The Last Kingdom is a historical drama television series set in medieval England in the 9th century AD during the time of Alfred the Great and his descendants. Based on The Saxon Stories novels by Bernard Cornwell, this exciting series dramatizes the birth of England against the backdrop of the Viking invasions. After three seasons on BBC Two, the show moved to Netflix for its fourth season in 2020. With its riveting storyline, stellar acting, and magnificent scenery and sets, The Last Kingdom makes for captivating viewing.
The show opens in the year 866 AD when much of England has fallen under Danish Viking rule. We are introduced to young Uhtred, born a Saxon but raised by Vikings after being captured. As he gets older, Uhtred is conflicted about his loyalties between the Danes who raised him and his native Saxon lands. The drama unfolds as he gets caught up in the power struggles between the Vikings and Saxons while also navigating his own quest for identity, revenge and glory.
Central to the storyline is Alfred, King of Wessex, determined to unite the separate Anglo-Saxon kingdoms into one realm and defend against the Danish invaders threatening his lands. The show portrays Alfred as an inspired, pious and cerebral ruler yet plagued by physical frailty. His contentious relationship and uneasy alliance with the headstrong Uhtred makes for gripping television as together they take on Viking warlords and the traitorous Saxon lord Aethelwold.
One highlight of the show is the stellar casting, with Alexander Dreymon outstanding in the lead role of Uhtred. He captures Uhtred’s inner conflicts as well as his courage and fighting prowess convincingly. David Dawson is also fantastic as Alfred, adeptly conveying the king’s fierce intelligence and resolute nature. Emily Cox shines as the fiery Brida, Uhtred’s childhood friend turned lover. Meanwhile, Toby Regbo excels as Alfred’s nephew Aethelwold, the villain you love to hate.
Adding to the drama are the magnificent backdrops and scenery, transporting viewers right into 9th century England. From the rolling green hills of Wessex to the Scandinavian-style timber halls of the Danes, the sets and filming locations are resplendent. The costumes, weapons, jewelry and props all show impressive attention to historical detail, further immersing viewers in the medieval world. The excellent cinematography captures both the beauty of the landscapes and the terror of the battle scenes.
After three seasons of excellent television, The Last Kingdom continues its captivating saga in a fourth season released on Netflix in 2020. This season sees Uhtred journey north to recapture his ancestral home in Bebbanburg from his duplicitous uncle. Meanwhile, Alfred’s son Edward strives to protect Wessex from the invading Danes. The season packs in all the elements that make the show so addictive: dramatic plots, epic fight sequences and scenic landscapes. Uhtred’s character is developed further as he reconnects with his roots and confronts figures from his past.
With its well-crafted storylines, multi-dimensional characters and visually impressive production design, The Last Kingdom offers an enthralling viewing experience. This historical drama brings a crucial chapter of English history to vivid life while balancing history and fiction deftly. The show has garnered significant praise from critics and fans alike, backed by strong ratings over four seasons. For any lover of historical fiction or dramatizations, The Last Kingdom is certainly worthy of your time. With intriguing characters, plots and settings, this show will sweep you right back to medieval England during the time of Alfred the Great.