The Last Kingdom Review

The Last Kingdom Review: Epic Conclusion to a Phenomenal Series!

Have your eyes been craving to witness some soul-stirring, blood-freezing, and nerve-wracking battles? Where there’s a fair share of history, politics, romance, bromance, treason, and rivers of blood flowing throughout the land? If so, you are at the right address, my friend. Let’s hop onto it!

The Last Kingdom happens to be a lifelong masterpiece of the famed novelist Bernard Cornwell. The original novel series, named The Saxon Stories, is a somewhat authentic account of England’s history. It explores the chronicles of a Saxon warrior (Uhtred of Bebbanburg) during the emergence of England around the 9th and 10th centuries.

The Last Kingdom has a lot in common with History Tv’s Vikings and HBO’s Game of Thrones, except that it’s even better! Now, I’m certainly not here to flaunt and exaggerate The Last Kingdom’s qualities while degrading many others. Nope, that’s not part of the agenda. But as you may notice, both the finales of Vikings as well as Game of Thrones received massive disappointment from fans. Whatever their reason was, it’s true that both series’ endings were a phenomenal buzzkill! 

Things are surely different in The Last Kingdom’s scenario; where much attention has been dedicated to the overall plot; and of course, presents its fans with a satisfying conclusion!

Major Cast in Season 5

Uhtred of Bebbanburg by Alexander Dreyman

He’s the charming and charismatic protagonist of the series. The Saxon-born Uhtred gets kidnapped by Danish Vikings in early childhood. Later on, much of his adulthood is spent dwelling in between the two extremes – the Saxons as well as the Pagans. 

Brida the ‘Bitch’ by Emily Cox

Brida happens to be another character who got kidnapped by the Danes alongside Uhtred. Understandably, both of them grew up as lovers as well as strong allies. However, Brida’s impatience, her shortsightedness, and last but not least, her never-ending rage towards her Saxon ancestors spelled disaster for her relationship with Uhtred. 

Finan by Mark Rowley

Finan is sorta Uhtred’s lackey in The Last Kingdom. He’s also one of the fiercest warriors as demonstrated within the series. 

Aelswith by Eliza Butterworth

This one happens to be the queen of both King Alfred as well as the Kingdom of Wessex. She’s a stubborn character who would pay anything just to mince Uhtred into barbecue sauce. 

Aethelflaed by Millie Brady

Aethelflaed is the crown princess of Wessex and queen Aelswith’s daughter. She’s quite an impetuous character whose ambitions often outgrow her skill. 

King Edward by Timothy Innes

Edward is King Alfred’s son as well as his successor to the throne. Edward strives to fulfill his deceased father’s dream of integrating all kingdoms into a united England. 

Now, I’ll stop fussing over cast and characters before you go mad and start throwing peanuts at me. But in case you feel like digging deep, here’s a detailed Character Guide for The Last Kingdom.

Season 5 Brief Storyline

Season 5 kicks in 10 years following the events of the last season. In the previous season, we witnessed a truce being achieved between the Danes and the Saxons. Both parties manage to refrain from causing mayhem this time around and turn into peace-advocating doves instead. Unfortunately, Brida the Berserker’s heart remains unsatisfied as long as the world isn’t chaotic enough. She’s still living in agony of her past failures as well as Uhtred’s ‘betrayal’. 

Brida soon disrupts the peace between all kingdoms; something she’s quite excellent at doing I may add! To sum it up, she’s sort of a war-loving hawk whose symbol is chaos and destruction. However, don’t mistake her as the only hawk in this season. For one, there’s Aethelhelm (King Edward’s father-in-law) who ranks among one of the firmed hawks in the entire season. However, Brida still remains the craziest and most insane hawk throughout the season, no doubting that!

We saw Brida’s determination to seek revenge from Uhtred at the end of season 4. She then lives up to her name by disrupting peace and kicking Uhtred’s ass throughout the first half of the season. On the sidelines, Aethelhelm seeks to ruin Edward’s bastard son Aethelstan; and let his own grandson succeed the throne instead. The long-pending task of England’s unification goes underway in the second half of the season. Also, Uhtred finally takes a breath of relief after conquering his childhood fortress Bebbanburg in this season. This emotional homecoming happens around the last few episodes. 

Nudity, Profanity, Death, Blood, and Gore!

Intimacy, sex, and nudity are anything but new when it comes to a community of pagan Vikings. Seeing that The Last Kingdom portrays such a community, it’s only natural to bump across some random sex scenes. What’s worthy of notice is that the sexual content this time around was much less when compared to the previous 4 seasons (where each character’s hormones seemed to be in overdrive).

Both the Vikings as well as the Saxons appear especially fond of profanity in this series. Oftentimes, they’d keep shouting abuse and cursing each other’s fourteen generations of ancestors until their throats go sore! Then there come the scenes where men are being butchered like meat bags. One thing’s for sure; the Last Kingdom never fails to satisfy your appetite for watching intestines crawling out people’s guts; after being stabbed to death by a freaking cleaver or the likes! All said, The Last Kingdom has been rated as a TV series for MA (mature audience only). That said, do instruct your kids to buzz off before you start binge-watching the show.

Here’s a warning for those of you who like to shed rivers of salty tears on the most meager of things: never get too attached to a character in The Last Kingdom! This rule appears to be tailor-made for Season 5; as the lives of people seem even cheaper than weeds growing in a grassland! A particular character may be enjoying the time of his life in one second; and then his head shoots up in the air a moment later! So, my advice for you guys is to toughen up your hearts and embrace yourself to count more dead bodies than all previous seasons combined!

Cinematography, Production Design & Soundtrack

The season’s kick starts with an exquisite opening theme. Moreover, its OST which keeps popping up from time to time never fails to enthrall the audience. The cinematographer deserves an everlasting round of applause for the expertise displayed in this season. The particularly sensational visuals serve as eye candy for the viewers. Last but not least, producer Ben Murphy deserves a heads-up for the thoughtful world-building, correlating character deeds and interactions, etc. For example, a great number of times, they’d focus on an arrow being shot at a horse’s hoof; and then take a step back and let us take in the whole picture. Then come the ways different characters interact with many others; and all of the moving dialogues we get to hear. In short, the scenes (especially those in battles) are both classy and thrilling.

Personal Verdict & Fan Reactions

If you ask me to nitpick, I’ll just point out a couple of blurred and unexplained things throughout the season. For example, there’s this particular conflict between distance and time in the last episode. As it happens, certain characters reach their destination before a certain time; which is practically impossible in reality though. All in all, these minor inconsistencies are surely there to better boost the story; and let it end smoothly. 

However, what really makes me wrack my brain up is the premature end of this terrific series! I mean, you’ve got to be kidding me! Bernard Cornwell managed to chunk out 13 books on the series. And from what I hear, only 10 of those have been covered till season 5 so far! Here’s what dawned upon me by running a simple calculation; there are still 3 freaking books left uncovered in the series! 

Then, why stop producing? I mean, I know there’s this film called Seven Kings Must Die upcoming who knows when. But hey, is one teensy-weensy film enough to satisfy our intense appetite? What if they cram up all three books in that one standalone film? Or even abandon a couple of those novels entirely? None can say for sure now.

Personally, I’d have loved to munch on yet another season of The Last Kingdom. That seems much more in favor of satisfying my craving for witnessing ancient people smashing each other’s heads. Most fans had the same dire concerns regarding this season and the series as a whole as I do. But to be honest, the series’ finality never came across as unexpected or unwarranted (although it did sadden my heart to a great extent)! You see, they pretty much covered up all of the ongoing plots from the previous seasons. The ending for one was dripping with logic and forced me to say, “Well, that sounds reasonable.” To sum it up, this season deserves at least a 4.5 plus rating just for the sheer emotion we get to experience!

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