Guys, it has been a long week. In so many ways. In some ways much deeper than others, but altogether it has been emotionally and physically exhausting. Also? By some stroke of my adorable dog’s adorable lack of footing, he not-so-adorably spilled water on my once-wonderful laptop, leaving me bummed and sad but without any place to put my anger because he just looked at me with those big brown eyes and I can’t be mad at that. Which has left the sheer bummertude of having to borrow a laptop to do reviews and do essential Google searches (for new laptops, naturally!) welling inside of me and culminating into a Wineday Friday of epic, call-Chinese-Food-in proportions. Luckily for you, you all get to experience this tragic slosh alongside with me, with some bloody Vikings and plot twists. Isn’t technology grand?
Sure. Can we get to Vikings now?
Fine, fine. I understand.
We left last week with Ecbert’s (Linus Roache) increasing adoration of flawless Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), Torstein’s (Jefferson Hall) amputation and half-death, Athelstan’s (George Blagden) ever-problematic love life, and the arrival of a mysterious stranger (that Siggy, Helga, and Aslaug have all seen in their dreams) into Kattegat. It was an adventurous episode, with Ragnar&Co. heading away from their ships and further inland, towards the hordes of armies ruled by Princess K (Amy Bailey).
We start on the shores that we started. In Kattegat, while looking like an Anthropologie catalog extra, Helga (Maude Hirst) welcomes the aforeseen mysterious man with a bleeding palm into the town, because she wasn’t outwardly frightened by the dreamy prediction (none of the ladies were, even though I see nothing but giant, illuminated red flags around the entire scenario) and doesn’t feel as though this mysterious stranger will bring their hometown to harm.Despite some of their visions literally portraying the opposite. Sure. Okay, yeah. Helgra brings the stranger into the company of Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) and Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig), because the first thing you do when you run into a creep at the club is introduce him to all of your friends. Bonus points if he is bleeding.
Are you speaking from experience?
Not at all! (Maybe). (without the blood).
The Wanderer’s name is Harbard (played by the enigmatic Kevin Durand) and he fancies himself a story teller. He is semi-grilled by the three women, but at least helga and Aslaug seem completely charmed as they willingly give information about how the men of the town are raiding. Siggy seems to have heaping handfuls of hesitation and I can’t say I blame her.
Ecbert is riding in the woods and confronts a few of his noblemen who deign to talk behind his back during their ride; they seem to have reasonable questions and concerns, like, why, if they share their farming techniques are the Vikings not being held to share their boat building techniques, and, why, if they are allowing Vikings on their soil, are they not forcefully converting the Vikings to Christianity? Ecbert, in the most Ecbert-y way, tells them to shut the hell up because he has shit under control. Which I believe. Ecbert has not, for a single second, allowed things to go in a way he hasn’t liked. He calls Princess K their puppet and reminds them that Ragnar is currently fighting alongside said puppet for the greater purchase of Mercia, sprinkled with a vague allusion to Farmville Viking Edition potentially failing. Ecbert is shrewd and knows what he’s doing. Don’t fuck with Ecbert.
Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) isn’t a fool and smells a rat. He wants to know why they’re fighting Ecbert’s fight. It mirrors Ecbert talking to his noblemen, with the difference being that Ragnar actually considers Floki’s perspective; Ragnar fights because he doesn’t want conflict between his kin and the Christians, Floki knows that there will be no true peace because each side feels that their god(s) is the(are) true god(s) (paraphrasing, he praises Odin without potential for Jesus). Ragnar tells him that if he doesn’t want to fight, he shouldn’t fight. And then Rollo acts as a voice of reason.
Let me say that again:
Rollo acts as a voice of reason.
Jeez. How far we’ve come.
But, in terms of religion wars – Heavy-handed foreshadowing? Well, I would say so.
Meanwhile, Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) is getting a little too into smearing war paint on Thorunn (Gaia Weiss). I say that, but he looks pretty hateful while he’s doing it. Maybe he’s still salty that she has a personality (given, with the script, barely) outside of “Bjorn’s Significant Other.” Princess K stops Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and tells him to spare her brother, because this is the first 7 minutes as told by mixed messages, apparently. Seriously, you hate his guts one second, want him alve the next, want him killed, no nevermind – spare him! At this point, I will be surprised if she’s being entirely honest (ugh, it seems so obvious that she wouldn’t be), but I’m hoping that she is actually the tortured soul she is supposed to be and not a predictable subplot.
Sure thing. Poor guy. One-Armed Torstein.
He’s still alive!
Yup. He’s looking rough, but he’s alive! Probably not for long, though. Especially because they’re leaving him behind at the camp (totally will survive that) while the rest of them climb a mountain to fight a fight they shouldn’t fight (right). He desperately wants to go, begging Rollo to let him come. Rollo, doing his bro a solid, carries the hobbling, brutally wounded man with him. At least that way, he can die in battle. It’s actually sort of sweet. Again. This is Rollo we’re talking about.
Back at the farm (no, not that one, the other one), Lagertha and Athelstan welcome Ecbert and his slimy men onto their turf. It seems as if Athelstan has been busy teaching Lagertha some English (adorable and broken! kind of like a lot of characters in this show) and Ecbert introduces her to his accompanied nobles. Also. He’s brought a gift and it isn’t the necklace that she’s wearing. It’s a plow. So she can plow her fields with greater success, and I am 100% sure the double entendre of any kind of field plowing is completely unintentional because they’re bonding over agriculture. Plowing. Fertilizing. Sowing seeds. Completely and utterly farm related. Suuuuuuuuuuuure.
I am pretty sure she is onto his game. Oh, sorry. Not game. Agricultural interest.
Speaking of nature, Ragnar&Co. have climbed the summit that is definitely not a trap. There’s the danger in leading a few hundred men up the broad face of a steep hill? DANGER SCHMANGER. Torstein offers to go first, because he’s looking for an honorable way to die without saying it.
He finds the awaiting army and the army is baffled at the bloody, one-armed Viking that seemingly arrived solo. “Is this some witchcraft?” It might as well be. He survives the first wave of half-assed arrows. Soon, the soldiers are approaching him and he calls to Odin, managing to take one down before returning to the giant wooden ship in the sky. And so, the fight begins!
Whatever grunty, panting song they have as the soundtrack is bad.ass. It gets me pumped because it’s creepy and visceral and filled monosyllabic weirdness that oddly fits. Some Vikings are lost, but the rest fight like the best of them, grunting and being brutal. The Vikings are completely matched and Thorunn and Ragnar are both wounded. The only thing that halts the assault of the Vikings ia the appearance of Aethelwulf and his archers, who rain down arrows on Burgred’s army. It was dizzying and the effect was chaotic. Man, if there is one thing this show always gets right, it’s the fights. Aethelwulf might be a little shit, but he has his moments and one hell of an ability to make an entrance.
Well, if that wasn’t a middle finger to the Vikings….
It was. A capitalized Bird if I have ever seen one. Aethelwulf has his own motivations, but ultimately he would be a better ally than an enemy. Considering he’s not about to roll with the Odin homies, it’s fair to say he will ultimately be an enemy. Especially if he finds out that Athelstan and Judith have a little something-something going on. Yup. Bad blood. It will happen.
While Aethelwulf is away, Ecbert will play. In his bath(!). Lagertha (!), Judith (!) and Athelstan (!) (seriously, I keep adding !s but how bizarre is this bath party. Bath parties are already bizarre. This is the most bizarre) asks what it is and Ecbert informs her that it is a Roman bathhouse with the images of Roman gods and goddesses painted along the walls. He compares the Roman paganism to that of her own and Lagertha is quick to correct him – her gods are real, they love, they bleed, and they rush around the skies.
Ecbert doesn’t seem to believe her, but something tells me that he will soon see the religious aspect of Lagertha soon enough.
In the meantime, let’s take a bath. He regales them with stories of the Romans and tries to woo Lagertha because duh. It’s a great place to make out. AND talk about Paris. Pretty much, communal bath houses need to be all the rage again. OH LET ME JUST REACH MY NAKED BODY AROUND YOU to get more wine. Wink. And then Lagertha and Ecbert make out and Judith says it is wrong, which yeah it sort of is, but that is not about to stop Lagertha in her pursuit of the D. Judith storms out with a change of heart and confesses to Athelstan that she wanted something to happen between them and that is the crux of the problem. A good way to solve that problem? Have a heart-to-heart half-naked and wet.
Works for me every time.
Back in Kattegat, Harbard is telling a story and the women (minus Side Eye Siggy) are rapt with attention. He is charismatic, bringing in lore and mythology to fantastic heights, entertaining the group like he would a group of children or old sailor spinning a yarn to lonely ears in a bar. It’s theatrical, it’s over the top, but he is a storyteller by trade so it is expected. Harbard is able to calm the disquiet of poor baby Ivar, the first who is able to do so with such ease. The bizarre talents of the mysterious Wanderer seem to disappear with five words, I am taking your pain. Even though his introduction seemed clunky, he’s one of the most interesting twists Vikings has introduced in a while.
Also, to complement the sex and the babies crying (I guess?), Ragnar is surveying his wounded back in Mercia. Floki, ever religious Floki, is beyond pissed and angry that Torstein has fallen for a fight he didn’t want to fight, for a god that wasn’t his own. He’s a mystic, he’s a madman, and it’s been a while since we have seen him so uncontrollably angry (seriously, chills!). Floki hears the gods and Ragnar feels as if the gods have never lead him astray, it is a butting of heads we have seen before, but set over a dead body of a friend, it feels more real. “But look, here we are under a English sky burying our dead. Look at those we have sacrificed for Jesus Christ.” Ragnar, ever-pragmatic, is also hurting and feels the brunt of the wounds his men have faced, but he brings up a good point – he didn’t force anyone to come and is sure that they will bump into Torstein soon enough.
And then he says something that completely takes me out of the moment.
And what was that?
“Shut your face.”
REALLY? YOU LAY DOWN A HEAVY SPEECH AND ALL YOU CAN SAY IS “SHUT YOUR FACE?” UGH. Man, are you kidding? There are so many better ways to say shove it or keep your opinions to yourself without sounding like a sixth grader. This intense moment, ruined. What will he say next? “Be quiet, or I’m telling Helga!”
But, it was delivered so intensely…
I’m sorry, it doesn’t matter how intensely you say “whiskey waltz banana moon pie sparkler,” it still sounds dumb.
I’m sure Floki is emotionally distraught, but that eyebrow twitch had to have been one of “wait, seriously?” Ugh, come on screenwriters. Come. On.
Anyway, Rollo calls Ragnar over to his son, who is completely loopy over the deeply wounded Thorunn. Sure, I get it. He has a lot of guilt over not being able to protect her despite the last two episodes essentially building up to her somehow getting hurt because she’s a headstrong woman who wanted to fight and be on her own, despite the fact that war is brutal and unpredictable. He’s distraught. P.S. she’s pregnant and Ragnar gives Bjorn the most shit possible about letting her come along, because now she’ll probably die with his child because of his oversight. Which I am SURE is making Bjorn feel better. Great peptalk, Dad! Man, sometimes this show is just so depressing.
Who cleans up this mess?
Wait for it…
You know, Rollo’s characterization has literally been at every coordinate of an atlas and impossible to keep track of. He’s good, he’s bad, he’s a rogue agent, he’s a boozer, he’s a failure, he’s on the top of his game, he’s a player, he’s a lover, he is literally whatever character the writers need in that exact moment. In this episode, he’s a serene councellor who actually gives fantastic advice. Maybe, it is because he’s been at the gates of death once or twice before, but he tells Bjorn that he needs to be strong for her and give her a reason to fight, he can’t give up on her – the moment he loses hope, the second she’s gone forever. It’s a speech he probably should have heard from someone else (cough*dad*cough), but it seems to have an impact. And I am grateful for it.
Princess K seems surprisingly chummy with her brother, a.k.a. molester, a.k.a. incestual rapist, and Ragnar punches him in the face. Thousands of viewers across the world holler FINALLY, because this is the weakest double cross in the making since those losers back in Lagertha’s old hometown.
Are you feeling alright?
I’m sorry, I seem to be getting a slight headache from the amount of times I have rolled my eyes in the past half hour.
Anyway, Ecbert arrives at Farmtown with the news that Mercia has been felled. Aethelwulf, Bjorn, and King Ragnar are all unharmed (relatively – emotionally, the word is still out). Athelstan thinks that a celebration is order, with a sacrifice to Freja in order to ensure the harvest is healthy and full. They agree. I sense a ritual! It has been too long. Please be bloody.
Why do you want blood?
I don’t know. I just crave it. I love when bones are rattled and I want to see Ecbert realize that, woah, the piece he tapped is just a little crazy and, woah, he thinks he likes it.
And know what? IT DELIVERS.
Lagertha appears to the ceremony drenched in white fabric, looking like an ethereal elven queen of perfection. I feel like we must be in Wayne’s World, because we are absolutely not worthy. The Englishmen stand aside as the scene it set in furs and blood. A cow is slaughtered and Lagertha delivers a heart-pounding, badass speech for the health of the earth that really freaks out the Christians. Her shoulders are then drenched in the blood and even if I can’t quite read the emotion in her smirk, it is the first time that we see a shadow of a doubt flicker in Ecbert’s eyes. And it is, without a doubt, awesome.
Unfortunately, in Kattegat. bizarre things are happening…a fisherman has fished up the body of two young children, supposedly drowned. It seems very suspicious, given their new guest in town. But who am I to jump to conclusions? Siggy takes her suspicions where they matter: the Seer (John Kavanagh). She tells him of the visitor and her worries; she tells the Seer about the joint dreams, about how seamlessly he stole Ivar’s pain, and her general doubts about the man. The Seer doesn’t know who he is and doesn’t know the powers he possesses and admits a woeful truth – the gods have not given him any foresight into his future or the future of the individual, he has heard only silence. No one can help them.
DUN DUN DUN.
Yes! So dramatic!
But, we’ll have to find out where we go from here next week.
What did you think about the episode?
I didn’t miss Kalf and Douchelord, so I was happy to see that plot shoved to the wayside for at least an episode, however, there were other moments in the episode where I was hit with the jarring roughness of the writing/plot direction. I don’t get where a lot of it is going – it would be good if it was completely suspenseful and interesting, but so often I feel like it can verge on lazy or easy. However, the fight scene and the ritual scene were patently amazing. It’s moments like those that keep me hooked and coming back for more. So, even though it is grim (fitting, for such a dark episode), I’m going to give it three out of four drowned children. Too soon? My bad.
What did you all think? I know some of you have been half-here, half-there on the season thus far, so I am interested in hearing how you feel about episode three.