As The Last Kingdom barrels ahead towards the end of the season, Uhtred begins to make some major decisions that will alter his destiny forever. Through some misdirection, cleverness, and classic swashbuckling, things finally start looking up for Uhtred and his crew. While it's unlikely to last, it's nice to see the team get a small win in this episode. We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer, and we hope you'll join us as we continue to recap the season's twists and turns.
Alyssa: Uhtred’s return to his men immediately made me think two things: my dearest wish is to have a game night with Finan, and Osferth is truly the sweetest muffin in England, even when demanding his dinner. The bonds between this group have grown so nicely and I enjoy just watching them interact.
Jessica: I know the killing will start at some point, but I do thank Freya for giving us this cozy little family moment. Finan makes the best nurse, I would never complain about being Osferth’s slave, and the way both men react to Uhtred being back just warmed my dead, cold heart. I would sacrifice some of my own blood relatives to see these three make it out alive and well this season.
Alyssa: Odin be merciful, let the Coccham Crew live to see a fourth season. Someone else who could use a little prayer to the gods for safety? Aethelflaed. Tangling with assassins again (although to be fair, they were after Uhtred. She was just potential collateral.), our girl always seems to have a target on her back. To be fair to the lady of Mercia, it’s clear that she can handle herself. She was NOT f*cking around with that knife. Aethelflaed will gut a man in seconds flat. I stan.
Jessica: Someone’s been giving her lessons and I need to know who, so that I too may learn how to gut men like the pigs they (usually) are. But really, Uhtred’s not even home a hot minute before he’s fighting off Danes and saving Aethelflaed. It’s kind of nice to know that even in medieval times, people didn’t get a vacation. Obviously, Uhtred knows about Aethelwold’s double dealings but I wonder if this raises his suspicions about the turd’s hand in Ragnar’s death?
Alyssa: I think Uhtred knows how to read that snake at this point, so I think he at least suspects. It was good to see Uhtred give another rousing speech to his men, channeling his inner reputation era Taylor Swift, and once again I was reminded why all these men are willing to follow him into the jaws of death for the umpteenth time. The man is COMPELLING. If he can just put aside his tendency to wander, he really is a leader.
Jessica: It’s true, and sadly, easy to forget when he’s running around England moaning about Skade and fate and how little choice he has. It’s nice to see him finally stepping up, taking responsibility, maturing in a way. I can get behind a focused, determined Uhtred any day. It’s a far cry from the nonsense happening at the Danish camp and in Wessex.
Dealing Out Punishment
Alyssa: It’s true, the sh*t is truly hitting the fan on both sides of the war. The tension between Bloodhair and Haesten finally boiled over, and honestly, I was ready for them to just get it over with. They’ve been snarling at each other about Skade for multiple episodes, and I was ready for some actual blood to spill. You’re Vikings! Fight already! And, true to form, Skade was playing both sides up until the very end.
Jessica: Man, was I relieved to see these two dogs finally fight over that bone. I’m still scratching my head as to why anyone would risk their life to have a woman like Skade. I have yet to see her do any real magic. Even the witch’s visions are turning out wrong. I commend her for her ability to BS her way through life, seducing men with her forbidden snatch and having them drink her tainted blood, and it’s not like any of these Danes are real geniuses here, but damn, how many times does Brida have to warn them not to think with their cocks before they listen?
Alyssa: Seriously, no one ever listens to Brida and I don’t understand it. She was beside Ragnar for so long, so she knows better than anyone the ins and outs of warfare and politics. Listen to Brida! She knows! I have to think that she’s four steps ahead of everyone else in the Danish camp and that’s why she invited Cnut into her bed. She is definitely playing him, right? RIGHT? And as far as Skade and any actual magic, she finally showed some of her power with that fight between Haesten and Bloodhair. I guess there aren’t any real rules for interfering once the square is drawn.
Jessica: It would seem not. I mean, Ragnar made a point of not stepping in when there was interference in Uhtred’s match with Bloodhair and I have to think Cnut could care less who wins this fight as long as he gets to warm Brida’s bed and stop listening to his bros bicker over a woman. I do think Brida is wise to Cnut’s scheming, at least in part. She accused him and Bloodhair of betraying Ragnar just a couple of episodes ago. I can't imagine her choice to hook up with the guy is born out of a genuine like or even loneliness. Brida’s too smart for that. I wish I could say the same about Bloodhair. As annoying as his devotion to Skade was, I’d rather look at his ugly mug for a few more episodes than Haesten, who really is the scum of the earth. Bloodhair was basically p*ssy-whipped to the grave. I can’t believe he’s getting into Valhalla now.
Alyssa: Yeah, the fight didn’t go the way I wanted either. The only bigger coward than Haesten is Aethelwold, who finally had to face some consequences for his actions in this episode. For a while, I really thought he was going to get away with treason completely because Alfred really was leaning into the whole merciful uncle side of him for a bit. I think Aethelswith’s desire for Aethelwold’s death is the first time I’ve ever agreed with her.
Jessica: Weird, right? I had to pause the episode for a second when I caught myself cheering on Aethelswith’s meddling sermon to Alfred about Aethelwold’s purposeless existence and the threat he posed. Look, I’ve never like Aethelswith but I wouldn’t want to get on her bad side and I have no problem becoming a bandwagon fan if the end result is watching Aethelwold held down in a public square and tortured for our amusement. There is no shame in this hater’s game.
Alyssa: Truly, I was both satisfied by this stroke of justice but also repulsed by the fact that they STABBED OUT HIS EYE. Better than he deserves, but gross nonetheless. I was glad that at least one scumbag was punished because it seems like jerks are always prospering in Wessex and beyond. I’m ready for Aldhelm to stab Aethelred. It’s time. That asshole has been walking around, scheming against his wonderful queen for long enough. Let’s keep this “Judgement on Aethels” train going, Alfred.
Jessica: I hate to be the one to tell someone how to do their job, but wouldn’t it have made more sense to cut out Aethelwold’s tongue? I’m not complaining about the eye gouging, don’t get me wrong. It was fun to watch and well-deserved. But the danger Aethelwold poses comes from his ability to talk others into doing his bidding. If he can’t weasel his way out of things with words, he’s kind of useless.
Alyssa: Clearly you would be a better ruler than Alfred. You know how to properly deal with your enemies. The time to be merciful with Aethelwold is never, even if you’re at death’s door and constantly fretting about the state of your soul. If subsisting on gruel for decades isn’t enough, I’m not sure you’re ever getting into heaven, my dude. I am interested to see what other moves Alfred makes as he prepares for death. He’s looking more sickly by the minute, so maybe worry about other things than your son’s wedding. Like, I don’t know, making amends with the man who basically won you your kingdom?
Jessica: The clock is definitely ticking is Alfred hopes to reconcile with Uhtred. At this point, there’s not much he can do in terms of ensuring his vision of a united England, but he can heal the fractured relationships with the people closest to him. Whether he does, or even cares to, is the real question. Alfred’s always been a big thinker, it’s one of his strengths and his greatest flaws. His inability to actually see the people closest to him, to recognize their value above his own self-interests, it’s been his downfall in terms of long-lasting allies. I don’t know if you can teach an old dog new tricks, but teaching them to a dying dog has to be doubly difficult.
The Price For Skade
Alyssa: Team Uhtred finally got a couple of wins in this episode, between burning down an insolent town and getting a leg up on the Danes. As Finan astutely pointed out, “he just loves burning things!” Uhtred was at his cocky best in this episode, and his assurance in his own abilities and the strength of his men was a blast. That’s what they get for locking them in an alehouse, I suppose.
Jessica: God, watching Finan wield those torches … let’s just say, the burning village wasn’t the only thing getting hot. I love a good pillaging, it’s the only thing that makes me think I may have enjoyed myself in those times, but the rational part of me realizes what a waste of resources setting an entire town ablaze truly is. Think of how long it took those farmers to build something as elaborate as a stone house with a stray roof back in the day. Tsk, tsk, Uhtred.
Alyssa: It may have been rash, but it made for exciting TV! You know what else was good TV? Finding out that Uhtred and Sihtric had scammed everyone and the betrayal that was so devastating was merely a ruse. That felt good. That was a nice moment in a sea of sadness and violence. Basically, this episode was everyone broing out in both soft and scary ways, and I was a fan. With Sihtric as his ears inside the camp, Uhtred was finally able to get his hands on Skade. Ugh. Maybe he will stop bellyaching about the curse now.
Jessica: When Osferth realized Sihtric and Uhtred had planned the whole thing and said, “My goodness, they were playing us, Finan.” Ugh, be still my beating heart. I just love this little family and I’ve gained a new respect for Sihtric. He’s painted as this kid always lusting for battle but he took a real risk for Uhtred by infiltrating the Danish camp. He deserves some kind of award. Or a day off. Alas, with Skade now in Uhtred’s possession, I think the boys will have an even more difficult time of it, especially if Uhtred can’t bring himself to do what needs to be done.
Alyssa: Since, as you pointed out, Alfred didn’t cut out Aethelwold’s tongue, I imagine he is really going to stir the sh*t in the coming episodes. I am so glad that this season has an additional two episodes because there is no way that they could tie up all the loose ends in just one more! I suppose it is too much to hope that our favorite family can just settle in for some beer and a game of Scrabble, but alas, more war is to be waged and witches need to be dealt with.
Jessica: Beer and boardgames always come after the slaughtering, Alyssa. You know this. But you are right about Aethelwold. The maggot has well and truly suffered now, something he’s not used to and can’t be too happy about. He’ll return to the Danes with a newfound vengeance. I can only hope Brida finds out about his involvement in Ragnar’s death and quick.