Episode 1 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 5/5
Out of all the period dramas on TV, The Last Kingdom is up there with the best. Action-packed, historically accurate (for the most part) and full of excellent political drama, this show is really like no other.
Now onto its fifth season, The Last Kingdom returns with a bloody brilliant showcase of everything that makes this show so gripping. Essentially it’s Game of Thrones, minus the fantasy elements and disastrous ending. Yes, The Last Kingdom navigates that perilous pit to deliver a compelling and utterly enthralling ending to one of this year’s best period dramas.
The story picks up at the end of season 4. If you’re behind on the action or need a recap, fret not! We’ve got a handy story recap you can read HERE that should help get you up to scratch.
The plot this year though sees Brida still hell-bent on revenge against Uhtred, rising up with a whole rabble of Danes that set out from Iceland and intend to exact revenge on Uhtred.
While this is going on, England is gripped by its own issues, including a scheming Aethelhelm who remains fixated on getting his nephew onto the throne no matter what. From striking off-hand deals behind King Edward’s back to causing civil unrest, Aethelhelm will stop at nothing to have his way.
If that wasn’t enough, the uneasy peace between the Danes and Saxons looks set to shatter at any second too, leading Uhtred to try and play peacemaker to prevent war from gripping England. But is this one battle too many for our great protagonist?
The Last Kingdom juggles all of these plotlines and more with confidence and grace. There’s clearly been a lot of thought put into the pacing of this show, with a consistent amount of action dotted throughout its 8 episodes. This works really well to break up important bits of character development and heavy political debating, all of which just as gripping and tense as one would expect.
Props definitely need to be given to the production team here though because every part of the visual design is on the money. From costuming and props through to the lavish set detail put into bringing these little towns and fortresses to life, The Last Kingdom doesn’t hold anything back here – and it shows. This is one good looking series and season 5 really feels like you’re living and breathing the time period.
While The Last Kingdom never quite reaches those lofty heights set in some of the earlier seasons, the emotional weight and poignant meetings between characters still holds the same weight it once did.
There’s one moment at the end of episode 7 that will almost certainly tug at your heartstrings while the final shots of the finale are so bittersweet and pitch perfect that it’s hard not to shed a tear as this period drama ends.
At times this season does feel a tad rushed, and I guess that’s to be expected given the writers have adapted 2 books into a 10 episode season. One of the bigger culprits of this falls to that aforementioned ending in episode 7.
I’m being careful not to spoil anything here but you could argue the case that 2 episodes placed at the end of this, leading into the final conflict to follow, would have given The Last Kingdom a bit more breathing room to really revel in the emotional weight of what’s come to pass.
Despite those minor gripes, The Last Kingdom is nigh-on pitch perfect as it bows out its final season on a high. 2022 has been the year of period dramas so far, and The Last Kingdom proudly stands atop that hill. If there’s one show you watch this year – make it this one!
Verdict - 9/10