The Unyielding Ride That Is The Last Kingdom, Season 4

We were not ready, we are not worthy.

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What follows will not spoil anything for you regarding The Last Kingdom, Season 4, but heaven help you if you haven’t yet viewed seasons 1–3.

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You know you love something when you don’t want it to end, and by that measure I adore The Last Kingdom. It physically hurt my soul to press play on Season 4, Episode 10. I need this show. I don’t even like to drink wine while I watch it for fear my entertainment receptors will be somehow dulled. By the way, I know television shows are meant to appear in italics, they’re just a pain in the ass to deal with and I’m going to be typing The Last Kingdom over and over again so deal with it.

Having galloped through ten hours of quality programming in three days, I thought it might be best to help the rest of this stagnant universe entertain itself with something truly worth sitting down for. The Last Kingdom, for those of you who apparently don’t like looking at pretty things, first aired in October of 2015 and has been giving our couches a reason to exist ever since. I won’t go into a full history of Uhtred, because that’s literally the point of watching the show, but suffice to say if you like historical dramatic sagas that span several decades without people aging at all, insane battles that happen because people are ridiculous, and like…a shitload of attractive men who look like they’ve been rolled in dirt, this is the show for you.

The last time I enjoyed television this much where swear words were not involved was The West Wing and that was written by Aaron fucking Sorkin. It amazes me how an entire hour goes by with the same speed as HBO programming. We’re not settling for The Last Kingdom and its use of the word “hump,” we’re actually preferring it to lawless programming that can say whatever it likes. A very unique bouquet of story, talent, drama, violence, and pure visual appeal exists here and the fact that all cast members appear on social media to genuinely love their jobs makes The Last Kingdom the easiest show to love that you’re probably not watching.

Season 4 of The Last Kingdom is a ride. Every season of this show covers an impressive amount of ground and leaves us feeling completely full and satisfied, but this season in particular never let us up to breathe. Once one seemingly impossible conflict was resolved with a suddenly obvious negotiation, another hellpit of ego and attitude and like…blonde dreadlocks came to take its place. I know they can’t see it, but I’d like those responsible for this show’s nonstop plot lines to visualize me giving them a standing ovation from my living room in my comfy pants, because that’s what’s happening.

The visual blessing that is The Last Kingdom cannot be understated. And I speak not of the beautiful countryside scenery. I am speaking of course of this casting team’s fine work. It’s like they went to Scandinavia, found the dudes with the prettiest eyes and hardest to pronounce names, and got to work. You could literally watch it with the sound off. It’s impressive that a show can be this thirsty with relatively minor moments of actual sex being shown. Like, thank you for the Uhtred ass shot, but it really isn’t necessary. And believe me, friends, that sentence spoiled nothing for you. It does help that the hotness rolls in a pack like wolves. I mean honestly at some point I’d enjoy a spinoff show that’s just “Uhtred & Friends” where they all sit around a table and get shitfaced. I would watch Finan watching Uhtred watch paint dry, if that tells you anything.

I love a show that’s not afraid to kill main characters. It really keeps you on your toes as a viewer, and gives those creating the show a chance to reinvent it in many ways each season. Thank goodness Aethelwold is dead I was getting so tired of his shit. He was the “Olly” of The Last Kingdom and it was time. I’m just annoyed it cost us Ragnar.

Don’t worry guys, King Edward is proving to be every bit the asshole his daddy was, if not less experienced. I’m sure he’ll get where he’s destined to go. It was almost eerie in certain moments seeing him adopt Alfred’s attitude and evil eye. The show’s loose relationship with age makes it kind of weird to see Edward and Aelswith interact as mother and son, as in real life I’m pretty sure they’re damn near the same age, (Millie Brady, who plays Aethelfled for example, is only six months younger than Eliza Butterworth, who plays Aelswith, her mother), but roll with it and by the end you really don’t mind.

Honestly, Brida’s getting annoying. There, I said it. It was somewhat satisfying to know that Sigtryggr, a new character you’ll meet soon, isn’t really here for her impulsivity and blind rage. He’s actually a really interesting addition, you’ll like him. Also in real life his name is Eysteinn Sigurðarson and if you know how to say that, you just let me know. As I do have a real need to see women whip as much ass as the men do on-screen, I’m very grateful that Aethelfled is still with us, despite half the cast seemingly wishing her dead, many times over. Hang in there Aethel, we need you.

The Last Kingdom isn’t going to leave you with a cliffhanger ending. Whether that’s because they’re never sure if they’ll get renewed or they just like leaving shit open ended because it’s more fun to write the next season that way, I don’t know, and I don’t care. I consider this a kindness. After years of biting my nails over Sherlock and an actual decade of pining for information from Game Of Thrones only to be fed a big bowl of BRAN in the end, you’ll forgive me if I don’t trust the entertainment industry’s ability to follow through on suspenseful endings. I take joy in knowing I can always trust The Last Kingdom to give us a soft landing before it leaves, ending each season on an optimistic, destiny-driven note that make us feel both satiated by what we’ve just enjoyed, while simultaneously looking forward to what’s next without being angry at how long we’ll have to wait for it. They’ve made ending a season of binge-television an art form and I think they need to be recognized for it.

You’re not doing anything right now, and streaming The Last Kingdom costs less and takes up less surface area than a jigsaw puzzle. It’s a pretty damn solid way to spend your time. If you’ve never seen any of this show before, I almost envy you, because I know this team is about to tell you one hell of a story. I suggest you listen.

Written by

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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