Season 1 Episode 6
The Last Kingdom episodes tend to move quickly without appearing in a rush, so that each 40-something minute instalment is packed. Its sixth episode began with Uhred and Leofric planning their raid to Cornwalum whilst dressed as Danes. It ended with the entire scheme known to Alfred and the Witan, and with Uhtred and Leofric decreed to fight to the death.
It was not desperation that drove Uhtred to risk his life and newly reclaimed status as an Alderman by raiding like a Dane. After all, Uhtred and his family were not starving. Rather, it was a desire to be free of the massive debt to the church, the tether that tied him to Alfred, and anger, as well, for Odda the Younger's claim of victory against Ubba. Leofric was Odda's men, sent to watch over Uhtred, but raiding was actually Leofric's idea; he, too, was nauseated at all the rewards Odda the Younger unjustly reaped.
The people of Cornwalum, however, had nothing to give. As Uhtred surmised, true Danes had been there before them and relieved that townsfolk of what silver they may have had. Hope for a payday came when King Peredur offered silver to Uhtred and his men in exchange for their help in retaking a fortress he claimed was taken from him by fellow Britons. King Peredur's shadow Queen, Iseult, a woman who could see the future as long as she remained a virgin, assured the King that Uhtred was the one.
King Peredur lied. Danes, led by Skorpa, were the ones who held the tower. Skorpa talked Uhtred into betraying Peredur and splitting the wealth amongst them. Peredur's force of 30 ill armed men were quickly annihilated and, as soon as Peredur pointed where the silver was hidden, he was killed by Skorpa.
Skorpa had heard of Uhtred, the Saxon son of the late Earl Ragnar. He betrayed Ragnar and his men, and took all the treasure found in Peredur's home. Iseult, who had counselled Uhtred not to fight Skorpa, led him and his men to a second, much larger treasure. Iseult rode with Uhtred back to Wessex.
Bishop Alewold accepted an Irish made jewelled crucifix as payment for Uhtred's debt. The Bishop also agreed to dismiss the demand for wergild by the family of Oswald, the servant Uhtred killed. Uhtred returned to his family with news that Mildrith's land was now fully hers, but it was not a happy reunion. Against Uhtred's wishes, Mildrith had baby Uhtred baptised. Mildrith was furious at Iseult's presence; it was not merely that she was a beautiful woman, but also because she was pagan. Whatever love that were between Uhtred and Mildrith was gone. Mildrith resolved to take baby Uhtred to Odda the Elder's estate. Meanwhile, Uhtred and Iseult rode to Winchester to face the Witan.
Brother Asser, who was part of King Peredur's court, survived the Danish massacre and made it to Alfred to report what occurred. With Odda the Younger determined to see Uhtred dead, Leofric was also made prisoner. By the time Uhtred arrived, Leofric had already confessed and donated his share of the treasure to the church. Leofric, who thought Odda the Younger would see Uhtred dead no matter what, strove to give Uhtred a warrior's death. Leofric petitioned Alfred to allow him to Uhtred to fight to the death, which Alfred granted.
In an episode that covered much, the one scene that stood out for me was a short one. When Uhtred came to see Bishop Alewold, he was told the Bishop was at prayer. The Bishop, along with other priests, were counting treasure. This was a period when the church was perhaps the wealthiest institution. God fearing men like Mildrith's father and Leofric would donate their fortune to the church. It was also a period of endemic poverty. When Uhtred entered the room and saw what the Bishop and his men were up to, his cynicism toward the church was perfectly understandable.
■ Aethelwold followed Uhtred and his men to Cornwalum. Leofric wanted to kill him, but Uhtred, reminded that he owed Aethelwold for his performance during their walk of punishment, decided that he would get to live.
■ Whilst the church was the dominant institution of the land, there were parts of Britain, like the court of King Peredur, that still held on to at least some pagan beliefs.
■ The pagan Iseult was clearly disliked by Brother Asser.
■ Iseult saw that she would be with Uhtred to the end.
■ Odda the Younger was building a church in Cynuit, where Ubba fell; there was talk that it had an altar of gold. From Cornwalum, Skorpa raided Cynuit.
■ Skorpa whispered something to Iseult's ear before he left.
■ At the Witan, Uhtred declared that he killed Ubba.