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Review: ‘Vikings,’ Episode 2, ‘Wrath of the Northmen’

Ah, Vikings. By popular definition, they’re hulking, barbarically hot, drunk, sex-addicted, death-worshipping, brutes that are decent at football; which, in case you’re wondering, are all characteristics that make life fun. I would toast some mead to that, but mead is disgusting. I will, however, raise my beer in their legendary honor that has been setting the frat boy precedent for many a year.

Rites of Passage was a very strong start for Vikings, and yet the question remains: will it stay good or travel up shit creek in a flaming pile of refuse that only the History Channel could orchestrate?

Can I get a brief recap of the first episode? My memory isn’t what it used to be, a week is a long time.

In the first episode of Vikings, we were introduced to the main characters. We have the supposedly hunky mancake Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), his badass no-bullshit wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), Ragnar’s marginally rape-y and very confident brother Rollo (Clive Standen), the scatterbrained boat maker Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård), the power hungry lord of the land Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne), and his hot, manipulative wife Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig). Ragnar has a dream. A dream of something new. A dream of a new place to rape, plunder, and pillage that isn’t the east towards Russia, because. Ragnar is really fucking tired of the smell of Borscht—he wants to go west, TO ENGLAND! Floki and Rollo sort of think he’s bonkers, but their sense of loyalty overrun their common sense, even when Earl Haraldson basically hands Ragnar his ass in on a platter with a giant sign saying “disobey me again and I’m going to bar you from the afterlife feast of the gods, chop off your head, steal your pigs, and kill your family. Stupid asshole farmer.” We left off with Floki successfully creating a lightweight boat, filling Ragnar and Rollo with hope of lands they’ve never seen before, it’s too bad for them that one of Earl’s henchmen saw what they were doing and is going to rat on them.

Huh, that sucks. Is this episode going to have repercussions to Ragnar living his Viking dream?

Yeah, there is going to be some ship and bridge burning, best believe.

Enough lollygagging, let’s get to episode two, “Wrath of the Northmen.” I can already tell by the cardinal sin the title of the episode is evoking that this was a pretty brutal episode. Can you give me a summary as intense as the forty some odd gritty minutes?

 I sure can! We start off in a crummy town that looks to be half mudpit. Rollo and Ragnar meet with a bunch of fellow Vikings that they start pitching their idea to, which is met with a lot of reactions akin to “you are fuckin’ kidding me you crazy bastard. Sailing across an open sea is scary and what if we die? I’d rather fight in a war where the nomadic Russians slice us to death with dull swords!” Ultimately, Ragnar convinces them that it’s a good idea (I had no idea that the phrase “Do you have the balls to join us?” originated in Viking peptalks), I think we can thank his horrible accent that still sounds as artificial as Keanu Reeve’s role in Dracula.

The Rat rats on the meeting to the Earl and ultimately make the decision not to chop Ragnar into a million pieces. Earl also gives permission to The Rat to bone his wife if he feels so inclined.

(spoiler alert: it ends up being a trap.)

Why would he do that?

Well, you know how some couples get off on their significant other making them jealous?

Er…sure.

It’s like that.

Back in the home of the blonde protagonists, Lagertha is royally angry that Ragnar is telling her to be a stay-at-home mom with the chil’ren while he goes off and has crazy adventures. She is a woman! With dreams! She doesn’t deserve to be treated as insignificant! Ragnar laughs and says that have no worry, he’ll just stay home to watch the kids—she can go off and have fun adventures, silly woman. This results in a pseudo foreplay swordfight in the kitchen where Lagertha alternates between punching her husband in the face, slashing him with a sword, kissing him, or kicking him in the balls. This is for sure leading to some kinky sex, but then their ten year old cock blocks them because he clearly can’t distinguish between anger leading to steamy sex and anger leading to beheading (of the upper and lower sort).

The next day, Ragnar has huge bags under his eyes, which makes me think he was sentenced to a time-era appropriate couch to sleep on for the night, which would be a pile of straw covered rocks or something, who knows. At any rate, dude is looking tore up. Floki is there, making some kind of joke that I didn’t catch, and so is Rollo, who ends up staring at any woman that moves like he owns it. He then proceeds to rape a blonde chick—probably envisioning Lagertha, you know, because he paid her that sincere compliment before. Ultimately, they set sail. Woo! Adventure! When Earl head about their adventure, he proceeds to dust his shoulders off, because he’s presumably rid of the idiots who think there is any life outside of their continent.

The crew is having shitty luck at sea, mostly because they’re caught up in a storm and you know it’s serious when someone shouts “Thor is striking his anvil!” Floki then starts spouting off like a madman, further cementing his hilarity and wonderfulness, with claims that he understands the gods and stating that Thor is celebrating their ginormous, Viking balls (words mine). Now we cut away to England, looking at some unfairly good looking monks doing bible calligraphy—they get pretty freaked out when they look outside and see a storm with clouds that look like Mufasa is about to chastise them with a paw full of death.

Back at the mainland, Earl Asshole is being a major dick, yet nonetheless sniffing out the path of Ragnar…and then shoves a man’s face a fiery pit in front of his young daughter for making the anchor for Ragnar’s ship. Unfortunately for our Ke$ha haired main character, tensions are a bit high on the possibly falling apart ship. How rough is it? Some dude starts talking mad shit, prompting Ragnar to stab him in the neck to get him to shut up—this tactic seems to work, because if people were thinking of speaking up but value the no-knife state of their neck, they chose their battles. It ends up paying off because LAND HOOOO!

Aren’t the monks going to throw some crazy holy fit?

Fair guess, yeah. The monastery basically goes on total lockdown with the cries of “devils, devils, there are so many devils! The reckoning!” and the Vikings preen themselves with warpaint (that kind of looks like mutton chops) and weaponry—the quickest way to make friends. Well, some friends could have been made if Rollo didn’t walk up to one of the head monks and stab him in the neck (family trademark?).

Last time I heard, monks weren’t armed. This seems one-sided at best.

It is. It serves to destroy any sympathy you were thinking of giving to the Vikings from the progression of the show thus far; Rollo dealt the first stab, yet Ragnar seems to be most understanding, he even decides not to kill a monk (named Athelstan and played by George Blagden).

There has to be a catch, though. I am doubting the acceptance of this dude into their hairy, beardy clique.

Yeah, the monk is clutching his bible and preaches about god, Rollo complains that there are no women about to satiate the manly urge to get action (though the Greeks would say that the monks would do just fine). We actually don’t know why Ragnar spared him. There is absolutely no wonder that English texts to this day proceeded to give them a bad rap (though it is more attributed to oral history versus written history, but whatever).

Where is Floki?!

Floki isn’t killing anyone. He probably started off talking to British trees, but we find him alternating burning and licking paper…because it’s Floki. Don’t ask questions.

Weird, okay. Did the Vikings do what they set out to do?

Pillaged and murdered, yup. We end the episode with the monastery drifting further into the background while the hostage monks put up their hoods and try to stay chill.

What can we expect next episode?

They come back to their mainland with the booty and monk slaves and Earl Haraldson is so pissed off (I guess I overshot their confrontation, woops). So is Rollo, who is seriously having second thoughts. It will probably be the formation of the rebel group and some yelling — I hope this means more bloodshed.

ARBITRARY RATING FOR EPISODE TWO: eight out of ten bloody swords.

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