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The Last Kingdom Recap Series 1 Episode 4

Season 1 Episode 4

Alexander Dreymon as Uhtred and Amy Wren as Mildrith. Image from The Last Kingdom, streamed via Netflix.
Alexander Dreymon as Uhtred and Amy Wren as Mildrith. Image from The Last Kingdom, streamed via Netflix.

When I watch an episode to write a recap, I often keep an eye out for that one scene that moves me, that single shot from which I could build a post. Here, that happened near the end of the episode, when Uhtred hugged Young Ragnar after the latter saved his life. Uhtred was amongst the hostages Alfred sent to the Danish camp. He could have been killed, as the other Saxon hostages were killed. Young Ragnar and Brida pushed themselves through the mob of Danes led by Guthrum and placed themselves in front of Uhtred. Young Ragnar stated simply that Guthrum would have to kill him, too, if he wanted to kill Uhtred. If he did, Young Ragnar's men would not follow Guthrum. With his invasion of Wessex previously postponed for not having enough men, Guthrum relented. He allowed Uhtred to be released, but without a horse. Presumably, this would mean that he would not have time to warn Alfred of the coming massive Danish army.

In the last few months, Uhtred had become Alfred's man. Uhtred married Mildrith without knowing about the massive debt to church that was now transferred from Mildrith's deceased father to Uhtred. Mildrith was a Lady, and the marriage gave Uhtred lands. In a way, it was a step closer to reclaiming his status as Alderman of Bebbanburg. Mildrith was also a lovely, sweet woman and, despite Uhtred's fury at the debt that now tied him to Church and to Wessex, the two of them had a good marriage. Whilst Uhtred was in captivity, Mildrith gave birth to a son, also named Uhtred.

The Danes, led by Ubba, Guthrum, and Young Ragnar, marched into Wessex with their massive combined army, signalling the end to the peace Alfred previously negotiated. Ubba's brother Ivar was killed in Ireland, however, and Ubba took his men to personally exact his revenge. By the time Alfred marched his army to the stronghold Guthrum captured, Guthrum knew he did not have enough men for a decisive victory. Alfred, for his part, could see that he did not have enough men to retake the garrison. Alfred gave Guthrum one month for his ships to arrive and for his entire army to leave Wessex. The two parties exchanged ten hostages each.

Uhtred was furious that Alfred chose him to be one of the hostages. The hostages would surely be murdered as soon as Ubba returned from Ireland. Uhtred justifiably wondered why he must always prove himself to Alfred. Alfred said that only Uhtred would be able to escape the Danes and warn the Saxons of Ubba's arrival. Alfred would have beacons built across Wessex. Uhtred only needed to light one, and the rest would follow.

Uhtred knew there was no way he would be able to escape the Danes. What he did not count on was Young Ragnar's brotherly love for him. Young Ragnar, who was angry with Uhtred for choosing to remain in Wessex rather than sailing with him to Ireland, willingly confronted a more powerful Danish lord to save Uhtred's life.

When he was a child, Uhtred found a family with the Danes. This bond lasted until adulthood, even at a time of war when Uhtred now stood with the enemy of his brother Ragnar. But Uhtred had a family with the Saxons, too, beyond the kindly Father Beocca. There was Mildrith and baby Uhtred, and to a lesser extent Leofric, whose consistent reference to Uhtred as arseling could very well have given birth to a fandom name. And there was Alfred, too, calm, calculating, and almost frighteningly unpredictable.


■ Brida and Young Ragnar were lovers now.

■ I felt bad for the priest Alfred sent as a hostage, who was convinced he was getting through to Guthrum before Guthrum drove a sword through him.

■ Odda the Younger stole 15 silver pieces from Mildrith's bride price. Uhtred brought it up with Odda the Elder, who made his son give the money back.

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