REVIEW: The Last Kingdom Season 5

The excellent adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories comes to an end (as a TV series at least) in thrilling style. The Last Kingdom has been a bloody joy to watch since 2015 and has always been nothing short of brilliant. Like the seasons before it, The Last Kingdom S5 perfectly blends the history of the birth of England with thrilling entertainment and memorable characters.

the last kingdom season 5The Last Kingdom S5 finds Uhtred son of Uhtred worrying about his old friend Brida. Travelling from Iceland to York, Brida brings along an army of warriors and her daughter (a Seer) to disrupt Uhtred’s life in Runcorn as he attempts to care for young Aethelstan. Brida’s attack disrupts the relative peace in the land and threatens to tear apart the idea of a united kingdom that Alfred dreamt of before his death. Through it all, the devious Lord Aethelhelm is scheming to seize the power of the throne from King Edward for his grandson and his actions set in motion a battle for the very heart of England, one that Uhtred has to once again play a big part in.

As shows like Game of Thrones have shown us, it is often difficult to stick the landing for a successful series. Thankfully, The Last Kingdom S5 is able to close the story off by linking back to the various threads that have appeared throughout the show since The Last Kingdom S1. The Last Kingdom is at its best when it twists the political intrigue together with personal tales of a man who is trying to find himself and care for those he loves. There is a clear bond between Uhtred and the various people who he has fought with and defended over the years. This makes it even more gut-wrenching when Uhtred suffers a loss as we can truly feel the pain that he is in after losing a loved one. It also helps that Uhtred is a character whose journey makes sense. He started as a brash, often arrogant but skilled warrior and has developed into a more cautious, thoughtful man who thinks about the effects that his actions may have on those around him. At one time, he yearned for nothing more than to take back his home of Bebbanburg, but in The Last Kingdom S5, he cares more about the people he is with than where he is and needs to be convinced by others about the importance of his destiny.

The bloody battles are still thrilling to watch and the writing excellently balances the large cast of characters throughout the ten episodes of The Last Kingdom S5. One complaint would be that at this point in the series, the age of the characters becomes quite muddled. Uhtred has lived through the rise of Alfred’s son and grandson but doesn’t appear to be much older than King Edward. Aelswith has a few scenes with her on screen daughter and granddaughter and all the actresses are in their twenties and this does create a bit of a disconnect for the audience but not enough to run any particular episode thankfully. However, it would have been an injustice to recast any of the actors in the series as they are all played to perfection. From the charismatic lead of Uhtred to my favourite returning Dane Haesten, every performance is played to perfection.

The Last Kingdom S5 is another stunning piece of television. If you like shows with battles full of grit and blood, with interesting characters that make up a grand historical epic, then The Last Kingdom is as good as it gets.  All that is left to finish off the story is a final film titled: Seven Kings Must Die. If the high standards of the TV series are met, then we are all in for a thrilling finale. Destiny is all!

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Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones

Aaron S. Jones is the author of Memories of Blood and Shadow, and The Broken Gods trilogy. He is Head of School 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 Elden Ring. 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.