The Netflix historical drama series The Last Kingdom had its fourth season on April 26, 2020. And as always, it didn’t disappoint. We can say that it’s one of the best and most magnificent season of the series so far. Season 3 is a close contender, but both have unique yet excellent points to make up a close competition.
UHTRED, BEBBANBURGH, AND BECCA
In the new season, we got back to where it all began, Bebbanburgh. Uhtred’s return to his homeland was long overdue. He joined with Alfred in season 1 in an accord that when time is right, Wessex will aid him in regaining Bebbanburgh. And for everything Uhtred has done for Wessex and for Saxons, this was the least he deserved. The trailer which came out in March showed Uhtred in a disappointed mood, telling Finan about his lost birthright. So, his defeat in Bebbanburgh wasn’t unexpected.
What was, in fact, unexpected and heartbreaking was the death of Father Berocca. He was always there for Uhtred, from Bebbanburgh to Wessex, and guided him and loved him as his own father. We haven’t seen anything breaking Uhtred as the death of Berocca. And considering the relationship between the two, this too had to be there. Uhtred winning Bebbanburgh would have meant that he had accomplished his destiny. So, that’s definitely not what we want. He has more to do in shaping the England of King Alfred’s vision.
SEASON OF LOSSES
This season was more of a tragic one for Uhtred. He lost his fight in Bebbanburgh, lost Beocca, had to give up Aethelflaed, and his children left him. He took up the fight in Mercia for his love for Aethaflaed but had to give her up for Mercia. Sierra left with Sytriggr, and Young Uhtred returned to the monastery. His dream of living with his family and Aethalflaed in his home was shattered. But we know that’s what we want. He was born to be a warrior, and that would suit him more than being a family man living the rest of his life in a fortress.
AELSWITH AND AETHELRED
We saw wonderful character developments in Lady Aeleswith and Lord Aethelred. Aelswith always detested Uhtred owing to his pagan heritage. But in season 4, she finally reconciled with him, realized what Alfred and everyone else saw in him. She also corrected a wrong she did in the third season. She forcibly annulled Edward’s first marriage and tore apart the mother and her children. What she is now doing for Aethalstan may offer her some redemption. We do not know for sure whether she will be back in the next season. Even if she doesn’t make it to season 5, she had the best run in season 4. Having a greater role in politics, by correcting her mistakes, and often turning out to be a game-changer, her role has been the greatest of all the seasons.
Even though it was brief, Aethelred took his time to reconcile with Aethelflaed. He also realized his mistakes, and the very little time in his death bed was the best he had been all throughout the series.
EDWARD AND AETHELFLAED
Edward turned out to be more of an immature leader driven by his emotions. He is still under the shadow of the great King Alfred. His handling of the siege of Winchester wasn’t one by strategy. But towards the end, we saw that he was, in fact, getting better, by repelling Aethelhelm and heeding the right advice.
Aethelflaed, too had an amazing run. Her run from a timid girl to the Lady of Mercia couldn’t have been better. It was her initiative which helped the Saxons to defeat Cnut and the Danes. Her moves always seemed to be the right ones, but she too had to bear the heartbreak of giving up Uhtred.
Characters like Finan, Sygtric, Aldhelm, and Oswerth got a deserving larger role and longer dialogues than the rest. And they did it really well. Eadith’s character was one to be noted. She is part of Uhtred’s band now, and all of them may have a much larger role to play in the new season.
SYGRTIGGR AND BRIDA
The new Danish warrior Sygtriggr had his part too. He was ignored by Uhtred at first. But, his feats turned out to be impressive. Defeating the Welsh and taking over Winchester was more of a strategy. He seems different from all the other Danes who just wish to fight and kill. He relies more on logic and strategy and has a vision. Uhtred wanted to negotiate with him because he saw himself in Sygtriggr. And that must have attracted Stiorra to him.
Brida’s journey, too, wasn’t a happy one. She had to kill Cnut, lost the battle, was treated as a slave, and in the end, she was left out when Sygtriggr negotiated with the Saxons. She is filled with hate for Uhtred and Saxons more than ever. Her journey from the small girl who held Uhtred’s hand to the one she is now has been more tragic than happy. Her child may have a part to play in the upcoming seasons.
The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell is still very much alive and open. The wonderful reception the series had would surely get us more of it. The fans have loved every bit of it, and the critics are lauding the series and everything about it. We can expect the announcement of renewal within a month as in the usual pattern. Season 5 may get to us at the same time next year.
With Edward in Wessex and Aethelflaed in Mercia, Alfred’s vision of England is closer than ever. But it will only be complete when Uhtred wins Bebbanburgh, which is a significant part of the Kingdom of Northumbria. England’s and Uhtred’s destiny is now the same. We should also see Athelstan’s growth under Uhtred and how he will rise in the ranks. So, we have a lot more to see in The Last Kingdom. And there may be more than a season to complete the saga. But Netflix has to do their bit in making the show more popular. The series doesn’t get the same amount of advertisement as others. So, if they do their job well and the makers continue their outstanding work with the brilliant cast, Last Kingdom will have a legacy and reputation very few have now. And it’s totally deserving of the series. Let’s hope it will happen.