Here’s the scoop: it’s one of those days where you wake up with a headache and your sassypants firmly belted on. I’m just not ready to face the actions of our darling cast of renegades and my head is seriously pounding at the thought – but, because I can’t not watch it week after week, I am here in this word document ready and partially able to provide you with the what’s what and the who’s who of the ever evolving Vikings plot. You guys may think this selflessness is charming, but it’s painful. Don’t worry, though, fair readers! I’m positive I’m not dying!
Speaking of dying….
Nice switch there.
We have a crazy episode to delve into! Filled with battle, bloodshed, and a suddenly-very-adult-and-very-attractive Bjorn! Besides, with an episode named Treachery, you know it’s going to be good.
Our Viking troupe is wandering out Wessex after their successful defeat of the first round of English fighters last week. They happen upon a church in the middle of a field; Athelstan (NAME) muses that it might be Winchester and – if that were the case – it’s a place of great pilgrimage and riches. That seems reason enough to raid, amiright?
Meanwhile, King Ecbert (Linus Roache) consults his counsel. To him, the Vikings appearing on his shores was only a matter of time. After what they did to Northumbria, it seemed a natural progression. Those pagan ruffians are match for them! He served on the court of Charlemagne, the north men have to do more than kill a couple of his men to make him nervous or scared. He orders his men to watch the Vikings without conflict to assess the enemy, like cats keeping an eye on a mousy meal.
From there, we’re taken to Hedeby, Scandinavia. There, bedecked in furs and dripping in jewels, we spy Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick). An angered voice calls her name in the distance and she’s none-too-pleased to see their source of origin. It’s Earl Sigvard of Scandinavia, Lagertha’s husband post-Ragnar split and he has a bone to pick with our finely boned feminist. She’s disrespected him by leaving his side while they have company over, but Lagertha isn’t going to sit around and listen to him insult her son; she calls him out on his inability to love anyone except himself and he backhands her fiercely and then asks for forgiveness as she’s bleeding.
This fucker. I don’t like him.
I’ll excuse your crassness because I agree. He tells Lagertha to cool her fiery jets and to tell her son to step in line, only then will he make sure that he has a lucrative future. Lagertha stays for Bjorn’s sake. How’s she supposed to know that he’s going to a powerful force of nature? Every mother thinks that of their son (possibly with less bloodshed than Bjorn’s case), how’s she supposed to know that you can’t stop the Bjorntrain?
Hey, writers – do you know what is not cool at all? Continually abusing Queen Lagertha in one way or another. Cut that shit out. I really don’t like seeing her getting backhanded, mmkay?
Back in RaidTown, UK – the Vikings are approaching their raid-y target. A monk spies them in the grass and sounds the alarm alerting those within the church to hide the religious gems and for the men, women, and children to safely hide. The Viking group then makes swift work of the soldiers in the town. It’s actually really….uh.
Pathetic. Pathetic is the word you’re looking for.
Yup, that’s the one.
They make their way into the church and are disappointed when they don’t see the treasure neatly lined up in a Viking swag bag. Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) even huffs a little bit, complaining to Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) that he was promised treasure. Don’t worry, Athelstan (George Blagden) is there to betray his former religion! He shows them the cubbyhole that holds the sacramental artifacts and they proceed to loot it. They uncover bones buried with the treasure and Ragnar asks who they belong to, Athelstan explains what a “saint” is and that Christians believe bones can still perform benediction (and then explains what a miracle is), all under the watchful eye of Floki. Weird, they’re really pushing the Floki/Athelstan tension, aren’t they?
Also, they find the townspeople hidden beneath the stables and do what Vikings do.
Killed them? Raped them? Did generally really despicable things to them?
Athelstan finds himself in the monk’s quarters (I’m sure there’s an official word for it) and finds himself transfixed by scripture again; he fingers the parchment and even dabbles with a quill and ink. It’s this kind of wide-eyed wonderment that I miss in Athelstan, so it’s really nice to see that reappear. A monk who was hiding tries to stop Athelstan from de-sanctifying their scripture and by reflex, Athelstan gives him an axe to the heart. Woops!
This has rattled Athelstan immensely. When a priest comes in (that has to win an award for most awful timing!) and starts uttering a prayer for his fallen brethren, Athelstan orders that the priest hide. He doesn’t, he wants to how Athelstan knows their language if he’s one of them. As if on call to catch Athelstan trying to save someone (we can practically hear the “he’s not one of us!” dripping from this scene), Floki appears and drags the man away, leaving Athelstan to stare at the ground to think: Man, raiding was a lot more fun when I wasn’t killing members of the church!
I appreciate them revisiting his connection to the church, though. It wouldn’t be Vikings without Athelstan spiraling down an emotional whirlpool.
Floki takes the priest to King Horik (Donal Logue) and they denounce Christianity in front of him, beat him up, and disrobe him. Oh, then they shoot arrows into him one at a time and torture him. I’m a Christmas and Easter Catholic and this scene even made me really squeamish. When Athelstan uses his body as a shield for the priest, he does it so he can swiftly end the torture that the man is experiencing; he kills him, but it’s hard to say who he was killing him for. This episode is really, really dark. Especially the way the Vikings huff when Athelstan’s ruined their fun.
If there’s one good part of this episode so far, it’s when Ragnar deliberately conceals a child from the eyes of his fellow raiders so they’re not discovered and killed. Also: the look on his face when he first tries yeast bread? Priceless. As he touches and sifts grain through his fingers, we can practically hear the gears turning.
Back in Scandinavia, Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) is pissed that Lagertha would allow her husband to hit her. He wants to know if he’s hit her before and if he plans on hitting her again, he asks her What Would Ragnar Say? It seems as if they’re both really fed up with Earl Sigvard – Bjorn tells Lagertha that if he hits her again, he’ll kill him. You know what? I believe him.
It must seriously kill Bjorn to know that the only reason Lagertha is putting up with Mr. Abusive is for him to grow up in a stable environment.
It kills me and I’m not even a member of their family. Which is good, because then the feelings I’m having for Baby Bjorn – NO, Babe Bjorn – would be totally bizarre and socially frowned upon. Hey Bjorn, if you’re ever in my neighborhood, feel free to send a crow with a message my way.
You know. A tweet or two.
That horrible pun aside, it will be really interesting to see the interaction Bjorn and Ragnar have with each other. Obviously Bjorn loves and misses his father, Lagertha isn’t blind to the fact that her son needs Ragnar in order to thrive and become a worldly legend, but won’t Ragnar become totally jealous at Bjorn’s legacy eclipsing his own?
Oh, there will definitely be tension. The good kind! The kind that develops characters! Ragnar definitely doesn’t enjoy sharing the spotlight, but will his inability to schooch approximately 2 feet to the left to make room for his son overshadow his love for him? Only time will tell. I’m personally super stoked to see the way it ends up.
As long as Earl Sigvard exits stage right immediately.
We’re now taken back to Kattegat, where Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) has given birth to her son and – just as her prediction said – Sigurd is “snake in the eye.” This seems to really unnerve Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig), but Aslaug seems pretty chill with it.
I still want to know if that has any symbolic significance. Did your cursory Google search turn up any results?
Nothing that didn’t directly link me to his Wikipedia page or a site revolving around the symbolism of snakes in dreams.
Because babies can be sort of boring, we’re taken to Wessex where we see King Ecbert bathing.
We’ve seen him bathe in all three episodes so far, what does it mean?
A reoccurring theme! Now all they need is some bizarre snake symbolism and these bathhouse scenes would be a Freudian jackpot. However, he and his comrades are talking about the latest total shutdown in their nation; King Ecbert considers the attack to be a success (??) and is happy that he now knows where the Vikings are. The priest has martyred himself and his fellow compatriots should be prepared to do the same – now, when Athelstan compared King Ecbert to Ragnar last episode, I didn’t really get it…but now, I think I do. Ragnar strives for success and fame for the Vikings/himself in the same way King Ecbert uses religion as motivation.
So, it sort of sucks to be friends with King Ecbert right about now. I’m glad my friends don’t sign me up for death without telling me.
When we head back to the Viking camp, Floki continues to egg on Athelstan by offering him a leatherbound bible and the skeletal hand of “his holy man.” Athelstan might claim to believe in Odin, but Floki isn’t buying it for a second. I get that he’s not cool with Athelstan pretending to be something he’s not, however, stop being such a dick Floki.
King Horik and Ragnar are talking about the land; King Horik loves that it’s filled with treasure, but Ragnar finds it bountiful in another way. As a farmer who was the son of a farmer, whose father farmed before that, he knows fertile ground when he sees it; when he sees England’s plentiful crops and lush fields, he envisions a life for his people that is absent of hunger. Horik likes his way of thinking, though doubtful that the Saxons are just going to allow the Vikings to live there without conflict.
Well, he does have a point.
Elsewhere, Jarl Borg (Thorbjørn Harr) is celebrating his new, second marriage. His toast includes the charming tale of how his first marriage lasted only hours because his brother poisoned the wine, but hey, lightning never strikes in the same place twice, right? Let’s drink a lotta wine! He tastes the wine first, doesn’t keel over, and the festivity commences! Oh, by the way, they’re also attacking Kattegat for breaking the deal.
No one saw this coming.
Only, you know, everyone. Seriously.
Yeah, pretty much every person who watched last week’s episode knew that Jarl Borg was going to attack Kattegat while Ragnar was away with all the able-bodied men in the village.
Speaking of Ragnar, King Ecbert’s sacrificial sheep ride up to him on horseback to get to know each other a little better. Ecbert wants to know how long they intend on staying in the kingdom and is pretty peeved about the attack on their land. Ragnar tells him that it depends on what Ecbert will offer them to leave…or to stay. They seem confused by that second part.
I don’t blame them. Why would King Ecbert give them anything to stay on their land?
Ragnar tells the messenger to tell the king that they want to make peace with him. You know what he says then to really hammer home the let’s be friends notion? “So we don’t have to kill anymore of you.” Ragnar is the worst at making new friends. Seriously.
Well, we pretty much knew that going in. Ragnar is a lot of things, the best friend you could ever ever have is probably not on that list.
Very true. I don’t think he minds, though. He’s known throughout the lands and waters for dominating the hell out of the battlefield and spreading his empire, not baking cupcakes and doing guytalk over a bowl of Viking ice cream. I really like how fascinated Ragnar has become with the land, though. It harkens back to those days when he was just a farmer, before he let power go to his head and allowed his town to become annihilated over broken raid promises. I miss those days.
You know who else misses those days? Bjorn.
We’re taken back to Earl Sigvard’s home, where he’s pretty much making fun of Bjorn in front of the guests because he can. The conversation is drenched in jealousy, because Earl Sigvard is a slimeball who is jealous of a kid and scared of what he’s going to become.
You’d think he’d want to be on his good side, right?
No, no! Because he’s a threat to his manhood.
Bjorn tells Earl Sigvard that he wants to live in a cabin in the woods to discover what’s important in life and what’s essential to living. Earl Sigvard tells him to shove it because no son of his is going to live in a “mountain pigsty.” Ugh. UGH. Creep creep creep creep creep.
In Kattegat, the villagers have noticed the coming boats. Siggy runs to tell Rollo (Clive Standen) about the swiftly approaching fleet and when he looks at it, he goes into Business Mode. He tells Siggy and those watching the boats with him to go to the village and round up any and every individual that can even hold a weapon, they’re under attack. He meets with Aslaug and tells her of the broken agreement, sending her and the boys off to safety from the attack. Ragnar has taken all the best fighting men, leaving common villagers, children, and the elderly to defend the keep. Even Siggy, in her mustard colored tunic, attempts to fight alongside the behemoth Rollo.
He tells her in no uncertain terms that she is not Lagertha, she’s not a shieldmaiden. She goes with Aslaug. She might not be particularly happy about it, but the reasoning is sound.
Man, Rollo should be in Business Mode more often. He should always sling spears.
Unfortunately, Jarl Borg’s fleet lay waste to those in Kattegat, slaughtering the villagers that didn’t retreat to the mountains with Aslaug and Siggy’s group. When Jarl Borg’s complete control of the land is certain, he retreats to where Aslaug and Siggy lay in wait. Though he could have died in glory and assured his place in Valhalla (in my super humble, don’t-know-diddly about the inner workings of Viking religion opinion), he falls back to protect his family and those he loves. That’s legit, Rollo.
We end the episode with Jarl Borg cackling in his new great hall.
Wow…..that episode was….
Amazing? Suspenseful? Really-fuckin’-good? Yeah, I thought so too.
Arbitrary rating for this week?
I’m giving it seven out of eight spears to the heart. It was deep, it was dark, it filled you with conflicting emotions about the protagonists and it filled you with a mixture of dread/excitement for the next step in the story. Honestly, there’s nothing else I could ask for.
What did you guys think?