THE LAST KINGDOM, one of my favorite Netflix series, recently came to a conclusion with its fifth season, which brought it up to book 10 of Bernard Cornwell’s 13-tome series. While I enjoyed the season and it wrapped everything up, it was the weakest season for me.
In this season, Brida exacts her revenge on the Saxons and specifically Uhtred, toppling the Northumbrian kingdom in the process. Uhtred must ride to his daughter’s defense, while King Edward makes moves to realize his father’s vision of a united England. Edward’s father in law, Aethelhelm, continues his conniving to ensure his grandson gains the throne, which culminates in a final battle that includes Bebbanburg as the prize.
As always, Alexander Dreymon brings the beloved character of Uhtred to life. The season starts off really strong, with some terrific establishing scenes in Iceland and with Uhtred raising Athelstan. The later battle scenes are bloodily well done, and all the major plot lines are resolved more or less satisfactorily. The season felt weak for me, however. I had the same feeling watching the last season of THE EXPANSE, my favorite sci-fi show, and definitely while watching the last season of GAME OF THRONES. It’s like once a show is canceled and must be brought to a finish, the creators phone in the expected, lay on what they think is fan service, and offer up something that feels watered down, shortcutted, and plodding to the next scene or plot point. From Uhtred failing in most of what he tries to do to his daughter oddly rejecting him to Athelhelm acting like a comic book villain to characters teleporting to Brida somehow deserving redemption despite her utter cruelty, and more, the whole thing felt off and seeking the exit.
I still liked it, just the way I did the last season of THE EXPANSE. The writers didn’t betray their own show the way GAME OF THRONES’ creators notoriously did. I just didn’t love it, and by the the time the spell broke for me early in the season, I was simply watching to finish.
Fans of the Cornwell series will notice that there are still three books left that haven’t been adapted. Good news! In late 2021, Netflix announced a two-hour movie, SEVEN KINGS JUST DIE, will be released in late 2022 or early to mid 2023. This film will serve as an epilogue for the show. I’m looking forward to it.