When I woke up this morning, I knew something was in the air. Have you ever had that feeling? You can feel it in your room and in your bones, something is about to change. After rolling out of bed, seeing a ghostly image in my eggs where the sunny sides up looked like two giant eyes and the egg whites formed a mouth agape (it looked like this :0, for those of you who have never experienced omens in your eggs), and adding milk to my normally black coffee, the feeling of abnormality could no longer be ignored. It took me a while to figure it out, but then it dawned on me. Today marks the end of an era, my readers. The finale of Vikings is upon us, which will plummet us into a drought of sweaty, beefy, beautiful Viking men and women killing and plundering in the name of power – until next year, of course, assuming that this finale doesn’t disappoint us into swearing off this show forever.
It’s been so good, though. There is no way that they’d drag us through the mud and cleat-stomp our dreams, right?
You clearly don’t know how television storylines work: when people are loving the direction a series is going, it’s apropos to completely destroy the beautiful thing you’ve got going. This episode, I’m just expecting Athelstan to shave his head and get an ugly skull tattoo or Lagertha to be killed by a rampaging Santa Claus seeking revenge. Or, maybe I’m just keeping low expectations to be pleasantly surprised and jazzed for the continuation of the series. Who can say?
I see your point. I prefer to be optimistic, though – people live longer when they’re happy.
Wrong, but keep living those dreams. Anyway, let’s get to the recap of episode 8, “Sacrifice.” After Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) is informed of the miscarriage of his child, he takes his family to the recurring nine year sacrificial fest in honor of the gods at the Uppsala shrine. He wasn’t going to bother showing up if it weren’t for the slight of his “next son” being taken from him, because who cares about Lagertha’s (Katheryn Winnick) feelings? Sacrificial animals and people in tow, Ragnar and co. head to the ceremonial site. During this time, Athelstan (George Blagden) starts having major hair- and lifestyle regrets – even if he keeps palming his cross, every time he asks “Are you there God? It’s me, Athelstan,” the replies of “yeah, bro. Wassup?” get weaker and weaker. I hear mead’ll do that. Before all the bloodshed goes down, the Vikings are righteously boogieing down with orgies, alcohol, and hallucinogenic mushrooms, but before you know it, it’s time to gather around the butcher table and make the gods pay attention to the Vikings’ cries. Where’s Ragnar in all of this? When Ragnar isn’t chatting up Swedish kings, he’s lusting after other women, ruining his marriage, and throwing his best friend under the bus by means of a surprise nomination to be a sacrifice (I’m sure he’s as broken up about it as you are, Athelstan).
Don’t worry, though, Former Priest Fans! Because Athelstan hasn’t completely given his soul over to the Viking gods, he’s not seen as a worthy sacrifice to Odin. Unfortunately, Leif (Diarmaid Murtagh) offers himself as the replacement sacrifice and the episode ends with him hanging by his toes in some very disturbing blood draining ritual.
Wow, I forgot about how crazy fucked up that episode was. Why was Ragnar being such a jerk?
It’s been coming. You know when your misogynistic pig (does that mean it’s okay to call him a Babe? Ha…hahaha) of a brother is more likable than you are, you’ve got a problem.
We open in the turf of Jarl Borg (Thorbjørn Harr), the thorn in the side of King Horik (Donal Logue) and keeper of a name that’s extremely fun to say (I have been using “Earl” most of the time, but to clarify and avoid people yelling at me, Jarl in this case, is more fun to say). Ragnar, being the King’s new errand boy (errand man, sorry. He’s a step or two above a page.) is off to tell Jarl Borg to mind his manners, eat his greens, and stop fucking around King Horik’s territory. Jarl Borg, asserting his dominance, makes our beloved Vikings stand in the waiting area before his meeting chamber, keeping them cold and wet. Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) and Rollo (Clive Standen) whine that it’s no way to treat guests, no matter who they are, because we all know how charming Rollo is in his bedside manner. Eventually, Jarl Borg summons them around the campfire and we get to see Baby Bjorn (Nathan O’Toole), looking like a wet rat, an adorable wet rat. Jarl Borg informs them that if they’re there as the King’s emissaries, they can go tell the King that he’s not moving – it’s his land, he wants it back, and that’s that. Sounds simple enough.
Ragnar says that King Horik wants to make peace, not war, but Jarl Borg is just not having it. If he wants peace, give him back the land and then they can practice singing kumbayah in tune. Beforehand? No way. Our head Viking starts antagonizing Jarl Borg, saying that if his intent is to try to humiliate the King, why doesn’t he just fight him? After all, the King wouldn’t say no. Intrigued, Jarl Borg approaches Ragnar and compliments his ginormous balls, stating that he’s heard all about his various bloodbath exploits and is pretty impressed. Even if Ragnar’s company isn’t happy that their hands in their Earl’s success isn’t acknowledged (in fact, you can practically feel the sharpened edges of Rollo’s scowl), they accept the dry clothes and ale offered to them. Since they’re going to meet on the morrow to discuss politics further, Jarl Borg dismisses the lot.
Now we’re back at home base and around the dinner table seating Lagertha, Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig), Athelstan, Gyda (Ruby O’Leary), and Thyri (Elinor Crawley). Everyone seems pretty concerned about Lagertha, who hasn’t eaten for three days and is looking more distracted than usual – it must be Athelstan’s hair, which is still looking absolutely tragic. Attempting to humor the lot, Lagertha takes a spoonful of food. She states that she has fears (sadly, not follicle) and soothing them isn’t going to come from food. Siggy suggests visiting the seer (John Kavanagh), but Lagertha doesn’t seem keen on that considering her dwindling relationship with the love of her life. “Sometimes it’s best not to know your fate.” Someone get this girl a bag of Cheetos and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. STAT.
That’s breakup food. We don’t know that they’re breaking up! Every relationship has some ups and downs, for all we know, mondo non-talking, no-sex fights happen on the biannual bases.
Sure, right, okay. You’re right. I need to take a deep breath, grab that pint of B&J for myself, and continue.
Over breakfast, Ragnar tells Jarl Borg that King Horik is willing to pay to get him to give up his luscious land, but Jarl Borg informs the crew that the land is priceless, which is why the King doesn’t want to give it back to him. Rollo, always one to make a weirdly poignant point about a situation that also reflects upon his own mental state, says that “every piece of land has a price, like every human.” Jarl Borg tells them that in every piece of land on earth lies precious minerals, his land happens to be rife with them, so this whole “drop the land-fight” stuff isn’t going to fly; the only price he’s willing to accept is King Horik’s head. Get it? Because then the dude will be dead and he’ll have his land. Win/win!
But, there is a way for Jarl Borg to bend a bit: if King Horik acknowledges that the land belongs to Jarl Borg, Jarl Borg will lease the land out to the King during his lifetime OR if they defer the ownership aspect and share the mineral bounty. Jarl Borg asks if this is acceptable grounds for negotiation, which Rollo accepts, even though Ragnar says that he hasn’t been given the rights to negotiate in the King’s stead. Ragnar huffs at his brother while Jarl Borg huffs at Ragnar – how did King Horik actually expect a deal to be made if he only came onto his land with demands? You know, this guy makes a pretty good case. I wouldn’t be down with this scenario, either. He’s more understanding than I am, though, and proposes an idea to Ragnar. One of Ragnar’s men should take the terms he’s offered to the King and lay out the possible ideas. Ragnar and his men are welcome to stay at his village until word gets back. There is a condition, because all deals have one, and that is that one of Ragnar’s men stays with Jarl Borg as a form of security.
Seems like a pretty nice guy, all things considering.
Agreed. He even invites them to visit the legendary ash tree, which never loses its leaves despite the season and is said to hold up the sky.
Ragnar volunteers Rollo to stay behind and not see the tree and Floki is sent to deliver word to King Horik. The rest of them follow their guide on horseback to the tree. Casually, Jarl Borg announces that it looks like rain. Tut tut tut! I sense some symbolism! Something’s about to go down!
Back at the village, Lagertha travels heavily cloaked to the seer and confides that she fears for the safety of her husband. She’s had strange and disturbing dreams, where dark and monstrous forms haunt her every move; what do they want of her? The seer tells her that nothing can dispel them until they’ve taken what they’ve come for. “My life?” Lagertha asks, but no, it’s something “far more important.” Is it Ragnar’s life? The seer has had enough of the bullshit drama always circulating the camp and even though he doesn’t have eyes, we know they’re rolling. “Why must you all rouse me up from bed to remind me of the darkness of life? Why doesn’t anyone just come over to hang out, you know? What happened to those times when we had pizza and talked about how cute boys are? But no, you just stop calling. Also, your husband isn’t going to die, but he is dipping his toes into water that he shouldn’t be.”
Straight from the script, huh?
That part didn’t make it out of the editing room.
Jarl Borg and Rollo are bonding by the fire. Jarl Borg asks how Rollo and Ragnar get along, Rollo lies and says that they get along just fine, thanks. Jarl Borg tells a story about his relationship with his own brother. They shared everything! Battlefields, mead, women, etc etc, you know how it goes. Everything was rosy until election time came, when his brother poisoned the cups of every individual in the room in order to cement his place in power. The only reason Jarl Borg still stands is because his wife drank from the cup first. Although his brother denied it, Jarl Borg blinded him and burned him alive – that sums up what he knows about love between brothers.
“Ragnar would never do such a thing.”
“Oh, of course not! Your brother’s a great man. Your brother’s a great warrior.”
Are you taking liberties again?
Nope, that is the scripted manipulative masterpiece that is Jarl Borg. Rollo tells him that he’s a great warrior, too, but there is a bit of scoff in Jarl’s voice as he says, “I’m sure you are. And yet…I’ve never heard of you.” GOLD.
The tree-going camp is nearing their destination when one-eye and remaining blonde dude spot Aslaug (played by the stunning Canadian model Alyssa Sutherland) bathing in a waterfall. They’re quickly caught and chastised by her very sassy, weapon-wielding watchers. The two men tell the women to halt their assault because they’re guests of Jarl Borg, which they do, and they start to be on their way when Aslaug confronts them about their peeping Tom predilections. She says that Earl Ragnar owes her a personal apology that may or may not involve his Little Ragnar.
Ragnar isn’t pleased with the guys when they head back to camp. They were supposed to be fishing not getting an eyeful of the future carrier of a Ragnar baby. They tell him that she was hot, they were powerless! Earl Lothbrok asks who she is to dare associate privacy with her nakedness, but in their hormonal kerfuffle they didn’t really catch her name. Intrigued, Ragnar announces that it must be a test from the gods, after all, it isn’t that often that a naked woman demands his attention – but, you know, he has a pretty rockin’ babe at home that he ignores on the regular, he needs to make extra sure that this extra piece is worth it. In order to test her wits, he tells them to tell her to arrive to their camp neither dressed no undressed, neither hungry nor full, and neither alone nor in company.
Oh, oh, oh! This riddle sounds familiar!
We’ll have to wait for the answer. Right now, Siggy asks Lagertha what the seer told her and Lagertha confirms that Ragnar is in danger. Siggy stands and approaches her mistress, hoping that Lagertha is going to announce that she’s worried about Rollo, which would make Siggy happy, as it would prove that he’s actually getting out of the pouty corner and down to conquering business. Instead, Lagertha says that he’s in danger of himself.
And as Aslaug approaches the camp, dressed in a net, holding an onion (it’s supposed to be carried in her mouth, but I suppose they wanted her to look sexy and not like a roasted pig), and with a dog as her companion, I can see where Lagertha would start worrying about Ragnar’s lack of self-control. She’s fine as hell and clever? Also, she has an amazingly cute dog. Can we just look at him instead of Ragnar? Skeezy and turned on, legendary warrior Earl Ragnar offers her a bite of his salted fish. She declines and enters into the camp. Aslaug introduces herself and agrees to accompany the men (with her own guards as well) to the ash tree.
Stay classy, Ragnar. What is Bjorn doing in all this? Shouldn’t he be slapping a chastity belt onto his father right about now?
Don’t you worry about Bjorn. He was giving his father the deathiest death glare that he could muster, it’s almost like he was channeling Lagertha.
Our beautiful blonde badass is working on the loom when she hears Siggy cough; being the concerned motherbear that she is, Lagertha asks what’s wrong and is dutifully informed of the Siggy’s trip to a relative, who had to bury her young son after he recently became violently and fatally ill. Visibly shaken, Lagertha leaves the increasingly ailing Siggy to wander the streets and food markets, because we all know how fantastic hygiene back then was and how this will absolutely not have any horrible consequences. While wandering in a food preparation area, Siggy faints.
There are a lot of words to describe what’s happening over at base camp. None of them are good.
In an attempt to lighten the mood (or build dread, whichever), we’re finally at the legendary tree. Bjorn asks no one in particular if, since it’s so old and so strong, it’s the tree Odin hung himself on. “Why not?” Aslaug notes, “anything’s possible.”
Except having a stable relationship in this time period, I guess.
Ragnar and co. might be enjoying nature and drinking around a roaring bonfire, but back at home a plague has descended. Siggy the Petri Dish brought it over from the town of her relative. Siggy begs Lagertha to look after her daughter before tending to her, Lagertha looks up to see Athelstan above the continuously paler Thyri.
I’m starting to understand what you mean when you say nothing good in this show lasts.
There is some good and it comes in the form of the littlest male Lothbrok. Back at Camp Infidelity, Bjorn has taken his mug of alcohol to a far away judgmental corner. One Eye comes up and asks Bjorn what’s the matter, Bjorn, looking back over at his father, says that he’s making a total fool of himself. Mr. Eyepatch says that there’s no harm in a grown man seeking comfort in a beautiful woman and says that one magical day, Bjorn will do the same thing. He may call it harmless fun, a little flirting, but Bjorn isn’t an idiot – he sees Aslaug running her fingers over Ragnar’s lips and watches them having ocular intercourse with each other. “If Lagertha were here, she’d cut his balls off.”
And that’s why this kid is officially the best boy Lothbrok.
Rollo, during his maybe-lady-maybe-dying at home and his brother hooking up with a princess, is feasting back at Jarl Borg’s abode. He’s a very special guest, Ragnar is very important. Not impressed with Ragnar always being the center of attention, Rollo harrumphs into his cup. Jarl Borg asks what woman he would like to spend the night with – one? Two? Three? Ah-ah-ah, it’s like a perverted Sesame Street lesson. For the first time in his life, Rollo turns down the ladies. Jarl Borg seems as impressed as I am and then asks what Rollo really wants, as if the answer weren’t totally and completely obvious.
Yeah, totally! A pool full of Swedish supermodel princesses, medals praising his honor, a diving board made out of solid gold, and many, many, many kegs of alcohol. Did I mention glory? Yeah, lots of that.
Somehow I don’t think that’s what he’s going to get. What about Floki? Your love affair with that loon hasn’t been as apparent as it usually is.
It’s still kicking, don’t you worry. It just took half the episode for Floki to reach King Horik’s territory. When we meet up with him, he’s conversing about the finer points of Fenrir mythology (pre-attacking children in the Wizarding World). Once they stop giggling about their mutual nerdy interest in such things, King Horik tells Floki that he’s not interested in making a deal. Floki, looking out for his friend, says that, that’s probably not going to work out so well for Ragnar, but King Horik motions to a spider chomping down on a fly that caught itself in the web. King Horik walks away and Floki is starting to understand how this all is going to go down.
Speaking of down, Athelstan is infected with the plague, now. Lagertha feeds him a cup filled with the tears of every fan on Tumblr. Athelstan is great and all, but that’s not the part that gets me. The part that gets me is when Lagertha takes the cup of water to Gyda, who looks like she’s already a foot into the afterlife. “I am going to die,” Gyda tells her mother, who fervently denies that possibility.
Ignorant to all of this, Ragnar learns about Aslaug’s past, if, you know, that’s code for “sucking face in front of Odin’s hanging tree.” Aslaug asks Ragnar why he kissed her and he says that he had no choice. He also had no choice when they decide to bang in the communal tent within earshot of Bjorn. Maybe, one day, Bjorn will understand that erect penises have minds of their own, when he attends several years of Viking counseling with the seer, furthering the seer’s descent into crippling depression. It’s not all death and dying, folks! There’s also some reproduction happening!
The next morning Bjorn approaches his father and tells him that he hates him and he’s disgusting. Grinning, Ragnar says that he couldn’t help himself, but Bjorn is having none of it. He tell his father that he’s going to tell Lagertha, which Ragnar shrugs off. Going further, because Bjorn has a lot of anger after watching his father do the nasty with someone who wasn’t his mother, he says that he supposes Ragnar doesn’t love Lagertha at all, despite what he says and what people think, because people who love each other don’t accidently find themselves balls-deep inside some chick.
Ragnar swears that it won’t happen again, but we all know how well he keeps promises and ugh, I hope this asshole has a royal case of Viking crustaceans nesting down south. The Earl, legit caught with his pants down, tells his son that he loves him and then finds himself in quite the quandary.
Good for Bjorn! You know, I thought he was just a bratty little jerk, but he’s actually a bratty little badass.
A brief glimmer of hope for the future is quickly dimmed when we are taken back to PlagueFest. Dead bodies are everywhere, the population has dropped dramatically, and those who are still alive are mourning their dead loved ones. Siggy, alive and well, uncovers the body of Thyri and devolves into sobbing, mourning, heart-wrenching cries. Lagertha looms over her own daughter, who asks about Athelstan. “He is so weak that he cannot eat,” Gyda tells her mother not to pray for her, but to pray to the gods for him and I’m crushed.
Lagertha watches as the pyres of human bodies are burned and we’re taken back to Camp Unaware-That-Everything-At-Home-Is Dead. Princess Aslaug saunters into the tent hiking up her skirts for a romp with Ragnar, who, after looking in the direction of where his son is laying, tells her no. Disappointed, she leaves the tent and it’s a very, very small victory for the Lothbrok family.
Because even the camera crew is pissed off at Ragnar, Lagertha is again filling our screen. She holds the reign of a sacrificial goat, begging the gods to accept the offering. She then takes the blood and smears it upon her face, looking like she’s about to confront the shadows that have been relentlessly ruining her life. The next morning, it’s announced that the fever has passed. Athelstan rolls over, only to find Gyda non-responsive.
Yes. Athelstan smooths the hair from her face, but her glassy stare is one that probably makes him wish for his old god.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a time of telepathy or cellular service, so Ragnar is pouting by the riverside, as he wasn’t able to have sex with a pretty, pretty princess the night before. Aslaug is about to make his day, though, and approaches him with some very fan-fucking-tastic news. She’s pregnant. He laughs in a way that is both happy and self-pitying.
We see Floki approaching Jarl Borg’s with the not-so-great news, and it’s just in time! Ragnar’s party has also arrived. Reunited. Around the dinner table, Jarl Borg asks Floki what King Horik said pertaining to the deal. Floki, wanting to be invisible, requests to finish eating before spilling the spoiled milk. Jarl Borg asks again and receives the news that there will be no compromises, only the paying off of pesky Jarls, very poorly. Jarl Borg tells Ragnar that his time has been wasted (but a quick camera shot over to Aslaug reminds us that the trip wasn’t totally for naught, because, hey! Sons!) and that the group must leave in the morning, that is, of course, unless Ragnar disavows King Horik.
“Good. War.,” says Floki, who is stuffing his face like he was discussing the weather.
I’m surprised Ragnar didn’t stay for the sole purpose of having all-hands Aslaug access.
Lagertha says goodbye to Gyda and light her pyre on fire as Athelstan looks on. All I want is for Lagertha to take Athelstan, Bjorn, and maybe Siggy and go found a different city, where hopefully things won’t consistently fall further into shit.
That night, Ragnar gives into introspection and slits his hand down the center of his palm, smearing his face with the blood that accumulated. Bjorn awakens from slumber to find one of Odin’s ravens cawing at him, but he stopped learning how to speak crow at the 102 level, so the gist of what he understood was “Ragnar caw caw the caw in caw caw caw.” It was just as confusing for Bjorn. Ragnar starts zombie walking through the building and spreading his bloody hands on the walls like some sort of hackneyed occultist. It all has a purpose, though, he has to see Aslaug once more so he can lay his head upon her abdomen and think of all the shit he’s fucked up with his wandering dick syndrome.
We end the series with Rollo and BFF Jarl Borg conversing about the lack of alternative for war – Ragnar isn’t going to support Jarl Borg, but will he? Together, they can carve out a new kingdom. The death of Ragnar and the start of the Legend of Rollo. Rollo, in a moment that has been building up since the first episode, vows to fight against his brother. He then dramatically looks down into the flames and the credits roll.
That was really, really depressing. Did they re-shoot the ending or were they banking on getting picked up for more seasons? Imagined if it had been cancelled, that would have been the worst ending in the world. There are so many questions and loose threads and plotlines that lead to nowhere, and now we have to wait until next year to get any sort of gratifying closure?
I…I don’t know what to feel.
Me neither, honestly. In terms of ratings, if it were any episode other than the finale, I’d rank it pretty high, like 28 out of 30 wooden bowls of goat blood, but considering the lack of satisfaction I’m feeling, I’m going to have to demote it to a 23/30. The angst and confusion combination post-season finale has never been enjoyable to my fragile emotional state. I will say, though….the episode definitely lived up to the title.
Since I’m in a whirlpool of sappy feelings already, there are some other things I’d like to address.
One: all of you, every single person that has read my Vikings reviews and enjoyed them (or not necessarily, my style isn’t for everyone), have made me so humbled and grateful. The series turned out to be more popular than I could have ever imagined and, although the numbers might seem small to well-established blogs, all the views have rocked my world. I just wanted to say thanks, from the bottom of my heart. You guys are seriously amazing.
Two: I’d like to keep as much as my new found readership as possible! If you’d like to see me recap a particular show, see a type of entry, have any questions about anything, or want to stay updated on things HDD related, drop my a line at or follow my Twitter, Hot Diggity Daffodil’s Facebook page, or send a message to HDD’s very own email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). I promise that I don’t bite! Of course, you can also comment below. I’ve been absolutely loving all the comments lately!
Three: Thank you all again. I know I already said that, but you all are just so fantastic (as if y’all didn’t know that already). It’s been a bumpy ride, sure, yet you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be covering season two in 2014!