So what happened?
Still angry at the grovelling he was forced to do by Alfred through the streets of Winchester, Uhtred decides to take a band of men and go with Leofric to Cornwall to start raiding so that he’ll have the silver to pay an army to take back Bebbanburg. Before he leaves, he informs his unimpressed wife, Mildrith, that he may be gone some time as their relationship sours further after he killed their steward for stealing and refused to pay the wergild; something which Alfred asks Odda the Younger and Bishop Alewold to investigate in his absence. On their way to the Kingdom to the West of them, Leofric spots they have someone following them and threatens to kill them unless they unmask themselves. Petrified, Aethelwold pulls back his hood and pleads with Uhtred to return the favour he did for him during their joint penance. Agreeing, they all divest themselves of the tell-tale signs of their Christianity, put on war paint and Viking armour and set about attacking villages once they are safely over the border.
These raids aren’t successful, however, as it soon becomes clear that another raiding party has got to the villagers’ loot before they had chance. Mulling over what to do next, they come across a monk called Asser and a few other representatives of one of the Kings of the Britons, Peredur, who promises them a reward if they help them fight another fellow Briton who sacked their fortress. Uhtred decides to take up the offer and goes to the rather paltry court of said King, demanding to be paid 400 silver pieces if he joins their fight. It’s then that Peredur calls for his ‘Shadow Queen’, Iseult, to appraise the potential ally as he relies on her abilities to see into the future, which are allegedly attributed to her intact virginity. As the tension between Uhtred and the beauty crackles, she tells her husband that he is ‘The One’ and the deal is brokered between them.
It’s not until they meet their potential adversaries on the battlefield and realise that it is in fact Danes they are expected to fight that Uhtred, Leofric and the rest of them realise that they’ve been double-crossed. Meeting their leader, Skorpa, a Viking swordsman and Lord of War, Uhtred and Leofric both decide that they would be best served by turning on Peredur and joining forces with the real Danish raiding party to kill his men, and force him to tell them where he keeps his hidden treasures. When all of his men meet the pointy end of the alliance’s swords, the King is forced to admit where he keeps his wealth, before Skorpa goes against what he told Uhtred he was going to do and kills the unsuspecting monarch. When they head back to the dead man’s castle, the treasure under his throne is dug up and for the second time that day our protagonist is lied to as the Lord of War takes the loot all for himself, and threatens to taken Iseult with him, only deciding to leave her with Uhtred just before he escapes to raid the Church at Cynuit that Odda the Younger has built to honour ‘his’ famous victory there against Ubba. It’s then that the young woman explains that all is not lost and there is another lot of Peredur’s wealth hidden beneath the dung heap. After they dig through it and find an even bigger treasure trove, Uhtred sets a crucifix aside and lets his men share the rest.
Before he takes the ‘Shadow Queen’ back to his home, he goes to Bishop Alewold’s church in Exeter and hands the crucifix over, negotiating that will pay for the debt that still stands against Mildrith’s land and cancel any obligation he to pay Oswald’s family’s wergild. Once back with his wife, he brings Iseult into her home and makes it clear that her debt has been paid, but that he’s with the regal fortune teller now. Forcing the new woman in her husband’s life to sleep outside with the animals, Uhtred effectively dissolves the marriage and rejects his newly baptised son to be with her, leading his wife to come to the conclusion that she should be with people who care for her and so she plans to leave for Odda’s Estate. The following day, aware that he has been called to a witan (a council of Wessex’s Eldermen), Uhtred makes his way to Winchester with Iseult and is confronted by accusations of his failure to keep the peace by killing the Cornish King, as well having some involvement in the ransack of the Church Odda the Younger was building that took the lives of 15 monks. Determined to tell the his fellow eldermen that it’s all lies, Brother Asser swears an oath against him, and so, shockingly, does Leofric who has already admitted his guilt and given away his ill-gotten gains to the Church. When Uhtred refuses to beg for mercy, Alfred feels he has no choice but to sentence him to death. Again it’s Leofric who intervenes, backed by Aethelwold, and suggests that they fight to the death, stating to his King and his friend that that way at least he will be given a warrior’s death. Reluctantly, Alfred agrees to let God decide.
Scene of the Week
Marieke: And again angry Uhtred walks into Alfred’s presence to express his ideas about justice and such. Once more, Odda wants him dead. And you guessed it, Alfred’s wife throws a familiar evil glare, shade and proclaims her wish to send Uhtred to his death. Alfred ain’t happy again either. Besides being repetitive, this might lead to next week’s scene of the week. We are already holding our fezzes for Leofric. .. (Noooo!) There was also a fight with Danes, some backstabbing and drowning in the Queen’s eyes. But this week I want to point out that Aethelwold is becoming a great character. Maybe indeed he isn’t as stupid as he looks. He’s brave to follow Uhtred and Leofric, he stopped being a whiny brat (seemingly leaving Odda this honour), and it appears he sees something in Uhtred he may need as a King someday. I’d love it if the lessons he learns now will make him will make him a great leader in the future. On the other hand, I’m not sure if Alfred is a great King at the moment…
Danielle: To echo Aethelwold’s week on week rise in our estimation, I think all my favourite moments in this episode involved him. From him creeping up on the faux raiders and nearly getting himself killed by Leofric, to the battle scene where it more luck than skill that allowed him to make his first kill, and finally in that last scene where you could see the cogs turning in his mind as he decided to back Leofric’s plea for there to be a fight to the death. In the first part of this series we saw him as a bawdy, drunken imbecile whose inclinations were holding back his ambitions to one day become King, but now it’s clear that as he’s becoming more and more disposed to utilise his education not only is he likely to become a major player in the future, but also a useful and perhaps rock solid ally for Uhtred.
Quote of the Week
After Aethelwold accidently ‘bloods himself’ against Peredur’s men:
Aethelwold: How was I? As a warrior?
Uhtred: Aethelwold, you are as much a warrior as you are a King.
Perhaps best known for her role in last year’s BBC hit, Happy Valley, Charlie Murphy made one hell of an impression on Uhtred as Queen Iseult in her debut on the show.
It’s time for Uhtred to step up. He can’t always be the hothead ruining things for himself if he wants to fulfill his destiny. The separation from Mildrith was sad, but, let’s face it, understandable. There was little to tie them together other than their initial, and now faded, attraction and his obligation to free her from her debt. Oh and the son who it now looks like will be brought up by his archnemesis, Odda Jr. *Shudders* After his ties were cut and his promises kept, he was bound to fall for the nearest Shadow Queen with a pretty face and mysterious powers, wasn’t he? Let’s be realistic with Mildrith too. Even Mr Weasel would look like an excellent prospect after the way Uhtred treated her in the end. He behaved like a complete dick towards her in this episode. At the end of the day, they were just too different.
Ultimately we hope the possibility of having to fight Leofric will make Uhtred come to his senses. We’d hate to lose their growing bromance at this stage of proceedings, but maybe it’d facilitate the necessary progression in him growing the hell up and learning to consider matters before constantly getting himself into battles that don’t necessarily need to be fought. Who knows? Maybe God will intervene after all and spare his AND his pal’s life? Nevertheless, the incident with the Danes and the taking of the Queen only serve as further evidence that Uhtred often still isn’t thinking. Not only was he tricked twice by two different people on opposing sides, how exactly is him automatically trusting his new ‘companion’ because of her beauty and her abilities any different to Ubba’s over reliance on Storri or Alfred’s absolute adherence to his God’s teachings? In both cases, blind faith made them make wrong decisions and he knew that. It feels like Uhtred as well us, the audience, need something shocking to happen, otherwise the story will continue to go round in circles. It is a nice circle, the surroundings are still as beautiful as ever and the brutality is still nicely interspersed with some humour every now and then. But still, even though we’re continuing to enjoy this, we don’t want nice, we want great! We’re afraid next week will give us more than what we bargained for… Arse(ling)!