The Last Kingdom season 5, episode 5 recap – a plan backfires

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: March 9, 2022
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The Last Kingdom season 5, episode 5 recap - a plan backfires


Political scheming backfires in a big way, and suddenly all-out war is right around the corner.

This recap of The Last Kingdom season 5, episode 5 contains spoilers.

One of the best types of on-screen villains is the political schemer. Think Wormtongue, Littlefinger, Tommy Carcetti – you know the type. Aethelhelm fits neatly into that category. His latest idea, having been one-upped on the whole Ealdormen thing, is to try and cause a war between the Christians and the Danes in the hopes that Edward is killed in battle and Aelfweard can ascend to the vacant throne. And he has a good plan for facilitating this. The only problem is that his plan overlooks a minor detail that causes him to lose a lot more than he bargained for. The outcome might well be the same – and it’s certainly looking like war by episode’s end – but will he still feel victorious without anyone to share in his victory?

The Last Kingdom season 5, episode 5 recap

We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though. We actually pick up in the aftermath of Edward seizing power and suddenly wondering if he should have been a touch more diplomatic, since a ruler whose people fear him never lasts long or remains prosperous. But it becomes evident quickly where things are going when we check in on the Danes, who’re suspecting that Edward might come for them next, and are prepared to fight if it comes to that. It almost certainly will come to that, thanks to Aethelhelm, but not for the reasons they think. When Lord Haesten comes across the bodies of the pilgrims and a sobbing Aalys, the supposed visionary who Aelflaed had taken such a shine to, it becomes obvious that Aethelhelm had arranged the death of the visionary to create friction between the Christians and Danes – her killers even claimed to be acting on Sigtryggr’s orders. But they made a mistake. They didn’t kill Aalys, but Aelflaed herself, who Aethelhelm had no idea was traveling with them.

This is, naturally, enormous news. Haesten delivers it to Uhtred, who doubts Sigtryggr is responsible but recognizes that Edward will assume so if news of his wife’s death reaches him. So, he heads out to speak with Sigtryggr, while Athelhelm tries to push Edward into open war. Since it doesn’t work, he riles up the people himself, telling them that murderous Danes are being housed in Runcorn. This leads to the butchering of many people in Runcorn, including Osferth, which Finan takes particularly hard. Hearing news of it, and seeing his wife’s body, Edward feels he has no choice but to declare war on the Danes – and Sigtryggr is happy to oblige him, with Stiorra by his side. Edward wants the life of his wife in exchange for his own. Fair’s fair, after all.

So, Aethelhelm got his wish, but not in the way he wanted. When he hears of Aelflaed’s death he tries to take his own life, but decides against it, instead doubling down on the carnage he has caused. Elsewhere, Uhtred figures out that the murder of Aelflaed was Aethelhelm’s doing, but in the midst of such anger and hostility between both sides, how is he ever going to convince anyone of this?

You can stream The Last Kingdom season 5, episode 5 exclusively on Netflix.

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