It’s the last episode of the season and the stakes have never been higher for Uhtred or the besieged kingdom of Wessex. So who makes it out of the finale alive?
Let’s bitch it out…
Here we are, at the end. The Last Kingdom has covered a hell of a lot of ground over the course of these 8 episodes; in fact, I’d argue that it’s managed to pack more into eight hours than some shows do in their 13-plus episode seasons. (I’m looking at you here, Zoo!)
So does The Last Kingdom’s first season have a thrilling and satisfying finale? Short answer: yes. Longer answer: hell yes.
In most of my previous TLK reviews – in keeping with B*tch Stole My Remote tradition – I’ve recapped the plots of each episode, spoilers and all. I’m not going to do that here. It’s worth it to go into the finale not knowing too much about where characters loyalties lie, or who is left standing at the end of the episode. Trust me – you’ll be surprised on both counts.
At any rate, King Alfred (David Dawson), Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon), Leofric (Adrian Bower) and co. attempt to raise an army so they can challenge the Danes in a battle-to-end-all-battles. The fate of the Kingdom of Wessex, not to mention the entire nation of England, rests on the outcome of this battle so the stakes are suitably high. The episode has a number of twists and turns, not to mention enough betrayals and deaths to keep even the most hardened George R.R. Martin fan surprised. “The Red Wedding” it is not, but it’s pretty damn close.
Ultimately the episode culminates with a very big budget 15-minute battle scene where no one is safe. The action is epic in scope, bloody, and a lot of fun to watch. It is the perfect climax for The Last Kingdom; almost every character we’ve met so far in the series is involved and has their story “wrapped up” one way or the other.
Following the battle, the denouement (I finally got to use that word!) does a great job tying up all of the ‘Wessex’ story lines contained within the scope of the first season. Uhtred still has to deal with getting back his ancestral lands and avenging his slain Danish family, but everything involving Alfred and Wessex appears to have come to a close properly. I credit TLK’s outstanding writers for being able to close out the first season well enough to satisfy any viewer, but leaving enough of Uhtred’s story unfinished so that it makes sense for us to follow him out of Wessex in season two.
Aside from the set-piece battle, there are a number of fantastic quiet moments throughout the episode that help settle interpersonal plots. Alfred and Uhtred finally seem to come to terms with each other; Uhtred gets the recognition from Beocca (Ian Hart) that he’s always wanted; and even the Uhtred and Mildrith (Amy Wren) relationship is sorted out. There’s emotional closure all over the place! Once again, the viewer gets great “bang for their buck;” more happens in this 50 minutes of TLK then I think the entire second season of The Walking Dead. (A low blow, I know!)
And that’s all I have to say. Go watch the damn thing!
- Loved, loved, loved the battle scene. Incredibly well done, and felt much larger than most television battles. I especially liked the camera work from within the shield-wall; very Saving Private Ryan-esque.
- I seriously can’t get over all the deaths this episode. I know a talked a big game about how good the writers were at wrapping up so many different plots, but maybe it’s cheating if you just kill everyone off?
- All the Viking bad guys have been a total joy to watch: Ubba (Rune Temte), Guthrum (Thomas W. Gabrielsson), Skorpa (Jonas Malmsjö) are all dangerous and crazy in their own ways. What a blast. I’m definitely hoping that there are more Viking villains next season.
- I liked the Beocca/Alfred conversation at the beginning of the episode, where the priest advises Alfred on how to give confidence and “embolden” his men. Throughout the rest of the episode you can see Alfred attempting to follow his advice. It’s a small touch, but it reinforces what a great job this show has done at making the interactions between these characters matter. Each encounter between characters in this show have consequences – for better or worse. (*cough* Iseult (Charlie Murphy) and her magic from Episode 7 *cough*)
- As of this writing, I’m uncertain if there will be a second season. I hope there will be, but I’m actually satisfied with this ending if there is no more.
- It may be unrealistic, but I don’t care: Rambo-Uhtred is super awesome.
- Leofric to Uhtred: Sleep well?
Halig (Gerard Kearns): He means, did you hump well?
Uhtred: I know what he means.
Halig to Iseult: Sleep well, lady?
Your turn: What did you think of TLK? Good? Bad? Indifferent? Let us know!
The Last Kingdom‘s first season has concluded on BBC America. As of this writing a second season has yet to be announced.