Season 2 Episode 3
The third episode of the second season of The Last Kingdom focused on slavery whilst meditating on the bonds that held its characters. Uhtred and Halig, warriors, friends, a general and his loyal soldier, survived the horrendous conditions together until they were almost able to escape. As punishment for the attempt, the injured Halig was tied to the prow of the ship whilst a devastated Uhtred rowed, until Halig finally died. Young Ragnar was tasked by King Alfred to search for Uhtred; once reunited, Young Ragnar insisted on returning to King Alfred as he promised, though they could have journeyed to Kjartan's keep to rescue the long suffering Thyra. King Alfred threatened to have Young Ragnar tried for the death of Abbot Eadred, whom Uhtred killed, unless Uhtred returned to his service. In exchange for his brother's freedom, the proud Uhtred knelt, abandoning his desire for a life lived free to pursue Bebbanburg.
In scene after scene, it was the ties that bind that were explored. The warrior Steapa was as loyal to Princess Aethelflaed as he was to King Alfred. Princess Aethelflaed was willing to marry for duty, and did not appear opposed to the handsome Aethelred of Mercia as her husband. Alfred bound the weaker Mercia to Wessex by asking as bride price not silver but choice lands in Mercia now deeded to Aethelflaed.
Whilst The Last Kingdom is very much Uhtred's story, King Alfred's efforts to create an England, here in part through his daughter's marriage to Aethelred of Mercia, and in part by pulling a renowned warrior like Uhtred back into his service, was a fascinating study of a man of deep faith who was nonetheless politically shrewd and unblinking in pushing men to corners to get what he wanted. With a few quiet words interspersed with Uhtred's more action packed sections of the episode, David Dawson gave us a layered, compelling portrayal of one of England's most remembered monarchs.
Guthred, meanwhile, was finding it difficult to hold his alliances with only Abbot Eadred whispering in his ear. Aelfric, who arrived with 200 spears, was furious when he learnt that his nephew Uhtred was not dead. The brothers Sigefrid and Erik pulled from the alliance when they saw Aelfric walk away. In an effort to keep Aelfric as an ally, Guthred offered his sister Gisela as his bride. Abbot Eadred cannily let Aelfric know that Gisela and Uhtred had grown close; Aelfric, previously cool to the idea of marrying a woman who had run away, suddenly wanted what he knew his nephew Uhtred also wanted.
Gisela had hidden in a nunnery, and it was there that Abbot Eadred eventually discovered her. He forced her into marrying Aelfric in proxy, and proclaimed them husband and wife just before Uhtred marched in with Young Ragnar, Hild, and a few other warriors. Abbot Eadred kept insisting that Gisela was married to Aelfric, until Uhtred finally stuck his sword through him right there inside the church. Hild, a warrior who still retained her faith, was horrified at the murder of a man of God.
Uhtred and Hild's relationship is one of The Last Kingdom's quiet pleasures. It was Hild who went to a still traumatized Uhtred, who cut saw the marks of lashes on his back, who cut his beard, who patiently brought back the Uhtred that he was before he knew what it was like to be a severely mistreated slave. It would be interesting to see how their relationship would evolve now that Hild personally witnessed Uhtred's murder of Abbot Eadred inside a place that her faith considered holy.
The third episode continues The Last Kingdom's strong second season (series). As I write this, I have already seen the third season (series), and have already written a recap of the first episode following The Last Kingdom's shift to a solely Netflix production. I considered simply completing the third season recap, but The Last Kingdom is one of my favourite shows and, now that I have a bit of free time, I would dearly love to complete recapping it.
⚔︎ Uhtred to Hild: "You are too good a woman for God alone."
⚔︎Alfred to Uhtred: "I have missed your childish insolence."
⚔︎Sihtric proved himself to be loyal to Uhtred. Whilst Uhtred languished as a slave, it was to him that Gisela entrusted a letter to be given to Hild on her return from Wessex. I assumed it contained information on where Gisela meant to hide from her brother.
⚔︎Part of Aelfric's deal with Guthred was that a message was to be sent to Kjartan on how Uhtred may be found and killed.
⚔︎Sverri was the sea trader to whom Jonis sold Uhtred as a slave. When Sverri returned in spring just as Jonis told Young Ragnar, Sven was there waiting for Uhtred. Sven challenged the severely weakened Uhtred into a fight; Young Ragnar, Hild, and their men rode in just in time to save Ragnar.
⚔︎One of the slaves rightly killed the cruel Sverri.
⚔︎Old Ceowulf went to Wessex demanding swords to help defend Mercia from Danish raids. Ceowulf did not want Mercia to be an appendage of Wessex. He died at the table whilst negotiating with Alfred and his wife Aelswith. Aelswith quickly took the piece of parchment where Ceowulf had written the name of the man he thought would make a suitable husband for Aethelflaed.
⚔︎Uhtred spent a brief time in Iceland working during the winter with the other slaves.