Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Last Kingdom: Episode 2

The Last Kingdom
Episode 2
Rating: 5 out of 10 (It's OK)

In A Nutshell

Well, this is no substitute whilst we wait for the new season of Vikings to begin. It does however fill a void perhaps in British TV with regards to swords, sex and blood.

Episode 2 is undoubtedly an improvement on the opening episode, as although time passes like, umm, sex in the barn (see the episode for this!), it's not as crazy with skipping along the timelines as we had to endure last week. Not to worry, we knew we needed to set things up for the series and Uhtred trying to win his land back, so episode 2 should be where his mission starts, and certainly it did. We even get a 30 second "previously on this show" at the start with Uhtred voiceover, which is much more pleasant than watching episode one. Sadly, I could remember the gist of what had happened, and was painfully force-fed it again. Anyhow, how does this week's episode go?

Mostly, this was an ok episode. As ever, the scenery, costumes and atmospheric conditions of England are brilliantly reproduced, although not that we'd know for sure as none of us were around in that time. Regardless, it paints a very murky and somewhat primitive world which is absolutely gorgeous to watch. In fact, stick this show on mute and it probably feels a whole lot better because there's some absolutely ridiculous dialogue and ludicrous plot work once again.

Uhtred's return home is brief. He and Bridda are seen off by a few horses (with men on top). Not that Uhtred's too bothered. He just wanted them to know he's alive. Job done then. A tad later as they roam about somewhat aimlessly (they do that a lot here) they come across a ransacked village. Someone is shooting arrows at them but Uhtred creeps up on the visually scared villager whom Brida rather casually kills with an axe to the back. He certainly didn't deserve that. Regardless, this scene is there to inform us that there's a story going around that a pagan slave killed his Dane master and thus this village was ransacked as revenge by the Danes. Yup, they are talking about Uhtred. Back in those days the spin doctors had a job, huh?

Not really knowing what to do next, they decide to head to see Ubba, the other main Viking in this show, and I guess was colleague and pal to Earl Ragnor. During sex, as you do, Brida suggests they must take Ubba's sorcerer captive as some sort of safety bargaining tool if all goes to hell with Ubba. So, they go to where Ubba's army has recently decimated a town and just semi-walk through the town/city with Uhtred pretending Brida is his captive. Yeah, not sure how that helps him either. Anyhow, he gets all the way to where the sorcerer is in the castle. Despite him being alone, they do some stupid trick to capture him. Then, as Ubba is torturing the current King of this land, King Edmund I believe, Uhtred introduces himself. Ubba gets angry but then returns to torturing Edmund. A very odd passage in plot work here. Anyhow, Edmund is killed and then Ubba returns to chat to Uhtred, whom he doesn’t believe the truth from and is going to torture as well, but wait ... Uhtred tells him he has his sorcerer, so he gets away. He returns to Brida outside the town/city and they send a now naked and sexually tortured himself sorcerer back on a horse. What an ass ...

So, now they still don't know what to do. They want to see young Ragnor but he's in Ireland, so for some reason don't want to go to all that effort and would rather wait for him to return to England. Uhtred gets a sword made by a rather nice ironsmith in some village where he and Brida spend their time having sex for days whilst the sword is made. Then they have to leg it with the sword when they are attacked by some people suspicious of them. No one knows, and it's hard to care, who sent those "bad guys".

Eventually, Uhtred decides to head to Wessex, as the last kingdom not yet captured by the Vikings. Seems he's completely forgotten that his priest friend from home, Beocca, told him to meet him there years ago. We've not forgotten because we've seen the priest with the King of Wessex, Aethelwold, and his 2nd in line, Alfred throughout the episode. Yes, I suspect THAT Alfred. The first in line is his nephew and spends most of his time drunk it seems. Anyhow, Brida and Uhtred ride into Wessex on horse, as the locals just watch them with concern, before getting to the gates of the main castle I guess and having a jostle for who is the best fighter with one of the guards. It's a stupid conversation which is ended by the priest turning up conveniently. Uhtred is welcomed into Wessex and meets with Alfred who makes a lot of sense but isn't sure if he trusts Uhtred despite priest vouching for him. We then see a short scene where Uhtred and Brida spy for Alfred on the Vikings, and then return to tell the king that those Vikings are likely to strike soon. Uhtred comes up with the likely plan the Vikings would have and where is best to do battle. The king is amazingly convinced enough to go have a look, whilst Uhtred and Brida are caged up for safety. Sure enough, as the credits are about to roll, we see the Wessex Army meet the Vikings just as Uhtred had predicted.

What I liked

As ever, this programme has great scenery, atmosphere and costumes.

Alfred is very impressive as a newcomer to the cast. Everyone else, as few as they are, less so.

Less Skippy chronologically this week and all the better for it. Easier to believe the plot development.

What I Didn't Like
Dialogue is still rather modern and daft at times.

Some lazy, convenient and Skippy plot work. The way some things happen seems heavily awkward and just daft far too many times. This stops the show being of any decent quality.

CGI mostly ok but during Uhtred's spying, the background scene looked more like a painting than real.


Some rather childish conversation from Uhtred and the guards.
Kinky behaviour from Brida.
Yup, he's dead.
And Finally

Almost worthy of a 6/10 this week but the rather cheesy convenience and daftness of some of the scenes just lets it down. Much better though than episode one in terms of it's pacing and logic. I somewhat doubt this show will reach any level of brilliance but it's an ok watch thanks to it's fantastic scenery, atmosphere and costumes ... and a little of a watchable story.

Rating: 5 out of 10 (OK - average with hardly any memorable bits)

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