The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die
Netflix’s The Last Kingdom had a solid run. Three strong seasons, then a weaker fourth, which prompted its ironic axing (the thorough axing of enemies’ heads and torsos is a much-visited theme) after the fifth. So, the, “This has been a long project, let’s wrap it all up with a feature-length piece” instinct wasn’t a bad one, assuming they pulled it off. With Seven Kings Must Die, they do, provided that the viewer is not yet weary of heinous bloodshed, loved characters perishing every other episode, gratuitous nudity and yet more god-forsaken shield walls.
It’s a tried and tested formula of course – Game of Thrones but set it in Viking times – and they keep pushing it. Different factions take different kingdoms, strongholds change hands, Uhtred, Son of Uhtred (Alex Draymon: the series wouldn’t have lasted so long if he wasn’t so great in the role, though he is distractingly earnest), sees off yet another power-hungry Dane and then wrestles with qualms because he is, by birth, a Dane himself. It’s a rare televisual feat that this constantly cycling series of events remains quite so engaging.
When the inevitable massive battle comes, a fresh degree of tension has been mustered. The stakes have never been higher, all the kingdoms are weighing in. A lot of story is packed in in anticipation of this, but the pacing doesn’t feel strained, though, as ever, there’s a feeling that the series needs to out-epic itself – but this does stretch to the point of ridicule occasionally.
This seriously gruesome series has reached its natural conclusion, and done so aptly and effectively with Seven Kings Must Die. It’s not altogether approachable as a stand-alone piece, as it would make for a confusing watch for someone not already familiar with the show. Even so, for the informed viewer, it rounds off the tales of long-standing characters with a welcome finality, though the actual seven kings element could just as well not be there. Those guys are hilariously irrelevant – they make for a pretty cool title, though.
The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die is released on Netflix on 14th April 2023.
Watch the trailer for The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die here: