reviews

Review: ‘Vikings,’ Episode 8, ‘Sacrifice’

Here’s the scoop: all week I’ve been farming like a comical sitcom city slicker farming for the first time and am now imbued with a growing feeling of sickness, culminating in my mom’s homeopathic immune boosting cocktail that has left me slightly woozy and with weirdly numb feet. I’m not necessarily using this as an excuse for my lame/unfunny jokes, but I’m just saying that it might have something to do with me typing this and feeling like I’m rocking on a Viking boat in stormy weather.

Huh, well, if we’re being honest, I wouldn’t want to be you right now.

I’ve always appreciated your support.

 

Let’s get a recap of last week, if my memory serves me right, it was nuts.

Your memory is right!

Last week, we’re introduced to the Northumberland nemeses of the Vikings in the form of King Aelle (Ivan Kaye) and his brother Lord Aethelwulf (IMDB has failed to post the actor’s name, but if you know who he is, let me know!), who are ready to wage total war against the unwelcomed Vikings. Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and co., unwilling to just sit and let themselves die, sneak into Lord Aethelwulf’s camp during the night and destroys his ranks, leading to a kidnapping. What’s the bargaining chip worth, you ask? Two thousand pounds of silver and gold. Of course, since King Aelle isn’t about to roll over and just hand the money over, he sets up the trappiest trap to ever be a trap for the Vikings and it leads to a battle! With bloodshed! The Vikings win and in result for their unwillingness to hand over the cash, Ragnar kills Lord Aethelwulf and sends his body to the city gates like it ain’t no thang. He leaves for Scandinavia much, much richer than he left. And what about Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) and the Lothbrok family back at home? Well, Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig) ventured to Lagertha to ask for a maid position for her and her daughter and Lagertha grants it. If that’s not a major enough bit of action for you, Lagertha also has a miscarriage.

Oh, that’s right. Yeah, that was ridiculously depressing.

Yup. We start off with Ragnar telling Athelstan (George Blagden) that every nine years they travel to the temple at Uppsala to give thanks to the gods for all they’ve done for—WHAT THE HELL HAS HAPPENED TO ATHELSTAN’S HAIR? Oh my word, if you took a dead skunk and stuck it on a balding man with Krazy Glue it’d look better. Oh my freaking word, those baby bangs do not look good on a five head. What are you doing Athelstan? Get a haircut. Please. For the good of impressing the gods and the sensitive sensibilities (do Vikings have those? No? Fine. Think of your fans.) of those around you, get a different haircut. Going for the look of a pubic mushroom is not a good idea.

Do you think you’re overreacting?

You’ve seen it. Do you think I’m overreacting?

Anyway, because Ragnar is really cocky, he wasn’t thinking of going to the ceremony. However, since he lost his unborn child, he plans on making the trek to find what he’s done to anger the gods. After all, it doesn’t take much for the gods to turn on you; it could be as major as renouncing your faith or as minor as a bad tribal tattoo. Ragnar asks Athelstan how Christians deal with such pain, to which Athelstan says that “all sorrows shall pass,” blondie is not buying it. He has a chip on his shoulder. Athelstan gets invited to the Viking religion ritual, which he seems slightly hesitant at, but when Ragnar says that he can stay there and worship his own god and be there all alone and totally burst his bubble, BE THAT WAY, Athelstan accepts the offer to go.

We then cut to Lagertha accepting tributes for the gods from the villagers while Ragnar sits behind her on a stoop and drinks beer, which is such an Al Bundy move. Thing is, Lagertha, not standing for such a bitchy mood from her husband (she’s no Peggy), goes to see what’s up with his mead slinging ass and is met with a pretty snarky husband. He informs her that he wants to ask the gods why they made him Earl if they were so quick to take away his son; Lagertha tells him that they can always have more sons and Ragnar drinks more beer and utters “have we not tried?” Meanwhile, Bjorn (Nathan O’Toole) is being forgotten somewhere, crying, and planning a way for Ragnar to notice him.

What the hell got in Ragnar’s cereal this morning?

He’s cocky and quickly turning into the textbook definition of a rudey two shoes.

Athelstan, wanting to get some god time in before setting off on another adventure he probably didn’t ask for, goes to pull his bible out from under the floorboards. Symbolically, it falls apart. I wonder what this could mean.

Away we go to Uppsal! The group is well on their way, we’re treated to some lovely shots of the scenery and Floki’s (Gustaf Skarsgård) overuse of kajal eyeliner (I had no idea looking like an extra from The Crow was in.). I’m feeling pretty bad for the ladies, venturing up those steep mountains in maxi dresses cannot be fun. Everyone seems to be stoked that they’ve reached the temple, I think I even saw Ragnar crack a smile. Athelstan doesn’t share the sentiment and has a bad, bad feeling about this, Scooby Doo.

The ceremonial chamber is extremely intimidating and the goda (that’s a Viking priest, donchaknow – actually, I just found out. Thanks, Google!) initiates the Lothbrok clan with flinging blood onto their face. When he reaches Athelstan he pauses before flinging the blood onto his face, it feels less like blood and more like spit; for some reason, it just seems disrespectful. Athelstan flinches. That said, he’s willing to play the part of a good Viking convert (even if his heart isn’t in it) and walks around to the statues in the room, ~well obviously people believe in Thor, duh, I totes believe in him~. Do you, though? Do you? No, he doesn’t. As he watches his adoptive family go about their prayers, he’s palming his cross.

Lagertha and Gyda (Ruby O’Leary) can be found before the statue of Freya, the Norse goddess of love, beauty, sexuality, and fertility and asks for a son—no, asks isn’t the right word—pleads for a son, “before it’s too late.”

Before it’s too late? Meaning what? Ragnar cannot possibly consider shacking up with someone else other than Lagertha to get himself a son, right? I mean, she’s the baddest bitch in all of freakin’ Scandinavia!

Has that ever stopped anyone? Let’s remember, someone once cheated on Halle Barry. Anything can happen (canonically, it does. Let’s just hope the History Channel continues skewing the actual historical texts for good television.).

Ragnar has babies on his mind like crazy, so we kind of see where this is going. His little dealio with Odin only gets fishy when he mention a sacrifice that he’s planned in honor of him. After he sees and accepts his totally worthy sacrifice (cut to a side glance of Lagertha looking pretty desperate), Ragnar then expects Odin to answer the question of who will bear him his next son. OH HELL NO. That’s it, I’m shipping Rollo/Lagertha. Rolagertha. Lagerollo. One of those names is happening, because Ragnar is being such a little punk and I am not appreciating his shit.

Isn’t Rollo/Siggy happening?

Oh. Right. DANG. Back to the “find Lagertha a worthy man” drawing board, I guess.

Speaking of Rollo (Clive Standen), he’s walking around shirtless and this should be pertinent to your pectoral interest because his abdominals are worthy of their own effigy within that ceremonial chamber. Yowza. I mean, he’s doing more than just being a babe, because that comes naturally to him; he asks Helga (Floki’s lover, played by Maude Hirst) if she’s ever been to the ceremony before. When she replies that she hasn’t, he tells her that every story she’s ever heard of the place and the events that happen pale in comparison to the actual events that occur. Floki, his eyeliner still being another wonder of an ancient world says that he’s hungry. Helga grins and says “you’re always hungry,” Floki can never not have the last word and grins, “oh yes, but not always for food.” OH HO HO, I think he means sex, guys!

The festival outside is revving up and Bjorn excitedly asks Ragnar when the real festivities begin and when do they get to see the sacrifices. I would say that we have no idea what Ragnar is sacrificing, but then we see a cut shot of Athelstan looking wide eyed and blissful and I know exactly where this is going.

Woooow. So Ragnar is not only about to bone someone other than Lagertha, he also plans on sacrificing Athelstan? Seriously, was there a bug in his mead, because he’s quickly becoming the least likable person in camp Vikes’a’Lot.

It gets sadder when Gyda asks Lagertha if she’s ever been to the festival and if her wishes were granted. Lagertha looks over her shoulder to Bjorn and Ragnar and said that yes, she’d been there before and yes, they all were granted. Ugh, Vikings: the series where everything good has to end.

The next morning, Athelstan is roaming around the nonet camp of animal death, being filled with morbid wonderment at all of the different sacrifices lined up for the gods. He stands around one particularly large caged area in the center and asks Ragnar what it’s there for. Obviously, it’s for humans. Visibly disturbed, he walks around the camp, only to be heckled by the Viking troop into drinking mead and eating some magic mushrooms. Poor, poor little Rudolph, didn’t people tell you about druggie reindeer games? Notably, Thyri (Elinor Crawley) looks like she’s really feeling Athelstan. I don’t know, he might be into it. It will depend on whether or not he remembers those shroomy sex scenes he saw his bros tangled up in.

I’d rather be out in Viking Woodstock than in the Lothbrok tent, where Lagertha asks Ragnar to stay with the family for the evening instead of going out to the party – he doesn’t seem pleased. Later on, Athelstan sees Ragnar out and about, but he’s not entirely sure what he’s seeing as he’s tripping balls while he looks at all these crazy Viking orgies and looks like he wants to puke. It’s a sensory overload, you can’t hold it against him. He falls on the ground like the lovable damsel he is and Leif picks him up, stating that the gods will give him strength to stand on his own. Ah, Leif. Such a good guy. (he’s going to die, it’s the way it works. BAM, KNIFE TO THE GUT.).

Gyda then appears and tell Athelstan that she’s been waiting for him. When she goes up to kiss him, you know, you know, that he’s having a major religious meltdown inside, because hot diggity damn, this kiss is almost like he’s not a virgin anymore. I’ll give Athelstan the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s unlike anyone who has ever gotten to first base, making him a good kisser during his first makeout session, but only because those puppy eyes are endearing, so even if you felt a weird tongue mark on the side of your face, you’d pull back and say, “aw. You’re trying.” She invite him back into the tent and ohhh man, he follows.

Wait, is Athelstan about to give up his card? Wouldn’t he want to…remember it?

 

He might be more comfortable if he didn’t.

We zip back to Lagertha, who is lying awake because she’s thinking of all the places her husband’s Little Ragnar can be right now. Gyda approaches her and announces her menstruation; Lagertha holds her for “the last time” as now she’s a woman and will have to be strong on her own. I’m feeling so bad for our flawfree blonde badass lady, here. Her husband is going off trying to find more fertile land for his seed (so to speak) and now both of her children are officially grown. It’s not even fair.

I’VE GOT SO MANY FEELINGS FOR THIS.

Also, new things I’ve learned: shrooms are conducive for sponge baths, if Thyri giving Athelstan one is any indication. He asks her why she’s giving him one and she replies, “don’t you understand? I have to.”

Do you really have to give someone a sponge bath?

Ehhh, this is all probably going to relate back to Siggy using her daughter as a bargaining chip with Ragnar’s BFF to get closer to Ragnar and usurp his power. Sorry, I just don’t trust her.

It’s the next morning and the orgiastic carnage is rough. This scruffy dude sneaks into the priests’ abode and throws a rooster into their home, they proceed to beat him before realizing that it’s a king they’re beating up on. Oh, sorry, King Horik (Donal Logue), you could have woken us up in a normal way.

The priests should have known better, though! It’s sacrifice day! Athelstan watches as Viking sacrifices start saying goodbyes to their loved ones. Ragnar calls him over to meet King Horik, who is super impressed with Ragnar and sings his praises like an excellent pillow fluffer. Ragnar knows King Horik’s deal, too, and talks about how  impressive his ascension to the throne was (killing uncles, being ruthless, all things Ragnar looks up to). Because he honors him so, Ragnar offers his service to the King (Floki seems stunned, he didn’t get the memo) – accepted, obviously. King Horik wants to know what he can do in return; since Ragnar can only fill the hole of the loss of his son with gold and silver, he requests to join forces with King Horik so they can have larger raids and also raid farther away. Intrigued, the King doesn’t seem to believe that it’s possible there are lands beyond England.

This is where Athelstan comes in. On his missionaries, he ventured forth to Frankia. King Horik asks if he’s still a Christian, to which Athelstan mutters “no.” Ragnar is too busy being stoked that his idea for further raiding was accepted, that he doesn’t even notice that his priestly pet is looking pretty put off.  Not that Ragnar cares, it’s not like Athelstan is about to birth him a son or anything. His stock is useless.

Not going to let Ragnar live this episode down, huh?

Noooope.

I will say, though, that Athelstan is probably safer there than Rollo is when he saunters into Siggy’s hut like he wasn’t just bedding every bit of lady flesh in the general festival area. She says, with her arms crossed, “I thought we came here together.” “We are together. Why do you keep pestering me?” Ohhhh, I dunno Rollo, because you have the sexual standards of a virile bonobo and because your excuse for cheating is “one day I’ll be a great man and you’ll regret leaving me, just because I sleep with other women.” That attraction I felt for you is so gone, dude. You’re like those guys you find attractive and then they open their mouths and the illusion is broken.

Siggy knows how to play the game. She’s been in it longer than the rest of these people and can manipulate an ego like a champ. Rollo continues stuffing his craw and she notes that if he’s really going to be a great man, he should be meeting with King Horik right about now. After all, that’s where Ragnar is, probably boasting about his exploits. You could have been there too, but you were too drunk. I could have told you, but you weren’t here. You need me, so don’t fuck this up, jerk.

I can’t tell. Do you like Siggy or not?

Meh, with power comes the gift (/curse?) of manipulation. She’s had to do what she’s had to do to get by, so whaaat if she loses her soul in the process? I do respect how he handed Rollo his ass on a platter as a side dish to those hunks of bread though.

King Horik and Ragnar are bonding over some chess pieces when King Horik lays out the first thing he wants Ragnar to do for him. He’s pledged his honor, it’s only right that he starts right away. King Horik tells him about an Earl that’s acting up and he wants Ragnar to go there as his emissary to put him in his place (I guess “diplomatic representative” means “mass murderer”). Ragnar is totally chill with this plan, mo’ power mo’ money.

MO’ PROBLEMS, RAGNAR. Listen to Biggie!

Ragnar only listens to himself.

Athelstan is taken by the seer (John Kavanagh) to the ceremonial chamber and looks quite uneasy, especially as the seer just leaves him at the door. The Viking priest is waiting for him and verifies his back story, that Athelstan used to be a Christian priest and worshipped Jesus Christ. He then asks if Athelstan is still, in his heart, a Christian. Athelstan shakes his head slightly, “no.” The Viking priest orders him to say it again and Athelstan, stronger, says “no.” Once more, the priest needs to believe it, and Athelstan whispers “no.” The priest asks him if he knows why he’s there and Athelstan’s blank stare shows that he doesn’t. Oh, don’t worry, the priest will tell him. He was brought as a sacrifice to the gods.

I thought Ragnar and Athelstan were close? You don’t kill your best friend without at least letting him know first.

Keep on diggin’ that hole, Ragnar!

Ragnar’s plan backfires as the seer announces that Athelstan isn’t an acceptable sacrifice because, even if he just pulled an Apostle Peter, he has not given up Jesus Christ. Ragnar whispers into Athelstan’s ear, “looks like your god finally came through for you.” NO THANKS TO SHITTY FRIENDS. The seer announces that he needs another sacrifice or else this shit ain’t going to work, and the gods, in their anger, will punish everyone. Floki looks like he’s about to stand up, but luckily Helga tells him to sit his ass down because if Floki dies I’m jumping off this History Channel ship.  The one who takes the fall is Leif. LEIF, who says he will gladly sacrifice for the lives and for the good of all his friends. Ragnar, you’re such a dick. This is your fault.

We’re then taken outside, the festival is going to begin. Ragnar stands with his family, holding Bjorn and Gyda close to him.

How sweet that he holds his children like he wouldn’t throw them under the sacrifice bus if it meant more power for him. No one is believing you, Ragnar.

We’re given a lovely montage of scenes of the ceremonial preparations. The goats are being tied, the men are being sponged, the roosters are being wrangled, the pigs being prepared to be bacon, the melancholic music is playing, everything is being brought forth. Then, the death starts. Blood running everywhere. Leif makes eye contact with his friends for the last time before approaching the bloodied table. Just like that, the vessels of blood are collected and we’re treated to the dead body of Leif and the eight other men that were sacrificed.

That’s it?

That’s it, broski.

Geez….well. How about that arbitrary rating?

It’s kind of hard to be into a show when the main character keeps making decisions that pull you out of it, so I consider this episode a downgrade from the last one, even if it had great parts. I’ll give it 39/50 dried hallucinogenic mushrooms.

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27 thoughts on “Review: ‘Vikings,’ Episode 8, ‘Sacrifice’

  1. Unfortunately, if you look up Ragnar’s and Lagertha’s actual historical bio’s, you’ll see that he divorces her and marries someone else….So I’m not looking forward to watching the show if it goes down this path…

    • I know! It’s such a bummer, especially since, historically, the woman from the preview (Aslaug) and Ragnar have four children (sons! Ivar the Boneless, Björn Ironside, Hvitserk and Ragnvald) together after the raging separation he and Lagertha have. I mean, I’ve known that their relationship ends according to legend since the first episode, but that doesn’t mean I like it. haha

      • Great review!
        According to those sagas Lagertha only gives Ragnar one son, Friedleif.
        So, Björn, the son he has in the series. I think it’s safe to say he’s Björn Ironside. In that case, he will have some amazing adventures (really, we are talking Africa, capturing Italian cities, fighting with the Greek, starting a new dynasty of Swedish kings).

        They are making their own saga. According to some sagas Lagertha kills Ragnar, according to others he lives the rest of his days happily married to Aslög (who we will meet in the next episode!). In some sagas there is no Lagertha, there’s a Tora – who dies, then he meets Aslög. Some sagas says he was killed in England.

        So things will probably turn out in the most television friendly way 🙂

      • I see! Thanks, resident Viking lore expert! I have much to learn, it seems.

        I actually like your theory about them making their own path with the mythologies instead of relying on various (and varying) legends, because if they took from a million different legends and accounts, it would end up very confusing instead of a coherent storyline. From a TV standpoint, I actually think you’re right about them not jumping to cut Lagertha out of Ragnar’s life (and vice versa) because she’s a fan favorite and it would just be ridiculous on their part. I really hope you’re right!

        Also, who knew Bjorn would turn into such a badass? I guess he got Ragnar’s drive to conquer.

  2. Yeah! I was looking for reviews of this series and stumbled upon your blogs one or two episodes ago, good blog otherwise too!

    Being Swedish myself helps! Björns actual grave is on an island 7 miles away from where I live in Stockholm.

    That’s the way it seems to me so far. And I really like the result, it’s like an homage or something. It would be impossible to get everything right, because that would be impossible. There are many different sagas. Historians now seems to think that there were two actual Ragnars that were smashed together to make a better story.

    I think Ragnar will cheat on Lagertha. But realize his mistake. Only question then is – will Lagertha forgive him? And will she be wearing a knife when finding out? 🙂

    • Wow! Well, thanks! Truth be told, I’m slightly worried about what to write about after Vikings is over. I want to keep my (newly found) readership happy and reading. The pressure is on! But, if you have any ideas for what you’d like to read, I’d be more than happy to try to provide it.

      Two Ragnars? Actually, that wouldn’t surprise me. Ragnar’s a pretty big deal from what I can tell, I’m sure they would want to fluff up his reputation as much as possible to keep his legend as large/intimidating as possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s happened more times in history than we think! Question! In Sweden, do they teach you a lot about the criss-crossing lore of the Vikings, or is it something you’ve picked up on your own? Curiosity, more than anything.

      I think you’re totally right about the infidelity. Let’s just hope Lagertha doesn’t pull a Lorena Bobbit on him!

      • Seems to me you did just fine before the Vikings started on air! Don’t worry. No ideas, I like the way you write and think about the series. My perspective of things must be influenced by me actually knowing a little about the Vikings.

        They do teach some of that stuff in the schools and the kids get to go to like burial mounds, rune stones and excavation sites. But it’s not considered a “cool” subject so few pay any real attention. Many boys tend to go trough a viking “phase” though. There’s much great litterature and even comics, luring a few more people in. Most Swedes have read this 300 page classic viking book.

        Some stuff everyone knows, like the most popular gods, that a Swedish Viking “found” America ( 🙂 ) and so on. Wearing Thors hammer as jewelry is not uncommon. Many of their traditions live on. Much of the stuff we do on Christmas stems from their traditions. Jul, as we call Christmas, has been celebrated since probably before the Vikings here in Scandinavia.

        Some Viking things are so much part of just living here you forget about them: I can literally see burial mounds from my balcony. There’s like 600 rune stones within 3 miles. My grandparents live in Uppsala, they found an viking axe in their backyard.

        I think I “re-discovered” my Viking interest thanks to this series! It’s fun to learn.

      • That’s really cool! Even if it’s considered a “nerdy” subject, I think it’d be really awesome to learn about. It seems like such a rich/deep history. I remember when I was studying in Germany and I was a stone’s throw (or a Thor’s hammer throw? 😉 ) away from these crazy old monuments and bits of history. It was totally surreal for me, considering the oldest thing in my neighborhood is probably a house build in the 1950s and the only thing I’ve found in the backyard are my dog’s buried toys!

      • Another fun review. Needed some break from whatever I was not doing, so read the rest of the reviews too. What can I say, I like your style brah.

        According to everyone’s favorite “babe” [url=http://screencrush.com/history-vikings-clive-standen-rollo-interview/]there is plenty of future potential[/url] from ravaging Europe to voyaging to Canada. Because Vikings like free healthcare, that’s why.

        I got one q though. With thousands of series and everyone else fighting over your demographic like voracious wolves, how did you end up writing recaps for “Vikings” of all things?” Because its a kickass show.. but you did not know that.

        Whatever the reason, keep doing it *thumbsupsmiliethatisnothere* ,

      • Ah, was this your original post? Sometimes WP acts funny and comments show up late. To answer your question as to why I started reviewing Vikings…well, not sure. I had an interest in watching it after seeing the trailers and figured “what the hell?” I was partially interested in how historically accurate the History Channel was going to be (about as much as I expected), but it also looked like it’d be fun entertainment – who can say no to that? I’m glad you’re enjoying the reviews, though! I appreciate your support!

  3. So I’m hoping that we get something totally different then the actual legends. Seeing as how they have the first son Bjorn already…maybe they already planned on tweaking with what actually happens. I’d rather that they go a different way with it. I’m not about to get into another tv series where the great hero goes on a cheating rampage while everyone agrees with it…

  4. Oooh just saw the preview again for the next episode…and it looks like Ragnar is saying that he’s sorry and that it won’t happen again to his son. Hmmm, maybe his son catches him having an affair. There’s hope that they do decide to change the story a bit 😀

    • Can you imagine how awkward that will be, if that’s what’s happening? Sure, Bjorn is used to seeing sex errywhurr in the Viking villages, but to be walking around and to see Ragnar boinking someone who isn’t his mom? PASSING SOME JUDGMENT, DAD.

  5. I totally wrote a good post and now its gone in the void of the internet.

    Replacer:

    Well damn. Good review, I like it.

    • Jeez! Leif AND Floki? I’m being spoiled by this backstage snipbit. I really like these little sections, though – it kind of lets the lore be explained a little better than it usually would be in the actual episode. I wish they showed these instead of commercials!

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