We're over the halfway mark on Netflix's The Last Kingdom and Uhtred is taking a break from his Skade drama to help Brida save Rangar's soul.
The sixth episode of the show's third season sees the pseudo-sibling reuniting in order to help Ragnar reach Valhalla and to do it, they've got to turn to a familiar foe. We're Jessica Toomer and Alyssa Fikse and we're recapping all of the dangerous quests, Danish infighting and bromance breakups on this episode. Journey with us.
A Brotherhood Broken
Alyssa: Well, Alfred has decided to embrace his worst impulses, but at least Edward was ready to step up. I could feel the sighs of relief (despite riding into battle) from the Saxon forces when the aetheling took charge like maybe they now have a king in training worth following. However, he waited so long that Osferth got wounded! Wessex’s prime cinnamon roll! Plus, Uhtred wasn’t even able to retrieve Skade, so a lot of this bloodshed was for naught. At least they got Beamfleot out of it?
Jessica: Personally, I got a lot out of watching Haesten sh*t himself once he discovered Alfred hadn’t kicked the bucket quite yet. To be fair, he could’ve been terrified just by the sight of Alfred — dude looks like a walking corpse at this point — but Haesten is a man whose death I pray for every time I start a new episode and his loss this episode was a step in the right direction. As Father Beocca would say, “Praise Him!” I was devastated to see Osferth fall although, again a silver lining of that is we get to see Finan nurse his sweet baby monk back to health. But you’re right, this battle felt particularly frustrating because Uhtred wasn’t able to accomplish the goal of it. I’m sure Beamfleot is a good stronghold to have in the scheme of things, but what our boys really need to do is capture that witch and find a way to get rid of this curse. It’s already cost us too much.
Alyssa: I know that it was a more superstitious time, but I think the curse is bullsh*t. Skade didn’t even know that Alfred was still alive! I feel like if you’re powerful enough to supposedly wreck a man’s entire life with a few words, you should be able to see that the king has not quite kicked the bucket. Honestly, Uhtred’s steadfast belief in this curse is causing more problems. Sihtric has never been my favorite of the Coccham crew, but I understood why he was frustrated. Throwing themselves into danger just to get Uhtred his latest woman isn’t exactly a noble cause. While he could have handled his frustration better — lashing out in public is never a good look — I get where he’s coming from. He has a wife. He has a kid. And yet he’s following Uhtred around the countryside looking for Skade. Ugh.
Jessica: I too think the curse is a bunch of horse dung. Uhtred’s belief in it is what gives it power. If he feels claiming Skade and getting rid of the curse is in his best interest, fine, but don’t bring allies, entire armies, into this very personal, seemingly meaningless quest. He’s never had a definitive game plan before, but I think Uhtred inspired his men because of his values, his honor, his commitment to his oath. There’s nothing inspiring about tracking across a sub-freezing continent for a booty call, I don’t care who the sorceress is. I feel for Uhtred, because he’s experienced so much loss recently and without a sense of faith or the ability to handle his emotions, he’s latching onto this idea that fate, and Skade, are responsible, but you cannot expect men to keep putting their lives on the line for you when you’re traipsing around England moaning about being cursed. Sihtric, unlike Finan, seems to have a bit more self-preservation about him at the moment.
Alyssa: You would think that Uhtred would understand the importance of being an inspiring leader after having to put up with Alfred for all these years, but you know “destiny is all” and he’s single-minded in his quest. With Alfred taking advantage of Uhtred and Uhtred, in turn, taking advantage of Sihtric, you definitely get the sense that everyone involved wishes they could throw off the shackles of their bonds and just strike off on their own. Finan is the only one working to keep the peace and the man deserves to REST. Maybe it was for the best when Uhtred struck out on his own to find Ragnar’s grave. Although he should definitely keep clear of the Danish camp because that place is a hotbed of turmoil right now.
A Danish War Council
Jessica: Whew chile, these Danes make our own government look put together right now. I don’t even know where to begin with the amount of bad decision making, ill-planned coups, backstabbing, betrayal, and fighting over a woman with face tattoos. If I were an infantryman in this army, I’d have peaced out a couple of episodes ago, tbh.
Alyssa: I find myself wondering that a lot. Why do the foot soldiers stay? For either side! They are just pawns in games of powerful men, and they seem to get nothing except for empty promises of glory out of it. I guess they don’t really have any other options, though. It’s either this or till the land, and at least this has more gossip fodder. I had to laugh about Aethelwold being so shocked that the Danes had absolutely no desire to keep him around or even alive. Congratulations, Aethelwold. You played yourself.
Jessica: Yeah, office life is nonexistent at this point and I guess these men need some kind of watercooler fodder to keep them entertained. I’d like to imagine they flit from camp to camp, spilling the tea over the evening fire.
Sven: Did you hear what Haesten told Bloodhair this morning? Mark my words, there’s going to be a square made before the week is out y’all.
Sven’s friends (some of them also named Sven): *nod heads* You right, you right.
Alyssa: If we’ve learned anything about the Danes it’s that they are indeed messy bitches who live for drama, so I think that that exact exchange happened in the background. Just like the last episode, I am getting some major vibes from Bloodhair that he is NOT down for Cnut’s plan, even beyond the fact that Haesten has claimed “his woman.” Ugh, I am so tired of Skade being treated like a flesh trophy with these dudes. She sucks, but no one deserves this.
Jessica: In a way though, it’s to her benefit. Look, if Skade wasn’t viewed as this powerful sorceress, both feared and lusted after by these men, she’d probably be taken advantage of in worse ways. At least, by throwing a curse out here and there and withholding the privilege of her blood, bed, and power, she can hold onto some kind of bodily autonomy. The caveman antics are nerve-grating but they beat being violated by hordes of Viking warriors I guess? Honestly, I’m just ready for this Skade business to be done with. I’m enjoying watching her divide the Danish army through intense eye-contact and snarky one-liners but I haven’t seen enough witchcraft to justify the level of importance she seems to carry.
Uhtred And Brida’s Quest
Alyssa: Then let us move on to better things: Uhtred and Brida. They’re breaking my heart, but I loved seeing them work together as a team again. While the romance is obviously gone, and for the better, these two really have always understood each other. I think that’s part of the reason Brida is so hard on Uhtred. She knows that he can do better, and even when she’s at her harshest, so wants to help him get there. These two certainly have a lot of ground to cover in terms of reconciliation, but the joint quest to save Ragnar from hell is certainly a place to start.
Jessica: Our favorite medieval duo rides again! Honestly, The Last Kingdom should seriously consider a spin-off of these two traveling across England, causing chaos and getting into trouble. It’d be a half-hour comedy series and it would be glorious. Alas, for now, they’ve got an important task to complete. Poor Ragnar is stuck in the Viking version of hell — damn you for eternity Aethelwold — and who can save him? A seer of course! But not just any seer. That turd Storri is back and I really wanted Brida to shove a whole tree up his ass this time. It can’t be easy for her to interact with the man who cursed her to remain barren, an issue that eventually took its toll on her relationship with Ragnar and might’ve indirectly led to his death. I mean, there’s no way Aethelwold was sneaking up on a sleeping Brida right?
Alyssa: Oh man, I didn’t even consider that option, but yeah, she would have definitely stabbed Aethewold where he stood. It’s very clear that she’s been carrying around more than her fair share of guilt for a long time, so getting her revenge and breaking her own curse from Storri was immensely satisfying. I am always down to see Brida bring pain to terrible men. After killing Storri, her heartfelt conversation with Uhtred really got me all up in my feelings. These two have been through a lot, together and apart, and it was good to see them with a common goal. I hate that it had to be through Ragnar’s death, but I liked seeing these two with a purpose again.
Jessica: Same. I don’t think either of them would’ve been able to begin healing after Ragnar’s death if they hadn’t gone on this quest together. They got what they needed from Storri but more importantly, they both had a chance to grieve a member of their family and to heal past hurts, as much as those hurts could be healed anyway. I also love that Brida knew how to break Skade’s curse from the beginning but withheld that information to punish Uhtred because she just knew he’d turn away from Ragnar at some point. I can only hope to achieve that level of pettiness one day. But now Uhtred knows what he must do to be truly free of the witch and to help his brother find peace. I’m wondering how long it takes for him to do both.
Alyssa: Well, we have only four episodes left of this season, and The Last Kingdom tends to wrap up storylines at the end of each season. Uhtred has a lot to do in four episodes, and it feels like almost everyone is tired of giving him more time to accomplish his goals. He really, really needs to get the Skade business over and done with, but I do like that he’s prioritizing Ragnar, even if it’s posthumously. I’m also glad that he told Brida about the reason for his second oath to Alfred. Uhtred does have a tendency for dramatic, personal decisions, but that time, he was only thinking of Ragnar and he deserves to get a bit of credit for that.
Jessica: Uhtred redeemed himself a bit by the end of this episode and I’m fully behind his new gameplan. For one, it feels like a plan, which is a nice change for our Viking warrior, but it also feels like he’s prioritizing the right people and really trying to influence the outcome of this mess with the Danes and the Saxons in a positive way. I like Uhtred best when his motivations lack his usual selfishness, and while killing Skade and helping Ragnar find peace are inherently selfish goals, they have a benefitting ripple effect. With Skade dead we can bypass all of the chaos and fighting and threat of death she brings to Uhtred’s crew and with Aethelwold dead, Edward’s crown -- because, let’s face it, Alfred’s not long for this world -- is more secure. Plus Aethelwold’s a rat so who wouldn’t want to see him slayed?
Alyssa: Yeah, I’m ready to see the end of Aethelwold. If he lives to see another season, I will mutiny. My feels about the impending death of Alfred are a little more complicated. I am decidedly not a fan, but his complicated dynamic with Uhtred is what fuels the show. Who is Uhtred without his tanglings with Alfred? I think the show will look very different once Alfred shuffles off from this mortal coil. Also, can we bring back Hild? I miss her. She’s been relegated to caring from Uhtred’s children back home and I think her influence on Uhtred is a real loss. I can’t imagine good things are in the future for Uhtred’s tightest circle now that Sihtric has abandoned him and Osferth is out of commission. I think it’s just going to be him and Finan against the world for a bit. That feels like a pretty rough destiny.