TV Review: 'The Last Kingdom' Season 1 - 3 (No Major Spoilers)

One of those series that has tended to fly below the radar the past few years, “The Last Kingdom” has proven why it deserves to be buzzed about with the best of them.

An adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s vast series of novels entitled “The Saxon Stories,” the television series follows Uhtred of Bebbanburg (Alexander Dreymon). As a child, Uhtred's life is changed forever when he goes from living as a Saxon to a forced existence as a Dane.

Flashing forward many years, a shocking event puts an adult Uhtred on a path of vengeance and the chance to regain his birthright. While all of this is happening, Alfred the Great (David Dawson) is working towards his dream of a united England. His and Uhtred's paths eventually cross, accordingly impacting their respective life courses.

“The Last Kingdom” is a series fraught with immense tension, thrilling action, political intrigue, and emotional reckonings. Following two strong installments, the sword and chain mail epic leaves no stone unturned for its third.

In lifting those stones, it reveals how deeply viewers have come to invest in the characters that populate it. For this viewer, those feelings have often proved to run much deeper than expected.

Throughout its run, “The Last Kingdom” has improved with every episode and its upward trajectory has only continued.

The series’ third season contains one of the most moving interactions television glimpsed during its release year. Its impact underlying just how profound the Netflix series has come to be.

“The Last Kingdom” is more than its action and adventure, it is also a character drama. Leaning into that latter aspect, time and again, proves to be a vital resource that is rich in return. Unlike its genre peers, it has seen its heart only grow throughout its run, instead of whither.

Uhtred and Alfred’s relationship is at the core of the series. They are two very different individuals, whose dissimilar strengths suit one another. Their begrudging friendship a reminder of an important lesson about valuing other viewpoints.

The specter of Alfred’s health settles over the series with a sense of recurring foreboding that shapes the series and Uhtred. Accordingly, the two men’s lives mirror and impact one another in various ways.

Elsewhere, Harry McEntire’s terrific performance as the smarmy Aethelwold, gives the show its biting edge of ominous flair. Every series needs their wild card and Aethelwold often plays his hand in unexpected fashion.

In contrast, David Dawson’s dignified performance as King Alfred gives “The Last Kingdom” its noble backbone. His turn is dimensional, conflicted, and always authoritative. Dawson, imbuing the show with a regal gravity it relies on throughout its run.

Armed with many dynamic characters, “The Last Kingdom” gives viewers an array of swashbuckling anti-heroes and straight-up villains to sift through.

Uhtred of Bebbanburg endures his own strains of tragedy. He remains unyielding in their wake, which should be frustrating. However, as “The Last Kingdom’s” world becomes more and more difficult to predict, the knowledge that Uhtred remains the same brings a comforting synergy to the proceedings.

Despite comparisons to his genre peers, Uhtred offers something wholly original in his own right. He is not always likable. In fact, he rarely is and it is that prickly attribute, which creates friction in the viewing experience. An aspect that is rarely brought to bear.

Like the series as a whole, Uhtred does grow and it is with that, the show marches forth. For the past three seasons, “The Last Kingdom” has secured one of the most crucial things a viewer can be left with -- wanting more every time it ends.

Season 1 Rating: 7.5/10

Season 2 Rating: 8.5/10

Season 3 Rating: 9.5/10

The first three seasons of "The Last Kingdom" are currently streaming on Netflix. Uhtred's adventures will continue in Season 4. That's right, the series has already been renewed for a fourth season. An exact release date has not been revealed yet.

[Featured Image by Netflix]