Season 2 Episode 5
The very things that made Uhtred valuable to Alfred -- his skill as a warrior, his charismatic leadership, his fearless focus on getting whatever he was tasked with done -- were also those that made Uhtred a threat to Alfred. Aethelwold could speak of his right to kingship to anyone, but Uhtred, who like him was descended from Kings, could actually be king.
Was the message from Bjorn part of an elaborate plot masterminded by the brothers Sigefrid and Erik, who had returned to Alfred's England much stronger than they were when Uhtred forced them to leave Northumbria? In the last three years, Uhtred has lived as Alfred's man in his lands in Coccham. Uhtred kept the peace in his own way, and lived what appeared to be a good life with his beloved Gisela. It was nearby Mercia that was plagued with Danish raids, a Mercia that would soon be led by Aethelred, who was to marry Alfred's daughter Aethelflaed.
Uhtred's counsel to Alfred, to send men to Beamfleot before the raiders turned into an army, was a wise one, and one that Alfred did not heed, for in his eyes Uhtred could very well rise as the leader of that army. Alfred instead sent Father Pyrlig, a former warrior, to urge King Athelstan of East Anglia (formerly Earl Guthrum) to deal with the raiders. Whatever King Athelstan could have done was already too late. The brothers Sigefrid and Erik (along with their retainer Haesten) had already assembled their army in Beamfleot, and was sailing to raid Lunden, also part of the Kingdom of Mercia.
That Uhtred was tempted by the treasonous words Aethelwold poured in his ears was clear. Uhtred knew his value; Alfred has struggled to acknowledge and reward it. Years had passed, and he has not gotten back what was his by right, Bebbanburg. Alfred could gift Mercia to one like Aethelred, who has won no battles nor served Alfred, yet Uhtred, who has been instrumental in Alfred's victories, remained a lord of Coccham whose counsel was not valued. It was a wound on Uhtred that has festered.
Gisela clearly knew her husband, and told him repeatedly that they did not want a man like Alfred as an enemy. Gisela even suggested that Uhtred could ask to be released from his vows so they may travel north and join Ragnar and her brother. Though Uhtred may have been cynical over Aethelwold's pronunciations that the both of them were born to be Kings, though Uhtred tasked Sihtric to watch the grave where Bjorn was supposed to rise, though Uhtred went to the meeting in Skald's Hall where he was met by Haesten and later by Eilaf, Uhtred still went, signalling, at least, the temptation of the crown.
Uhtred and Gisela had been in Winchester for the wedding of Aethelflaed and Aethelred. Alfred was furious when he learnt that Uhtred had left the city with Aethelwold, and ordered Steapa to have Gisela watched until Uhtred returned. Aethelwold may speak of treason, but they were just words to Alfred; with Uhtred, however, they could be trouble.
The fifth episode felt very much like the calm before the storm. Uhtred and Gisela now had a son and a daughter. Young Sihtric longed to marry a woman who used to be a prostitute. Father Beocca had fallen in love with Thyra, and she accepted his offer of marriage. Aethelflaed looked forward to marrying Aethelred. Alfred complained of reading of nothing but reports of raids. The brothers Sigefrid and Erik had returned. Aethelwold was stirring trouble, or was being used to stir trouble. Following a three year jump, The Last Kingdom positioned its pieces for what could soon be a series of violent confrontations.
⚔︎Hild has set down her sword and become a nun once more. She asked permission to build a nunnery in Uhtred's land. Uhtred assured her she had his permission and protection. Their friendship has remained sweet, even through Uhtred's repeated teasing that Hild was too good a woman for God alone.
⚔︎Sihtric, Finan, and Clapa were still in Uhtred's service. Steapa remained at Alfred's side.
⚔︎Aethelwold claimed he had a dream that a corpse rose and told Uhtred he would be King of Mercia. After Uhtred saw Aethelred enter Winchester as though he were King, Uhtred agreed to come to Skald's Hall with Aethelwold. It was there that the dead did rise following a blood sacrifice, and proclaimed Uhtred King. Later, Sihtric witnessed the guy in the grave rise once more.
⚔︎There is a calmness to Erik that reminds me of Ragnar. It was he who went to meet Uhtred aboard a merchant ship, told him about Bjorn's message (exactly the same as Aethelwold told Uhtred), and tried to get Uhtred on his and Sigefrid's side. This whole ghost thing is totally a scheme by the brothers.
⚔︎Alfred was not happy with Odda's heavy drinking.
⚔︎Alfred: "We shall maintain the peace."