Happy belated Easter, if you celebrate it, and if you don’t, I hope your lap is still filled with the masticated carcasses of hollow and (nougat or cream or marshmallow or peanut butter or Ferrero Rocher heaven on earth) filled chocolate rabbits that came from pastel and metallic foil that crumble into delightful little balls of telltale gluttony. Though the holiday may be holy, there is no reason to ever ever skip out on post-holiday chocolate sales. Do you have your chocolate at the ready? Good. It’s Vikings time, so let’s do this.
Uh…okay, wow, you’re pretty excited about this. First, though, we should have a recap of last episode “Trial,” because I hate being ill-prepared.
Well, alright. I guess I can do that. It’ll cramp my candy coma style, but I’m dedicated and like y’all, so this is what happened last time ‘round.
The Vikings re-raided England and bounty was had by all. Everything would have kept going according to plan – slaves would have been taken, gold would have been tucked away into rucksacks, braids would be re-plaited after the crazy victory – but that would have been boring. Really boring. Apparently, that’s not how the Vikings do it, because being boring is boring and instead, Earl’s half-brother gets shanked by Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) after he rapes a Saxon woman and tries to rape her as a post-coital ritual that only the truly creepy could enjoy. This is obviously a huge change from the mundane (maybe they should learn the difference between spicing things up and fucking up everything). When they return to their homeland, Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) takes the heat for the death and a trial before the Earl (Gabriel Byrne) is held. Rollo (Clive Standen) supposedly bribed by the Earl’s underaged daughter’s ladyparts and massive amounts of gold, takes the stand against Ragnar but surprises everyone when he supports his brother and gets him out of the deepest shit. They’re all happy happy joy joy about Ragnar getting off the hook, but just like the Vikings don’t do boring, they also don’t do happy, and the end of the episode gave us the horrible, cruel, shank via hired Earl goons, death of Erik (Vladimir Kulich). Ragnar storms off to mourn and “prepare” himself for something vague but surely promising.
That seems like one rough freakin’ episode. What’s happening now?
Earl Haraldson stares at a baby in an uncomfortable way.
Don’t worry, it’s not his. It’s a new born baby in the village and he’s blessing it, saying the gods shall protect it while Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig) murmurs about how it shall be prosperous or whatever. She also seems to be weirded out by his baby intensity, though, and leaves him with a pat on the shoulder that says “when you figure your shit out, we can talk.”
Back in Ragnar’s hut, Athelstan (George Blagden) and Ragnar are having a broment. Athelstan asks if he’s a slave because he’s not really being treated like a slave. He’s not being beaten/raped/forced to eat out of a Viking pottery bowl, and while the treatment is nice and everything, he wouldn’t mind being a free man, because, you know, being free is better than being a slave. Ragnar falls silent and in a way that only Athelstan could do with his harmless puppy dog eyes, he approaches Ragnar and asks what he’s preparing himself for. Because this is the first couple minutes of the show, we don’t find out. Ragnar orders Athelstan to finish cooking his fish and continues to pensively look at the ceiling.
A few cutscenes later, we see him hunting in the woods, leaving his family alone in their hut. Then…bad shit starts happening. We’re talking bad shit. Earl has ordered a raid on one of his own towns –
Wait…Why? Why would he order an attack on his own territory?
– well, the Earl is nuts. Really, really fucking nuts. This is all because he thinks Ragnar thinks that he’s a God and needs to learn a lesson. YEAH, because “I need to teach this guy a lesson” boils down to fire, axes, and fireaxes. That kind of crazy. The special kind of crazy that is born out of not being hugged by your mom and dad when you’re a child. That special kind of crazy that is born from an ego complex. The special kind of crazy that leads you to kill a bunch of people in one of your villages and burn that motherfucker to the ground to prove a point.
Ragnar, like the Tarzan that he used to be, hears a disturbance in the force while he’s hunting in the woods and proceeds to run back to the village to make sure that his family is safe. Considering he’s the target of this raid, he gets really fucked up in the process.
Wait, really? How can Ragnar be that hurt? Furthermore, how could he survive wounds like that? They’re definitely not cosmetic in nature.
Yeah, no kidding, but we’ll say his sliced ligaments and arrows to body parts are being slightly thwarted by Odin or something, after all, that dude is on Ragnar’s side. Meanwhile, he tries to smuggle his family (including Athelstan, how sweet) out of a crawl space that seems to be made special for this very specific occasion. Earl calls him outside like a big bad wolf about to huff-and-puff and burn his house to the ground. He hobbles out (walking isn’t…really an option) and he bows down before the Earl, but you know he’s not going to go down easy – his braids are way too clean for this to end here.
Earl wants him to beg for life, say that he’s a criminal and accept death. Ragnar says that he accepts fate and he should have some time to speak with his God. Earl stands back and is probably like “eh, whatever, parting grace, blah blah blah. Odin likes me more, anyway.” This, of course, was a fake out so Ragnar could throw an axe into someone’s throat and steal his horse. Away he rides!
While his family (+Athelstan) watches their house burn in the boat that was out back. Can Vikings not swim? Or did they just not check the fjord for a family who has built their notoriety around boats? Really?
I like the “Vikings can’t swim” theory, it explains their hygiene a bit.
Ragnar pulls a Lord of the Rings Frodo Hideaway to lose them, but it only works for a little bit. After all, all the ground he gains is sort of lost when his massive arterial wounds that have been bleeding for a really long time start catching up with him. So, what does he do? He hauls himself off a cliff into the fjord. He does it before the men chasing him could go to the side of the cliff to spy his family (+Athelstan) in their boat, which was thinking ahead.
The boatcrew proceeds to think he’s dead and Athelstan dives in to haul him into the boat.
Where are they going to go now? They’re homeless. Their farm supplies, life, eyeliner and hairspray are all a thing of the past.
To Uncle Floki’s, duh!
What does the Earl think about this?
Earl: “Is he dead?”
Dude: “Er, I dunno.”
Earl: SCOWL. “Is his family dead?”
Dude: “We’re….we’re not sure. They kind of vanished during that chaotic raid.”
Earl: MORE INTENSE SCOWL.
So, reacting pretty much how I figured. Never change, Earl Haraldson.
After Ragnar is dragged to his in-the-middle-of-nowhere-hut, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) is running around saying GIVE ME GARLIC, GIVE ME SAGE, GIVE ME WHATEVER ELSE, WE’RE MAKING A PASTE FOR HIS WOUND, and that sounds so putrid that I’m momentarily stunned. You know what, though, if it’s between sticking weird shit into his lesions and him dying, I’ll take it. I mean, if they’re going to be shoving hot knives into his flesh to seal the wounds, they might as well be spiced – roasted garlic is delicious. The room becomes filled with prayers for Ragnar.
Back in the remaining part of the village, Earl and Siggy have guests! Siggy is pretty upset because she wasn’t told to expect guests, but is more put off by the fact that the Swede guest who is at least six times older than her daughter is making rape eyes at her prized jewel. In fact, she’s so distracted that she nearly misses when Earl says that the creepy old Mall Santa Swede is marrying the Haraldson heir. OH, did I not tell you that you were getting married, child? OH, Well you are? OH, did I neglect to tell you, wife? My b.
Siggy storms off. Thyri (Elinor Crawley) tries not to puke.
Perfectly reasonable reactions, that guy didn’t just look like a Mall Santa, he looked like a rejected Mall Santa.
Earl tries to comfort Siggy, but she’s utterly disgusted and obviously also trying not to puke. She becomes furious that he didn’t even talk to her about it and then she starts unleashing all of Norse fury onto Earl for not treating her with respect, it all goes back to their two dead sons, though – the Earl is still really bent out of shape about it. (I mean, their heads were cut off and shoved between their asses, so I get it. That’s…really rough). Still, though, he never told Siggy about that last little parenthesized detail, and her rightfully righteous fury is swallowed up. You can tell it’s not over, though.
Back at Floki’s camp, where Ragnar’s now family (+Athelstan) has been staying, Ragnar has been gaining a following like a forlorn and nearly lost idol for the common man. Rollo sends a friend to go check on Ragnar, but his brother couldn’t make it because everyone from the crew is being eyed by the government. We learn that Ragnar’s family has no farm and their livestock was slaughtered, but spirits are actually surprisingly high when we realize that they’re all having the cutest sleepover ever.
While Ragnar is in his cot having an existential crisis, because that seems like a really good idea when your life is on the brink of chaos, another threesome happens. No, Ragnar with his bloody scabs aren’t involved, but it’s not any less creepy.
It’s actually even more creepy, Floki is involved.
Let’s leave this scene, please.
Not a problem. Rollo is seen tromping through the town and is en route to the wedding party of Thyri and her Mall Santa. When he arrives, he looks at the happy couple: she looks particularly seasick and Santa looks really jolly. Earl wants to know what the fuck Rollo is doing there and he says that he and the Earl need to have a heart to heart. There is no way this is going to end up being a severely horrible idea. No way at all. Nope. Not going to backfire on Rollo, who has a really vague and strange endgame and picked the super shitty trail to get there.
The end justifies the means though, right?
Er…more on that in a second. Just hold that thought.
Right now we’re talking about the wedding joy! We see Siggy giving her daughter a pep talk about how not to spew on the bulbous belly of her husband in their matrimonial chamber, which definitely won’t work, and Thyri is whisked off to be thoroughly defiled. Now that his duties are done, the Earl grants Rollo a conversation (how nice!). Rollo tells the Earl that Ragnar is dead, so there is no need to have him followed around by thugs. His family is dead, Ragnar is dead, he would have heard from his brother is he were still alive, and he desires above all else to go back out into the world and raid. He’s a soldier, being watched and kept at bay like a common prisoner is not right.
Earl seems to consider this, but ultimately says that Rollo will have to prove himself, because there is no trust there.
Back in the Flokihut, Athelstan is asking about Valhalla and Odin. It’s adorable, his curiosity. He’s like a puppy. An adorable, sweet, possibly eunuch puppy. The company he’s keeping isn’t exactly enjoying all of his (what they see as) basic knowledge, but it’s freaking adorable and they need to accept him into their family and listen to his religion with as much interest as much as he does. The message here: accept everyone! Or, at least, listen to their side and then rule them out if you desire.
In other news…
Well, back in the village, Rollo is pretty much fucking everyone or is making a college effort to get into those lady tunics. He meets Siggy in a skinning barn and they kiss in the way pre-lovers kiss, which means someone’s palms were sweaty and someone was having thoughts of Lagertha someone else, but she’s not interested in his nether horn. She warns him that if he doesn’t get the fuck out of dodge, there is a pretty high likelihood that he’s going to wish that he did, because the Earl hates him, well, mostly his brother, but holy frijoles, by extension he really fucking hates Rollo, too.
He doesn’t listen.
Of course he doesn’t, because his weird plan to get closer to the Earl to save the skin of his brother definitely wasn’t ever going to backfire on him.
He gets the shit beaten out of him, wrangled up by the thugs, chained to a table in what I hope isn’t the Earl’s pleasure dungeon, and gets a healthy dose of torture. The Earl’s obsession with Ragnar is bordering on in-fucking-sane; he blames Rollo for Ragnar not being the one lying prostrate and bloody in his cheerful dungeon of death, is feeling really bitter about it, and we get this in full force as the Earl splits Rollo’s mouth open.
As if he can sense it, Ragnar is in a bitter fucking horrible mood. The friend from earlier comes back in horrible straights, he was apparently visited by Siggy in secret and told of Rollo’s torture. They all know it’s a trap, but the wheels are already turning in the beloved blonde’s head because he’s angry. He’s really, really angry. He tells Floki to go into town and challenge the Earl to a duel, man to man, and if he doesn’t accept, Odin won’t let his disgraced ass into Valhalla.
That’s the note we end on, with the promise of a delightful bloodfest and hopeful death or severe maiming of the Earl and the hopefully still alive life of Rollo.
I…. I don’t even have words for how intense that episode was.
Word, which is why I’m giving this episode an arbitrary rating of 25 out of 25 16 ounce bowls of wound cream (that could double as a pasta paste).