Season 2 Episode 7
The brothers Sigefrid and Erik knew that giving up Lunden to capture Aethelflaed would be worth it. They did not immediately send a ransom demand to her father; instead, they spread word of her capture, and to them flocked warriors by the hundreds. Their 19 ships increased to 26, all with the promise of a ruinous sum the King would be willing to pay for the safe return of his child. What neither of them counted on was that Erik would fall in love with the hostage, and that Aethelflaed would fall for Erik in return.
Amidst a camp of hundreds of Danes, with the threat of abuse constantly present. Erik was a calm centre, a powerful man who ensured Aethelflaed was not hurt. Aethelflaed suffered abuse in the hands of Aethelred, a small man with no visible accomplishments whom her father chose for her; Erik's gentle treatment of her was a stark contrast to what she has had to endure since her wedding. A captive and captor romance, The Last Kingdom somehow managed to frame this as a meeting of equals. Aethelflaed was a princess who knew what she wanted, and she knew exactly whom to reach out to when she needed help to escape with Erik. Aethelflaed did not want her father to pay her ransom; she knew it would beggar Wessex and Mercia, and the funds would be used for Danish conquest of the very lands that yielded these riches. Erik could hardly contain his fury at Aethelred; he confessed to Uhtred that he could not let Aethelflaed go.
Uhtred did his best to dissuade Aethelflaed from a course he knew would not end well; there was no way the daughter of King Alfred would live a long and happy life with the brother of Sigefrid. They would never be safe together. Aethelflaed was insistent, however; she framed her request to Uhtred as a plea to save her life.
I loved Toby Regbo in Reign but the character he played here, Aethelred, was a despicable character; it was nice to see Aethelred wake up naked with the pigs after Sigefrid had him punched into unconsciousness. It would have been so much better if Aldhelm and his haircut joined Aethelred, for it was Aldhelm who kept whispering to Aethelred's ear about shifting blame of the kidnapping of Aethelflaed to Uhtred.
Yet, it was not only Aldhelm who wanted a limit to what would be paid for the return of Aethelflaed. Odda even approached the clearly suffering Alfred late at night to suggest a third way of resolving the dilemma, apart from silver or blood. Odda suggested that Aethelflaed may take her own life; this way, she would not suffer in the hands of the Danes and Wessex would not have to spend its resources in trying to recover her. Alfred was clearly furious at this suggestion, though he maintained his calm. Later, Odda mused that he might need Aethelwold. Odda has been shown to be drinking much this season. What was he planning?
Uhtred, who had taken over negotiations, had struck a deal with Sigefrid. There was no way the terms of the deal would be followed, however, not with Aethelflaed insisting that she was escaping with Erik.
⚔︎I remember watching this episode for the first time and feeling so relieved that Thyra survived the massacre at the camp.
⚔︎Uhtred sent Sihtric to Beamfleot as his spy; he was to send word when he has confirmed that Aethelflaed was alive and well. Sihtric sent Rypere to Uhtred when he saw Aethelflaed escorted to the river to bathe. It was only after receiving this proof of life that Uhtred rode from Coccham to Winchester, to report the sighting to Alfred.
⚔︎Even Aelswith tried to persuade Alfred to send for Uhtred, who retreated to Coccham after Lunden. As Aethelwold told Aethelred, "The only man capable of cleaning up this puddle of shit is the man you are desperate to blame. Uhtred. King of Mercia." Aethelwold still did not know that the ghost was a ploy by the brothers Sigefrid and Erik.
⚔︎Osferth was now with Uhtred.
⚔︎Odda to Aethelred: "Do you know what you have done? Possibly not, for you are as useless as you are arrogant." "You're a toad. A fool." Aethelred deserves this and more.
⚔︎Haesten tried to rape Aethelflaed. Aethelflaed was able to defend herself and would have stabbed Haesten had Erik not arrived.