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Thread: The Last Kingdom

  1. #11
    You know, I was hoping upon clicking this thread that I would see a post about a certain concept in spirituality/philosophy...

    Alas, I knew it wouldn't be. One can dream.

  2. #12
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robcore View Post
    So have you finished series 2 yet? we just finished the last 2 episodes tonight...
    ...I'm not one for violence, but man, I would follow Uhtred into battle! such a great character...even against the worst odds, he just does what needs doing...love it.
    Yes!

    I had a lot of thoughts about it. I need to get to a place where I can type properly (not on my phone).

  3. #13
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    I just finished season one. I guess I'm trying not to spoiler myself by reading all the responses here, though I will probably binge through season 2 fairly quickly.

    As Architect, I also perhaps most enjoy the historical aspect to it. It's interesting just getting some kind of perspective on how things might have been back then. How some things may have functioned. I mean a proper documentary or book on the era will be more factually precise, but something like this is great for filling in atmosphere and allowing you to perhaps "feel" it. I think English history is fascinating, so it's great getting into it a bit.

    (in the South-West of England there's a tower that was built supposedly where Alfred waited on that hill for all his friends to show up. I happened to completely accidentally stumble upon that while trying to ride to Cornwall one day. So that was cool, seeing an episode or two all based around that general location. I liked that)

    I like that it doesn't have a really large budget like GOT. I mean it doesn't look overly produced. I like that when there's a slaughter, it's only represented by a snapshot of a scattering of bodies on the ground. It has a kind of older style to it, where they didn't rely on CGI.

    Some of the Vikings, like 'Scorpo' seem slightly over-the-top. Like a viking version of Captain Jack Sparrow, with the eye makeup, and swaggered way of speaking. But... I don't mind.

    Regarding the travel times, I think it might actually be fairly accurate. At least from what I've seen in season one. It seemed that Uhtred only really made one trip from Northumbria to Wessex, and that appeared to take some time (there were some "time is passing" montages of "Uhtred and Bridda have sex a few times because it's taking ages". And when he got to Winchester, it seemed like there were hints that the world had changed a fair bit. And when they travel throughout Wessex, at that time, is a fairly small geographical area. Maybe 200km across at most.

  4. #14
    Senior Member Starjots's Avatar
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    I can see how this was written by the guy who did the Sharpe's books (Bernard Cornwell). The central character is an interesting, slightly superhuman everyman put in the eye of an interesting historical storm. The BBC does this sort of thing well and I hope they keep it up.

    One thing I like is the overlays of peoples who have fought and lived on the same pieces of land. The Roman are talked about and Alfred lives in an old Roman building. The Britons make an appearance in season 1, the same people driven out of most of England by the then barbarian Saxons, Angles and Juts. These same Anglo-Saxons now seem a bit degenerate compared to the latest invaders, the Danes. Four peoples, three invasions, all still distinct enough to pick out the parts when they appear.

    I see there are 10 books in the series, looks like they are doing about 2 books/season, so that's good news.

    My wife and I did the 23andme DNA analysis recently, was half price so why not. Turns out we are both very similar but not related per se - about 75% English/Irish, some French/German and a slice of Scandinavian. Extrapolating these results back the 40 or 50 generations or so to this time period. I read this to mean we both are descended from probably hundreds of people who went through all of this upheaval - which makes it that much more interesting.

    And finally, how did these people stay sane with all this hacking and pillaging?

  5. #15
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Ok finally getting around to saying something about season 2...

    It's funny, I was really sleep-deprived when I watched most of this season. It was my go-to wind-down option. Then I watched the episode about Aethelfred's wedding, which was the begging of that whole arc, and so, despite my original intentions, stayed up three hours to see what happened. Then I couldn't sleep well because I kept thinking about the story and the season. So yeah. I was hooked.

    What struck me about the season overall is that, whereas the first one could reasonably be a "slice of life," this guy gets wrapped up in larger events by happenstance kind of deal... In the second season I was very cognizant of watching a TV show with characters and scripts. Very aware that Uhtred is the hero of this TV show. Compared to the first season, the plots felt accelerated and Uhtred became larger than life. That's not necessarily a bad thing - I understand that they wouldn't just want to repeat the same thing over and over again - but I did notice it.

    I had a lot of thoughts about Alfred.

    Alfred seems to have grown less, not more, tolerant with age, and with less of a sense of humor. This makes sense in the context of a chronic illness and also, I suppose, just the stress of maintaining his throne. The whole conflict with Uhtred seems highly unnecessary on the one hand (convenient for driving the plot forward) but also kind of sadly believable. Uhtred is the single most strong, honest, and good-hearted retainer that Alfred has, but Alfred grows increasingly uncomfortable with him precisely because Uhtred's strength draws on his pagan beliefs, whereas Alfred's Christianity seems to be growing even more rigid as the church's power mirrors his own. Whereas, in the first season, Alfred dreamt of an English kingdom that would include Christian Saxon and pagan Dane, in season 2 he is very keen that all the land-holding leaders of this kingdom should be Christians.

    It's sad because, whereas Guhtred is obviously weak and in a position to be threatened by Uhtred, Alfred really is the High King and could take much greater advantage of having Uhtred by his side, if he permitted himself.

    I also found it interesting how, while this is a personal crisis for Alfred, it really doesn't affect his kingship. Even though he is objectively a worse king at the end of the season than he was at the beginning (taxing the proles to raise a ransom for his daughter, e.g.) his power now has a life of its own. It would take much more than growing paranoia and a few political missteps to threaten his hold on the throne. To me it brings to mind the dangers of having poor checks and balances - even someone who had been a very good king can easily slip into despotism, and his power has its own inertia.

    I also was thinking a lot about the Arthurian parallels. I had kind of vaguely been aware that the Arthurian legends were based, on part, on the history of Alfred, but I never really looked into it in detail. But from the iconic round table (from season 1) to the unease with a strong champion (Uhtred/Lancelot) the similarities are apparent (sort of a circular referencing going on, Mallory drawing on Alfred to write about Arthur and Cromwell drawing on Mallory to write about Alfred), and then it also pulls in the enormous factor of Christianity as the State Religion. I can just imagine Mallory in his prison, centuries later... Christianity has triumphed, and Arthur's imaginary court now consists of good Christian knights flavored by pagan elements.

    Finally... Aethelfred.

    As soon as the brothers were introduced, it struck me as another instance of the Danes in general being way more sympathetic than the Christian leaders (I had to remind myself that the Vikings were given to raping and pillaging). I found it unlikely that Siegfried would be so forgiving of Uhtred cutting off his arm, but then it all came together with the Aethelfred abduction. I thought the love story was adorable, and the brotherly conflict was heart-wrenching. It did seem reasonable that Aethelfred, of all people, would get a love story like that - something heroic but also highly privileged about her complicity in being the cause of turmoil.

    I cheated and wikipedia'd her to see if there were any truth in the story. Found nothing about ransom/taxes/rescue, but what I did learn was very interesting. I hope to see more of Aethelfred in season 3!
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  6. #16
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    I also keep thinking about the conquest of the Britons by the Anglo-Saxons... Genetically, it had to have been a mixing much moreso than an annihilation, but their language was almost completely wiped out. Keep meaning to research (or ask @epistemophiliac) what traces of the original Gaelic languages remain embedded in English?

    I remember learning that French, for example, is basically Latin with a Gaelic accent. Did they, too, lose all their own words?
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  7. #17
    Senior Member Starjots's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TeresaJ View Post
    What struck me about the season overall is that, whereas the first one could reasonably be a "slice of life," this guy gets wrapped up in larger events by happenstance kind of deal... In the second season I was very cognizant of watching a TV show with characters and scripts. Very aware that Uhtred is the hero of this TV show. Compared to the first season, the plots felt accelerated and Uhtred became larger than life. That's not necessarily a bad thing - I understand that they wouldn't just want to repeat the same thing over and over again - but I did notice it.
    I'm not all the way through season 2 but I get a similar sense. The defining of the characters and the world is often the most interesting part - see first half of the movie The Matrix - and season 1 does all this. For Alfred you can't top losing everything, living in a swamp and winning it all back in a climactic battle. You can top Uhtred's childhood and coming of age adventures etc. After that, the story must rely on the known with fewer big surprises. The middle of a story is always a bit tough...

    I had a lot of thoughts about Alfred.

    Alfred seems to have grown less, not more, tolerant with age, and with less of a sense of humor.
    Good observation and I think this fits with how kings and rulers behaved in actual history - they get worn down, worried about succession and just older.

    Quote Originally Posted by TeresaJ View Post
    I also keep thinking about the conquest of the Britons by the Anglo-Saxons... Genetically, it had to have been a mixing much moreso than an annihilation, but their language was almost completely wiped out. Keep meaning to research (or ask @epistemophiliac) what traces of the original Gaelic languages remain embedded in English?
    Ancient Invaders Transformed Britain but not its DNA

    Backs up what you say. Of all those invaders it's mostly the original Britons who had been there so long they had developed regional differences and the Anglo-Saxon left in the signal. Perhaps during the time frame of this story, 9th century, the distinctions were more precise but this does imply well over half the population way back then was basically the old Britons or some admixture.



    Given the cultural significance of the Roman, Viking and Norman invasions, it’s surprising they didn’t leave greater genetic legacy. For the Romans and Normans, that may be because they were ruling elites who didn’t intermarry with the natives.
    Even if they did intermarry to some degree into the much larger local gene pool, the signal from their DNA would only be a trace. One of the more interesting tidbits from my own genetics was the probability I have one Native American ancestor, probably born between 1690 and 1780. However, after 250 years and maybe five to seven generations this signal is only a small blip on a chromosome.

  8. #18
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starjots View Post
    Backs up what you say. Of all those invaders it's mostly the original Britons who had been there so long they had developed regional differences and the Anglo-Saxon left in the signal. Perhaps during the time frame of this story, 9th century, the distinctions were more precise but this does imply well over half the population way back then was basically the old Britons or some admixture.

    In answer to my earlier question...

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List...ittonic_origin

    It's just wild to think that that list is so small, since the population was still largely of breton descent. I guess maybe it had to do with subsequent generations identifying as culturally anglo/saxon/Germanic in opposition to their breton/gaelic/welsh cousins.

  9. #19
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    Have ya'll seen this series 'monarchy' by David Starkey? I've found it to be a reasonably good documentary series about England. Focuses mainly on the succession of rulers and sort of macro stuff like that. I think, from memory, maybe only the first three episodes cover this general time period, between the Roman legions pulling out and William turning up.

  10. #20
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    @scarydoor I think I did watch that a couple of years ago. It's be fun to watch the early parts again.

    As for the last kingdom... I'm rewatching the series with the ISFJ. I told him to watch two episodes just to see if he liked it and then of course he was hooked.

    Watching season one again it reinforced how much I really really love Alfred toward the end of the season, but I also realized that it is somewhat out of character for him.

    Alfred's normal state is to keep himself under constant control, while being uptight and self-righteous about it.

    I believe it largely has to do with the way that he deals with his chronic illness. He is constantly controlling his reaction to pain. Then that reaction, that control, is positively reinforced by the world around him. He lives in a society that exults in suffering, martyrdom, and self-control, especially among the priests. Even the warriors respect him for his intelligence and stoicism. His pious wife reveres him. The witan chooses him to be their king.

    So in general this whole approach to life is working well for him. He has little to no sympathy for those who indulge their appetites. He doesn't need to have sympathy.

    The interlude in the swamp does not represent growth but rather an exception to the rule. The fact is that, underneath his rigid self-control, Alfred is a normal man with normal appetites. He enjoys meat, sex, and violent aggression. He doesn't have to pretend in order to relate to his men; he just has to *turn off* the super-imposed structure of control.

    However, once he's back in Winchester and not taking pagan tonics that soothe his digestion, he's back to his usual self. He does see his way of life as being significantly morally superior to that of the pagan and he uses his power to further it. His tolerance of Uhtred was an aberration, not progress. Uhtred might not pose a threat to Alfred's power, but his charisma and trustworthiness combined with his strength do pose a threat to Alfred's moral superiority.

    Season one also reminded me of how great an adversary Ubba was. Callous and arrogant but also eccentric and sort of endearing, without being a heartthrob like the brothers. Ubba was enjoyable to watch in action and in defeat.

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