Destiny Is All!
Welcome! If you need a handy recap before The Last Kingdom Season 5 drops on Netflix we’ve got you covered with our full story recap with everything you need to know if you don’t fancy plunging back in and watching four seasons of action.
Feel free to check out the below links to jump straight down to the season of your choice, otherwise let’s begin!
The Last Kingdom begins with young Uhtred as a boy. He’s heir of Bebbanburg, an area of land held by his father, Lord Uhtred. When Vikings attack, led by a vicious warlord, Uhtred’s father is slain in battle. In the wake of this, he’s kidnapped by the Danes along with a young Saxon girl called Brida.
The Dane leader, Earl Ragnar, warms to both Uhtred and Brida. Ragnar eventually decides to buy Uhtred for himself following a meeting with Uhtred’s uncle Aelfric, and Uhtred is subsequently raised as a Viking. He adopts the Norse religion and seems to be reborn into this world.
The story then picks up many years later with Uhtred and Brida older and living with the Danes. When a warrior named Kjartan shows up, he murders Uhtred’s adoptive family for revenge after blinding his son, Sven. This is something that occurred way back in the past, and now it’s come back to haunt Uhtred.
The Kingdom of Wessex
Kjartan blames Uhtred for the murders and he’s forced to flee with Brida to the Kingdom of Wessex. This area is ruled by King Alfred. Wessex has its own problems though, including scheming from nobleman Aethelwold who believes he should be King.
Brida decides against staying and teams up with Earl Ragnar’s son, Ragnar The Younger. Uhtred meanwhile, finds his relationship with Alfred sour after interrupting his prayers. His wife also starts to resent him too.
When Uhtred goes plundering for treasure as a way of getting away from Alfred and Wessex, he finds a pagan Queen called Iseult whom he falls in love with. Alfred does not take kindly to this and orders Uhtred’s execution. When the Danes attack though, it causes everyone to flee.
Alfred and his wife, Aelswith, hide with their newborn son, Edward, in the marshes of Athelney. However, their son is sick. Thankfully, Uhtred and Iseult show and perform a Pagan ritual which cures the baby. It also allows Alfred to trust him again.
A Heavy Loss
Following this attack, Alfred sends messengers to call Saxons to muster for an impending battle for Wessex. The only way they’re going to win is if every Saxon arm joins forces against the Danes.
With their forces massed, Alfred is victorious – but at a high cost. Iseult is beheaded by a Viking warrior, leaving Uhtred shell-shocked. Brida and Young Ragnar are imprisoned in Wessex as Alfred’s hostages while Uhtred heads north.
King in the North
The second season begins with a prophetic vision, courtesy of Abbot Eadred of Cumbraland. Guthred, the king of Cumbraland, has been enslaved by Kjartan and Sven. He’s in a rough way so naturally, King Alfred wants to help. This also coincides with him extending his own kingdom and influence, so he sends Father Beocca to try and negotiate.
On his journeys, Beocca runs into Uhtred who agrees to help given they have a common enemy in Kjartan. Instead of the original plan though, Uhtred and Beocca break Guthred out.
In doing so, Guthred becomes king in the north, with Uhtred his close advisor. Guthred’s pagan sister Gisela and Uthred are attracted to each other and plan to marry. Well, not if christian Guthred has anything to do with it.
Uhtred’s popularity is a constant concern but instead of killing him like Eadred suggests, Guthred “mercifully” sells him into slavery on the open seas.
Naturally, King Alfred learns what’s happened and sends his hostage, Ragnar the Younger, to find Uhtred. Following months of abuse, the slave ship docks and Uhtred is close to death.
Thankfully, Ragnar saves him from this fate, heading out into the wilderness to help him regain his strength. Interestingly, Uhtred runs into Gisela again, who actually fled from her brother to avoid being forced into marriage.
Abbot Eadred shows up and reveals that he’s already married Gisela to Uhtred’s uncle Aelfric. Uhtred is enraged and kills Eadred in front of a group of priests. He eventually reunites with Gisela and the pair return to Wessex.
After learning of Eadred’s death, Alfred forces Uhtred into an ultimatum – either Ragnar be executed or he swear an oath of service to the King. He chooses the latter. However, Uhtred also negotiates for Brida and Ragnar’s freedom in the wake of this.
In order to secure the kingdoms and prevent war from breaking out, King Alfred organizes for his daughter, Princess Aethelflaed, to marry Lord Aethelred of Mercia.
Unfortunately all is not well, as it turns out Aethelred is abusive behind closed doors. However, Aethelflaed is aware of how tenuous the two sides are and decides to keep this a secret.
Alfred sends Uhtred out on a mission to kill Viking brothers Erik and Sigefrid but instead, Uhtred mercifully sends them back to Denmark instead.
This singular act sees King Guthred become indebted to Uhtred and lends him soldiers in order to attack the stronghold of Dunholm. Why is this significant? Well, it turns out this is where Kjaratan and Sven are held up, the two men responsible for killing his adoptive family.
A big siege ensues, where both Kjartan and Sven are killed. Uhtred’s adoptive sister, Thyra – whom we believed was dead until this moment – is actually still alive. She’s been held prisoner and has also suffered from a lot of abuse. Ragnar and Brida (who joined in the raid) agree to stay and hold the stronghold with the army of Danes.
Three Years Later
Uhtred returns to Wessex with Thyra, whom he leaves in the care of Father Beocca. Uhtred is also married to Gisela too, where they live in peace for three years. As fate would have it, Beocca and Thyra are also wed during this time,
This peace is broken by Erik and Sigefrid capturing London with a big army. Alfred sends his men, led by Aethelred, to London but the place is deserted. Unfortunately, the Danes have an alternate plan.
The Danes Strike Back
With the army gone, they swoop in and kidnap King Alfred’s daughter, intending to use her as leverage for the King to pay a huge ransom. If Alfred is to pay up, it would see them raise a bigger army to challenge the Saxons.
When Alfred agrees to cough up the funds, the loyal nobleman Odda, Ealdorman of Devon, urges him to reconsider. When he refuses, Odda works behind his back, arranging for an army of his own to attack the Vikings.
Interestingly, Aethelflaed and Erik have fallen in love and intend to escape, calling on Uhtred to help. He’s not exactly happy about it but agrees to help nonetheless, breaking Aethelflaed out of prison. When Sigefrid finds out what’s happening, he kills his brother and sends his men to capture the Lady of Mercia.
A bittersweet victory
Odda’s gamble pays off and his army fights off the Dane, with Aethelflaed actually killing Sigefrid. It’s a massive victory for the Saxons but one that’s bittersweet. Odda is to face execution for going against Alfred’s orders but he commits suicide in prison instead.
The season opens with a new threat on the horizon. A Viking warrior called Bloodhair prepares to march against Alfred, guided by a seer named Skade. She claims to have seen a vision of victory. So naturally, Uhtred heads out to fight Bloodhair’s men, who are raiding villages.
On his travels, Uhtred sees Skade torturing priests in a nearby church and takes her hostage. When Bloodhair loses the ensuing battle to get her back and flees, Skade starts to shift her allegiance toward Uhtred.
In Wessex, Alfred’s health deteriorates so he makes plans for Edward, his son, to take the throne. Aethelwold isn’t exactly pleased, given he wants the throne for himself. So he begins to upset the balance of power, even bribing a priest to antagonize Uhtred in front of the king.
However, bigger problems are afoot. Gisela dies giving birth to Uhtred’s third child. When Uhtred finds out, he believes this is a sign of Skade’s curse.
After a disagreement about burial rituals, Uhtred lashes out at the bribed priest and slaps him. Only, because the old man was initially frail, he dies at Uhtred’s hand.
Uhtred dejects Alfred’s suggestion of a a lifetime oath to Wessex, and alongside his most loyal men, flee Wessex. Skade is with them. Upon escaping, Uhtred is wounded by a spear.
Remember Bloodhair? Well, Aethelwold continues to scheme and heads up to see him. Bloodhair has joined forces with Sigefrid’s ally Haesten, and they both listen as Aethelwold suggests they gather a grand Dane army in Dunholm.
Interestingly, this coincides with Uhtred who ends up at Dunholm where he’s nursed back to health by Ragnar and Brida. They’ve heard about Aethelwold’s plan and intend to get involved. Uhtred however, does not.
His rejection sees Ragnar’s cousin Cnut label him as a “Dane slayer”. This situation escalates when Uhtred heads out to help Aethelflaed, turning his back on his childhood and severing his ties with the Danes forever. When he leaves, he does so with both Skade and his men.
Skade is soon passed to Haesten, Alfred’s secret informant, in exchange for keeping Aethelflaed safe, at least for a while.
Unrest in the Danish camp
Meanwhile, Aethelwold kills Ragnar while he sleeps in his tent. In doing so, Brida realizes he’s not going to Valhalla because he ddidn’t have a sword in his hand when he died Thanks to the manner of his death, and she’s devastated. She blames Uhtred for abandoning them, and also points out that this is another instance of Skade’s curse materializing. So he formulates a plan to retrieve her from Haesten.
Uhtred forms of an alliance with Edward, Alfred’s son. They organize a siege to attack Beamfleot. While the Saxons are victorious, Haesten escapes with Skade and heads toward Bloodhair and Cnut’s combined Dane forces in the north.
The thing is, the Danes aren’t exactly fond of Aethelwold and urge him to go back to Wessex, despite knowing he could be put to death by returning. So off Aethelwold goes but Alfred captures him when he arrives. Instead of executing his son, he has one of his eyes removed.
All is not well in the Dane ranks though, as Haesten kills Bloodhair in battle over deciding who keeps Skade. Funnily enough, Uhtred takes her back shortly thereafter, courtesy of a successful covert operation.
Skade to let her guard down around Uhtred, lending him the perfect chance to drown her in the river, believing it will destroy the curse she put on him.
While all this is going on, Alfred’s health is rapidly deteriorating. Uhtred is snuck into Wessex where Father Beocca helps break him into the palace for a private meeting with Alfred.
The conversation is bittersweet, with both men admitting to their wrongdoing and how much respect they’ve grown for one another. Alfred also hands over a letter pardoning Uhtred of all his crimes and making him a free man.
Despite Uhtred’s freedom, the fate of Wessex is left hanging in the balance when he passes away later that night.
With Edward and Aethelwold both wanting the crown for themselves, a big disagreement breaks out. Alfred’s death also brings out xenophobia against those Danes who have settled peacefully in Wessex. Thyra is one of these and she’s followed by a man who sets fire to her house while everyone else is attending Alfred’s funeral.
Thyra manages to hide in a secret hideout under the floorboards. She does kill her attacker by thrusting a knife through the floorboard gap but he falls over the loose boards and Thyra isn’t strong enough to move him. As a consequence, she dies in the fire.
When the Danes learn of Alfred’s death, they march on Wessex. With Edward on the throne for now, he gathers his forces as a great battle gets underway. Their victory is tarnished somewhat by Aethelwold’s plan to usurp his brother, but the crooked nobleman he’s hired actually fights for the Saxons, leading him to flee.
Uhtred tracks him down where he admits he killed Ragnar. He also promises to leave in exchange for allowing him to live. Uhtred ignores his pleas and stabs Aethelwold, piercing the pouch carrying his sister’s blood and subsequently freeing Ragnar’s soul so it can pass on to Valhalla.
Brida watches all of this take place and embraces Uhtred. She eventually wanders back to the Danes where her allegiance lies.
With a shaky truce established at the end of season 3, the fourth season picks up several years into Edward’s reign, with the young King struggling to fill the large boots left behind by his father.
Uhtred is no help here either, and after refusing to swear allegiance to Alfred’s son, ends up growing closer to Aethelflaed as his loyalty lies more with her than with Edward. Naturally, the pair end up romantically linked.
When Aethelflaed’s husband, the ruler of Mercia, passes away, Uhtred gets involved and helps her ascend to the throne. This ensures that Mercia is aligned with Wessex rather than succumb to control from a new King. However, Aetelflaed agrees not to have any relationships while she is head of Mercia.
By getting this position for Aethelflaed, Uthred realizes that their love is never going to materialize because of their positions.
Despite their moments at the end of season 3, Brida, heavily pregnant, remains on the side of the Danes. After the Danes are defeated in battle, Brida begs Uthred to kill her rather than be made a slave. Uthred is unable to kill his former friend and she is taken to Wales where she remains in slavery until rescued by Sigtryggr. Despite their moments at the end of season 3, she resents that he’s deserted her and the Danes, especially since Uhtred didn’t kill her on the battlefield.
Not being sent to Valhalla, and succumbing to the awful treatment she receives from the Welsh, sees her grow ever-more angry and bitter, determined to gain her revenge. Brida teams up with Sigtryggr and the other Danes, and they agree to sack Winchester.
As the season progresses, Uhtred eventually joins the fight, intending to save Winchester from Sigtryggr and Brida’s combined forces. Although Brida wants to kill the Saxons in retaliation for the horrors she faced at the hands of the Welsh, Sigtryggr is far more tactical and attempts to negotiate his homeland. In the middle of all this, he also marries Uthred’s daughter, Stiorra.
Sigtryggr gives Edward an ultimatum, forcing him to choose one of his boys to live. However, Uhtred gambles and offers himself up in exchange for both children surviving this.
Brida naturally wants to murder Uhtred immediately, but that doesn’t happen. Instead, Aethelflaed arrives with her forces, as she and Edward team up together and push into the city.
Uhtred and a heavy pregnant Brida fight but the former refuses to attack her. In the end, Brida vows revenge, promising to instill that same level of anger and hatred she feels for him through her child too. Brida then gives birth in the wild.
Edward and Athelflaed’s mother, Aelswith, are unfortunately poisoned by Edward’s father-in-law in the middle of all this commotion.
Realizing that having two sons in court is probably dangerous, Edward asks Uhtred to take Aethelstan with him. With Edward’s daughter off with the Danes, in a shocking move earlier on in the season, Uhtred is left with the fate of England in his hands.
The ending to the fourth season essentially looks like it’s hinting at two big conflicts. The first comes from Uhtred raising Aethelstan in order to become a warrior. Aethelstan is due to become Edward’s true heir and the first King of a united England, with historians even classing him as one of the “greatest Anglo-Saxon kings” in history.
The other conflict comes from Brida and her unbridled hatred for Uhtred. It would appear that she’s going to be the main antagonist of season 5. Brida promises to raise her child to feel the same way she does about Uhtred, promising a very intriguing season ahead.
So that’s the entire story of The Last Kingdom from Season 1 up to the end of 4 in a nutshell. There’s a lot more going on here – including intricate political scheming and skirmishes – but hopefully this is enough to get you up to scratch in time for season 5!
What did you think of The Last Kingdom’s story? Have we missed any crucial details in this recap? Do let us know in the comments below!