It’s that time of the week! It’s the day after humpday, it’s cloudy and dreary outside, and it’s absolutely perfect conditions to grab a glass of wine, a couple cookies, and settle into the couch for some primo Vikings action, especially after the insane and merciless episode last week brought us! Death, a wedding, and a flaying. Now, if that doesn’t sound like a grim and captivating episode, I just don’t know what does. That said, perhaps this week’s episode will help to wrap up some of the loose ends we’ve all been grasping at. What’s up with Floki’s attitude? What’s up with Aslaug’s grim prophecy? How does Lagertha’s hair stay so perfect in the heat of battle? Question, people! So many questions!
We start this episode an indeterminate amount of time later (because who needs consistent timelines?), but we can assume it’s been between four and five months since the death of Jarl Borg via Blood Eagle. Why? Because Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) is in the midst of a very painful childbirth. If we remember her conversation with Siggy last episode, this particular child has been a very painful carry and she foretold of an awkward prophecy revolving around the conception of the child and the possible “monster”-status of the infant. Siggy was understandably perturbed by the conversation, but the obvious pain Aslaug is in during this birth brings more veracity to her visions.
An obviously distraught Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) watches as Aslaug writhes in pain and wrings his fingers together, as Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig) leans over her and attempts to bring her to a mentally more peaceful place. It’s a striking scene Siggy paints, one between life and her family or death through childbirth. Regaining her strength, Aslaug pushes through and delivers a screaming baby boy; however, all is not well – from the look on her face, we can tell that something isn’t quite right with the newborn.
We’ll come back to that, though, because upon the shoreline King Horik (Donal Logue) and his son take Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) and Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) into his confidence. He is pressuring her to hurry her forces to return to King Ecbert’s turf for some revenge, served on a platter and Viking style. Bjorn tells King Horik that her forces will be ready in just the right amount of time; Lagertha smiles at his, because she knows that she did well in raising him.
Cute mother-son moment, for the win!
Porunn (Gaia Weiss) runs up to the group to inform them that Aslaug has given birth to a new son. King Horik congratulates Bjorn on the new brother and, by proxy, congratulates Ragnar for the blessing of the Gods. Lagertha takes the news well, though the flash of hurt over her features isn’t missed. You know what else isn’t missed? The interaction between Porunn and Bjorn – Lagertha picks up on it like my dog picks up on the sound of popping popcorn. “Who are you to my son?” she asks with a face that has to be the mirror image of a father’s face when a sixteen year old approaches a girl to ask her to prom (before a time of text messaging and PG-13 Snapchat, of course).
Approaching his mother, Bjorn defiantly says “She is a servant. A slave. And I am in love with her.”
So…in this situation, Porunn is from the ~wrong side of the tracks, right?
In modern day, I’m pretty sure that’s what it would be like. Not that Lagertha seems to mind (remember, she was not born of noble blood). She smiles at the profession.
Back with Aslaug and Ragnar, Ragnar bites the umbilical cord –
Of course he does.
– and goes to Aslaug’s side. Aslaug silently cries and Ragnar solemnly notes that her prophecy was right – the child is paralyzed from the waist down. In Viking terms, he’s a monster.
Something tells me that Viking culture isn’t particularly friendly to special needs children.
And something else tells me that this poor child will be a giant plot point in the episode. Just a guess.
Lagertha and her shieldmaidens board her boat to set sail for her home in preparation of the upcoming siege. King Horik tells them that the three of them are equals and states that Ragnar needs to come to this revelation sooner than later. Lagertha agrees.
That was a lot more threatening in the teaser.
Editing makes all the difference.
Before she can depart, Siggy runs to Lagertha’s ship to deliver a blanket for warmth. Lagertha asks about the health of Ragnar’s son, but within earshot of King Horik Siggy tells her “nothing,” to which Lagertha remarks upon her loyalty.
Well, Siggy’s definition of Loyalty, anyway.
King Horik storms off in a fit, because all personal matters within Kattegat must be discussed with him. Obviously.
Also on the shoreline, Uncle Rollo is teaching Bjorn the Facts of Raiding through hand-to-hand-to-shield combat. Step one: be half naked. Step two: don’t die stupidly. Step three: remain half naked. Uh…aren’t those the most important steps?
As Lagertha’s ship sails away and Rollo pulls Bjorn up from the ground, he tells the burgeoning young man that his mother is an amazing woman. Bjorn knows; he also knows that Rollo was once in love with her. That said, I’m starting to feel like everyone was in love with Lagertha. I know I would be in her fanclub, because I’m totally not a member already. They talk about the Gods and they talk about love. If they weren’t shirtless and sweaty, I’d say this is a pretty par for the course nephew-uncle conversation.
Something tells me that those two shirtless on a screen is nearly too much for you.
Oh, no. Just enough.
That segues into another scene between Aslaug and Ragnar. Ragnar expresses his desire to kill the child, as he will “die anyway.” You can’t really believe what he’s saying though, because his voice is cracking and you know that he could never, ever kill his own child – no matter how much of a “runt” he is. Aslaug tears up because you know that she knows there is a certain truth to Ragnar’s words, however, she could never harm her own child, either. In this moment, we feel more chemistry between Aslaug and Ragnar than we have all season; the silence in the room speaks volumes, you actually believe that their anguished over their newborn that they both love, but at the same time know how difficult life will be for him. For the first time since her introduction, there’s a sense of closeness and intimacy between the two.
Though, it’s a bummer it’s over a crippled child.
Now we hop over to Wessex, England, and our favorite (my favorite?) conspiring and possibly-maybe Pagan king. Athelstan (George Blagden) meets up with King Ecbert’s son, Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford), who is awaiting the arrival of Princess Kwenthrith of Mercia. Apparently, Kwenthrith (Amy Bailey) has a habit of killing off members of her family and sending her kingdom into a spiral of despair and chaos – fun! She is part of one of the wealthiest kingdoms neighboring Wessex, of course King Ecbert has a keen interest in her.
Shelve that for now, let’s go back to Scandinavia.
Ragnar is in a state of turmoil over his newborn son. Though wordless, it’s not surprising that it’s plagued his mind. Later that night, he picks up his swaddled son and holds him. He tells him there’s “no other way” as the child clutches at his fingers, setting him down on the ground; he makes for his hatchet, but is unable to do the deed. Instead, he walks away from the scene as Aslaug comes along to find him. Naturally, she picks up the child and holds him to her, but she can’t help but cry.
Can you blame her? She knows what Ragnar intended to do.
No, I can’t. I’d cry, too.
Through the woods, Lagertha and her army come riding through on horseback, her hair majestically flipping through the wind. They arrive at her homestead and she is warmly received by her people; she goes to her throne and picks up her cat, announcing that they will be raiding.
Oh my god Lagertha is a cat lady.
The fiercest the cinematic world has ever seen. Also interesting! My calling her Earless was probably uncouth, for she’s known as simply Earl to her people. That’s okay, because it was strikingly similar to Ear-less, and that’s a fate as sad as One Eye.
In Wessex, a feast is prepared for Princess Kwenthrith. She declines meat (because vegetarians totally existed back then) and proceeds to hit on Athelstan very blatantly, creepily focused heavily on the brutality of his former pagan captors. Oh. And their lack of fidelity. She seems pretty keen on that. So keen, in fact, that Athelstan clutches his pearls (er, rosary) and swiftly rebuffs the advances. Kwenthrith considers him boring.
King Ecbert wastes no time in talking to Miss Fratricide about the recent death of her brother. She laughs it off, mostly, taking immense humor in his recent Sainthood. She isn’t dumb to the motives of King Ecbert and tells him that she’s aware that he’s looking out for – and hoping to ally himself with – the victor in the backstabbing happening in Mercia. Taking it into consideration, she confirms aloud that he might be of some use to her.
You know, she’s crazy…but, I think I like her.
She certainly knows what she wants.
She is very happy that King Ecbert plans on sending Aethelwulf to councel, though she’s even happier at the idea of King Ecbert sending northsmen to her aid.
Which means…King Ecbert still intends to ally himself with Ragnar. I don’t know where else they’re going to get some northsmen.
Right, and King Horik has different ideas. That won’t end up in any sort of drama.
Back in the Lair of Lagertha, her bathing is being spied on through a peephole and she’s apparently psychic because she calls the man in. If my memory serves me (grain of salt, people), this is the man who beheaded Earl Sigvard and is probably-slash-most likely in love with Lagertha. Turns out! There was much more to Lagertha’s rise to power than was originally let on; in return for helping her become Earl, there was (perhaps) a chance that Lagertha would become the Einar’s wife. She denies that arrangements were ever made, though he doesn’t seem to be happy about it. So unhappy, that he draws a knife on her and threatens to kill her if he cannot “enjoy” her.
That line works on me every time.
Luckily, no fists fly and she takes him to task with pure, brutal words. She tells him that he couldn’t kill her, he could never even hurt her, because: “The only person you could kill was a dying man. That’s how brave you are.” UGH, I aspire to this greatness.
The manipulative greatness?
Pure and simple and wonderful and devious.
Back in Kattegat, Siggy asks Aslaug what’s wrong with Ivar – the town is talking, the secret is out. Siggy tells Aslaug that she cannot keep him covered forever; Aslaug unveils Ivar and his crippled legs (cue: Ivar the Boneless). Siggy is taken aback and takes a stance that aligns with Ragnar, since the child will never be able to walk, it’s impossible to think of him as an active part of society. Aslaug only looks at her, because she wants Siggy to know that she’s telling her that she agree that her infant should die and she has a lot of really deep feelings about that topic of conversation. She tells her that her advice has been received, but she would rather die than take it.
Speaking of babies and where they came from, we cut to Kwenthrith and King Ecbert having some very intense hump bumpy sex. She’s not impressed by his longevity. She wasn’t finished. In fact, she’s particularly interested in Athelstan and parts beyond. He leaves the room to go take a nap and King Ecbert sends a bunch of soldiers in to keep her company, because of course he does.
In Kattegat, crowds gather for the arrival of Lagertha and all of her warriors. Bjorn greets her with an embrace.
Also in Kattegat, Ragnar and Aslaug wordlessly agree that they will not be killing their child – though, honestly, it was never a question for Aslaug.
While they prepare for their embarking, the tone around Kattegat is grim.
Of course it would be, they’re probably being sent to their deaths. Why would the mood be anothing but a notch below dire?
Well, there is a possibility of vast riches and success. The acknowledging of the inherent danger of raiding is wrapped into that.
Bjorn runs to Porunn and tells her that there is a lot he wants to tell her, but it’s pretty futile since he’s probably going to die in battle. She responds by telling him that she loves him and then they kiss and get into heavy petting because it’s broad daylight and anything else would probably be accepted by the Viking community but Bjorn is the son of the Earl and has to keep up some appearances, amiright? So instead they feel themselves up.
We then cut to Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) and Helga (Maude Hirst) lying in a ferny underbrush, with Floki talking about the demonic Gods that have been plaguing him as of late. He believes that King Horik understands the “darker Gods,” and the “Gods that haunt [him],” better than Ragnar ever could. I really hope you commenters are right about the possibility of a long con with Floki, but as he lays in the grass with Helga and talks about how he believes King Horik understands where he’s coming from, I can only feel the seed of dread sprout.
Also: the reunification of Rollo and Siggy (it seems they did, indeed, have a cooling off period after he found out about her fornication with King Horik) is solidified with a small hand grab, because that’s about as romantic as Rollo feels at the moment.
I’ve always loved the embarking scenes in this show. The atmosphere is suitably grey, the pressure of raiding weighing on the shoulders of those traveling – they do such a good job at setting the vibe, you can’t help but become rewrapped into the story. From the hillside, wives and loved ones look on and watch the ships sail away.
I don’t think it’s because of the dolphins, but Ragnar seems particularly tickled. When asked why, he tells them that he’s heard from the Seer that Athelstan is still alive. Lagertha takes interest in it, which isn’t surprising, because he was basically a member of their family.
On King Horik’s ship, Floki and his eyeliner are questioned by King Horik. How is Ragnar treating him? Is he unhappy? King Horik tells Floki that a boatbuilder is worth ten earls. Floki smiles and returns, “and how many kings?”
Is…is that Floki sass? That’s Floki sass! There is hope, still! Please, Floki, don’t change sides. Pleasepleaseplease.
Horik tells Floki that if he builds boats for him, he would be treated like a king. He wants Floki’s ideas and he wants to harness his talent for his own motives. Sigh.
On Ship Ragnar, Rollo decides it’s time for more Uncle-Nephew bonding time. Bjorn is lost in thought about battle, but Rollo tells him that there’s nothing to worry about. He’ll be next to him and they’ll be fighting together, that obviously means there’s nothing to fear. Also, it’s time to bury those fears because Land-Ho!
In Wessex, King Ecbert tells Athelstan that the Vikings have docked on their shores again. King Ecbert expresses his desire to communicate and negotiate with Ragnar, as last time they met he seemed intelligent and unlike his fellow kinsmen. Athelstan agrees that Ragnar will listen to reason; King Ecbert finds this pleasing, but tells Athelstan that if he doesn’t, he will be more than happy to war with him. In fact, he’s already sent for backup men from King Aelle.
At their makeshift camp, the Vikings seem to be getting used to the delightful rain of England. Torstein (Jefferson Hall) was sent to King Ecbert to tell him of their arrival and King Horik is upset at that decision; he wanted to raid and seek revenge and swim in a pool of King Ecbert’s blood. (or something) He grows increasingly angry at Ragnar’s assertion of dominance and wants to know why he didn’t consult him nor Lagertha about the decision to send Torstein. Lagertha also takes some offense that she was ignored in the decision making process. The growing impatience between the three way is palpable and as King Horik storms away from the camp, Ragnar chomps away at food.
I think I even saw an eye roll.
Lagertha shrugs, because she knows how he can get (even if she doesn’t like it).
Rollo watches as Floki goes into King Horik’s tent.
If he’s switching sides, he’s being extremely obvious about it.
They are informed that the Saxons are coming, only for it to be Aethelwulf (remember: send your treasured to the enemy) and some protective men. He makes his way to Ragnar, King Horik, and Lagertha and informs them that his father wishes to talk – they agree to exchange hostages and Aethelwulf gives Ragnar a token of good faith. A belonging of Athelstan. This, of course, means diddly squat to Floki and King Horik who were hoping he was actually dead, but it brings some comfort to our steely eyed protagonist. He tells Aethelwulf that they will all venture to King Ecbert’s villa, because paaaaarrrrty!
Though, someone will probably die.
Then, of course, there is actual death. As Aethelwulf and co. are traveling back to the castle, they are ambushed by Vikings and Aethelwulf’s men are brutally killed by King Horik’s men, because King Horik is the fucking worst and I hate his snotty looking little son, too. Ever see an actor and just really dislike the way they look because they look punchable? Yep, that’s my feeling.
Well, there goes that alliance.
With only two episodes left, time will only tell whether or not Floki is going to die, King Horik is going to die, Athelstan is going to die, Minor Character X is going to die, who is going to flip on who, and oh-forget-about-that-alliance we didn’t want it to happen anyway. This episode was all about building up for the giant fall.
How did you feel about it?
Well, I really loved the emotional depth of a lot of the characters in this episode, which makes me want to give it a two out of three awkward almost-baby-deaths, but I’m starting to find every character arc revolving around King Horik (and the addition of Floki into that mess) ridiculously trite and weighing down the better parts of the show. I swear, it’s reaching Season One Lagertha-Aslaug-Drama levels of eyerolling. But, with things coming to a close, wrenches have to be thrown into the works. ‘Tis just the order of things.
What about you guys, what did you think of Boneless?