Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Last Kingdom: Episode 4

The Last Kingdom
Episode 4
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Average)

In A Nutshell

Nudity warning this week. After another recap, we see Uhtred washing stark naked in a river and then being visited by Odda who is trying to dissuade Uhtred from his upcoming marriage which seems to have speeded up in terms of wedding planning like lightning since last week. Sure enough, in the space of the next 5 minutes, Uhtred is married to Mildrith (who apparently owns nearby land) and turns out to be quite a "looker" in Uhtred's eyes after all the chat beforehand was on who he'd end up with. So staged was all this pre-wedding chat, you'd be surprised if she was anything but pretty when revealed. He heads back to her home, Liscomb, with her and Leofric, whom he now seems to be best buddies with. What he didn't know was that he's inherited his wife's dad's debt, which although he's unhappy with and says he'll have words with Alfred about, he fails to really made much of a big deal about it in the end. Talk is cheap it seems.

Before he gets to meet Alfred again, things skip along what must be 4 months, as we see Mildrith bathing (nude) in a pond and looking as pregnant as they come. Either she ain't all the pies in 24 hours or, as we find out, she's with Uhtred's child. In the blink of the eye, months have indeed past as we cut to seeing Uhtred and companions observing an army of Vikings moving through nearby woodland towards a town. Naturally no one else has noticed this mass ensemble of Vikings it seems, so Uhtred and his wife and bromance buddy Leofric head to Winchester to alert Alfred. One minute later and Alfred is agreeing with everything Uhtred says and he ammases an army to go help out the besieged town, if they arrive in time. They camp out nearby at nightfall, and come the next morning the fortress has fallen, but already been repaired by the vikings, so there's no point them attacking it seems. It's all rather odd and illogical at this moment in the show, more than any other time. Why did they stop so short, and how was the fortress, which looks very beefy, repaired so quickly? Ahh well.

In another plot twist that feels more like a way of making the show last more episodes than actually being interesting to watch, we learn that Ubba has buggered off to Ireland to avenge his brother's recent death, leaving the fortress they'd taken without enough Vikings to hold it. Ragnor and Guthrum are the two in charge so they agree for some reason to have a truce. Even though Guthrum feels let down by Ubba, he will wait for him to return. The truce is for a month, after Alfred refuses to budge from that time limit. Then there is an exchange of hostages, for some reason. Not necessary as far as I can see, but it happens, and just like Ubba leaving, it feels very much like a staged plotline whose only aim is so Uhtred can get inside information. Yes, he's one of the hostages. Something you'd think the Vikings would think could only have a secret reason behind him being selected. Brida asks Uhtred, and he tells him it's his plan to find out when Ubba returns, escape and alert Alfred. It's all rather bizarre that Alfred would think it would be easy for him to escape but alas he takes the chance. Along the way, Uhtred has fun and games with his best viking buddies Ragnor and Brida, before having a semi awkward moment over the different paths they've taken in recent months. Still, it feels all rather nice and friendly considering one minute Uhtred is slaughtering Vikings and the next he's drinking with his buddies. Friends or not, you'd think they'd have a problem with the fighting bit. Anyhow, one of the other hostage includes a priest, whose screen time beforehand suggested he might have been wearing a big "Kill Me" t-shirt on him. Especially when he tells Uhtred he thinks he's almost converted Guthrum to christianity, after what's been only a few weeks. Blimey, he must think he's a good teacher. You know that can only mean a grisly end for the poor guy.

Sure enough, news of Ubba returning is delivered to Viking HQ, and Guthrum orders all the hostages slaughtered, leading to Uhtred legging it, being saved by Ragnor/Brida, and thus being allowed to leave. He then enacts Alfred's plan and lights a beacon so quickly that a boy scout would be guaranteed a badge, so as to alert Winchester of Ubba's return.

What I liked

As ever, the scenery and costumes are excellent in this show. Top Production values, including the music. Even the CGI was up to scratch this week. The fortress and the ships on the sea were really gorgeous.

Alfred is head and shoulders above everyone else in this show for actually making any logical sense with his actions and words, but also with his fantastic acting.

What I Didn't Like

Still very wishy washy stuff going on with Uhtred and anyone. Sure, he might feel conflicted but it's hard to really feel it in this show. All his dealings with Alfred, and his Viking friends come more across more as a whim than anything else.

The fact that Brida knew Uhtred was acting as a spy, and probably Ragnor too, didn't make them at least think he shouldn't be there with them? And what exactly was the point behind the hostages? It seemed to be made up merely as a plot point to get Uhtred inside the fortress and his reunion scene.


The Priest crapped himself on news of being ordered to be a hostage.

No one wanted to tell her what she already knew, which was that the cloak had a wardrobe malfunction.

Uhtred was the butt of everyone's jokes this week.
And Finally

Well, this show really fails to build on any tension by simply just talking about it, and then it turning into some sort of wet fish, full of illogical plot decisions and stupidity by characters. Everything is just "meh". It's not awful, thanks to the scenery and customs really setting the atmosphere, but it's like a bowl of porridge that's been put on the oven ring on the lowest heat setting there is, slowly lightly cooking, rather than actually building to a boil.

Rating: 5 out of 10 (Average)

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