Season 3 Episode 6
A Saxon by birth, Brida grew up fully embracing her identity as a Dane. Whilst Uhtred has always had Bebbanburg at the back of his mind, Brida only ever wanted to live as a Dane. More than Ragnar, Brida could see the incessant pull of Uhtred's Saxon heritage and identity on him. Uhtred and Brida united to help Ragnar cross from Niflheim to Valhalla, and as they searched for the sorcerer Storri, there was, finally, a thaw between these former lovers, these childhood friends. 'I've always loved you', Uhtred told Brida. 'Not as a wife. No longer as a wife. But you will always be half my life.' 'And all of your madness, is what you said', a tearful Brida enjoined.
Uhtred left his men at Aethelflaed's estate whilst he journeyed to Ragnar's grave. There, Brida had been camping, refusing to return to the Viking camp where Ragnar's men were now her men and Cnut waited. From the moment Uhtred mentioned Storri's name, there was already a distant look in Brida's eyes. Storri was the sorcerer of Ubba; he would know how to help Ragnar cross to Valhalla. Storri tried to escape Uhtred and Brida, but he eventually told them what they needed to know. Whoever murdered Ragnar must be killed with a blade wet with Ragnar's blood. Ragnar had been dead for some time, they could no longer get his blood, but his blood lived on in Thyra. Uhtred also asked Storri how he could lift Skade's curse, but before Storri could answer, Brida strangled Storri. It was the way to kill the curse, Brida later explained; the sorcerer must be killed without spilling a drop of blood.
Storri's curse on Brida worked; she never bore children. Though Brida knew how to lift the curse, has known how for some time, she never searched for Storri until Uhtred mentioned him. When Ragnar went to Dunholm, Brida already knew how to lift the curse Skade cast upon him; she did not tell him, for she knew he would not stay and she wanted him to suffer. Before they parted, Uhtred promised to go to Thyra after he has killed Skade, and Brida swore to find who killed Ragnar. They were going to warring camps, Uhtred to the Saxons and Brida to the Danes, yet the determination to help Ragnar continued to bond them.
What finally led Brida to allow a measure of affection for Uhtred? When Brida accused Uhtred of failing Ragnar three times, Uhtred insisted he only failed Ragnar once, when he swore a one year service to Alfred. The second time he swore his service to Alfred, it was to save Ragnar's life. Uhtred never told Ragnar nor Brida. Brida knew that Uhtred would always be pulled by his Saxon identity, but that he bonded himself to Alfred to save Ragnar's life lifted at least some of the anger off her heart.
Ragnar's men were now Brida's men, but she felt she had no choice but to be Cnut's woman, Cnut, whom she suspected of murdering Ragnar. Brida has experienced far more freedom amongst the Danes than she would have had as a Saxon woman, but that did not mean she was free. Ragnar's men would not remain her men, not for long, for though fierce she may be, she was still a woman. She would accept Cnut, for her survival.
Cnut had now established himself as one of the three leaders of the Danes, the other two being Bloodhair and the recently defeated Haesten. Haesten claimed the Saxons came at night with thousands of men. When Aethelwold heard that Alfred was alive and that Uhtred was fighting for him, he declared that all was lost. It was Uhtred who must be killed, Aethelwold insisted. Cnut ordered the unwilling Aethelwold to return to Winchester, raise the Saxon army he promised, and kill Uhtred. Bloodhair and Haesten now knew that it was Aethelwold who killed Ragnar; Bloodhair did not look happy with that.
In Wessex, where Uhtred remained an outlaw by Alfred's command, Alfred confessed to Father Beocca that he knew Edward would need Uhtred by his side. Alfred's wife Aelswith will oppose any bond between Edward and Uhtred; it was up to Father Beocca to advise Edward. It was an admission that came after a tense meeting between Alfred and Uhtred following the Saxon reclaiming of the fortress at Beamfleot. Alfred said the battle proved Edward could be manipulated; Alfred knew Uhtred had his reasons for wanting to attack, including the recovery of Skade. Uhtred protested agains the accusation of manipulation, and pointed out that the Dane march was halted and the weakened army would not attack that winter. When Uhtred mentioned that if he were Edward's father, he would be proud, there was a slight echo of the past, for Edward's life was paid for by the life of Uhtred's son. The thaw happened between Uhtred and Brida, but not between Uhtred and Alfred, though Alfred had begun to acknowledge the importance of Uhtred to the country he so wanted to build.
Whilst talking to the other leaders of the Danish army, Aethelwold referred to Uhtred as the talisman of Wessex. The journey of England has been framed through the life of Uhtred, but The Last Kingdom has done it so well that I could grumble about downgrades and awkward cuts and still think this is one of the best shows ever produced.
⚔︎ Alfred told Edward his actions were not worth of an aetheling, they were worthy of a King. The praise was followed by pressure to meet the bride they had chosen for him, Aelflaed.
⚔︎ Alfred told Uhtred the charge needed to be ordered by Edward, and asked Uhtred not to forget what Edward did for him. Uhtred replied that he would not forget, nor would he forget that it was Edward's father who took everything from him.
⚔︎ Aethelflaed offered Uhtred lands in Mercia where he and his men may live.
⚔︎ Aethelflaed was not happy that the survivors of the battle, Haesten's right hand Dagfinn and a few others, were being kept inside her walls. We will go back to this on the recap of the next episode.
⚔︎ Haesten's men witnessed the argument between Sihtric and Uhtred. Sihtric chafed at being cursed, for though Skade only cursed Uhtred, the curse has touched them all, including Osferth who was wounded.
⚔︎ During their argument, Uhtred referred to Sihtric as Sihtric Kjartanson. Sihtric was Kjartan's son by a slave, but the reference was a sign of Uhtred's anger, for Kjartan was known for his cruelty. Danes longed for reputation, but the reputation Kjartan had was not great.
⚔︎ Uhtred said he was leaving to go to Ragnar's grave, and if Sihtric were still there by the time he got back, he would kill him. Sihtric later freed Dagfinn and other surviving men by Haesten, and told them to lead him to their camp. We will go back to this on the recap of the next episode.
⚔︎ Bloodhair still wanted Skade, but Haesten insisted she was now his.
⚔︎ Whilst they were speaking, Uhtred told Aethelflaed it was his choice to go to her. To Brida, however, Uhtred said it was fate. This is very nice character writing and shows a very human Uhtred and the warring impulses within him.