Britannia Season 3: Willy Bonkers and the Plotlet Factory

This, I believe the kids say “dropped” while I was away over the summer and I caught up with it this week. It’s a quick watch because there are only 8 episodes and – if you like this show – you will want to keep watching. I’m pleased to say that it’s just as bonkers as season 1 and season 2, although maybe a little darker.

As I’ve said before, comparisons to Game of Thrones are inevitable and invidious. It’s not based on a book series so it doesn’t have that cohesive world building and teleology, but it does feel like an original creation resulting from a mash-up of the historical record, Arthurian myth, Celtic gods, and, probably, Lloyd C Douglas’ The Robe in terms of its references to early Christianity.

Several of the characters from the first two seasons are still here, still running around, and the plot – paradoxically – both moves at the pace of a glacier and a rocket.

David Morrissey as Aulus Plautinus is still knocking around, still after “the girl” (the chosen one, Cait, played by Eleanor Worthington Fox), but we get a little bit more of his (very dark) back story. The real Plautinus lasted just 4 years in Britain, so you get the feeling that things might be coming to a head for Morrissey. This season, his very scary wife turns up, in the form of Sophie Okonedo, who comes with her own retinue and some disturbing magic.

Comic relief is provided by the exasperated Julian Rhind-Tut as the former Phelan, who keeps being adopted and renamed. In this season, the Druids give him a particular name that causes him to roll his eyes, and team him up with Divis, the Outcast, played by Nikolaj Lie Kaas, who is currently between mentees, having lost track of Cait.

Cait meanwhile comes across deposed Queen Antedia (Zoe Wanamaker) and the two team up, in a manner reminiscent of The Hound and Arya Stark, to wreak havoc on the occupying Roman army, who are busy building straight roads, villas, and viaducts.

All of this takes place against the jumbled backdrop of competing religions and mythologies, which I find very satisfying because – really – this is exactly what happened. Local Gods are my thing, after all.

The Maguffin this season is the Spear of Destiny (given a different name here), which is supposedly in the possession of the deserter Lucius, played by the appropriately named Hugo Speer.

There’s probably not enough plot, and the characters are often just wandering around between fights, but the dialogue is great and the characters rub along entertainingly. And actually, the build up to the climax here is so full of twists and turns that you just enjoy the ride.

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