‘The Last Kingdom’ is the story of ‘Viking’ insurgence into England, and the continuing conflict between the ‘Nordic’ people and the ‘Britons’. Set in the 9th Century, the series follows a man called ‘Uhtred’, whose allegiance stands with the Britons (partially to ensure the recapture of his entitled lands in ‘Bebbanburg’), yet his loyalty is constantly tested, as he is at heart a ‘Dane’. The ‘Netflix Original’ began to be aired in 2015, and the latest instalment of the series is an incredible addition to the story. Season 4 builds greatly upon the story that the audience is left with in Season 3, and is arguably the greatest storyline to date to be produced throughout the whole series.
Season 4 is one of the most action-packed seasons that fans have received for the series. Uhtred hears word of Bebbanburg’s inadequate defences and attempts to execute a stealth mission to acquire his birthright. A battle for ‘Mercia’ leaves the land in disarray as new leadership must be secured, and the lands of ‘Wessex’ and the plan for a greater England come under threat as the Danes take hold of ‘Winchester’. This is one of the greatest scripts that the writers have created. The audience is captivated from start to finish, and on the edge of their seats the whole time. There were several moments where I was left in awe of the events that just occurred, as the writers drew me in with their exceptionally well written plot lines and dialogue. The politics of Season 4 make the story exceedingly interesting and more realistic. The writers have outdone themselves, creating multiple parallel storylines that converge as the plot continues to develop. As The Last Kingdom is largely historically accurate, history buffs and medieval lovers alike should be very excited with the plot, and the way that the writers have set up the story for Season 5.
There is an obvious increase in production quality for Season 4, and it is a very welcome one. Right from the start there is an evident increase in picture quality when compared to previous seasons. Post production effects are increasingly more realistic, even to the point where certain effects rival the quality of practical effects. The practical sets are more detailed and comprehensive builds, and the set designers and tradespeople responsible should be commended greatly as they add to the sense of realism and grandness of the story. The score design has also seen its fair share of transformation. From the first scene of Season 4, it is evident that the composition team have increased their efforts in creating a greater, grander, and more distinguished orchestral musical score to accompany the production.
As always, the cast’s performances were exceptional in creating realistic and exciting dynamics amongst one another. Led by Alexander Dramon who plays ‘Uhtred of Bebbanburg’, Dramon consistently produces awe inspiring, charismatic performances. Mark Rowley (‘Finan’) is a standout for this season, as he also does an exceptional job at conveying raw emotion throughout the story. Emily Cox’s (‘Brida’) performance in Season 4 is also emotive and captures the audience. She does an extremely good job at fulfilling her characters role and strengthening the character dynamics between Brida and Uhtred.
The addition of new characters ‘Eadith’, ‘Eardwulf’ and ‘Sigtryggr’ bring a brand-new dynamic to the cast and plot. Stefanie Martini, who plays Eadith, has great on-screen chemistry with Mark Rowley (Finan), and it is evident that a romantic relationship may be created between the characters (which I’m sure many, including myself, would be in favour of). Perhaps one of the greatest additions to the cast and the story was the introduction of Sigtryggr, played by Eysteinn Sigurðarson. Sigtryggr, the son of ‘Ivar the Boneless’, a well-known historical character, brings a new dynamic to the Nordic people; in particular their warfare tactics. His strategic style of warfare tests the Britons patience and their own tactics. Sigtryggr’s calm presence is one that is unlike most Danes, but is a welcome surprise for the audience as it brings to light new opportunities for scriptwriters and future stories.
There is no doubt that The Last Kingdom Season 4 is the greatest season produced in the entirety of the show’s existence so far. Each director was given just two episodes each to direct, yet the cohesion between all the episodes is incredibly strong. Overall production for the show has seen a substantial increase in quality, as the series continues to flourish. The series is filled with great dialogue, interesting plots, and heartfelt moments. Fans of the show, medieval and Nordic lovers, and history buffs should all be extremely pleased with Season 4.
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