Brida goes on full villain mode in an episode directed by Alexander Dreymon.
I feel like it has been so long since I last saw the early seasons of The Last Kingdom, so that the memory of Brida before she went full villain mode is not exactly fresh. I remember the tragedies she has suffered, of course, and I remember how she loved Uhtred, then Ragnar, and I don't want to watch her and hate her. Yet when Sigtryggr yelled at her, 'You do not speak for the gods!' I was like, yes! Finally! Brida has been going on and on about the gods for so long as though she was the only one who understood them, and it was starting to get annoying. Brida wanted vengeance, which, okay, fair play in this world, and life did not matter to her except the lives of those she cared about, which, again, just made her similar to most people around her, but the way she dressed up her thirst for death with the will of the gods, and actually got people to believe her, made her a good villain. Yes, I can be annoyed with her and appreciate the character work here. Brida's actions do not have to make sense. She has reached her chaos stage and has fully embraced it. If we follow her path through the seasons, perhaps it would feel that she was always destined for this. I guess this whole paragraph can be summed up with this -- I am both all right with Brida and over her. I look forward to moving on from her story, but at the same time I know the end would break my heart.
What I am not over with, is Eysteinn Sigurðarson's performance as Sigtryggr. Of all the Danish lords we have seen through five seasons of The Last Kingdom, Sigtryggr was the one I felt was closest to Uhtred, but better, because this was a man determined to forge his own path forward. We have rarely seen Uhtred not weighed down by some oath he took. Sigtryggr was a brilliant tactician, a leader of men, and even as he insisted on the harder path of peace, the dangerous warlord was still within him. Surrounded by Brida's men, he continued to fight alone, and only yielded when Brida begun beheading his people. Released to find the true object of Brida's ire -- Uhtred -- Sigtryggr jogged through the countryside with a fire in his chest, for left behind was his beloved wife Stiorra. Stiorra did manage to hide, but that would not last long, not with the callous way Brida handled the lives of the people she claimed to fight for, the Danes.
The first group he met was Father Pyrlig and his small escort, sent North by King Edward to assess the situation himself after Aethelhelm poured poison in his ears (There was no way Sigtryggr was allied with Brida. What could he possibly be smoking?). Edward's instinct was to send help to a man who had been a solid ally for years, but Aethelhelm saw this current mess as an opportunity to bring forward Alfred's dream of a united kingdom. Kill both Sigtryggr and Brida, and King Edward would have York.
Father Pyrlig assured Sigtryggr that he was merely the advance party, that the King sent 300 men; this is true, Edward did send these men, but with express instructions that they be under the command of his sister the Lady of Mercia, because, after all, this conflict was happening at her border. Then, Uhtred came with the news that the Lady of Mercia refused her help. Uhtred's men who scoured the nearby boroughs came with more bad news -- they claimed they had no men to give. One claimed King Edward instructed that no aid be given. This was Aethelhelm's doing, but of course Sigtryggr had no way of knowing this. All he could see were the allies with whom he held peace all these years, betraying him in his hour of need, whilst the life of not only his wife but Uhtred's daughter was on the line, Uhtred, who had saved their lives and kingdoms too many times.
With or without an army, Sigtryggr was determined to return for Stiorra. His plan was to go through the old Roman tunnels, the end of which he did not even know, through which no one had passed for hundreds of years. Father Pyrlig and his crew were not with the group who entered the tunnels, only Uhtred, Sigtryggr, a loudly protesting Finan, Sihtric, Osferth, and young Aethelstan, who would be known in history as the first King of England.
Within the walls of York, Brida's cruelty continued. She had women line up and kneel at the courtyard for days. When she wanted to sacrifice to the gods, her daughter was blindfolded, and anyone whose hand she touched was killed, mirroring the image at the first episode but on a more brutal way. Yet, as it often was with Brida, the gods were only invoked to do what she wanted done anyway, not that she would have the self awareness to realise this. When her daughter Vibeke touched the hand of Rognvaldr, her ally, she suddenly decided five sacrifices were enough.
Stiorra has had enough of Brida's cruelty. 'We cannot sit and wait to be saved' she told her servants who hid with her. She saw them to safety, then screamed for Brida that she was coming out.
Alexander Dreymon did a great job in directing this episode, and I wish I were writing this whilst not this exhausted to do it justice. In any case, eight more episodes to go! Till next recap!
⚔️ Brida cut Sigtryggr's hair and gave some of it to her daughter. Apart from humiliating him as a warrior king, I reckon there was a spell involved here as well.
⚔️ Brida told Rognvaldr to kill Sigtryggr and, though Rognvaldr initially protested rather weakly, he eventually did as Brida told. She didn't truly want Sigtryggr dead, however, at least, not yet, not until he could bring Uhtred to her, as though Uhtred would not come for her after she came for his family.
⚔️ Young Uhtred appears to be in a coma?
⚔️ Uhtred blamed himself for the attack on his children and thought the attack on Aethelstan was Brida's work as well.
⚔️ Eadith was the reason for Aethelflaed's trip to Runcorn. She dared not risk being examined by physicians in Mercia, so this meeting was planned. It was too late, however; Aethelflaed was dying, and soon. She knew her kingdom would be vulnerable with her death, and she struggled to get her daughter Aelfwynn to understand and accept the weight of her inheritance. Aelfwynn would rather hang with young Cynlaef, however, whom Aethelflaed later banished to fight raiders upriver.
⚔️ Aethelflaed's impending death was the reason she could not provide Uhtred with the men he needed. They parted in anger, and Eadith had to confide to Finan the secret of Aethelflaed's illness. She did not want Uhtred fighting Brida whilst distracted with Aethelflaed's condition, so she made Finan swear to keep the secret until Stiorra was safe.
⚔️ Aethelhelm still had his assassin tasked on killing Aethelstan. Father Benedict was in debt to Aethelhelm, and since he could not pay in coin, he paid in information. Aethelhelm now knew of Aethelflaed's illness.
⚔️ A Lady Agatha of Cent caught King Edward's attention. When Aethelhelm tried to pay her off so she'll leave, as he did his previous paramours, that only served to bring the two closer.
Director: Alexander Dreymon
Writer: Martha Hillier
Original Air Date: March 9, 2022