Monday, 7 December 2015

The Last Kingdom: Episode 7

The Last Kingdom
Episode 7
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Average)

In A Nutshell

Ridiculously, this episode starts off with Leofric and Uhtred moseying around the town, drinking and basically having some brotherly love. Yes, they were sentenced to fight each other to the death last week. You've not gone mad. For some reason they have a last night of freedom, despite their treachery. Not even one guard watching them. Even Uhtred said he'd thought about just walking away. But they have a little chin-wag and kiss-and-make-up, before the fight begins rather vigorously in the morning in the town's square. However, the Vikings attack shortly afterwards, in another very convenient way of ensuring both main characters live to fight until next week at least. It's a slaughter by the Vikings, with next to no soldiers defending the place, and not even a sniff that they were coming. What? We were led to believe that Alfred had a very sophisticated set-up but it appears there weren't even any watchers on the front gate! To compound matters, everyone legs it in a rather disorganised manner, caring little for the king and his family. Uhtred, Leofric and the Queen Iseult (the Cornish Shadow Queen) hide out in town for the night, before legging it to the woods. Oh, and a nun that looks just like Julie Andrews from The Sound Of Music joins them along the way.

If you thought the Viking attack was a little convenient and hard to believe, then the trio bumping into, and saving Alfred & his family from a few Vikings in some marshlands will really test you. Yup, middle of nowhere, they are now all together with Alfred once again, hiding out in these lush and beautifully peaceful marshlands. Whilst there, we are subjected to Alfred's Wife being bitchy for most of the episode. Their baby son is very ill it seems, which along with Alfred's own ailments, is largely what we get to watch for large proportions. We all know it's set up for Queen Iseult to work her "magic" and not only help out Alfred but also his son. One can believe Alfred would slowly accept her, and allow her to do what is needed to save his son, and shut his wife up, but along the way we have him downing her stomach potion without even questioning what it is, or having someone check it first. Sure, he looked like he was in pain, but given her Pagan ways, and most of everyone in the church calling her a witch, you'd think he'd do some basic checks first.

Sure enough, after much umm and errr-ing, he lets Iseult make some sand castles in the marshes and save his son. No potion in sight. Not sure if the baby was just a little cold or something, but she didn't appear to do very much, but alas, he's now fully healed. I can appreciate the fantasy and magic here, but we didn't see anything other than her waking up on top of her sand sculpture and saying the baby was fine. A few potions, chanting and her looking mystical over the baby wouldn't have gone amiss.

In a rare show of continuity, the Viking from Cornwall shows up with lots of ships to join Guthrum (Yes, I thought he was dead weeks ago) and Ragnor in Winchester. Using the weeds and marsh to their advantage, Uhtred and a few helpers taunt some nearby Vikings (who seemed to be just hanging around, doing nothing in particular), luring them rather comically to their deaths in the mud. Seconds later and their ships are on fire too. You know, with things going so well, it's a surprise they couldn't have defended the town earlier! Anyhow, supposedly this was all done to help lead up to one final big battle to retake Winchester. Lets hope the battle lasts more than minutes, for once.

What I liked

Lovely scenery on the marshlands. Wading and running about within tall reeds is always going to look beautiful.

At least the Viking attack spared us someone dying between Uhtred and Leofric.

What I Didn't Like

The classic 'lead enemy to their death" in marshland, not original of course, but it was another cheap short battle. What was worse, was the horrendously cringe inducing way they taunted the Vikings and the Viking's own cartoon behaviour.

Alfred's Wife, she's just annoying and whining. Sure, she actually managed to convey a little genuine emotion this week, but she still far too often felt more like an obstructive bitchy old lady.

How did the Vikings attack that easily? Where were the watchers? The spies? The, umm, army? There seemed to be no one about.

The first thought when Vikings attacked seemed to be to flee. Everyone legged it, and didn't seem to give two hoots about where the king and his family were.

Alfred just drinks what the Elshet makes, just like that?

Leofric and Uhtred ended the previous episodes as traitors and enemies of the crown pretty much, and sentenced to fight each other to the death. This week they start of just nonchalantly walking about the town with the locals, no guards and a one night of freedom. What? That makes no sense to just let them do what they like for a night!


How about, what is it? Or, having her try it first? Nope, he just drinks it.

Building sandcastles in the sun. Even as adults, this never gets old.

It's not blackbeard, that's for sure. This lot are the most stereotypical cartoon Vikings you've ever seen.

And Finally

This episode largely involves time for reflection, as skirmishes are typically brief, and tension and danger kept at arm's length. This was all about down-time for Alfred, and creating a way for Uhtred and his new lady friend to build back up Alfred's trust by saving his baby son. There are generous helpings of convenient plot developments this week, and even more darn right daftness from numerous individuals.

Rating: 5 out of 10 (Average)

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