reviews

Review: ‘Vikings,’ Season 3, Episode 6, ‘Born Again’

It’s official! Vikings has been renewed for a fourth season! I know some of you talked about it weeks ago, but this is one of the first written confirmations that I’ve seen that says – without a doubt – that we are getting more sweaty, bloody, and chiseled Viking action courtesy of Ragnar&Co. Are you excited? Scratch that, I know you are. However, before we get to next season, we’ve still got to get through the rest of this season.

 

I seemed to be in the minority last week with not really feeling the episode (the vast majority, at that!), but it did seem like it was setting up for a follow-up episode, so let’s see how this episode goes!

 

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Last episode, we found out that Judith is carrying Athelstan’s (George Blagden) child, King Ecbert (Linus Roache) is a dastardly villain of Shakespearean proportions, his son is a loony banana who doesn’t know how to deal with his emotional problems in a constructive way, Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) is also expecting a child (seriously, are women in this show that fertile? I swear!), Thorunn will live! (not without scarring emotionally and physically), Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) will love her anyway (he’s a good dude who is at being a real character sometimes), Kalf took up some screentime for pissing of Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), Rollo (Clive Standen) got stinking drunk at the news of Siggy’s death, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) was as cryptic as ever, and Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) was just as elusive in his plots as Ragnar has ever been. Oh. Except he wants to go to Paris. Let’s all go to Paris!

 

How’s that for a nutshell recap? I’m sure all of these plots will be resolved in a peaceful manner. I’m sure. Positive. Anyone else feel a bit worried?

 

We start off the episode with two little boys building sandcastles and pretending they are Paris. Just kidding! It’s actually Athelstan and Ragnar building sandcastles and pretending they are Paris. Ragnar has been completely captivated by the former monk’s experience in Frankia, the women, the layout of the city, and the wealth. Athelstan obliges the curiosity with everything he knows about the city, even if his visit was when he was a monk, so he paid less attention to the defenses of the city and more on the churches within. Still, with a fresh perspective and some educated guessing, he rules the city impregnable. That is a challenge Ragnar wants to take on, to be sure.

 

Looking on like a jealous friend (because he is, we know he is), Floki is building a ship with angry eyeliner and a scowl. It has absolutely not been a shock to anyone to see Floki’s hatred of Athelstan grow stronger through the seasons. It isn’t just because Floki used to be Ragnar’s BFF (remember the first season? It seems very wistful now), but also because Floki blames the Christian religion for all of the ill-times the Viking camp has been having – he has never once believed that Athelstan has given up on his first faith.

 

Can’t he get over it?

 

A zealot doesn’t just get over things. Things fester and burn and eat away.

 

Also, apparently there has been a rather large time hop! Know how I know? Thorunn (Gaia Weiss) is giving birth to Bjorn’s daughter. That’s, what? a seven-month time difference, give or take? Thorunn is obviously in pain, because this was a time that didn’t have advil and spinal anesthesia. Aslaug and Helga (Maude Hirst) are trying to soothe her pain as much as they can, but considering she keeps yelling “I don’t want this child!” things aren’t looking bright and sunny for the relatively young pair. But, don’t worry! Bjorn is here to save the day by telling his contracting wife that – she might be in a lot of pain right now – but he does want that child. So kind!

 

She’s worried that the child will be weak and deformed (I understand that Vikings might not have known what we know about birth, but she does know that women’s bodies are practically tanks in that they are made to protect their children, right?), which is sort of awkward because she makes that exclamation in front of Aslaug, who quipped “and maybe you would love it just the same,” because there has never been a moment that she has not tried her best for Ivar. Even if it means boning a Wandering scruffy man and then getting impregnated by him.

 

Soon enough, and with Lagertha slinking into the room looking much more like a farmer than an Earl –

 

Wait, why wasn’t she invited to the birthing party? That’s weird.

 

I don’t know. She’s been farming and bitter for seven months, maybe she was working out her anger on the field?

 

And we have a screaming, seemingly healthy baby girl! Bjorn immediately gravitates to the child, calling her beautiful (which makes Thorunn, who seems to be not passed out from pain at the natural birth which I find surprising and admirable – Viking women are hardier than I), and also naming the child…Siggy. Siggy, because she protected his nephews from harm.

 

Wow, this is just an insanely awkward five minutes for Aslaug, isn’t it?

 

Oh, you betcha.

 

However, I’m surprised he didn’t name the child Gyda, after his sister. That would have been a nice, sentimental twist considering no one mentions Gyda.

 

Outside, Rollo has found the sandcastle of Paris Athelstan and Ragnar built. He steps around it, probably feeling a twinge of jealousy – he wasn’t asked to build sandcastles with his brother regarding their upcoming raid. He was left out of the Athelstan/Ragnar bromance. Tell me, silent Rollo, did you and Ragnar build sandcastles in your youth? Did you not? Is this kicking up some more psychological drama that you’ve buried since you were a child?

 

We may never know.

 

At home, Ragnar is catching some Zs with his little ones. Floki catches him off guard and accidentally flings one of them off his lap – which is actually hilarious because the boy does not budge from sleep at all. He will be a miraculous airplane sleeper, that one! – but Floki actually has something important to say, versus just liking to interrupt the sleepytime of bossman. One of the only survivors of FarmVille: Scandinavia Edition has returned with one hell of a horror story to tell. He tells the pair about Aethelwulf, about how few survivors there were, about how he watched the slaughter of friends and family and could do nothing.

 

Ragnar’s face is unreadable, minus a few unshed tears gathering in his fan of eyelashes. The man tells Ragnar that he just wanted to die so he could join his wife and children on the return home, but the gods denied him. He sobs into Ragnar and the King returns unreadable compassion as Floki re-voices his opinions on the Wessex crew (Floki’s always had a knack for timing, but his conviction is real), but it’s fruitless because Ragnar is already brewing a plan in his bottled fury.

 

“Aethelwulf. And his father. Will feel the wrath of the gods.”

 

Well, you had him up to there, Floki. And then the ship builder brings Athelstan into the conversation, because – again – Floki thinks that it is Athelstan’s fault for all of this, that he was the one that convinced them falsely of the Christian good faith. He’s angry for the losses they’ve had, but he can’t see beyond his own hatred of the monk to see that maybe Athelstan didn’t help plan the destruction of a people he cares for. Ragnar tells Floki that he is exclusively to blame and then tells him to leave, leaving him alone with the lone farmer.

 

Ragnar asks the man if he has told anyone else (he says no), he tells the man he is courageous (he says thank you), and then Ragnar tells the man that he can now be with his family. And then? Ragnar kills him via strangulation. The man has no chance and slowly gives way to the strength of the King.

 

Well, death by strangulation takes a couple minutes to actually work, maybe…maybe Ragnar just wanted to expedite the man’s daily nap.

 

And then covered him with his robe as a makeshift blanket? I…Well. if you choose to believe that, you can. Ragnar’s motivations for his actions are largely unclear, but this scene was actually sort of surprising for me. It;s obvious he has a lot of passion for his people, but killing the lone survivor has to have some sort of political sway or purpose that will weave its way into the story again soon. Time will tell, however, Ragnar doesn’t really work without having a plan.

 

The whole of the Lothbrok home is pretty rough at the moment, though. Aslaug is plagued with nightmares regarding the death of Siggy and the endangerment of her children. Ragnar, naturally, is nurturing, as she wakes up from her nightmare with him standing above her. “You could have had sex with him in front of the children for all I care, just as long as you were watching over them.”

 

Well, I know who isn’t getting a Husband of the Year mug for Christmas.

 

Aslaug attacks him as well as a thin pregnant woman can before curling back into the fetal position. I guess that’s one way to keep that plotline going! I have to say though, I don’t really want to watch the car crash that is Aslaug and Ragnar’s marriage. It’s painful and mean.

 

In a different part of Kattegat, Athelstan is asleep as a rat crawls on top of him. He sees a beam of light shooting across the room and follows it, the sheer brightness of the beam drawing him to a hole in the wall. When Athelstan looks into the hole, he is knocked back and might’ve possibly had a miniature come to Jesus moment.

 

Speaking of Jesus! Our chariot to Wessex awaits. Judith has given birth to a child as well, a son. To the son Aethelwulf says “congratulations,” and there is definitely no warm feelings of love in the room. Judith asks to hold her baby, but before she has the chance, soldiers storm into the room and take her to an undisclosed location on the order of the King. She screams “my children need me!” as she is dragged through the streets and called a lot of horrible, awful names. At the end of the path King Ecbert and Aethelwulf, and even though she begs for mercy, she’s not getting out of this so easily. She is charged with adultery is the punishment is that her ears will be cut off.

 

Unless, of course, she reveals the name of the father of her child. Initially, she denies. One ear later, she admits that it was Athelstan and Ecbert stops the soldier (and Aethelwulf), because they can’t punish her for having a child with a holy man. Ecbert spins it into god reaching through Aethelstan to impregnate Judith, making the child a gift of the highest measure. So, Judith will live, the child will live, and they will name the child Alfred. Honestly, I had to look away at this part – it seemed particularly brutal and made me uncomfortable on many levels. I don’t really care that Ecbert still has a massive affection for the monk who left, and I’m sure it is all for political reasons that he’s done what he’s done, but it was just really hard to watch.

 

In Kattegat, things aren’t going much better. Remember in season 2 when Athelstan had all of those religious hallucinations? They’re back! After his potential come-to-Jesus moment, he’s freaking the fuck out and talking to himself. We’ve been here before, folks, and Athelstan’s internal demons have only grown worse with time.

 

When daylight breaks, Athelstan is at the river for a born-again Christian baptism. He bathes himself in the waters of Kattegat as he speaks to God, his cross hanging low on his chest. He takes the bracelet that Ragnar gifted him years ago and tosses it into the lake, as a once-and-for-all moment that he has given up his roots in the Viking religion. Of course, Floki is watching this from the shoreline. He doesn’t know about Athelstan’s Jesus Moment (I doubt he would care) and all he sees is Athelstan tossing the gift Ragnar gave him into the frosty, frigid waters.

 

Afterwards, he runs to Ragnar (who I’m sure is wondering what to do with the body of the innocent man he killed) and tells him that he was visited by his lord. Instead of disregarding Athelstan or taking it as a slight, Ragnar is curious. When Athelstan tells him that he is “born again,” Ragnar is confused and gives us a comedic gold piece for the episode. “Like…a baby?” It gives a splash of lightness and, I’ll be honest, I laughed.

 

When Athelstans explains it and tells Ragnar that it might be best that he leaves, Ragnar reacts quickly and filled with fret. Athelstan can’t leave. He can’t. He is the only one Ragnar trusts and Ragnar loves him. It’s a vulnerable moment and it’s a true, honest sign of how much Ragnar cares about his monk. He tells Athelstan that as long as he is there, he will be protected, but Athelstan – bright eyed – tells him that it doesn’t matter where he goes, it matters where [Ragnar’s] going. He doesn’t know about the dead farmer and the vengeance he wants on Wessex – he thinks they are still only looking at France, their next raid. It’s heartbreakingly sweet.

 

I have a bad feeling about this. Like, a really bad feeling about this.

 

Just let us enjoy this moment, okay?

 

Now we see Bjorn and he wants to know why Floki isn’t working on the boats. Floki is distracted and tells Bjorn that his heart isn’t in it (duh). He shows Bjorn the bracelet and Bjorn voices his fear for his father; like so many Vikings (I’m assuming), he doesn’t understand his father’s fascination with the Christians. As for Floki? He is going to head home to his family to think about what’s happening. In the meantime, he wants Bjorn to tell the other Vikings about Athelstan’s discarding of the bracelet. Not Ragnar, the others. Always the pot stirrer, to a degree that i can’t defend anymore – bitchin’ eyeliner or not.

 

As if my mood couldn’t be dampened further in this episode, Kalf has arrived on what was once Lagertha’s ships. He has grown out his hair and looks rugged, but as he introduces people I forgot the name of and Jarl Borg’s widow and son, I keep drifting my attention to things like tumblr, crackers, and the way my dog is snoring right now. “I’m a little…caught off guard.” Ragnar says as Erlander weasel-y asks to join the Parisian raid. I wish I were, Ragnar. I wish this weren’t happening, too. It’s like a friend bringing an ex of yours to a house party that you have obligations at so you can’t leave early, only instead of an ex it’s the son of a guy you brutally murdered.

 

That night, a party is going down. Lagertha is skulking around Kalf and biding her time and Bjorn tells her that she can’t avoid him forever. Lagertha is trying to stay out of shanking distance, because they will be fighting side-by-side by the time they reach Paris. She’s willing to (impatiently) wait for her return to power. Still, she goes and attempts to make nice (honestly, not really) and he notes that their destinies are already intertwined. Gag. The side eye Lagertha gives him almost redeems the interaction. There might be some validity to the claim of them being interlocked future-wise, but he’s still as interesting as a napkin.

 

After heckling his mom, a drunk Bjorn finds Thorunn, wearing a veil and staying at the outskirts of the party. He comes onto her strongly, but she rebuffs his advances because (I guess?) she doesn’t feel worthy of his advances. So what does she do instead of talking about her feelings? She tells him, oh, don’t worry, we’ll find someone else for you to sex. UGH. REALLY SHOW? Stop treating women like commodities in really bizarre ways. Stop it. It’s really uncomfortable at this point.

 

Anyway, she sets him up with Torvi. Jarl Borg’s widow. Will she get pregnant from their sexy moment? Survey says probably. Everyone else gets pregnant in this show after one round of naughty tango, why wouldn’t they?

 

To Bjorn’s credit, he doesn’t seem into it. It’s hardly a credit, though. The whole scene is weird.

 

So, let’s go back to the party.

 

Athelstan has joined the festivities and is immediately met with chilly stares. Apparently, word got around that he ditched the Viking bracelet. The hostility is palpable and even Rollo brushes him off, referring to him as priest. Ragnar ultimately comes to his aid and takes him away from the party. In a back room, he introduces Athelstan to a poof of a man who is very bilingual, very bizarre, is wearing makeup, and will guide them into the walls of Paris. I didn’t get his name, but I really wish I did. Will this character be around more? I hope so!

 

We flash over to Floki at his home, surrounded by the woods and ship parts. He is working on a masthead, when suddenly the wooden carving begins to bleed – a sign that blood needs to be spilled and a sacrifice needs to be made. Helga is obviously perturbed by this development and inquires into his plans with panic. Floki chokes her briefly, apologizing, and confirming her suspicions that he intends to hurt someone. I have an idea as to who that person is, but I really hope not. Proove me wrong, Vikings. Don’t. Do. It.

 

Who?

 

I mean, I’m sure it’s all over the internet, Internal Monologue. You could Google it. Me? I have avoided it like I avoided Book 7 Harry Potter spoilers, because someone is obviously going to die tonight and I just don’t want to know who.

 

In Kattegat, another ritual is taking place and the visitors are making themselves at home in the beachside town. Athelstan has kept himself in his room, making a Christian effigy to pray to as tension brews outside amidst a setting sun and violent chants. There is only one direction this is going, confirmed with two words.

 

“Floki.”

 

“Priest.”

 

Athelstan knows it is coming, but the blow is brutal. Deadly. The music stops and the deed is done, complete with Floki smearing the blood of his victim on his face.

 

WHAT

 

Yeah, that just happened.

 

W HAT?

 

Yeah, no, seriously. Athelstan has been killed, straight out of left field, by his growing adversary. Honestly, I don’t have many words right now, other than….shit. and Wow. I didn’t see that coming, I mean, I knew that Floki and Athelstan would not be able to coexist, but I didn’t think that. You know. I just didn’t think that they would kill Athelstan, I didn’t think he would die. Honestly, I really thought that his friendship with Ragnar would save him in the end.

 

I…I mean. At least he found peace?

 

Maybe. We can only hope so at this point.

 

Next, we see Ragnar on horseback with another horse behind him with what is clearly a body on top. It’s hard to say whether or not it is the farmer or Athelstan, his expression is murky and you know he will take personal time to bury them both. After tying the horses up, we see Ragnar carrying the dead weight up a hill with his shovel, talking to the body as he goes. Mystery solved, it is Athelstan.

 

He carried him up the hill because it was the closest to his God that he could get him. After he is buried, a rain starts and Ragnar says, “I never knew what a martyr was. I still don’t.” It’s a funny moment, but it’s the beginning of a sad one with some amazing, moving acting. You believe that Ragnar will miss his friend. “You saw yourself as weak and conflicted, but to me you were fearless, because you dared to question.” He pauses and then asks, “Why did you have to die? We had so much more to talk about.” I feel the same. I feel like Athelstan’s death, like Siggy’s before him, was expedited, like there was so much for him to do. It’s hard to believe that he is gone.

 

It’s even harder, because Ragnar knows that they won’t meet in the afterlife. It’s hard, because Ragnar knows that he’s lost one of the closest things he has ever had to a confidant and a friend on a deep, spiritual level. “I am changed.” He is. This will be the start of a brutal Ragnar, I feel it.

 

He erects a cross. he shaves his head in the river. He finds Athelstan’s cross and wears it.

 

“Forgive me my friend, not for what I have done. For what I am about to do.”

 

And then the episode comes to a close.

 

Wow. I mean, I hate to sound like a one-note internal monologue this episode, but it was honestly an incredibly intense episode. I couldn’t snark that much. Believe me, I tried.

 

Yeah, I agree. While the relationships men in this show have with women are nothing short of problematic (sorry, it bothers me. I should be used to it by now), those issues were definitely outweighed by the intensity of the episode as a whole. Incredibly intense. Gripping. Depressing. Dreary. I knew the tension would boil over the pot, but I just didn’t foresee it happening like this.

 

My rating for this week? 8.5 blood spattered Bibles (is that inappropriate?) out of 10. What did you guys think of this episode? How are you feeling with the end of Athelstan?

 

PS: Everyone watch Athelstan’s Journal for this week. It’s a great retrospective of his tenure in the show.

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28 thoughts on “Review: ‘Vikings,’ Season 3, Episode 6, ‘Born Again’

  1. I have a feeling that Ragnar is going to cannon fodder the crap out of Kalf and Erlendur – he never does anything without thinking it through and it’s obvious he is never going to really consider them his friends.

    It’s too bad Athelstan was killed but his plotline had pretty much been played out. It’s going to be interesting to see how Ragnar deals with Floki because that clearly cannot stand, unless Floki escaped with no one knowing it was him or something.

    I think it’s hilarious that Bjorn got with Erlendur’s wife, especially considering that Erlendur first got it on with Siggy when Horik blackmailed her into doing him in one of the most uncomfortable scenes in this show. I hope that Bjorn takes Erlendur out for good before this season ends.

  2. The chief reason Ragnar killed the survivor of the now defunct Viking Farmville is actually pretty simple: At this point, Ragnar doesn’t need any distractions from the upcoming raid on Paris and that man blabbing the tale all over Kattegat would be one HUGE distraction. But I’d wager he’ll pay back Ecbert and Aethelwulf with big time interest…in time. Oh yes, he will keep that promise to that man.

    The whole episode works on more than one level. For me, Floki killing Athelstan is reminiscent of the myth of Loki helping kill Baldur presaging the end of the gods. And Ragnar’s donning Athelstan’s cross is a symbolic glimpse of Scandavania’s Christian future.

    And Ecbert may be much closer to the truth that he ever realized. Athelstan’s son by Judith is named Alfred. Yes THAT Alfred. As in “The Great” He’d be knocked over by a feather if he knew what had transpired with Athelstan and Ragnar and realize he was on the money far more closely than he ever realized when he said Athelstan was a holy man. (plenty of parallels to the Christ right down to the crucifixation !)

    I suspect Floki will eventually realize that by killing Aethelstan, the only thing he did was speed up the process when all of Scandavania will become Christian. For all of his mischief and deviltry, he’s the harbinger of the end of the gods in the myths and quite possibly in “Vikings” as well.

    And will Ragnar become more brutal now as you suggested he might ? I’d say so. Keep in mind that the Viking Age doesn’t really kick into high gear..YET In that event..Kalf, Ecbert, Aethelwulf and that weasel son of Horik ought watch their backs. Oh right. Erlendur. He’s so forgettable that his name slipped my mind for a moment.

    I’m still pining for a Ragnar-Lagertha get together. I’m not exactly on Team Aslaug at all. As you said, she’s simply a “fertile woman”

    A few side notes…in the series, Judith is Aelle’s daughter. Historically, she was the Frankish king’s eldest daughter. I suspect the series creators changed her lineage because there’s no freaking way that Ecbert would have dared to have the ear cut off the eldest daughter of Christendom’s most powerful monarch – adultery or not. You simply don’t piss off the Carolingan king of the Franks like that because the kingdoms of the Franks stretch all the way from the Pyrenees all the way to Saxony and the borders of Bohemia (later Czech Republic)

    Great episode. I give it five out of five tossed arm bracelets.

    I’ll miss Aethelstan along with Siggy as they were part of the original Vikings cast.

  3. I have the feeling that Hirst just made a big mistake. The success of the show is standing on the triangle of Ragnar, Lagertha and Athelstan, and he just chopped away his leg. And I admit, I am pissed. Nothing about Athelstan’s arc this season made any sense. He suddenly decides to sleep with a married women, jeopardizing the treaty in the process, than randomly becomes a believer again only to get killed immediately after. And yes, I know it might happen because the actor had been cast in another show, but I thought it would be because the actor wanted to leave, just like it was the case with the actress of Siggy. But no, that one was actually Hirst’s decision. And it is frustrating. I’ll still be watching, but I am pretty sure the ratings will be slipping now, big time, and never recover. They have gotten worse and worse the whole season, and I can’t even blame the audience. And that’s too bad, because I was really looking forward to see the next generation taking over. But that will never happen now. The fourth season might be the last, the fifth will be for sure.

    I liked the first season. I adored the second one. In just six episodes I have started to wonder if I should keep watching. And it’s not just because they killed off two of my most beloved characters. It’s because of everything. I once recommended the show in the first season how the show managed to show us how the Vikings saw the world without going straight up supernatural. But then suddenly seer abilities and vision became reality. I mean, wth?

    I always told people “yes, there is violence and sex, but it feels natural”. The whole scene in the square was straight up torture porn for me. Yes, cutting of the ears of the nose was a punishment for cheating wives in a lot of cultures, but Judith is the daughter of King Aella. And Ecbert should have known who the most likely candidate for the father is. The sole reason why it was there was to show some brutality on screen, and for the first time ever I was repulsed by the show.

    Then there is Kalf, who is a terrible antagonist, and the overall feel to watch some sort of soap opera unfold in the past by throwing in characters nobody cares about instead of letting the ones we do care about interact. This season all of Athelstan’s scenes were with either Ecbert of Ragnar, he never interacted with anyone else, not even Lagertha. We learn that Lagertha trained Thorun, but they don’t get a single scene together. Lagertha wasn’t even allowed to grief over Siggy, because that those two women are friends is apparently not important.

    Unless the show gets better fast, I might cut my losses and decide that season 2 was the proper ending of the show.

    • “I liked the first season. I adored the second one. In just six episodes I have started to wonder if I should keep watching. And it’s not just because they killed off two of my most beloved characters. It’s because of everything. I once recommended the show in the first season how the show managed to show us how the Vikings saw the world without going straight up supernatural. But then suddenly seer abilities and vision became reality. I mean, wth?”

      Exactly. Everything you said is how I feel. Especially this paragraph.

    • wow! no offence, but maybe you don’t like the show all that much! the priest was always believing here and there – if he was taken in India he would be a buddhist too.
      He was ok as a mediator between Ragnar and England but now that’s done. And now his death is going to be helpful for Ragnar to get in super angry kill all mode.

      Some people actually found Athelstan rather boring with all his inner conflict . Pick a side already. At least Floki knows what he is fighting for (and he has excellent eye liner) And he was naive, he actually vouch for King’s Ecbert honesty when floki and others had doubts about the farms .

      I agree with you about Kalf though. But maybe (I hope) the show needs some characters to kill every season . Remember how relieved we all were when Ragnar killed the King and his kids and his people that were HIS GUESTS? not very hospitable but the king was annoying and everybody was happy. And he did the same with yarl born. (now i think about it i would be very afraid of an invitation from Ragnar)

      what i’m really afraid is that “the Kalf” is potential mate for Lagertha. C’mon! After cheater Ragnar , abusive yarl … , psyko king Ecbert she doesn’t need spineless Kalf.

      And the show is not about Ragnar /Lagertha/Athelstan in my opinion . Its about an era. I watch it and is like a Grimm story with a wonderful representation of somewhere far -far away long time ago…. Ragnar could die tomorrow and there are still stories to be told about vikings!

      • As I explained, it is not just loosing the characters, it is also about the writing taking a general nosedive. There is not one single arc this season I liked. Not one. Even those which should be interesting have been ruined by shoddy writing.

      • And to clarify, I don’t necessarily want the show to go down in ratings, I have still a slight hope that it might recover somehow. But I am pretty sure it will, since I know the fandom, which is mostly built around those three characters. One of the most popular fanwork-sites is “The tiny Viking” which shows Athelstan in various funny situations. The confessions at “Talk to the seer” have changed from “I adore the show so much” to “what the hell happened to the show I liked so much”. The fans are angry, and it reminds me very much of the Robin Hood situation…I wasn’t even in that fandom since I never watched the show, but it infamously cut it’s own run short by killing off Marian in a very insulting manner. The ratings immediately dropped and never recovered, one season later the show was cancelled.

        The “every character can die” is a neat concept, if you have enough characters to keep the audience interested, and if you consider the effect the absence of characters have on other characters. Ecbert is pretty popular, but he is mostly popular in his interaction with Ragnar and their ongoing fight over Athelstan’s loyalty. If there is a character who should have died this season it was Ecbert, because his arc was truly done, and as surprising as the twist concerning the settlement was, it goes totally against everything Ecbert expressed beforehand. Floki was pretty popular, but making him Athelstan’s murderer and a religious fanatic pretty much killed off his popularity, too (and I’ll be very surprised if he survives the season). A large part of what made Lagertha compelling as character was her friendship to other woman, especially Siggy. Now Siggy is gone and the only interaction Lagertha supposedly has with Thorunn happens off-screen. I also question the decision to push Helga and Torvi in the forefront more and more. I know they are played by Hirst daughters, but I don’t think that either character is that interesting to spend a lot of time with. And then there is Rollo, who will be stuck in Frankia, soon.

  4. Athelstan: “I was born again”

    Ragnar: “Like.. A baby?”

    Well this show has never been very subtle. 😛

    Athelstan dies at the hand of the old gods, His son, Alfred the Great is born, a devote and conflicted man who drove the Norsemen out of England.

  5. I loved the emotions Travis displayed throughout this episode… How he teared up when the old man told him about Wessex, his reactions when Athelstan told him he was leaving, and the tribute he gave him at the burial. Loved his “Nicodemus” moment “What do you mean born again – like a baby?” And I admired His determination to bring Athelstan’s body to the closest place to his God as he could – the very place where he taught Radnar the Lord’s Prayer.

    Nobody is up for Husband of the Year Award in this episode. Not Athelwolf, Radnar, Floki or even Bjorn.

    Surprised that neither Lagertha or Radnar seemed very excited about becoming grandparents. Speaking of Lagertha…where is the character we all love and admire? Hard to believe she would be so accepting of things.

    Long hair or short, I can’t stand Kalf.

    Minor detail…but are we supposed to belief that Floki dove into the frigid ocean to retrieve Athelstan’s arm band?

    Is Aslaug pregnant? I couldn’t tell!

  6. Just a nitpickky thing to start … Born Again was Episode 6, not 5.

    The scene where Judith was being mutilated was horrific! However I came away from it having more respect for the actress who plays that role (sorry, don’t know her name). She really nailed it.

    I found Athelstan’s return to faith to be very true to his character and very respectful of his Christian beliefs. Ditto for Floki and what he felt he had to do, in light of what he believed the gods wanted. Nonetheless, I shed a few tears at Athelstan’s death; regret the darkness that has infiltrated Floki’s soul; and cried lots more during Ragnar’s soliloquy on the hilltop while burying Athelstan.

    Now to my question. A co-worker and I were discussing the latest episode and we both remarked that apparently Aslaug didn’t become pregnant by The Wanderer. But you say she’s preggers! Was there a scene where you could see her profile? Or did someone make a remark that we missed?

    • Woops, fixed!

      Honestly, I was actually REALLY surprised to see that she wasn’t pregnant this episode. After all, last episode there was a scene that clearly gave us a close up view of her abdomen, hinting that she was pregnant by the normal M.O. of this show (and also hinting as to why she wanted to get it on with Ragnar – because it’d obscure her infidelity), but then this episode..nothing. I wonder if the scrapped the idea? Unless I totally got the wrong vibe! I am so ready to eat my words on that.

  7. Can’t. Watch. Well, I might watch for Alfred’s sake since we know who Alfred will grow up to be. Also I don’t think anyone would be cutting off Judith’s ear. She’s the daughter of Ecbert’s fat ally.
    Sorry. I miss the actual relationships between characters. Everything is pretty mean and spiteful and sneaky and lying and backstabbing this season. I do not believe Athelstan’s character arc had come to an end – I did read the actor’s interview.
    Athelstan is the one character who bridged the old gods and the new god. I think a little creativity on the part of the writers would have kept him alive. Killing off characters is the easy way out and I feel as if that’s the route the writers decided to take this season – the easy way.

  8. HDD…Here’s my opinion concerning Athelstan telling Ragnar that he wasn’t concerned with where he was going but where Ragnar was going: This was primarily a spiritual message instead of a geographical one. In other words, Athelstan was concerned about Ragnar’s spiritual state about where he was going… not necessarily that Ragnar was going to Paris…unless Ragnar’s going to Paris would have serious spiritual consequences.
    Athelstan, being born again, was at peace knowing that Jesus would be with him whether in this life or the next one. And my “guess” is Athelstan wanted Ragnar to be born again as well…leading up to Athelstan’s death. In other words, Athelstan did not only die as a martyr, he died for Ragnar.
    I could be totally way off base here and a bit biased in my views given that I’m a born again Christian myself. However, I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility, nor that it’s possible that Athelstan could visit Ragnar in a dream or better yet, be resurrected from the dead!!!
    Okay, that’s it for what it’s worth…and given all of this Christian stuff, I have to say that I believe you to have God -given talent for writing and look forward to your reviews every week. Keep up the good work!

  9. My apologies if I’m entering this for the 2nd time (didn’t realize I had to sign in to my wordpress acct). Nevertheless, here goes my opinion on the latest episode that I’m still trying to get over.

    I believe when Athelstan told Ragnar that he wasn’t concerned about where he was going, but where Ragnar was going, primarily dealt with the spiritual aspect instead of a geographical one…meaning, Athelstan is concerned about Ragnar’s spiritual condition more than he is about Ragnar going to Paris (my opinion only). Athelstan is convinced that Jesus will be with him (A) no matter where he goes…in this life or the next, and he wants the same for Ragnar.

    Athelstan’s death wasn’t so much related to him being a martyr as it was that (I think) he died for Ragnar’s soul. Being a born again Christian myself, I understand that my bias could be coming into play, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility…nor do I think it’s impossible that Athelstan could visit Ragnar in dreams, visions, or better yet given the Christian story…………….resurrected! Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but I’m gonna have “faith!”

    Given the Christian talk on this comment, I do have to say that you have “God given” talent when it comes to writing, and I personally look forward to your weekly reviews of this amazing show that will go down in history (pun not intended but could be taken that way if deemed appropriate). Keep up the good reviews….and long live Athelstan!

  10. So Ragnar was pretty bloody after giving himself his haircut… Was he trying to remove tattoos so that he could more easily impersonate a priest and infiltrate Paris that way?? Is that why he is asking Athelstan to forgive what he’s about to do? I wonder if he and Athelstan had that plan together — where Athlestan would pose as a traveling priest to help infiltrate…. Hmmmm…

  11. One more thing — I think Ragnar killed the Farmer Guy because he has no family to come looking for him, and he didn’t tell anybody about the attack besides Ragnar, and Ragnar just doesn’t want to deal with it or be made to look a fool. He wants to just get to Paris…..massacre be damned!

  12. I believe Ragnar killed the messenger because he does not yet want his people to know about the massacre in Wessex, and he is probably afraid the old man might spread the word. And so therefore, he strangles him, Before he killed him however, he did ask him if he had told anyone yet.

    The scene with Judith being punished was sooo difficult to watch – I completely agree with you. I too had to look away… And the way she got saved by Eckbert’s story of Athelstan’s ‘divine intervention’ with Judith…Wow, people were so naive back then!!

    This was the episode of Athelstan’s six pack. I wonder whether all monks were in such good shape back then. 🙂 Anyway, Athelstan had to die to let the beast out of Ragnar.

    And Floki? Doesn’t history say that Floki was the one who was banned and then discovered Iceland? Perhaps the friendship with Ragnar will now come to a definite end? Perhaps, for all time’s sake, Floki won’t be killed by Ragnar, but, banned: a very common punishment in those days.

    Oh, and giving birth the natural way? Still happening here in Scandinavia for 95 % of the women! First birth – you can stay in the hospital for one night. Second birth or more, you go home after a few hours. And the liberal view on sex, also still very common! There’re still quite Viking-like over here, believe me!! 🙂 🙂

  13. Wow! All I can say is OMG! I cannot believe that they killed Athelstan. And the Judith scene? I too had to turn away. Was so violent!!

  14. Well, now that was all kinds of interesting. Unedited this episode ran a little longer. I know those of you who watched the US cut didn’t get to see any nipples, I’ll try to mark out what I thought were cut scenes.

    Did not expect the time to skip forward to Thorunn giving birth already. But I guess a raid of this magnitude needs preparing (ships need to be built etc). While sagas only mentions two sons for Bjorn Ironside he probably had more kids, so yay for baby Sigi.
    (Cut scene? Did you not see Lagertha asking to hold her grandchild?). Also Thorunn’s statement about about the child being ‘weak and deformed’ is more about her own state of mind. She’s a mental wreck after the injury.

    Aslaug is most definatly NOT pregnant by the Wanderer though, if it’s been enough time so that Thorunn is giving birth she should definatly be showing, and she’s not. She’s quite slim in the scene with Ragnar post nightmare.

    I’m confused about Ragnar’s motivation in strangling the survivor (Ah, TV strangulation, always over in a few seconds). Was he simply granting him his wish to be with his family or is it as some others have said, he didn’t want people distracted from Paris.

    The Wessex scenes were…..very hard to watch. But bravo Jennie Jacques, that was some seriously award worthy spine-chilling acting as we all felt Judith’s fear, panic and pain. For me the best line was “My Lord Jesus never advocated such barbarism” because of how true it is. The number of heinous acts of barbary done in the name of religion (Christian or otherwise) are immense and continues even today. And naturally the baby is Alfred (who’s grandson will also be named Athelstan). The next generation is ready, will we ever see The Great Heathen Army vs Alfred the Great on the show you think?

    Ugh, Kalf. Moving on…

    The whole ‘setting up Bjorn’ with Torvi scene is indeed weird and I’m trying to understand what they want to convey with it. But at least Thorunn’s dialogue confirmed that they are indeed married. Also that whole white dress with a veil over her damaged side totally reinforces the Hel visuals. Unsure how much was shown in the US version, but it was the sight of Erlandur banging some random girl on a bar table that made Torvi seek out Bjorn. Kinda starting to feel sorry for the gal for being such a doormat. Jarl Borg always prefered First Wife’s Skull, and Erlandur is just a d-bag. Well, hopefully she’ll be a widow again soon enough and maybe find a guy who treats her nice. Wonder how weird it was for Michael Hirst to write sexytimes scene for his own daughter (Georgia Hirst plays Torvi).

    But Torvi refering to herself as “Viking” was a major goof, as the northmen by all account never called themselves that. ‘Viking’ as a collective term for pagan Scandinavians was a word introduced during the revival in the 18th century, along with all those images of horned helmets etc.

    The man Ragnar introduced Athelstan to was named Sinric, he’s the wanderer that orginally told Ragnar about England and gave him the sunboard to navigate with.

    (Definatly cut scene. A nice little scene of a smiling, loving Thorun nursing baby Sigi. But since it involved closeup of a breast, no can do in the US. There’s also a good closeup of Thorun’s scarred face, and while definatly noticable it’s healing really well for not being stiched. Giving more fuel to that Thorun’s feelings of being ugly, maimed and unworthy are all in her head.)

    And then, there’s Athelstan’s fate. I have been suspecting it ever since the news broke that George Blagden was cast in a new show just a Vikings was wrapping up filming on season 3. And when he ended up siring Alfred the Great with Judith, yeah. You knew he was done for.

    I have a strong suspicion Floki won’t last the season out either, they are seriously thinning the ranks. Only the one’s with historical plot armor are safe.

      • Yes of course, Lagertha definatly has that plot armor, even if most of her legend have been told on screen.

    • Thanks for sharing about the scenes the U.S. audience didn’t get to see. It didn’t really make sense why Torvi would casually hook up with Bjorn without knowing what Erlander did. I wish I had seen Thorunn lovingly nursing the baby…maybe it would have helped me to like her more. At the very least, it would have provided a stark contrast with Judith immediately having her baby ripped away from her.

    • Was there a scene where Rollo wanted to see baby Siggy but was denied? I heard today that’s part of the theory that Bjorn is really Rollo’s son. Idk.

  15. I don’t think Floki is going to die anytime soon. If he’s anything like the historical Floki, he’ll discover Iceland first.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hrafna-Fl%C3%B3ki_Vilger%C3%B0arson

    So there’s this hope our guyliner wearin’ mischief maker will be around much longer than suspected.

    With Judith being Aelle’s daughter..as some have pointed out adultery was punished back then in the manner depicted. And Northumbria at that time wasn’t anywhere near as powerful as Wessex. Now, had Judith actually been the daughter of Charles the Bald (as she historically was) that’s a completely different story. I doubt Ecbert would even have contemplated cutting off the ear of a daughter of Christendom’s most powerful monarch (and his brothers too ! – the kings of Middle Francia and East Francia)

    And accoring to Hirst the scope of the series go all the way up to Alfred the Great, so you will definitely see both the Great Heathen Army and the Great Summer Army invasions. I’m interested in seeing how they’ll portray the grown up Ivar the Boneless..arguably the best known of all of Ragnar’s sons. He better be every bit memorable as Ragnar !

  16. This show beatuifully illustrates Viking history. The conflict between religions, in charactors, Alethstan versus Flokie, and dialogue and idealogies. The conflict that can develop inside ones self, with beliefs or when confronted by other view points. The late conversion to Christianity for the norse and the conflict within societies. The Vikings are not ready for Athelstan. The St Brice’s day massacre was hundreds of years later, yet the massacre is this season echoes this event. Thus giving weight to the story line. What would Ragnar do if the word got out about the massacre? In part, protecting his interests, his power. News of this would require revenge, known in Norse culture. Ragnar’s focus is Paris, this increases his wealth, morale and power. If Kattegat knew, then they would need to return to Wessex, but how could you permantly protect such a settlement? And at what cost? Under a king such as Egbert? This is a strategic and calculated murder, what is interesting is Flokie doesn’t appear to care, yet his focus is on other things. As I study Scandinavia history, I love this show more, at the moment.

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