AIRDATE: Thursday 5 November 2015 at 9.00pm on BBC Two
Season 1 Episode 3 (of 8)
Uhtred wins the protection of Alfred, but his commitment to the new king costs him his relationship with Brida.
Uhtred and Brida are in prison as Father Beocca brings news of a Saxon victory at Asec’s Hill. With the battle won, Uhtred is released and he forces his way into Alfred’s rooms to confront him about his imprisonment, only to discover a quiet and unresponsive prince. Alfred’s brother, King Aethelred, is dying and Alfred will succeed him because his 15 year-old son Aethelwold is too young to be crowned.
Alfred confides in Uhtred that he is afraid of the responsibility. He asks what he should do with the king’s son, and Uhtred tells Alfred he must kill him – Alfred, who sees violence as a last resort, spares his nephew and creates an enemy within. Alfred is crowned king.
After Asec’s Hill the Danes have retreated but Uhtred assures Alfred that they will be back. Appreciating Uhtred’s advice and knowledge of the Danes, their bond is seemingly re-established. Brida remains sceptical of the alliance and finds the Saxon court a dull place compared to life with the Danes.
Alfred makes a gift of armour to Uhtred and asks him to formally ally himself to England by marriage. Uhtred rejects the invitation, but after proving himself in dangerous peace negotiations with Ubba, Uhtred agrees to give Alfred his allegiance for one year – his ultimate goal remains reclaiming Bebbanburg. Brida, now secretly pregnant, despairs of Uhtred’s allegiance, and the rift between them grows.
A clever tactician, Alfred has secured Uhtred’s loyalty knowing that Uhtred is a man of his word, but equally he understands that he is headstrong and needs to be broken. So Uhtred is sent to Hamtun (Southampton) to train his troops in fighting a shield wall with straight-talking Saxon warrior, Leofric. Leofric refers contemptuously to his charge as ‘Arseling’ but they nonetheless become great friends.
In Hamtun Uhtred and Leofric hear of a Danish raid on the coastline, and come face to face with Ragnar the Younger. Uhtred convinces his adoptive brother he is innocent of killing their father Earl Ragnar. Ragnar the Younger believes him but is disappointed that Uhtred’s commitment to Alfred means he won’t join forces in revenge. Instead Brida, who has since miscarried Uhtred’s baby son, sails into the distance with Ragnar.
The emotional price Uhtred has paid for his commitment to Alfred is clear. Uhtred now has no reason not to accept Alfred’s offer of a Saxon wife to cement the commitment.