and Brida’s even less equipped to deal with her emotions than the men in her life. But oh Uhtred, honey, what is you doin? Betraying your family, choosing a crazed sorceress over your loyal friends? Forget burning bridges, Uhtred’s leaving straight-up piles of ash in his wake.
Alyssa: Honestly, what is Skade even bringing to the table? She saw that Uhtred’s wife was going to die one time? And on that, he’s decided that he is going to pin all of his hopes and dreams and probably his dick (my metaphor kind of got away from me there) on her? I feel like I’m Michael Bluth, because HER? Whew. I do not get it. To be fair, it’s not all on Skade, though. His main quest is to save Aethelflaed. I wonder if nuns ever grew tired of hiding privileged women from the men that sought to harm them. This kind of thing never goes well for the nuns.
Jessica: The nuns really got a raw deal back in the day. Here, go live in a stone building in the middle of nowhere, fend for yourself, spend your days in solitude and silence, destroy your knees by praying constantly, and oh yeah, be ready at a moment's notice to shelter rich, beautiful princesses and defend them against angry Saxon hordes. Not the kind of job description that would entice this millennial, that’s for sure. But can we discuss Uhtred’s luck with the ladies for a sec? The nuns may not like him but every other red-blooded female does. Whatever pheromones Uhtred is putting out, they should bottle that sh*t up and sell it on Goop for Men, stat. Not only is Skade basically offering herself on a platter to the guy, Aethelflaed, a woman I judged as having a brain and standards, is now flinging herself at him. The savior complex is real and it definitely works when it comes to the medieval dating pool.
Alyssa: To be fair, look at their other options. Most of the men on this show are trash. Uhtred shows the slightest bit of decency and respect and panties are dropping everywhere. Honestly, I want better for these women. They deserve better choices than JUST Uhtred. Alas, men like Haesten and his desire to either murder or bone Aethelflaed are much more common on The Last Kingdom. Ugh, this guy. Playing both sides and determined to make things as difficult as possible for both. However, I will admit that after a couple of episodes heavy on the backroom schemes, I was ready for some bloody action. I just wish that the poor abbess hadn’t been such a violent casualty of it.
Jessica: You know what else I wish for? That the writers hadn’t so blatantly dropped the ball with her death scene. We have an abbess standing on a bridge denying entry to a bunch of Danish scum and no one thought to employ a well-timed pun? I’ll never forgive them for not having her last words be “Nun shall pass.” Never!
Alyssa: *groan* Does the abbess deserve to die with a pun? Perhaps not, but we the viewers might have benefited from a moment of levity. Uhtred knows how to play Haesten at least, promising him Skade in the place of Aethelflaed. Haesten didn’t seem to care which, just wanting a warm body. Ugh. These men. I think Skade’s willingness to trust Uhtred (kinda. She did curse him again on the way out.) is interesting. Why would Uhtred be willing to risk himself and his men later to rescue her back from the Danes?
Jessica: Alyssa, when is the last time a character other than precious Finan, brought us any real joy on this show? That nun deserved a punny death and you cannot convince me otherwise. But on Skade, we agree. The chick is all kinds of confident in her ability to control men through the promise of her blood and bed. I’m not sure what the allure of dreadlocks, an unwashed body, and a lifelong curse or two is, but boy do Danish men fall for it and fall for it hard. Besides predicting Alfred’s demise — which anyone with a pair of eyes can see will be soon, no revelation there — and chucking some bad vibes to her enemies, I don’t see the threat or value in Skade’s existence. But hey, she’s serving a purpose, moving the plot along, so I can suspend some belief and buy into the idea that she possesses some kind of magic vagina.
Alyssa: You’re right. All the niceness that we have to go on lately is Finan cheekily sassing off to the nuns and I’m living for it.
Alyssa: This episode also saw Aethelwold being a player AND being played. He has always fancied himself a bigger, more important man than he really is, but being in the Danes’ camp has not improved him by any means. It was almost comical how easily he was manipulated by Cnut, clearly looking to stage a coup against his cousin, Ragnar. But even though he’s being manipulated every step of the way, Aethelwold really is finding himself towards the top of the heap. It’s honestly baffling, but it’s certainly an interesting game to watch.
Jessica: It’s strange. On paper, Aethelwold is the kind of man I’d think the Danes would despise. He’s not a fighter. He doesn’t command an army. Men aren’t inspired to follow him. And yet, time and again, he’s been spared by Viking warlords. Aethelowold’s not particularly smart, he’s just really good at bullsh*tting these guys and playing on their greatest desires but I’m not sure what his endgame is here either. Sure, you can raise a Dane army to remove Alfred from power, but who do you think is going to put you on the throne in his place? Cnut? Bloodhair? Haesten? All three would much rather have that kind of power for themselves.
Alyssa: Exactly. If he really thinks that these power hungry Danes will help him reclaim what he believes Alfred stole from him, he’s delusional. Maaaaybe Ragnar would have been willing to hand off Wessex after conquering, but none of the other Danish leaders will. Like we’ve talked about before, the Danes might be even messier than the Saxons. Sure, you have Aethelred and Aethelwold scheming against Alfred, but the Danes really take their scheming to the next level. But I agree. I am baffled that the Danes have kept Aethelwold around this long. They say it’s because he can “pour honey in the Saxons’ ears,” but who in their right mind is still believing this guy? That so many good men have died while this cockroach remains is truly salt in the wound.
Jessica: Men like Aethelwold seem to be gifted much longer lives than they deserve on shows like these. I guess it’s because self-preservation is their only concern while the rest of the men consider more noble pursuits like honor, loyalty, and courage. I mean, if your head rests just as easy knowing you’re a coward and a snake, go for it I guess. But Aethelwold seems to be forgetting about the enemies he’s making amongst the Danes. Sure, opportunists like Haesten and Cnut are friendly with you now, but I would not want to get on Brida and Uhtred’s bad side, my friend. You won’t survive it.
Alyssa: That’s the thing. Aethelwold isn’t as clever as he believes himself to be, so there is no way that he will be able to pull off all of the plans that he’s concocted. However, he does manage one trick that LEFT ME GUTTED.
A Warrior’s Death
Jessica: By Odin’s beard, I will never forgive this show for the way they treated our little Danish cream puff, Ragnar the Younger. All he wanted was to reunite with his brother and plunder and pillage as a family. Instead, he died in his bed with a side piece and without a sword in his hand. I just cannot accept that Ragnar will not be feasting in Valhalla for eternity.
Alyssa: I just feel like the show went out of the way to make this the worst possible death for Ragnar. After being more than a bit of a creep and eyeing up every woman in the camp, he’s stabbed to death by the biggest coward on the show, and then to be denied entrance into Valhalla because his sword was snatched away as he died? Absolutely not. I refuse to accept this. He and Uhtred will never make peace now and I am not okay. On a more blood boiling note, there is no way that Aethelwold grasps what he’s just done. These Danes are not going to deliver Wessex to him. They are going to tear each other apart in an attempt to take Ragnar’s place as the leader.
Jessica: There was already division amongst the Danes before Ragnar’s death. In fact, the only reason Aethelwold grew a pair and killed Ragnar was because Ragnar’s own cousin goaded him into it. How does he not see how combustible his alliance is at this point? Ragnar had his faults it’s true, but no Viking deserves to be gutted in his sleep by that steaming pile of donkey dung. And poor Brida. She deserves so much better than what this life can give her.
Alyssa: This is not a show about happy endings, clearly, but God I hope Brida gets one. She has dealt with everything that the world has dealt her with such strength and she’s still fighting! Brida makes me emotional. I love her so much and I am not looking forward to seeing her crushed in the next episode.
Jessica: Well I think it’s a safe bet that the Viking horde is going to have some infighting next episode. With Ragnar gone and two scheming lumps of testosterone left in his wake (here’s looking at you, Cnut and Bloodhair), there’s not much to inspire the men to arms. I’m dreading Brida finding out about Ragnar’s death. I’m dreading Uhtred finding out and this just driving the wedge further between the two. I’m just dreading this next episode, okay?
Alyssa: Jess, I am right there with you. I am really, really hoping that the loss of Ragnar brings Brida and Uhtred back together as allies because those two really work so well together when they’re on the same team. I’m not sure which of them I want to deal the killing blow to Aethelwold, but I am also quite certain that moment won’t come for a long, long time. I have a sinking feeling that that nasty little fellow will, unfortunately, be around for a while. How do you think Uhtred is going to free Skade?
Jessica: Aethelwold is the physical embodiment of a medieval UTI. As soon as you think you’ve kicked it, it comes back with a vengeance. But he’s a problem for another day. Uhtred’s tug of war with Skade seems to be becoming his driving force this season. Does it worry me that he haphazardly subbed her in for Aethelflaed without a concrete plan of how to get her back? Sure. But I assume at some point he will. Of course, he’ll probably have to sacrifice more important relationships and allies to do it, which is exactly what Skade wants. Hate her or love her, the b*tch knows what she’s doing.