WiC Watches: The Last Kingdom season 4

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Image: The Last Kingdom/Netflix

Season 4: “Episode One”

Uhtred receives news that Bebbanburg’s defenses have been weakened by Scottish attacks and plans to seize his birthright, but Edward refuses to help.


“Episode One” starts off with a nice recap of where things left off in season 3, and suggests that Uhtred’s quest to kill Aelfric and retake his ancestral home of Bebbanburg will be a big part of the new season. Uhtred and Aethelflaed’s secret affair is ongoing and potentially explosive.

Aethelred’s new commander of the guard, Eardwulf (Jamie Blackley), arrives to see the mercenary Haesten observing Cnut’s encampment; the Dane army is apparently departing to resolve issues in Ireland, leaving their womenfolk undefended. Aethelred pursues Eardwulf’s lovely sister, Eadith (Stefanie Martini). Later, he leads his army to take East Anglia, massacring the unprotected Dane women and children.

Image: The Last Kingdom/Netflix

Expecting that Edward will help him raise an army to attack the weakened Bebbanburg, Uhtred rides to Winchester. Uhtred is shocked when Edward, influenced by Aethelhelm, refuses to assist him. Angry, Uhtred decides to attack Bebbanburg with his handful of men. He enlists the help of his estranged son Young Uhtred (Finn Elliot) before sailing north towards his ancestral home. Bebbanburg.

Our Take

In true The Last Kingdom form, the first shot of the season 4 premiere is wonderfully atmospheric: bloody sea waves roll onto the Bebbanburg beach as Aelfric and his soldiers fight a sweeping, losing battle against invading Scotsmen. Actor Joseph Millson displays considerable chops as he uses fear to rally his men, reminding us he remains a worthy nemesis for Uhtred.

Image: The Last Kingdom/Netflix

Our first trip to Uhtred’s Wessex estate at Cookham finds him in the middle of a steamy love scene with Aethelflaed. We’re thrilled to see them paired up, even if their affair is secret, although we wouldn’t bet on it remaining so for long. How long do these two heroes get to be happy together? This is The Last Kingdom, after all … and most of Uhtred’s love interests meet unfortunate ends.

The lovelorn but loyal Aldhelm (James Northcote) is an interesting character, and we hope he survives Aethelred’s inevitable wrath. The Brida/Cnut connection is intriguing but feels more like a political union than one of the heart. New arrival Eardwulf sure looks like the perfect nefarious match for Aethelred and his skulduggery, and the obvious replacement for Aldhelm. With the addition of Eardwulf and his equally conniving sister Eadith, it looks like we’ll be spending plenty of time watching conspiracies brew in Mercia.

We find an older and more confident Edward having built a group of close counselors, namely Father Pyrlig and Lord Aethelhelm (the father of his wife, Aelflaed), while sidelining the widowed Aelswith. Uhtred meets with Beocca and Hild, and we’re really, really hoping that Hild gets more screen time this season — she’s such a great character.

The Last Kingdom‘s increasingly large production budget is on display, with wider shots and more extras filling up the larger sets, and it’s all good. The Uhtred/Edward dynamic has certainly been spun on its head. They had a tight alliance at the end of season 3, and now they’re butting heads in a way that recalls Uhtred’s relationship with Alfred. But also as with those two, they need each other.

Heartfelt and dramatic, “Episode One” is full of promise and a super solid start for the new season. Keep watching The Last Kingdom here with us at WiC!

Episode Grade: A