I don’t know about you guys, but all week my mind has been turning and returning to where we left off in Vikings. After all, the setting is ripe for confrontation – Lagertha is going back to Sigvard filled with a sense of empowerment that I’m sure he’ll be perfectly receptive towards; Bjorn and Ragnar are reunited and raiding together as father-son duos do; Rollo has been on his best, non-alcoholic behavior; Jarl Borg and King Horik are going to meet again; Athelstan is in a constant state of emotional turmoil; and Floki and Helga are trying to build their own fab and adorable Viking family. Do you know what that is? That’s a recipe for disaster, like overcooked pasta or dynamite in a bonfire.
Because I’m giddy and excited to get the ball rolling, let’s dive into this episode without further ado!
We start this episode in the Seer’s (John Kavanagh) bone-filled chambers, questioning a hooded and despondent Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig). He asks if she thinks the Gods have cheated her and if she’s angry, she tells him that she wants her old position in the community back. This isn’t surprising, Siggy has been trying to get back into power the very second she fell from it.
You have to hand it to her, she’s determined. She’s hooked up with Earls and Kings, she’s betrayed secrets to devious ears, shacked up with the current head honcho’s brother, and has become close with the women who are in power – she’s never been stupid, we’ve always known her end game.
She’s honest with her anger; everything that she had and loved has been stripped from her through her husband’s fall from grace, plague, or inferiority complex. Siggy tells the Seer that she’s weighed down by this burning bitterness and she wants to know if the Gods will ever smile upon her again. The Seer, vague yet knowledgeable, tells her that the Gods will always smile upon brave women – whether or not she makes it through this season alive is a totally different question.
As if on cue, King Horik floats up to Kattegat like an ill-fated hookup. Oh. Wait.
Can you just note Helga and Floki’s adorable public canoodling in the background before you move on? Freaking adorable.
Yes! I might have squealed. Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) and Helga (Maude Hirst) are getting more screen time and development (depending on the cut of the show you’re watching) and I can’t help but love it.
Anyway, King Horik (Donal Logue) and his son dock at Kattegat. Naturally, they are treated to a feast (though Ragnar – Travis Fimmel – notes it’s “poverty,” they did have to burn their own grain stalls in the process of getting rid of Jarl Borg). Our steely-eyed protagonist inquires about the raid in England and the whereabouts of his favorite monk uncle, only for King Horik to tell him he’d be lucky if he died in battle; this draws a lot of different emotions – Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) is sad, he and Gyda grew to love him, but King Horik and Floki rejoice at his possible death, with Floki going so far as to say he was/is a “worthless individual.”
Damn, son. That’s harsh!
We have to remember that Floki is WAY religious and never bought that Athelstan (George Blagden) was a full convert, so seeing Athelstan around the camp and having a bromance with Ragnar was probably a thorn that kept stabbing him, saying “hey, remember me? I’m here and think your Gods and stuff are pretty weird and your people have accepted me anyway.” The longer Athelstan stayed in their village and become more interwoven into society, the more Floki started to loathe him and what he represents.
But screw the monklike convert, that’s not what he came there for. King Horik came back to Ragnar to talk about one thing: revenge. Of course. Rollo (Clive Standen) is down for this idea and Ragnar agrees that they should return to his turf (probably so he can think of farming some more), but not before he gets his own revenge against Jarl Borg. This isn’t going to really work out, King Horik tells Ragnar, because he wants them to rebuild ties with Jarl Borg so they can use his men against King Ecbert.
WOAH WOAH WOAH, hold the phone. Are you serious? If it weren’t for King Horik and his popularity contest mentality, Ragnar’s turf wouldn’t have been raided by Jarl Borg anyway. What kind of shady hell is this?
He claims that the idea to raid and colonize was Ragnar’s idea anyway, so they should agree to fix the relationship with Jarl Borg, because they need his manpower to make it work. Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) whispers to Ragnar not to listen to him and Rollo grows defiant when King Horik tells him that he things he should be the one to talk to him. At the end of his proposal he simply asks, “what do you think?”
Honestly, he doesn’t want to know what I think.
Meanwhile, a servant girl spills water on Bjorn (who is starting to inexplicably grow facial hair) and it’s love (or uh, something like it) at first sight.
Outside, Siggy and her ombre dye job see Rollo off because his dumb ass agreed to go travel to Jarl Borg (Thorbjørn Harr)
and attempt to make amends. Ugh. Ugh.
Later, Siggy pours King Horig and his son some wine – dolled up in a nice dress and Viking costume jewelry.
It’s weird that he brought his son to the post-hook up proceedings.
Yeah, he acknowledges it as well. You see, the reason he brought his son along to their meeting is that he wants his son to start to understand the game, the game the play and the game Ragnar “tries” to play. Siggy is understandably perplexed, but tells him that every move she makes (the secret telling, bed hopping) is for Rollo. That said, she acknowledges that if Rollo rises, she does as well.
And then things get creepier.
King Horik knows that she needs his help to continue the ascent to power and says he’ll help if she teaches his progeny matters of a carnal nature.
Yup, he wants Siggy to bump uglies with his son. Siggy appears to be repulsed, but then strips and King Horik watches them undress each other and have sex.
There aren’t really words to describe the feeling of skin-crawling repulsion I just experienced.
Let’s check in on Lagertha, mmkay?
In Hedeby, Scandinavia, she (Katheryn Winnick) looks bored to death as her drunk husband drones on and on about something or other. He romantically belches and talks about the days their kingdom was happy and filled with laughter. Earl Sigvard (Morten Suurballe)
then says something…interesting, he notes that his wife has returned to him after leaving without his permission. Cue gasps and stiff chuckles from the audience. He’s seemingly happy that she returned to him, but finds it utterly insulting that Bjorn was left behind – in his bizarre, drunken state, his believes that she’s still in love with Ragnar (possibly true) and that’s why she allowed Bjorn to stay behind (not because he’s an adult who can make his own decisions and should probably be in an environment that won’t be emotionally torturous). He tells her that she will be sleeping on her own that night, which I’m sure Lagertha is heartbroken about.
There was a reason for him putting her in a room alone; that night, Lagertha is attacked by multiple men and brutally beaten.
Okay, that was extraordinarily difficult to watch. She’s been through so much this season, seeing her literally beaten down is ridiculous.
Think of it this way: it doesn’t take much of a leap to know who was responsible. Do you think she’ll let it go unanswered? Bjorn is safe and protected elsewhere, now it can be all out war.
Oblivious to his mother’s suffering, Bjorn hits on the pretty blonde slave girl that spilled water on him. You have to wonder if this kid really did do some soul searching alone in the woods in a rundown cabin, because his idea of making idle conversation revolves around where she sleeps (she sleeps “in the barn, with the other slaves and animals.” Duh!). He asks if she has a boyfriend, she says “of course,” and he doesn’t take the rebuff well and awkwardly watches her continue her chores, all the while Ragnar looks on and wonders how in the hell he as a son who has the game of a waterlogged matchstick.
Aslaug notes that she is “remarkably good looking” and Ragnar wisely doesn’t comment on whether or not he agrees. She then brings up Jarl Borg, King Horik, and Ragnar’s insufferable inability to stand up for himself. She doesn’t want the fellowship to be rebuilt, they deserve to be revenged for their suffering. Though the conversation feels a little self-centered because her idea of suffering from PTSD is sleeping in a dirty farmhouse, she brings up a good point about Ragnar so freely throwing around his alliances. However, the glint in his eye tells us that he has something up his sleeve.
He better, because right now this entire situation is a straight up mess.
Speaking of messes! Rollo arrives at Jarl Borg’s keep in Götland, Scandinavia. Jarl Borg is predictably stoked to see him and calls him in for counsel; on the table between them, he reveals the skull of his first wife. The skull of his first wife that apparently still advises him.
Right, okay, Hamlet.
Rollo assures him that Ragnar is not a vengeful man (sure.) and that he looks at Jarl Borg’s aid as purely practical in nature. He sees beyond petty ill-feelings and looks for opportunities to bring the whole of Scandinavia into victory. Jarl Borg seems to consider this and consults the Wife Skull, but not before making out with it in front of his Pregnant Second Wife and Rollo.
Is that some creepy Viking tradition that I’m glad I’ve never heard of?
No, I’m pretty sure it’s just fucking creepy.
As he strokes the slightly tarnished skullcap, he tells Rollo that she thinks he should go. And that’s that.
In England, we find Athelstan alive and kicking and decidedly healthier looking than before. It seems during his stay with King Ecbert (Linus Roache), he’s become something of a right-hand man to the eccentric king. They discuss the difference between the pagan lifestyle and the one he’s currently living in (he seemed to have deeply missed calligraphy, because of course he would); King Ecbert seems very interested in the world of those his society despises. He leads Athelstan into his chamber filled with priceless Roman artwork and asks Athelstan what he thinks of them, when Athelstan voices that they’re beautiful despite being pagan in nature, King Ecbert says that he views Athelstan as a kindred spirit.
King Ecbert is fascinated by Roman artwork and the idea of multiple gods, he yearns for more knowledge of the world that created such vivid imagery in the likeness of their idols. The way he sees it, there are secrets in paganism that he desires to unlock – after all, with the help or belief in multiple gods, the Romans were able to conquer “The World.” He desires to tap into the energy and vibe they found in order to further his reign; by this point, it becomes obvious that he is going to use Athelstan to delve deeper into the ideas of paganism…whether he likes it or not. Additionally, the king tells Athelstan to never speak of their cosigned fascination with paganism, because his people would fear it and cry blasphemy.
Later, he brings Athelstan into another chamber, again filled to the brim with Roman artwork, timeworn scrolls, and tools of war. King Ecbert wants Athelstan to translate the Latin scrolls and preserve them in their own tongue, to give permanence to the lush history. Athelstan accepts, but not before King Ecbert tells him that if he speaks a word or whisper of his deal with the king, King Ecbert will allow him to be crucified as a heretic.
Poor Athelstan, wrapped into the king’s fascination with Rome while continuing to have severe hallucinations (including, but not limited to, bleeding from his skull and palms). I mean, it’s pretty obvious that dude just wants to be an artist and paint.
You know, I have grown to really like King Ecbert. Is he a good man? Eh, debatable, but he’s a fascinating character. I’m excited to see where his fascination with paganism takes that aspect of the show, it certainly fleshes out the English a bit.
Back in Kattegat, there’s a party going on that involves clapping and Bjorn looking for the pretty slave girl (who is she? Does she have a name?), who he finds in the middle of the hullaballoo jiggying and spinning about. As he looks on, it’s plain to see, he’s in love. Maybe. In lust. Bjorn is in lust.
Rollo returns with Jarl Borg in tow and Pregnant Second Wife is also there, holding the skull of First Wife. At the feast, Jarl Borg and Ragnar meet face to face and have a cordial talk. Jarl Borg tells him that he is eternally thankful to Ragnar for giving him a second chance, noting that he doesn’t really deserve the second chance (third?) to go raiding. Ragnar tells him that it was King Horik that fought so defiantly for the renewal of the alliance and Jarl Borg understands the hesitation, assuring Ragnar that he has no need to fear or doubt his faith and commitment to their joint cause any longer.
They come to a tentative pact and it ends with Ragnar telling Torstein (Jefferson Hall) to set them up in the barn and to make sure they are treated with respect.
Yeah, this isn’t going to end well.
King Horik watches the meeting and approaches Siggy, impressed that Ragnar took his advice. Siggy humors him with polite conversation and then tells him that she has no intention of turning his other sons into men (shudder). After he walks off, she approaches Floki and asks primly, “can you keep a secret?” to which he laughs and says “no.”
We’re taken from that awkward dinner to another awkward dinner, with a swollen faced Lagertha hanging her head in the populated dining hall of Earl Sigvard’s homestead. Condescendingly, he asks her why she doesn’t talk or smile; you see, he’s really concerned about her wellbeing. When she doesn’t return his eerie ploys for attention, he then announces to all those in earshot that his wife possesses the “most remarkable breasts.”
You see, he keeps telling her, but she doesn’t believe him.
His voice raises, because everyone needs to hear the glory of her breasts. They’re like Freya’s! They’re just perfect.
… Excuse me? No, seriously, what?!
He then starts to rip open her bodice, to which she responds with grabbing the nearest knife on the table and plunging it straight. Into. His. Eye. He screams in agony and the onlookers become more horrified, many of them moving up from their seats as they watch him writhe in agony. To Lagertha’s right, a man stirs and pulls a weapon out of the hilt – she flinches, thinking it’s for her, but instead the man decapitates Earl Sigvard and permanently silences him.
Holy. Shit. Shit! I mean, what?!
He must have been a real winner with the people if they chose to behead him instead of restraining her. All. Hail. Lagertha.
In Kattegat, Aslaug tells her children a bedtime story, because thematic juxtaposition is less-than-subtle in this show. As Kattegat settles down for the night, it’s obvious that the homestead is unsettled. Aslaug’s enthused and playful voice hums over the denizens shuffling around – Siggy questioning where a cold Rollo is heading with an axe, Ragnar silhouetted against the hills with a bird perched on his arm, Jarl Borg being woken by a voice in First Wife’s skull. The Seer appears before Jarl Borg and reiterates that he is surrounded by eagles and, yet, is also the eagle (which many of you pointed out must be strongly related to the blood eagle torture method unique to Vikings).
Perhaps, Jarl Borg wasn’t totally insane when he woke up to the voice echoing within the skull of his dead wife – outside, a fire is set to the barn holding Jarl Borg’s men (helmed by Rollo and Torstein). Their screams echo in the town and begin stirring the township awake.
But, not before Bjorn – who is totally shirking his raid responsibilities – tries to get a more close and personal with the slave girl; he invites her into his chambers and offers her a more comfortable place to sleep. She takes this to mean that she needs to get naked and hanky panky will ensue. Whether or not it actually does is left to our imagination (at least, in the American cut of the show – it might be different for some of our viewers), but the way I see it? He’s a teenage boy in a room with the chick he has a crush on, who, bonus! happens to be naked.
Just because he’s in love with a slave girl doesn’t mean that we don’t have a chance with him, right? Right?
I’m sorry, but I think our Over Attachment to Not So Baby Bjorn is going to come to a close.
Just kidding, he’s a babe. I just can’t help my ogling.
Anyway, by the time the group finds their way into Jarl Borg’s guest hut, he’s awake and yielding a weapon (thanks, Skull of First Wife!). He’s surprised to see Rollo there, however, Rollo reminds him that Ragnar is the better man, not he – he always looks for revenge. They immediately disarm him and begin the beating, all while Rollo watches. Rollo tells them not to attack his pregnant wife, which is really nice, all things considered.
I can’t blame Rollo for getting at least a little pleasure out of the situation.
King Horik storms into the main hall and demands that Ragnar tell him what’s going on. Shit is burning down, people are screaming, it’s not exactly a normal day in the neighborhood. Ragnar apologizes for “the army of Kattegat” waking King Horik up from his slumber while chomping on a bone. A beaten and bloody Jarl Borg is brought into the room and King Horik frantically questions whether or not he’s dead.
“He’s not. Yet.”
Ragnar frankly asks King Horik whether or not he truly believes that he could forgive Jarl Borg after threatening to kill his family, killing many of his men, and taking over his home; Ragnar grimly informs Jarl Borg (who pleads with him) that he intends to (yes, merry commenters, you called it!) perform blood eagle on him.
Okay, sure, but I seriously can’t help but feel like Jarl Borg is not the main guy responsible for this bullshit. Sure, he Frenches skulls and that’s really weird, but it’s all King Horik’s fault that any of this happened in the first place.
Don’t worry, I feel like it’s a safe assumption that King Horik’s days are severely numbered.
Still. Anyway, do you have an arbitrary rating for this episode?
This episode was certifiably insane and probably one of the more outwardly gruesome episodes yet. That said, there has been a lot of plot building and shuffling of cards, so to speak – I’m glad the groundwork is down, because I’m excited to see what happens. How will Earl Sigvard’s people react to Lagertha? How is King Horik not revealed to be the evil mastermind yet? Will Jarl Borg survive the next episode? Will Athelstan paint with all the colors of the wind? The list goes on and on. Oh. Right. The rating. I’ll give this three out of four uncanny bedtime stories.
What about you guys? What did you think of this episode?