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Review: ‘Vikings,’ Episode 3, ‘Dispossessed’

Can you believe it has been an entire week since the last episode of Vikings? I can’t. Time seemed to slip away from me this week, like a boat upon the tumultuous waters of the ocean, with masts and sails made of wood that I wined and dined before brutally carving into a tool for my own success—

What are you even talking about?

 

Oh, sorry. I guess I was having flashbacks to last week’s episode. I was trying to be elegiac, don’t you see? Given, my week wasn’t exactly the embodiment of an awesome Viking ship and more along the lines of a leaking dinghy, but I was just trying to make myself feel better.


Sure, but we’re not here for your week, I’m here for the Monday Vikings review. So, what happened in episode two?

 

Episode two was when boat dreams took flight. Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and his buddies hit the open sea, prayed to Njord for safe passage, and there was only one case of mutiny (from one person, who was then met with a knife to his neck). It was a pretty rough passage, tensions were high, and Floki’s (Gustaf Skarsgård) insane babble just about reduced everyone down to his mental state. Luckily, before everyone started alternately yelling at the top of their lungs and curling into a fetal position on the bottom of the boat, they struck gold! Gold, in the form of a Christian monastery in 8th Century England. Though, if you think about it, in that point in history, monasteries were loaded. The monks were either killed or hogtied for future slave-making, and not the Britney Spears kind.

Isn’t that nice! Murder, slaves, pillaging… seems like a solid episode. What happened this week, though?

 

Okay, okay.

We start with Ragnar and his crew reveling in their spoils while the kidnapped monks cry. The sun is shining, which must make them feel really good, because they’re now returning home—I’m sure they feel like they’ve won. Monetarily, they have. They’re thinking about how they’re going to hang their gold gilded axes on their walls and drink mead out of their chalices, spirits are high.

Quick cut to Ragnar’s homestead, where Earl’s (Gabriel Byrne) righthand bro goes up to the Lothbrok son and tells him that he’s to come with him because there is a pretty good chance that Ragnar hasn’t been fishing for however many weeks they’ve been gone. Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) basically threatens him with a giant axe, so he decides to take the neighbor’s son instead.

Why would they take the neighbor’s son?

 

…because…I don’t know. This whole exchange was really weird. Maybe because he knew that he couldn’t beat Lagertha in a fight, so he took her bff’s son as a form of insurance? I’m sure it will be explained later.

Back on open water, Athelstan (George Blagden) the monk asks the question we’ve all had on our minds, “why did you spare my life?” Ragnar replies, “I don’t know yet.” They’re probably going to become best friends or something equally unlikely.

When they get back to port, the entire town is there to celebrate their return. The crew becomes local heroes, as they ventured beyond their known territory with mere ideas of grandeur and returned with enough slaves and booty for a lifetime. There’s a lot of fanfare—and yet, it wouldn’t be worth discussing if Ragnar weren’t about to get verbally assaulted and possibly physically assaulted by Earl and his friends. He gets summoned to a huge meeting in front of Earl and he’s having a lot of issues being chill about it, he’s not okay with Ragnar showing him up, deliberately disobeying him, and plans on stealing all of the swag.

Considering the alternative is being stoned and then beheaded, that’s not too bad.

 

Earl tells Ragnar that he can take one object from his venture, he will speak and choose for the crew. When Ragnar chooses the priest, the entire hall erupts in laughter and the crew is pissed, because it isn’t like you can show a priest off to people or sell him on Viking-ebay for whore money. This leads to a massive fight between Rollo (Clive Standen) and Ragnar in the middle of the street; Rollo claims that Ragnar made a fool of himself and then reveals to have kept a satchel full of gold for himself, which makes Ragnar even angrier because “are you fucking stupid, bro? When Earl founds out you stole from him we’re going to be fucked. Better go buy some prostitutes with that gold because you’re going to get us all killed.”

 

Then what?

 

Earl and his queen are rolling around in their money, she is giving him a major ego boost and is incredibly turned on by how Earl stripped Ragnar of all his power in a couple sentences. After dressing themselves in gold, it is eluded that they’re going to have some carnal togethertime.

 

Ragnar and his new best-friend-slave head home. Ragnar tells his family that they can touch him if they like, because priests are pets. Lagertha jokes about how she’s not getting her gold he promised her, but she’s thinking more about how she missed his smell and his body more than material goods. …..And then something really awkward happens. They invite their priestslave to have sex. Being a good priestslave, he resists and says he took a vow of celibacy—he can’t even touch her, because god would know that he committed a sin of touching a woman’s flesh. Ragnar laughs and shrugs in a way that says “more womanly flesh for me, dude!” and they go and get down to babymaking in the room next to Athelstan’s. Loudly.

They seriously invited the priest to have sex with them?

“Priest, this is my house. Priest, this my family. Priest, be my best friend. Priest, come have a threesome with us.”

Yikes, poor guy.

You can’t help but feel bad for him. He even tries to re-shave the hair on his head, as the more it grows back the further into heathenism he thinks he’s falling. Instead of shaving his head, he pretty much shaves his scalp. And then  he cries. Shit, I’d cry, too!

Cut to a dark scene of rocks, trees, and two people digging a hole with Earl standing over them. He instructs them to dig and then to throw the bags of treasure he obtained into the pit.

Why are they burying the treasure, though?

A Viking tradition, apparently! They bury the treasure so they can have the horde of wealth in the afterlife. The only issue is that the treasure mound needs a guardian, someone to make sure that it will never be disturbed. Remember the neighbor kid of the Lothbrok homestead…?

Is he guarding gold in Valhalla now?

Probably not. To get into Valhalla I think you need to fight for your people or you need to die honorably. I don’t understand why Earl didn’t pick someone who could fight better than a 14 year old boy to guard his stash, but I guess I’m not a Viking lord. Anyway, yeah, that kid is super dead.

 

Let’s talk about something better than this, there has been a significant lack of drinking in this episode. Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, I need to know that they were also hammered.

 

Ding ding! Correct! Ragnar has gotten Athelstan drunk and is using him as his personal history book and translation guide—he’s sort of like the old (old old old old old old) man’s Rick Steves. I wish Ragnar would realize that drunk

ideas aren’t necessarily the best ideas, though, because the next day Ragnar and his slave go to Earl to ask for another (this time sanctioned) raid to the west. “I totally promise that I’ll give you alllll of the gold and stuff, Earl. Send me, don’t go yourself! Send someone like me, someone totally expendable!” Earl, surprisingly, is okay with this, on the condition that he brings a soldier (Knut) of Earl’s choosing. Okay with these conditions, the deal is made.

When they’re back out in the road, Ragnar cuts the leash off of Athelstan and tells him to run away if he’d like and starts walking away from him. I’ve seen this happen with so many parents and their children inside of stores, where the kid will be screaming their lungs out and the parent just says “fine, stay here.” and walks away. The child, realizing they have nowhere else to go, that they’re a hunk of steak in a world of wolves, that they never realized how scary the Barbie aisle was until they were traversing it alone, runs after the parent, their desire for rebellion stomped like fresh grass under a boot. This is what happens to Athelstan, he runs after Ragnar with his tail between his legs.

It’s dinnertime in Lothbrok land when Ragnar says he’s sailing again. Tomorrow. Lagertha purses her lips and asserts that they’ll sacrifice to Odin for him, until he says he’s surprised that he’s not coming with him. SURPRISE, FIELDTRIP! It’s like going to Disneyland! Only with a lot more blood (at least I hope the amount of guaranteed bloodshed that’ll happen on this trip isn’t your norm, but hey, I don’t know your life).

Rollo gives Knut a tongue lashing, slamming him around like a ragdoll and telling him that if he doesn’t trust the soldiers he’s fighting with, he can’t be trusted to keep them safe in the long run. He makes a good point and all, but it was hard to concentrate when Lagertha was rocking some serious Ke$ha hair.

I didn’t know they had hairspray and bobbypins back in those days!

The more you know.

Anyway, through this cutscene, we spend a significantly shorter time on the boat ride to England and before you know it…HELLOOOO Kingdom of Northumbria! The Vikings are met with some men of Northumbria who ask if they’re traders and asks if they want to go meet their king. Ragnar, acting as the world’s worst translator, thinks that the Vikings should go to the town with them. The Viking crew doesn’t believe that the Englishmen have their best interests in mind and they get a bit antsy; the sheriff notices the uncomfortable air and goes to give a medallion to Rollo as a peace offering. This would have worked, but it would have been boring if it worked. Floki, being the special flower that he is, goes up to one of the Englishmen and tears off his cross, which of course, starts the bloodbath “in the name of God!” The entire troop gets obliterated, blood poetically running into the ocean.

Oh, except for that one survivor that rode off to alert his compatriots. BLOODSHED!

What an intense note to end on! What can we expect from next episode?

 

If the preview is any indication, the raid is successful, there is plentiful bounty, there is happiness…and then there is pretty intense betrayal of the brotherly kind. That’s right, Rollo is about to roll over on his loyalty to his brother. Asshole. Not surprising at all, but man, what an asshole.

How about that arbitrary rating?

I’ll give it fourteen out of sixteen golden god chalices.

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14 thoughts on “Review: ‘Vikings,’ Episode 3, ‘Dispossessed’

  1. I have watched the series from the beginning and even watched episode 4 on the computer today. My guess is that Athelstan will want to marry Ragnar’s daughter. This is one of the best reviews ever. Love your light style that conveys the gist of the story. More will be revealed.

    • Thank you so much for your support! I can guarantee that this comment made my day. Athelstan and Ragnar’s daughter?! Well, now we know why she didn’t mind him being head of house 😉

    • Right!? The entire time I was having huge waves of second hand embarrassment. I think Ragnar was serious, though! I think that he was just trying to welcome Athelstan into the family, which doesn’t make it any less awkward, but I don’t think Lagertha and Ragnar really think of sex as a thing to worry about. Thanks for your feedback!

  2. This is a great review. One of my favorite new shows. I too was struck by the awkwardness of the threesome invite. I don’t think they were joking–I also don’t think it was a test of the monk’s celibacy vow. They both seemed surprised that he didn’t accept the invite. It was a very intentional scene, with no follow-up. I can’t help but think that the writers were trying to convey a social attitude or norm. Perhaps a casual attitude towards sex, perhaps to convey the fact that Viking culture was more accepting of powerful women than others at the time. I tend toward the latter–in the sexual advances, Lagertha is very forward. Ragnar isn’t so much. She gets what she wants. Perhaps the scene was about her, and her power over Ragnar. Thoughts?

    • Thank you!

      I think there is a lot to be said for the amount of power that women have in this show and that you’re pretty correct in that interpretation. Time and time again, it’s shown that women are the ones really running the show (I think an old Chinese proverb fits into this scenario really well that is something like “Man is the head of the family, woman is the neck that turns the head.”). Lagertha has the heart (and loins) of both Ragnar and Rollo, who would do anything for her. Siggy is the one pulling every single string of Earl Haraldson (~oh, you’re the best, strongest man ever. Now, Ragnar is a threat…you should kill him. Because you’re ~~~so strong). I love love love that women have their own sense of will and power in this shebang and I think that her asserting her dominance in that scene is definitely part of it!

      You’re right that it wasn’t a test of the celibacy vow, though, because by that point the Vikings had no idea that was his schtick, so it wouldn’t make sense to bait him. However, I also think that Ragnar was trying to…introduce Athelstan into the family, if that makes sense. This was pretty early on into their relationship and I think Ragnar wanted to give him a welcoming present, as traumatizing as it was for him.

      So, I think it’s a mixture of both. Ragnar wanted to welcome Athelstan and Lagertha wanted to show where she stood in the family power chain. What do you think?

      • I agree. Good analysis. Still seems weird and awkward–I mean, really? I could think of a number of ways to welcome someone in the family without it involving sexual activities. I thought it interesting that the scene came and went without any further explanation or insight into their motives. I suppose the writers wanted there to be debate about its meaning and the characters’ intent.

      • I also agree that this is a great analysis.

        As modern westerners, we don’t really “get” some of the Viking cultural norms. Historically, pagan cultures embrace women much more fully as leaders and equals than the Christian-Judeo paternalistic religions do.

        The Viking women were the first women known to have the power to divorce their husbands at will and own property independently as well as hold roles as warriors alongside the men. I particularly enjoy that in later episodes during the battle scenes there are multiple badass sheildmaidens featured!

        Sex was more empowered in pagan societies as well. Women were not expected to be virgins upon marriage and often children from prior relationships were adopted during a marriage. In a sense, a woman who already had children was a “sure thing” with the fertility gods! Rituals, holiday celebrations and everyday life incorporated sexual displays because quite simply sex does create bonds between people, both emotional and genetic. I think Legertha and Ragnar wanted to welcome Athelstan into their family, make him feel accepted and bonded to them as well as enjoy a redblooded romp with the intriguing stranger from another land. He must inspire some curiosity in them as well.

    • Very late to the conversation – thanks to Amazon for streaming this awesome show. About this threesome invitation: you have to keep in mind that in this same episode, Haraldson and Siggy use an offer of sex as a test of loyalty. That guy accepts the offer and fails the test. So, I don’t think Ragnar and Lagertha were testing his vow of celibacy, but they were testing his trustworthiness. He passes the test, and soon after they trust him to look after their children and farm.
      My two cents!
      I’m enjoying your blog!

      • Oh! I really love that interpretation and hadn’t thought of that before, I guess I hadn’t made that connection when I was watching. Thanks so much for your perspective!

  3. First of all girl, love the reviews. Hilarious….Choked on my coffee reading it. The Earl took the neighbor’s son cuz back then, the villagers are all related, Kinsman. So the little dude was probably Ragnar’s nephew or something.

    • Ha! Well thank you! I’m glad you enjoy the reviews. I aim to please!

      Huh, very interesting. So even then, the Earl had it out for Ragnar. Since he couldn’t have his direct descendant, he took another member of his family. If anything, this makes the Earl seem even more obsessed with Ragnar than before (and I thought that was impossible). Ragnar should maybe consider applying for an Odin-sanctioned restraining order.

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