Season 3 Episode 2
I do feel weary sometimes over Alfred and Aelswith's attitude toward Uhtred. It is to Uhtred they turn to when they are at their most desperate. The Wessex they have, the England they dream of, would have long been overrun by Danes had it not been for Uhtred. Yet Uhtred is never trusted, is given enough to be a lord but not nearly enough to show appreciation for the service only he could have wielded. That Alfred and Aelswith remained uncomfortable having their destinies so closely intertwined with a man who did not worship their God is fine from a characterisation perspective, but from a viewer's perspective it is frustrating. It is Uhtred's loyalty that is constantly questioned, yet it is Alfred who has more than once betrayed Uhtred. That Alfred even thought to punish Uhtred following the death of Brother Godwin was a betrayal; Alfred should have ceased Godwin's words long before Uhtred's emotions got the better of him. What was infuriating was that Alfred appeared to have overheard Uhtred promise Aethelflaed that he would come to her should she send for him; it was a promise of assistance that Uhtred would have kept. There was no need to force Uhtred to swear the rest of his life to young Edward. Aethelflaed managed to secure Uhtred's promise of help just by asking for it. That Alfred tried to force an obligation to Uhtred was the move of a man who was no longer thinking clearly. Alfred was dying, and just when he needed his sword most, he lost Uhtred.
It was Aethelwold who started the trouble. With Alfred dying, Aethelwold had started to become bolder with his scheming. Aethelwold witnessed Uhtred dig up his Gisela's body so he could burn it following the Danish tradition. Aethelwold dangled the promise of a woman to Brother Godwin if he would remind Alfred that Uhtred was a Dane and not the man to steward young Prince Edward. Brother Godwin went way too far. Rather than simply denouncing the desecration of holy ground, Brother Godwin denounced Gisela as a whore and declared Uhtred's children bastards. To be fair, Alfred did try so shush Brother Godwin, as did the Bishop, but Godwin actually stood in front of Uhtred with his vile words, and Uhtred slapped him. Godwin was a sickly man; he fell following the slap and died.
Brother Godwin's words were so poisonous and Uhtred's grief so fresh that if Uhtred had stabbed him, the reaction would have been understandable. Uhtred clearly did not intend to kill him or even hurt him much; it was a slap. Alfred tried to have Uhtred seized, but Uhtred returned to the house he had been staying on in Winchester with his children. Finan and Sihtric guarded the door and refused to allow Steapa, who had the King's men with him, to enter. Hild tried to appeal to Uhtred, and Father Beocca later arrived with the King's decision --- no trial, no punishment, merely a wergild of 100 pounds of silver and Uhtred's oath to the aetheling Edward.
For Father Beocca, the offer was fair. Father Beocca liked life in the service of Alfred. Father Beocca was content in Winchester with Thyra. Father Beocca viewed Uhtred's life as a Wessex lord a good one. But Uhtred chafed at being bound. To swear to Edward meant swearing his whole life in service; it was too high a price for Uhtred. He went to Alfred to try and negotiate, but when Alfred remained firm, Uhtred held the King at knifepoint so he could escape. Uhtred and his men, along with Skade, rode hard for Dunholm, which remained under Ragnar's control.
Uhtred was wounded during his escape, and in the road he grew weak. Uhtred was convinced his weakness was the work of Skade. Skade wanted to be Uhtred's woman; she had seen that Bloodhair was not the warrior Uhtred was. Brida was able to contain Skade's magic, however, and Uhtred got better.
Ragnar and Brida remained together, but because Brida could not have children, Ragnar had taken other women to bed and had children by them. Brida had grown older, her sadness was palpable, but she was no less fierce in her devotion to the Danes and to Ragnar. Ragnar was happy when Uhtred declared himself a Dane. Brida wanted Uhtred to prove it by destroying Alfred.
Word of Alfred's illness and Uhtred's escape had travelled throughout the lands. Aethelwold tried to forge an alliance with Aethelred, and even suggested that the death of Aethaelfled may weaken Alfred further and lead to his death sooner. Aethelwold also went to Bloodhair and declared that all Danes must unite against Alfred. Even Ragnar was thinking of Wessex; it remained a jewel to be conquered, and Ragnar had spent too long in Dunholm.
Uhtred may be furious at Alfred, but he was not happy at the thought of attacking Wessex. His children remained in Wessex. Finan was loyal to Uhtred, but he did not like hearing talk of attacking Wessex or Alfred. For most of his adult life, Uhtred had been in the service of Alfred and Wessex. Ragnar may be over the moon at the thought of having his brother back, but Uhtred had spent too long being the defender of Wessex that helping raid it was not an easy decision.
⚔︎Finan: 'We're afraid of the Abbess.' I love Hild and I wish she were in more scenes this season.
⚔︎'I have earned it.' I agree, Uhtred earned everything Alfred gave him, and more.
⚔︎Alfred ordered Uhtred found and killed.
⚔︎Uhtred has not yet killed Skade because he believed if she were killed, the curse would live on. The curse must be killed first.
⚔︎Aethelred wanted Aethelflaed and her daughter by Erik (whom she insisted was Aethelred's) to be killed.
⚔︎Aethelflaed, not Aethelred, was the one with battle reputation, and the men follow her.
⚔︎Aethelwold had no interest in Mercia and told Aethelred what he wanted to hear, that he could be King of Mercia.
⚔︎ Uhtred was hallucinating Leofric.
⚔︎Edward was to be betrothed. Edward, however, was still besotted with the mother of his twins.
⚔︎Cnut is Ragnar's cousin on his mother side and a potential foil to Uhtred.