A poignant, tragic episode brings a long-running rivalry to an end, but leaves many more conflicts in its wake.
This recap of The Last Kingdom season 5, episode 7 contains spoilers.
This episode of The Last Kingdom is really a masterful bit of work when you stop and think about it. It’s a piece of focused character drama that brings at least one long-running subplot to a powerful conclusion, while also furthering the overarching plot and developing new (and old!) threats elsewhere. The cast rises to the challenge of the material, embodying a deep sense of grief, anger, and desperation as they continue to fight for something bigger than themselves, whether that be their legacy, their country, or their family.
The Last Kingdom season 5, episode 7 recap
We begin in mourning for Sigtryggr, with Stiorra taking his death particularly hard. Having lost her husband she has also lost the position of queen, and the political power that comes with it (despite maintaining the loyalty of the Danes), and given Uhtred’s role in the execution, she feels more antipathy towards him than ever. He’s acutely aware of this too, so when Edward proposes that he names her the functional leader of the Danes, he jumps at the chance and pushes her to do the same. But the position would mean swearing fealty to Edward, and she can’t bring herself to do it. Her rejection sends Edward spiraling, and he banishes her from York, instead planning to install Rognvaldr, of all people, as the leader of the Danes under his authority.
That’s a disaster waiting to happen if I ever heard one.
Speaking of disasters, Brida is back. Father Pyrlig stumbles into Sigtryggr’s memorial service, barely alive, and warns Uhtred that Brida won’t rest until she has punished him. Uhtred is later given a message from her to meet, alone, at Loidis for a final showdown. At this charred place tinged with shared memories, they fight, and it becomes a montage of scenes from seasons past, the accompanying score helping to summon a great deal of emotion and poignancy from the encounter. Uhtred gets the upper hand, but refuses to kill Brida, despite her insistence, instead resolving to help her deal with her grief. This is a lost, wounded woman, and the two are connected by much more than their present rivalry. Much like how Brida was susceptible to Father Pyrlig’s ministrations, here she sees the wisdom in Uhtred’s mercy and begins to see, perhaps, the first few steps on a winding road to salvation and redemption.
And then Stiorra shoots her in the back with an arrow.
It’s a tragic moment, though an understandable one from Stiorra’s position – she snarls that she has done what Uhtred could not, not realizing the depth of feeling that led him to this moment. This actually closes the episode, powerfully and fittingly, but there’s more happening elsewhere worthy of mention.
For one thing, we get a whole little subplot involving Aelfwynn, Eadith, and Aelswith, who are captured by Aethelhelm’s goon Bresal and one of his friends. As we see, Aethelhelm is in Scotia trying to push King Constantin into a war with Edward, offering Aelfwynn as a marriage gift to sweeten the deal. If Edward is deposed, Aelfweard will take the throne and, under Aethelhelm’s guidance, will leave Scotland well alone. It’s a tempting proposition, and it’s why Bresal is after Aelfwynn. But Lady Aelswith, who has been somewhat aggravating this season, isn’t having that and manages to kill Bresal with a hidden blade. His accomplice, though, makes off with Aelfwynn and flees, meaning that Aethelhelm’s scheme is still a potential threat for now.
Oh, and Edward marries Eadgifu, who is pregnant, which greatly upsets Aelfweard. In response, he blackmails Father Benedict into accompanying him north, to meet with his grandfather. All roads must converge, after all.