Reviewed by Alicia Glass
Welcome back to the eternal medieval struggle between the Saxons, or the English, and the Danes, or the Vikings if you want to get technical. Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon), son of Uhtred, born a Saxon but raised as a Dane, has pledged himself to the Saxon King Alfred (David Dawson) and served faithfully and well for years at this point. Now as Alfred’s son prepares to marry and become King of burgeoning England himself, Alfred’s demand that Uhtred pledge himself to Prince Edward (Timothy Innes) for the rest of his life creates a rift between them, even as the Saxons and Danes prepare to go to war yet again!
So yes, essentially Uhtred defies Alfred’s attempt at signing over the entire rest of his life to his son, and leaves Wessex to go rejoin the Danes, at least temporarily. The various factions of Danes are still quite at each-other’s throats, with each clan leader having his own plots for advancement, and it doesn’t help that Aethelwold (Harry McIntyre), Alfred’s nephew and resentful usurper, thinks he can get away with fomenting trouble amongst the Danes too. Harald Bloodhair (Ola Rapace) has himself a witchy consort called Skade (Thea Sofie Loch Naess), who decides with her feminine wiles and blood magic she’s going to either have Uhtred for her own, or curse him to death. Either option seems fine for her. Many of the middle episodes are dedicated to Uhtred either chasing after or trying desperately to escape the wicked wiles of Skade.
The decline of King Alfred’s health is sending everyone into a tizzy of one-up-manship, as both Saxon and Dane prepare for a new King, or to carve themselves their own kingdom out of the ruins. The Norsemen are uniting, or appearing to at least, under the ragged banner of Uhtred’s brother Ragnar (Peter Gantzler), and just as it looks like he’s finally going to have a real army to crush the Saxons with, a surprise assassin comes out of left field and kills Ragnar but good. This of course leads to the inevitable fracturing of the Danes clans, and a vow from Ragnar’s wife Brida (Emily Cox), to bring his soul out of Niflheim, the equivalent of purgatory for those warriors who didn’t die in battle, and send him on to Valhalla by slaying the one who killed him. After a bit of hemming and hawing, Uhtred determines to help Brida bring glory to Ragnar’s soul quest, too.
Based on The Saxon Stories books from Bernard Cornwell, Season 3 is closest to the fifth and sixth novels, The Burning Land and Death of Kings, respectively. As there are four more books to build on, the show’s left-open ending could very well invite a next season. Though Season 3 deals with the deaths of many beloved, and some very not-so, characters, Uhtred Lord of Bebbanburg is still alive and kicking, surrounded by friends and family he forged himself regardless of bloodline or parentage, and I really want to see him continue to kick all kinds of medieval ass!