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The Last Kingdom Series 2 Episode 2

Season 2 Episode 2

Peri Baumeister as Gisela and Alexander Dreymon as Uhtred. Image from The Last Kingdom, streamed via Netflix.
Peri Baumeister as Gisela and Alexander Dreymon as Uhtred. Image from The Last Kingdom, streamed via Netflix.

It was Uhtred's competence as a warrior, more than his rugged good looks ("Even his scars are handsome," Father Beocca noted wryly) that drew the powerful to him. Alfred may not exactly be Uhtred's friend, but the King of Wessex had been reluctant to see him dead, because Uhtred was useful to him. After Uhtred rescued Guthred from slavery, the new King of Cumberland had shown himself more ready to listen to the advise of his brash young army chief. The promise that Guthred would be a kinder partner to Uhred, however, was a false one. Guthred listened to Uhtred, but he also listened to Abbot Eadred, who feared and resented the Danish/ Saxon whose reputation as a warrior was fast becoming legend. Guthred revealed himself to be frighteningly suggestible. In the end, it was the Abbot's poisonous words that won. Uhtred freed a slave only for him and his man Halig to end up as slaves themselves.

Uhtred has not had any progress in retaking Bebbanburg, his focus was still on his blood feud with Kjartan, yet as each day passed from the victory at Ethandun, his legend grew. Uhtred was the warrior who spectacularly broke through a shield wall. As men answered the call of the King of Cumberland, it was Uhtred who showed them his warrior skills, Uhtred who impressed them. Uhtred was beloved by the men around him.

When Uhtred came to Guthred to demand that he be treated with the same respect as Sigefrid, from Uhtred's point of view, what he asked was not unreasonable. Like Sigefrid, Uhtred was a lord. Why was Sigefrid courted, negotiated with, promised the lands and fortress currently controlled by Kjartan, whilst Uhtred, who has proved his usefulness, treated as a follower, an employee? From Uhtred's point of view, the fact that Guthred did not even consider him a possible match for his sister Gisela was an insult. In the power plays of the age, Gisela was a valuable chess piece, to be married to whomsoever the King thought would most benefit him. From whom has the King most benefited, but Uhtred?

Uhtred was ambitious, he called himself a rival to the King, but his words were spoken mostly good-naturedly. He wanted Gisela, she wanted him, and he was trying, in his own rash, brash way, to negotiate for her hand. What Guthred heard, however, was confirmation of the poison Abbot Eadred poured in his ears. Uhtred was a rival. Uhtred was a nobleman of the North, a descendant of kings. Uhtred saw himself as above King Guthred. Aelfric was only an enemy of Guthred because he was an enemy of Uhtred. Aelfric had no designs beyond Bebbanburg but Uhtred might. Uhtred's life would be worth the 200 Christian men Aelfric would provide for the holy army Guthred was assembling.

When Guthred sold Uhtred to slavery, Uhtred demanded that Halig be released. Halig insisted that he would remain by his lord's side. It was this ability to inspire loyalty, according to Guthred, that doomed Uthred.

Halig, Hild, Sihtric. Image from The Last Kingdom, streamed via Netflix.
Halig, Hild, Sihtric. Image from The Last Kingdom, streamed via Netflix.

By selling Uhtred to slavery, Guthred did not actually fulfill Aelfric's demand in exchange for the 200 men he would provide. Aelfric wanted Uhtred dead. The only thing Guthred honoured was Aelfric's insistence that Uhtred be known as Oswald, the boy's name before his older brother Uhtred died and he became heir to Bebbanburg. When Guthred murmured "Oswald", it was again a demonstration of how suggestible he was. That he did not kill Uhtred was, according to Uhtred, merely because of cowardice. Guthred was not a man who was well versed in taking a sword and shoving it down an enemy's throat.

Hild, a nun in another life, insisted that she earn the right to take armour for herself. Kjartan sent men to Guthred's camp to kill Uhtred. Only one, young Sihtric, was spared. Uhtred ordered the heads of the men sent to assassinate him to be cut off. Hild volunteered to cut the first head. Instead of using an axe, Hild used a knife. She wanted to get used to the feel of cutting up a man's body, for that would happen a lot in her new life as a warrior. Even Halig looked away. Hild finished her task, earned her armour, and threw up.

Even as Uhtred was betrayed, the second episode of the second series assembled a team of loyalists to Uhtred. There was Halig and Hild, but there was also Clapa, a massive warrior. Sihtric, the only one amongst Kjartan's men to survive, revealed himself to be Kjartan's bastard son by a slave. He offered to serve Uhtred in exchange for his life. Sihtric immediately proved useful, when he correctly identified the men on the road as the brothers Sigefrid and Erik.

"Stupid, it's in my nature," Uhtred told Father Beocca before they said their goodbyes. Uhtred was also a survivor. There was some good, physical work by Alexander Dreymon on the beach, as Uhtred and Halig, their hands bound behind them, were led to the slave ship. Uhtred tried to rush his captors and Halig did his best to fight, too. It did not work, but the spirit, the determination to fight, remained.


■ Unlike her brother, Gisela was not a Christian. It was Gisela's idea to offer ransom for her brother, and to call on Alfred for assistance. 

■ If offered as a bride, Gisela said she would decide if she would leave or remain.

■ Gisela and Uhtred became lovers.

■ Father Beocca grew concerned for Uhtred's safety when he saw that Abbot Eadred was an effective speaker. It was Abbot Eadred, not King Guthred, who convinced the other lords to take Eoferwic.

■ Aethelflaed continued to train with Steapa. When King Alfred was informed by Hild that Uhtred had been sold as a slave, Aethelflaed was amongst those who protested in his behalf. 

■ Abbot Eadred sent Brother Trew to Bebbanburg with his proposal to Aelfric.

■ When Uhtred learnt that the brothers Sigefrid and Erik were on the road with a force much smaller than King Guthred's army, Uhtred wanted to attack. King Guthred refused and decided to negotiate with the brothers.

■ Uhtred asked Sihtric for weaknesses in Dunholm; Sihtric said none. Uhtred took the severed heads of Kjartan's men and lined them up outside the fortress. Uhtred still pretended to be a dead horseman; Kjartan knew it was Uhtred.

■ Uhtred also killed Fiske, Kjartan's man who was sent to count the heads. Kjartan knew one of his men was missing (Sihtric).

■ Alfred sent for Ragnar and Brida; he meant to have Ragnar search for Uhtred.

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