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Review: ‘Vikings,’ Episode 4, ‘Trial’

Another week, another Vikings recap. What happened in episode 3? The fresher in my mind it is, the better off we all will be.

Last episode, Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) adopted a slave named Athelstan (George Blagden) and introduced him to his family – it was his only take away from his very first raid, which means that they have a super strong emotional connection. Ulterior motives were involved, of course, because Ragnar, being the clever devil he is, realized that he could learn a lot about England from the monk and use it to conduct more bloody, horrendous raids. With this idea in mind, he drinks a lot of beer and formulates a plan of violent proportions. The next morning, he goes to Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne) and requests a journey back to England to plunder and demolish villages the way Vikings do. Earl says that is a-okay with him, as long as one of his cronies can go along with Ragnar’s merry gaggle of men to England to make sure that he behaves. Oh, I guess “merry gaggle of men” isn’t totally accurate, because Ragnar is taking Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) on another honeymoon where she’ll be able to pick out her own golden goblet from the bloody hands of murdered Saxons. Awww, so romantic!

We end on the beaches of England, where people were waiting for the Vikings. There is a misunderstanding and murder happens. How totally intriguing and surprising.

And that’s where we left off?

Bingo! Remember how that guy rode off into the cold water sunset to tell his friends that “The Vikings are coming! The Vikings are coming!”..? Well, he alerted his friends. Saxon warriors then pant a lot and get ready for some serious bloodshed. Did you expect anything less? I’m pretty sure that all of the Vikings are stoked that they’re going to fight back. The last time they went to England it was like ~taking god-gold from a baby~ and I’m sure they missed the challenge.

Ragnar is holding back the fight until Sunday, which Rollo (Clive Standen) is pretty pissed about because he wants to attack noooow. Ragnar knows what he’s doing, though, because waiting until everyone is sitting in church to attack is….actually pretty fucking brilliant. Good job, Ragnar. Swords sharpened, war paint artistically applied, Ke$ha braids at the ready, it’s time to go in and kill everyone – stupid god worshipping soldiers, leaving your swords outside when you know there are Vikings that already killed like half of your armed men.

Actually, that was really, really stupid. For a country so prolific in killing, you’d think they would have been at the ready.

The Vikings start roaming around to the town intending to pillage and kill everyone. Rollo seriously considers killing an ailing/dying old man on his shitty gross cot and then proceeds to just steal his cup instead (but not before letting him have a last couple gulps!). Meanwhile, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) is being the biggest troll ever in all of trollhood.

Oh no, considering his track record of being a special sunshine flower, this is going to be bad. What is he doing?

He can be found in front of the church crowd, drinking the sacramental water and spitting it back out at people like he’s being exorcized or they’re saying something really funny and he just can’t help himself. Which, I mean, I actually don’t think that he can necessarily control himself, because Floki is……really special. I’m sure he’s say that the trees told him to do it. On the plus side, if any Saxons were having a moment of faithlessness, Floki’s devil water spitting probably made them believe in God with even more conviction than before.

Not everyone went to go harangue and trouble villagers in the church, however, and some people went around to get some free-range multicultural booty – by that I mean “totally rape some women in front of their children.” Here comes Knut (Eric Higgins), Earl-appointed warrior, to make some very questionable life choices.

Wait, really? They’re in the middle of raiding a town and he thinks that it’s a perfectly apt time to have a couple minutes to himself and rape a defenseless woman?

Yuuup. Lagertha proceeds to be a fucking beast, though, when she saves the Saxon woman from being raped by Knut. He then does something really stupid and tries to turn the rape-table on her, which leaves her little choice but to stab him in his kidney multiple times and leave him dead on the ground like a present to the Saxon woman. Merry Christmas!

That’s not going to blow up in her face or anything.

Er…yeah.

Ragnar is pleased with the loot, smiling like Thor himself is shining light upon his war dredbraids. He then asks “where’s that rascally rabbit, Knut?” When Lagertha replies that she knifed his ass because the air was clogged with rape molecules that were fucking with his mind, he loses his happy-go-lucky air and (I gotta give props to Mr. Fimmel on his acting chops here) really appears to be royally pissed that this didn’t happen in front of a crowd and that his brother (who usually plays the very fun game of “perversely watch my brother’s wife”) didn’t make sure that it didn’t happen. When Lagertha says that it was only her, a knife, and Knut’s dead body (in the drawing room!), I’m pretty sure Ragnar’s mind immediately went through a thought process of “godfuckingdamnit, my wife killed the Earl’s messenger and no one can vouch that she’s not a cold blooded murderer shitshitshit this is going to be my last Vike-ation ever!”

Willies chaffed, they start heading back to their boat, conveniently meeting a shit ton of British warriors who are looking to get some killing on – because they’ve never seen Vikings in action. This gives way to a fucking bad ass, baller, and other genius b-adjective fight scene. Rollo leads this awesome Viking change and the killing gets underway. Grunts and blood everywhere. Everywhere! The British men retreat like giant babies and the Vikings take hold of their losses, which include a long-haired blonde that I was pretty partial to, who is besties with another long-haired blonde that I like more, so really, as long as Leif (Diarmaid Murtagh) stands, I’m cool. Sad. Death doesn’t get Vikings down, though, and they’re looking at those corpses in the hole and thinking that they’re drinking ale in Valhalla, luuucky bastards. King Aelle of the British sort now has a very Viking vendetta against him – I wouldn’t not want to be him right now.

The British men who ran away? Ran to their king with one word on their mind: RAGNAR.

Can’t say that I’m surprised that Ragnar’s Viking Visa to England is going to be revoked, he and his friends kind of made it a habit to kill at least 85% of the Englishmen they saw. Oh well, what’s happening back at home? Didn’t Ragnar leave Athelstan in charge of his farm?

Back at the Lodbrok homestead, where Athelstan is continuing to be every parent’s worst babysitter nightmare. Bjorn (Nathan O’Toole) is being a little jerk of a child (he must be a middleschooler), saying that Athelstan isn’t looking after them because they look out for themselves, so really they should be able to go around Viking villages by themselves and they should be able to sacrifice their babysitters for Ragnar’s safe return ALL THEY WANT, STUPID BABYSITTER, and Gyda? All Gyda (Ruby O’Leary) wants is to drink beer. Ah, a preteen after my own heart. That night Athelstan has a heart to heart with God and basically tells him that he doesn’t really like God is with him, watching over him, and answering all of life’s valuable questions, like “why are these kids such raging lunatic brats?” and “why were all of my friends slaughtered?” and “why do I have the spine of a blade of grass?”

Poor guy, he can’t seem to catch a break.

The next day, everyone is gathered at the pier, excitedly awaiting the gold and goods from the foreign land. Know who is watching? Earl, with his shoulder pads made of distracting fox bodies. He’s pretty stoked that Ragnar came back with a shit ton of bounty and is actually willing to share it all, until Knut, Earl’s half-brother, isn’t in his eyesight (because he’s dead on some woman’s floor). When he finds out that Knut is dead and not in an honorable way (e.g. battle), he flips a massive bitchfit and arrests Ragnar, who took the flack for Lagertha’s murder.

Oh shit!

Oh shit, indeed! Later that evening, Earl eats some cheese and then summons Rollo, who he then questions with things like “is Ragnar a fair man? Does he treat you right? Has he ever made you mad? I think he wants to be the hero, and you’re like one of those ants on the eyelids of his pigs. Doesn’t that make you super super mad?” Rollo is pretty quiet the whole time, but he’s not stupid. He knows what Earl is trying to do, starts drinking some mead and waits for Earl to sweeten the deal. Earl offers to give Rollo some gold and jewels if he throws his brother under the bus and testifies against Ragnar. Oh, he also knows how Rollo chases the booty and offers Rollo the young child booty of his daughter Thyri (Elinor Crawley). Are you going to help me kill your brother yet, Rollo? Huh? Huh? HUH?

Out of nowhere, Earl’s creepy fucking wife Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig) comes out of the corner of the room with her raccoon eyes and empty flattery in a way that a popular girl tries not to be forgotten in a bar by shouting “WOOO I’m like totally hot look at me and my powerful boyfriend WOOO,” but she’s 20 years past her prime and gives you a really creepy feeling whenever you look at her. Rollo seems to take this into consideration, wondering how the years have weathered someone who has never done anything for themselves in her life – was it the birth of three children in Viking ages that gave her those wrinkles she tries so desperately to hide? Though she may try, the gold she drapes around her thin neck doesn’t hide the greed pumping through her veins, seeping out through her pores as she sidles over to the paranoid husband. Though she may try, she will never meet the beauty of Lagertha. Though, his daughter is pretty hot.

Rollo alternates between being a badass and being the biggest creep ever. Will we ever find a middle ground?

Probably not.

Time for a town meeting!

Earl and Siggy both take their seats and the prisoner is taken in. Bjorn and Gyda are pretty upset that their dad is in chains in front of them, but Ragnar is taking it like a champ. Earl then starts on a tirade about how Ragnar killed Knut because he thirsts for power, desires it among all else, resents the fact that other people are in a higher position of power than he is, and Ragnar doesn’t believe in the tradition of giving ~the Earl~ his everlasting soul, the asshole. It was a blood-thirsty killing, he claims, and my heart is like, totally broken. Can’t you see that I’m super duper upset? Hand me a Kleenex, wife.

Ragnar then puts on his best orating voice and asks all the men in the room how they’d feel if they found someone trying to stick some(probably) unwashed junk into their best lady? He says that the Viking men wouldn’t just sit around and allow it to happen, even if they knew that it was the Earl’s brother. Earl, of course, scoffs at this and his assistant asks if Ragnar seriously asks the court to believe him. Lagertha states that she was there, that she could vouch for the near-rape, and the Earl lets out the most assholish laugh I’ve heard from an actor since I heard James Franco snicker in a Spring Breakers commercial and says that it’s ~really convenient that she would be there for her own presumed rape lol~. This apparently fills Lagertha with a bubbling volcano of rage because she’s like “my husband, the fucking idiot for trying to take the blame for this but slightly honorable man that I’m going to bone later if I don’t make it out of here alive, did not murder your scumbag brother who tried to rape me, it was me. I killed your douchebag brother.”

She only becomes more angry when the Earl laughs some more and says “oh, a husband and a wife who say they both committed the crime ho-ho-ho, how cute. But look at you, silly woman, you couldn’t even kill a flyyyy.”

This isn’t going to end well. Lagertha and Ragnar are in some pretty deep, we’re talking Mariana Trench deep, shit.

And then a wrench comes into the whole thing when the right hand man says “we have proof!”

Rollo steps up and does something so dickish that bridges are burning the second that the (oddly modern looking) spotlights shine upon their dirty haired heads. “Ragnar Lodbrok killed him.” The crowd murmurs in increased joy, because if it’s going to be anything like the first episode, they’ll get to stone someone in the square before killing him, and that’s always been a town pastime. Surprising everyone, Rollo does a 180 flip on his stand and is like “but it was for a good reason, yoooo, because his ladything needed honoring after she saved another woman from being raped. It was all in the name of honor, so really, you can’t arrest him.”

What a relief! I was actually pretty concerned for a second…until I realized that he’s the main character and therefore cannot die in the 4th episode.

Definitely. The Earl is so angry that there are no words to describe how angry he is, but we don’t have time for him and cut to Ragnar and Rollo, who are busy getting toasted on some strong ale and being super brotherly, along the lines of “I owe you a lot.” “I look forward to collecting it.”

How sweet! They really do love each other, despite everything.

 

Well, Rollo certainly loves someone in that family (hint: she has boobs). Later on, Lagertha goes to thank Rollo for saving her neck. He tells her that he didn’t save her for Ragnar, he saved her for her (because he loves her). Lagertha becomes really uncomfortable with the situation and glares at him, walking away. Regardless of that interaction, people seem to be in drunken high spirits. There is dancing! Jokes! More dancing!

This is Vikings, though, this show can’t end on a positive note.

It doesn’t. Leif is taking a leak outside and gets stabbed to death by some Vikings that aren’t in the Ragnar clique and they then go inside the bar where they’re all getting super drunk in merriment and disrupt the fun times with some serious revenge bloodshed on the Cool Kid group for being such assholes. I don’t care about that, though, because I’m more preoccupied with a question that will never have a suitable enough answer for me:

WHY DID LEIF HAVE TO DIE?

Sure, it’s sad, but why are you so attached to Leif? Why would they kill him anyway?

Because his name is Leif and he always had a braid in his hair that would make a Free People catalog proud. He was a good Viking man with a good Viking wife and a great head of hair and a smile that didn’t quit because he was probably drunk in every scene he was in, and this show just took him away from me. Why did they kill him? Are you really asking about that in my obvious state of emotional turmoil? It’s because the world is unfair, kid, and it’s high time you learned about that.

Also, because Earl is royally pissed off and probably hired the thugs to stab all of the Cool Kids in the throat.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: It’s been pointed out to me that the guy that was killed was not Leif, but his father, Erik. The worldly balance is once again at peace! Doesn’t really change how angry/upset people are, as you can imagine. (thanks Kali!)

How does Ragnar react?

Poorly. He angrily, and I mean his rage levels are at 11, chops wood and throws them into the shed without talking to anyone around him. When wood splitting just isn’t enough, he storms off into the woods to sit on a hill in quietude (time for some alone time). Apparently he is trying to consult the gods, who he believes he has a pretty good connection with. Athelstan wiggles his eyebrows and smiles because boy-howdy, does he know what it looks like to talk to God! We end on the note that Ragnar is “preparing himself.”

Preparing himself for what? A world rife with shampoo and conditioner?

While that would be perfectly traumatic, we’re going to have to wait until next week to find out.

Now how about that arbitrary rating?

This episode was super intense but really, really good. I give it sixteen out of seventeen pints of mead.

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