After a hiatus from this show, due mostly to uncertainty about whether I even wanted to finish it, I finally watched the final season of The Last Kingdom on Netflix.

Based on the books by Bernard Cornwell, the show is a historical fiction that follows Lord Uhtred of Bebbanburg through the reigns of King Alfred the Great and his son Edward the Elder. The overarching story is Uhtred’s quest to regain control of Bebbanburg, the fortress that by birthright belongs to him but was stolen by his uncle during the Viking invasions.

Overall I thought the show was done well. The atmosphere was largely dark and gritty. Plenty of battlefield violence as well as some grotesque murders, but nothing over the top. The casting was excellent, and while Alexander Dreymon’s version of Uhtred was at first a little bland and boring, he eventually hits his stride and gives us a great performance.

My favorite characters in the show were the Saxon kings: Alfred and Edward. Rarely emotional, they were played as crafty, master politicians, delicately balancing a dozen issues while also fighting off great Viking armies. The castings for these two roles were excellent, and I especially appreciated how neither king was portrayed as a wholly good or bad guy. They sometimes made immoral or unethical decisions, while other times they acted uprightly, usually doing whatever advanced their goal of a united England under one Saxon king.

Brida, a childhood friend and former lover of Uhtred, was one of the most important characters in the show, and that was unfortunate. She was played well by the actress but my God that character was boring. Two-dimensional and flat, constantly going in circles. I won’t describe exactly why I didn’t like her because of spoilers, but I felt like she held the show back and was one of the main reasons I almost gave up watching.

I really enjoyed the ending and how the show was concluded. I’ll talk briefly about that in a moment if you want to hear what I have to say, but obviously there’s gonna be spoilers. So if you don’t want to see any spoilers, if you think this show might be for you, stop reading after this paragraph! I do recommend the show to fans of the genre (gritty, Medieval historical fiction) and the books as well. Definitely worth your time.

Anyway, about that ending, as you can probably guess, Uhtred finally recovers Bebbanburg at long last. King Edward the Elder, who helped Uhtred recover the fortress because it also helped his dream of uniting England, congratulates Uhtred after the battle and tells him about a ceremony he’s planned so Uhtred can swear loyalty like a proper lord.

Uhtred, after spending his entire life swearing loyalty to Saxon kings for one reason or another, after a lifetime spent in pursuit of taking back his lands, informs the king he struck a secret bargain with the king of Scotland, who had fought against them at Bebbanburg. He told the Scot king that he would not swear loyalty to any king so that neither England nor Scotland would view Bebbanburg as a threat to their borders. He would be independent, free, a local king, just as his ancestors had been.

Edward seethes internally, barely constraining an explosion of anger as Uhtred turns his back on the king and rejoins his men in celebration. After five seasons of Uhtred constantly being used by other, more powerful men, it was nice to see him finally stand on his own two feet and put a king in his place.

Published by Peter Martuneac

Marine, Boilermaker, husband and father. I'm here to share my thoughts on all things political or philosophical.

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