REVIEW: The Last Kingdom Season 3

The Last Kingdom Season 3 continues the tale based on Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories. Once a BBC production, Season 3 now has Netflix in complete control and the jump in production and quality is noticeable – even for a show that was looking pretty damn good to begin with. We follow the adventures of Uhtred – born a Saxon and raised as a Dane as he struggles to find his place in the world and reclaim his ancestral home of Bebbanburg.

The Last Kingdom Season 3 kicks off with intrigue and violence. The Danish seer, Skade envisions a bloody battle that instantly promises the gore and bloody violence that the Netflix production can offer. Skade sees the death of King Alfred and uses this vision to convince the season’s primary antagonist, Sigurd Bloodhair, to lead his Vikings on a path to claim Wessex and everything in it, from the smallest pig to the golden crown on Alfred’s head. To the surprise of no-one, Uhtred is once again caught in the middle of his oath to defend King Alfred and the Viking people he grew alongside and embraced as his own.

The Last Kingdom Season 3 improves on the major flaw of the previous season. Where season 2 was split into two mini stories each four episodes, The Last Kingdom Season 3 is able to adapt The Burning Land and Death of Kings (reviewed by James and Edward online) whilst keeping to one longer story arc. The addition of two extra episodes gives the story a chance to breathe and allows some of the minor characters opportunities to flex their chops and display the fragile political games being played throughout the land by Danes and Saxons alike. Aethelwold is an absolute delight to watch playing the scheming brother of Alfred, always with one eye on the throne. His dark plots and clever words to trick the men around him would make the Norse God Loki beam with pride at his mischief. He is a character that the audience just loves to hate and like Peter Baelish from Game of Thrones, he is a one that you enjoy watching cause mischief and mayhem but you long for the day when he will get his comeuppance.

The chaotic political landscape of Britain drives The Last Kingdom Season 3 forward. King Alfred is dying and the nobles of Wessex fear that his son, Edward, is too weak to rule. Alfred wishes for Uhtred to help Edward but blinded by his faith, Alfred makes an enemy of the pagan Uhtred and fuels the Danish fire within the warrior torn between his oath to the king and his love of the Viking life. Backstabbing, clandestine meetings, and whispers in the shadows give the show an air of Game of Thrones and to top it off, the final two episodes are choked with a tension that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The final battle in episode ten is the most visceral and painfully beautiful yet with the perfect blend of acting full of emotion, gorgeous cinematography and music comparable to any of the great epic battles seen on television.

None of the pacing issues of the earlier seasons, ramped up production values, and battles that are bloodier and gorier than ever before. The Last Kingdom Season 3 is a wonderful example of a series finding its groove and really understanding the characters and how to portray them. Intrigue, violence, and wit sharper than a Saxon sword: The Last Kingdom Season 3 is must watch television. Season 4 awaits…

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Aaron Jones

Aaron S. Jones is the author of Flames of Rebellion, the first part of The Broken Gods trilogy. He is Head of English at a school in Kent, UK and when he is not tearing his hair out at students struggling with their, they're and there, he is tearing his hair out as he dies for the thousandth time on Demon's Souls. You can find him on Twitter @HereticASjones where he is most likely procrastinating for hours at a time instead of focusing on his Orc murder mystery.