reviews

Review: ‘Vikings,’ Season 3, Episode 8, ‘To The Gates!’

I scheduled this one to go live a little bit later on Saturday than usual, hoping that after a bacon-laden breakfast I would proofread this entry before it went live and I would avoid embarrassing mistakes like the incorrect episode name or the negation of actor names. If this little blurb is still in by the time it goes live, you can bet your bottom dollar that Shanbanana is still asleep in her bed right now (or enjoying a leisurely Saturday breakfast!) instead of staring at a computer screen. In that case, I am dreadfully sorry. How sorry? Probably not that sorry, because I’m currently eating toast and drinking coffee. (Just a guess.)

 

Still, I’m am super hyped about this episode! Episodes after filler episodes (like last week) are usually phenomenal, so I’ve been sitting on my haunches waiting for Thursday to roll around and then Friday to roll around after it because I just know it will be a wild ride. I do have some reservations…

 

Reservations?

 

Well. Anyone with a cursory knowledge (or at least a Wiki-influenced one) of French history knows precisely how this episode will go. Despite my aforementioned struggle with basic history in our previous episodes (I own up to it! Ask me about Germany and I’ll do well. France? Perhaps…less well.), that basic history leads me to believe one particular pathway for the episode about saccing Paris. Nevertheless, the show has been hinting at the coming failure of the raid for a few episodes and my heart is heavy with the upcoming events. On the other hand, Vikings is absolutely at its best when there is physical conflict involved and if anything hints towards a righteously awesome episode, it’s one centralized around insane conflict. That is a lot of words to say I am so ready for this episode. Are you ready? Yes? Let’s go.

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We start with Floki tantrically dancing in front of his towers like last episode, but this time, the floor below is filled with a sea of bustling Vikings readying themselves for war. Ragnar watches on, Athelstan’s cross in hand, as scores of men and women gear up with axes and shields in hand. They load the boats and ready for the encounter and their spirits seem relatively high, despite Ragnar’s barely (and I mean barely) concealed grimace.

 

It isn’t long until the raid by land and sea has begun, the two groups hoping to overwhelm the defenses of Paris with brute force. Inside, Paris is burning. I mean, not literally, but doesn’t that phrase sound amazing? But, no, really, everyone is panicking as they see Lagertha’s flawless self saunter up the field like she owns the world. I would quiver as well, can you blame them?

 

Paris won’t be so easy, though, because their weaponry is far more advanced than the Vikings were giving them credit for (even with the insight provided by Athelstan and the mountainous – in size and quantity! – towers that Floki has provided them). Internally, Parisians are scared out of their mind with the approach, alternating praying and panicking within the walls, but the forces seem sound.

 

Lagertha’s group bring a fortified battering ram to the fight to start things off –

 

Wait, while Lagertha was giving orders, why weren’t the crossbows firing like bloody murder?

 

Respect for their opponent? I have no idea.

 

However, when Floki sounds the war horn Count Odo signifies their arrival and the vibe changes immediately. Right from the start, some things strike me as weird (what is this instant reloading of crossbows? Those things took forever, didn’t they? AT least their atrocious accuracy is being represented!), but the daylight provides an orange glow and already there is blood being spilt.

 

WOAH WOAH

 

What!?

 

WOAH HELLO, SHIRTLESS ROLLO ALERT.

 

When was the last time we have seen that giant hunk of man go full hulk around a swarm of dead bodies? Too long, my friends. Too long. Our rape-y, behemoth Rollyoda has been missed.

 

Right, anyway. The fight continues and Kalf/Lagertha are still trying in vain to get down the gate to Paris. Meanwhile, Floki’s towers are being put to good use against the water-adjacent walls of the city. The only negative? Well. I mean. A lot of people seem to be dying. No, seriously. A lot of people seem to be dying. With the Vikings set below them, they are easy pickings for the men above. There are continuous splashes of dead bodies sounding as the fight rages on and Vikings attempt to climb Floki’s ladders, but it’s honestly for nought. Floki cries to his fighters that the gods are with them and he believes his own words more than his own soldiers do, but he believes them with the conviction of several hundred men. With the backing of his best friend, with the backing of the gods, he fears nothing.

 

Meanwhile, King Charles hides behind his ceremonial mask like a man on a bad trip. Quite obviously, he’s an incapable leader, to the extent that he is unable to carry the Paris banner for his own people. Who does it? His daughter, Gisla. She’s proving herself to be a valuable-slash-only-interesting character from this French venture. In fact, she pulls a Joan of Arc and encourages her soldiers to continue fighting once the Vikings begin to breach the defenses – it’s so inspiring (I likely sound snarkier than I actually feel) that Count Odo is rendered speechless. I assure you, this will not quell his desires to marry her.

 

Kalagertha (ugliest team name, but go with me on this) make some headway into the front gates, bringing in horses (who are shot a lot by arrows, poor things 😦 ) to finish the final pull of the gate from the anchors they have established. I hate to say it (believe me, I do), but Kalagertha actually make a decent team. Which is refreshing when literally everyone else is dying around them. Even when giant rocks are being hurled against their shields, it is refreshing.

 

Still, it’s hard to find any comfort at all when Floki sees the giant piles of dead bodies around him. It’s hard to find any comfort when Parisian defenses bring scalding hot oil into the game. It’s hard to find any comfort when parisian defenses bring scalding hot oil into the game and then light that shit on fire, incinerating the wooden ladders with it. Dumbfounded, Floki hides within his own creations. Knowingly, Ragnar looks on.

 

Seriously? Ragnar is just watching while his people are legitimately being eviscerated?

 

Yes.

 

That’s fucking cold-blooded. Has Ragnar always been so cold?

 

Well, between killing an innocent farmer and now, he’s certainly become more cold-blooded than we are accustomed to seeing him. But, seriously, you just knew that he knew the raid would go horribly. He promoted Floki for a reason. He’s not stepping in for a reason. However, I really don’t believe the end lesson (Floki’s moral of the story, if you will) justifies the means at all. This is pure carnage and he is royalty watching his people die around him.

 

Kalagertha manage to breach the gates and make their way to…another gate. Lagertha has raid on her mind while Kalf yells at her to stop. And yells at her to stop. And then slaps her and drags her back, because fucking stop, woman this is obviously a trap! This is just more proof that nobody listens to Kalf. However, considering this actually was a trap and Kalf totally saved Lagertha maybe it is…ugh. Maybe it is time that we actually should start listening to him.

 

Wait, wouldn’t Kalf eliminating Lagertha be legitimately strategic, though? He could go home, spin a yarn about how she died in battle to convert the remaining people to his side that still pine for their former Earless, and he would be able to reign freely after.

 

But their imagined secual tension! Think about that! Though, really, that is the only reason I can think of that he would spare her, for the same reason Lagertha should be (and will be) spared in the future – she is phenomenal, people find her attractive, and she’s one of the main characters of the show that is one of the only reasons this show isn’t a completely bloody sausage fest. She has longevity! Hopefully. No, but seriously, if they kill Lagertha I quit.

 

But, right! A GIANT TRAP. An obvious one! Erlendur is shot (boohoo),

 

To say shit is going poorly would be an understatement. Floki, from his hiding spot (that is now on fire while he is being dripped with blood by the carcusses around him of his own dead people), of course, blames Athelstan. He believes with his whole heart that the reason all of these bad things are happening is because Ragnar lost his way.

 

Real talk to those who know the Viking religion far better than I do: I am genuinely curious, was a zealot-like nature common in the ranks? There are outliers in every religion, but I just am curious to know whether or not they were so pressed about conversion to other religions and the acceptance of said differing religions. I’m wondering because we have Floki in one corner and then the rest of Kattegat’s population in the other corner that was seemingly ambivalent towards Athelstan and Christianity as long as there was respect involved. If you have any input in this, please discuss in the comments!

 

Magically! Bjorn and Rollo make it to the top (relatively) unscathed! They hack away vigilantly at their oppressors. Oh. And then Rollo is pushed off of his ladder and into the storming water (filled with bodies!) below. He is glassy-eyed as he stares upwards and drifts below. Wait. WHAT? No. Lord, Vikings, don’t do this to me! Rollo is supposed to have a shirtless wedding eventually to a French lady! You can’t just kill him! Especially not when he made meaningful eye contact with Gisla!

 

Ragnar, finally, maybe, is starting to realize the shitty realness of the situation, because as his son is being pounded on like a chef tenderizing a piece of pork, he gets a look on his face that finally registers how much trouble they are all waist-deep in. This would be a good time to retreat, guys. Seriously. Any. Time. Or, you know, you can chuck yourself over the side of the wall and into a hill of dead bodies while you wistfully stare at the city that you failed to conquer. That is also, apparently, an option.

 

Also, Bjorn looks dead. Super dead. Despite looking incredibly dead with a lot of arrows in his back and a floppy head, I can’t imagine that they would actually kill Bjorn. Would they? Would they? While Ragnar (not dead!) clutches at his son, Floki is having a very, very dark moment inside of his burning ladder. The gods have betrayed him, they didn’t heed his sacrifice, and he doesn’t understand why they are being so harsh with him despite him obeying their whims at every turn. It’s a turning point for Floki, because his world is literally crashing around him in the form of godlessness, bodies, and fire. It doesn’t get more symbolic than that. He is one, miniscule step away from killing himself before he is bombarded with a flaming body from above. Is it a sign? Well, if it is it isn’t a very good one.

 

On the opposite side of the fence, King Charles and Count Odo look at the dead bodies of their attackers with distaste and satisfaction (in that order). Threat demolished, it is time to survey the carnage like weird Victorian era-obsessed murder chasers. “Now that I see them up close,” King Charles starts, “they’re so much less frightening than I suppose. Indeed. They appear almost human.” Time to go to church to celebrate! Well, at least I like Gisla. Ish. Does she make up for the worthlessness and unlikeableness of literally every other French character? Yeah, probably not. Still – Team Gisla! Tentatively!

 

Miraculously, there are survivors of the botched raid and they are being mended by Helga, Torvi, and scores of others that stayed at the camp. Ragnar drags his ston onto the shore, but we’re still not entirely sure whether or not he is alive.

 

Speaking of Bjorn, we flash over to Kattegat (uh, random?) and see that Thorunn is hooded and cloaked in the dusk light. She looks down on Kattegat, it’s obvious that she has made up her mind to flee for…reasons. I’m not entirely sure, considering how incredibly little the show bothered to develop her as a character. In case you are wondering, she has left Siggy behind with Aslaug. Seemingly for good. Does this mean that, assuming Bjorn is alive, the writers are going to keep the Erlendur/Torvi/Bjorn thing up? Ugh. Probably. Great.

 

Just like that, we’re brought back to France. Oh surprise! Lagertha is alive and she runs through the tent to see whether or not Bjorn is alive. Oh surprise! Bjorn is alive. And then, of course, Rollo comes pummeling through the tent doors. Surprise! He’s..alive? Wait, seriously? EVERYONE that the show set up to die is actually alive? That seems….hilarious. At this point, it’s like the show’s creators are even poking fun at how many people have died this season. Bjorn’s dead! Just kidding! Lagertha’s dead! Just kidding! Rollo’s dead! Just kidding! Or, they’re attempting to add depth to the episode, but I would really prefer to believe that it was a massive joke on the part of the writers. Man, that would just be genius.

 

Rollo says that they were close to succeeding. So close. He tells Ragnar that they will not make the same mistakes next time. NEXT TIME? Brollo. Look around you. You have like, 5 people left in your army. Unless you literally bust down the door with Uzis in hand, you have no chance.

 

Speaking of no chance (of living ‘til the end of the season), Floki is also alive. He is sitting in the river and afraid to face the others, because he knows that it is his fault that it failed so flamingly (though I actually think this was a technology/fortification issue) and he feels as if the gods has failed him. He’s still going through that identity crisis and understandably so, but now they’re just tacking on cowardice onto his character like he wasn’t already turning into a Disney-level evil villain. Even Helga thinks he is being selfish and she voices her anger – she abandons him, despite his cries for her to come to him. He weeps in tones of grey and blue, it’s a sad end to a mad man.

 

It isn’t all lovelorn and sad in the Viking Camp, though! Kalagertha is actually happening. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I know. “WHY LAGERTHA?” we are all yelling into our screens (or is that just me?), even though I actually think I sort of understand why. From the start of the season, Lagertha’s attraction to Kalf has been established. Now that he’s saved her life (and stole her power), there’s this perverse bond between them that correlates to sexy times. He tells her that she can’t hate him (oh, she can) and that all he knows is that he desires her with “all [his] heart,” which is like – congrats! – you…have a pulse? Hello, have you seen Lagertha? She’s like the female Rollo in terms of pure hanky panky sex appeal. She swears that she will kill him, but if he wants to actually bone with that stipulation, then sure, they can go ahead and continue the exploration of each other’s bodies. That seems like a super solid foundation to build a relationship on.

 

“I want you.”

“I hate you.”

“I stole your power, you’re still salty about that?”

“Yes. But I still find you hot. It is problematic.”

“We can sex our way through our problems.”

“Hm. That is tempting. But I hate you.”
“Still. Sex!”
“Fine. But, one day, I will kill you. You know that?”
“Huh? Sorry I stopped listen–boobs.”

 

Ah, what a poetic interpretation of what that scene was about.b

 

You’re welcome.

 

Still. They do the naughty tango.

 

Oh! And Bjorn isn’t dead! He and Ragnar actually have a nice father/son moment while he’s on his deathbed. Bjorn has his confidence wrecked and he starts the conversation with the understatement of the century. “Today went badly.” Still, it is a very tender moment between father and son. I feel like they needed it – could it have happened before he was half-dead? Yeah. But maybe it would have lacked the poignancy.

 

To think about things, Ragnar goes and visits Athelstan in the middle of the woods. He talks to Ghost Athelstan about his agenda with Floki and Ghost Athelstan thinks that Ragnar went too far.

 

Okay. Wait. Are you telling me that Ragnar set up Floki for defeat to prove a point with the sacrifice of so many of his own people in the name of building the fury of a “Patient Man?” That seems like an expensive, reckless, and jackass thing to do as a whole. There would have been a lot of less costly ways to shove Floki’s betrayal down his own throat.

 

No. I mean. Yes, I completely agree with this assessment and this is the first, honest time that I feel bothered by Ragnar’s seeming omnipresence. He was so sure that the entire thing would be a bust and yet he still didn’t stop the strategy or the fight at all, considering the significant losses he would be facing in the aftermath. He tells Floki that obviously he knows that he killed Athelstan (no CSI-speed DNA testing needed), he doesn’t seem completely heartbroken that he is literally in command of a handful of individuals after the absolute carnage. It pulled me out of the show, because, even though Ragnar has always been methodical and playing by his own rules (by the way, did anyone else find the script exceedingly clunky this episode?), his X-Men level ability to seemingly predict the future demise of his own people and then deliberately not stopping it is just so… well. Stupid. And out of character. The sheer loss of life is absolutely not negated by Floki’s lesson.

 

Sigh.

 

Maybe, part of me is just really upset at the direction they took Floki. Sure, this season he has trod the path towards extremism deftly, but I feel like they could have made his character far more interesting without boiling him down to a zealot that simply fights for his beliefs to the point of being blind to anything else. Floki has been there for Ragnar from the first season, he helped Ragnar pull a very extensive long-con in the second season, and now, surely nearing the end of his place on the show, he’s been boiled down to a once-passionate man with lunatic views. He’s been boiled down to a one-note character and that makes me sad, excellent eyeliner game or not.

 

But, hey! The fight scene was excellent. In that way, the show really stuck to its strengths this episode. I always gravitate towards the brutality-slash-poeticness of the fight scenes in this show, because they are masterfully choreographed. Considering this episode was 80% gorgeously choreographed fight scene, I honestly, truthfully, can’t complain about it. Bizarre character twists (hello bizarre booty call, don’t think you’re getting off so easily!) aside, the fact that it was so combat heavy actually saved the episode to me. Where will we go from here? Honestly, who knows.

 

Hm. Interesting!

 

Yes, I know! I am really looking forward to the commentator interpretations.

 

Naturally. So, what do you arbitrarily rate this episode overall?

 

Hmmmm. Now, that’s a tough one. Overall, I rate this episode three and a half burning rivers of oil out of five. What did you guys think of this episode? Was it surprising? Did it live up to your expectations? And, furthermore, where do you think Vikings is going to go from here?

 

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31 thoughts on “Review: ‘Vikings,’ Season 3, Episode 8, ‘To The Gates!’

  1. Until shortly before the end of the episode it would have gotten full points from me. The battle was perfectly staged, perhaps the best they ever did on TV level. I was totally enthralled in the show. And the lack of Wessex surely made it all better. For once I could spend nearly the whole time with characters in which I am actually interested in.

    Naturally they had then threw in Lagertha/Kalf and ruined it from me. I am annoyed. Honestly, is it really that difficult to give her an character arc which is not about her sex-life?

    • Agreed! I would super love if Lagertha had a plot that wasn’t led with her vagina. She’s a strong character, I don’t know why they are reducing her to those.

  2. Great review. Just chiming in to say that it seemed to me that the archers didn’t drop The LagerthArmy where they stood, accessing the situation, was because The LagerthArmy was standing just out of the archers’ reach.

      • I’m not sure either…I’m just going off my best guess..lol. I can’t even shoot a rubber band across the room without somehow it backfiring, causing great bodily injury to my own self 😳

      • A crossbow has greater range and superior accuracy compared with a standard bow (Swiss legend of William Tell and the apple involves a crossbow.) But they take a LOOOOONG time to reload and rewind … far longer than the show allowed (that’s where the expression “shot your bolt” came from) and perhaps tonight Ragnar will figure that the Franks haven’t had time to roll any new ones.

      • These early crossbows dont have that great range, but they are not that hard to reload either. The massive steel crossbows of later medieval era that were made to punch though knightly armor is where that perception comes from. (If knights were the tanks of medieval times, then the crossbows were the equivalent RRG’s)

  3. While it did seem that Ragnar lost alot of his raiders, but when you really think about how many ships he had with him, he might have lost no more than a small percentage of his army. 10% or so. Depending on which version of the Siege of Paris, we’re talking about anywhere between 5,000 raiders to 30-40,000.

    Anyway back to the show itself…Floki definitely was set up to fail. And he did..spectacularly. So he’s having a crisis of confidence and maybe shaken enough to snap out of his self delusion that he’s ALWAYS right about where the gods are concerned. The sight of Helga turning her back to him had to be…crushing. Helga, of all people. Maybe we’ll see the old Floki after that.

    Gisla and Rollo making eye contact…Maybe they’ll marry. She’d be downright perfect for Rollo in much the same way Siggy was – a strong woman who can handle Rollo. Although I had to wonder,…where are the crossbows when Rollo was showing off his hirsute glory to Gisla. I mean he was right atop the ramparts…practically beggin’ to be shot again and again and again with bolts. Maybe the Frankish crossbowmen were just as struck dumb at the glory that is Rollo as Gisla was. Flex those pecs, Rollo !

    In a prior post, I said that had I been Lagertha, I’d have accepted Kalf’s offer to join him only to knife him (preferably post-coitus) in bed. Now it seems Lagertha is going to do exactly that..even going as far as to tell him to his face that she’s gonna kill him. And gooey eyed Kalf laps it up like a cat licking up cream. Saving Lagertha and making Lagertha that offer might set things up to in a very interesting way..and redeem Kalf. He’s starting to be more of an improvement – unlike say, Erlendur. I can’t wait for the episode when Erlendur is finally dispatched to Hel’s realm.

    As for the “dead opening the gates” part of the prophecy made by the Seer, I’d venture to say it’s going to be the work of the plague.

    The shots of the Siege of Paris was spectacular..especially the sweeping shot of all those towers on fire along the walls of Paris and the huge fleet clogging the Seine..amazing.

  4. I think that more people have distaste for Aethelstan and Christianity than is shown. Remember the episode when Aethelstan turned back to Christianity and then everyone was spitting on him and they wanted to kill him but Ragnar came in and bailed him out? I think that more people than are shown have distaste for that way of life but out of respect to Ragnar they don’t show it or attempt to ignore Aethelstan.

    As far as sending Floki up to fail, I think that was cold blooded of Ragnar but keep in mind that a lot of those guys are fighting for Kalf and Erlendur, and he has no way to know if they are going to suddenly betray him considering Kalf has already betrayed Lagertha and Erlendur is like the worst human being of all time. So I think that sending those guys to potentially get cannon foddered to death wasn’t a terrible move because he could potentially kill off rivals to his throne while simultaneously testing the enemy weaknesses.

    Keep in mind that in real life according to wikipedia there were 120 ships putting Paris under siege with 5000 men at least. Even if Ragnar lost a thousand men, he still has 4000 left to throw at Paris. Also keep in mind that in Viking culture, life didn’t have the same meaning as it does to us – to them, they were ok getting killed in a fight because they believed that unless you went to Ragnarok or were a terrible person and went to Hel or Niflheim or whatever, the only part of you that lived on was your name and as such you were expected to stand up and be an awesome person because that might be the only part of you that lives on.

    So I disagree with your assessment that Ragnar is making a mistake by launching that raid because they value things a lot differently than us. There are now less men to share the same amount of loot, he tested their defenses and nearly got through, and now the Franks are feeling good about themselves which means they might get cocky. Meanwhile, Paris is still under siege and now has less bolts and arrows to throw at the Vikings, and now has less men to stand on the walls, while still slowly losing their food supply day after day. Meanwhile, the Vikings now have a better idea of what they are up against.

    Plus the seer made some prophecies and that dude is never wrong.

    • I don’t the think the animosity shown Athelstan in those final scenes was due to his conversion back to Christinanity as much as him having thrown away the arm ring. That was the big act of disprect from Athelstan that made them mad, not the born again faith.

  5. Great episode, but I have a few issues I’d like other readers to weigh in on.
    I had the feeling Ragnar intentionally threw himself off the tower, possibly because, having seen the scope and size of the city and what he and his warriors were facing, he wanted to try to survive to fight another day. Anybody else get that impression?

    Anyone else worried when Ragnar coughed up blood toward the end of the episode? Internal injuries …?

    I thought I saw Erlendur get hit by something; but it was just a brief glimpse, so I guess he survived (damn).

    The brief scene back in Kattegat where Aslaug responds to baby Siggy’s cries – she didn’t seemed extremely upset that Porunn wasn’t there. Did she know Porunn had left? Will this be permanent, or is it the Viking version of temporary postpartum depression.

    And did anybody else start repeating lines from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” when they saw the French soldiers atop the city walls?

  6. Wow. That. Battle. Was. Intense. I usually have to look away from the gory scenes but that attack was so beautifully orchestrated, I was mesmerized.

    Gustaf as Floki was outstanding. How did he manage to escape the burning tower? I don’t know much about the Norse religion, but I really think this story arc is about Floki’s descent into madness, not his misguided defense of his gods.

    Interesting how certain scenes connected us to back to earlier episodes. Rollo going under the water looked so much when Siggy’s drowned. Helga telling Floki that all he cares about is himself echoed Lagertha’s words to Ecbert. Ragnar peeing blood in the tent was a reminder of when Queen K tried to help him with his wounds. (Only this time, his wounds appear to be much more serious.)

    I loved how Ragnar sprang into action when Bjorn got into trouble. Their relationship has been strained this season, so it was nice to see some quality father – son time.

    I would never complain about Rollo the Shirtless, but it does seem foolish for him to engage in a battle with no protection!

    • Well, he’s a berserker. While the word “berserk” has come to mean a murderous rage, it quite possiblly had other meanings. There are generally two interpretations. “serk” or the more common scandinavian sp”elling “särk” is an old word for shirt. So “ber serk” could litterly mean “bare of shirt”, a.ka warriors fighting without armors.

      Another interpretation becomes interesting when you consider the Seer’s prophecies to Rollo. The “Ber” part could also mean…..Bear. As in the beserkers fought dressed in animal skins.

      So the Bear part of “The Bear will marry a princess” is most likely a reference to Rollo’s berserker status (and not to Bjorn, even if the name does mean bear as well)

      • I actually love the idea that Rollo’s name is literally related to how amazing he looks shirtless.

        And, like I’ve agreed with you from the start, I really do think it is Rollo who will have wedding bells ringing!

  7. Finally, I’m able to sit down and comment on an episode. With Easter and some personal business having taken up all of my free time for the last week I barely found time to keep up with the episodes, much less muse about them. Good thing last week was such a filler.

    Version difference this time? Zero. The European episode ran exactly the same as US.

    Since the episode was 80% action and carnage, there’s not much to say about that. You’ve already covered it well. About the crossbows though, while slower than the longbow you could load and shoot them fairly fast. About maybe 1 arrow in 5 seconds (my rough estimate from random Youtube video). Probably quicker if you’re a solider who’ve been trained and drilled in it’s use.

    Now regarding Floki’s zealotry. While I am Scandinavian and with perhaps an above average interest in history I’m no expert. I don’t think short of a time machine we’ll be able to find a definitive answer wether the Vikings had zealots like Floki. There are accounts from England during the invasion of The Great Heathen Army (a.ka 3 out of 5 Ragnar’s boys) were Christians such as Edmund the Martyr were supposed to have been tortured and told to renounce their faith by the invaders. But considering this was written by the Saxons looking to demonize their enemy, perhaps best not to take it at face value.

    While it’s not an aspect that’s been covered on the show, the Vikings were traders as much as raiders. A monestary loaded with gold and only defended by monks was a fair raiding target, but against a fortified city such as Paris or Constantinople they would have been more likely to offer trade. Amber, salt, furs and honey were priced commodities. And going around hating the other guys religion would likely not land you many good deals. Cool heads and general acceptance and you sail home with a bunch of pretty silver coins though.

    In general tribal/polytheistic religions like the Norse are much more accepting of different gods. The “I can’t tollerate any other god besides my god” zealot mentality is generaly reserved for monotheistic religions. Even the Norse pantheon was not a unified belif and there were many local variants. The best example comes from the Aesir and the Vanir in Norse myth. The Aesir were those famous gods most have heard of Odin, Thor etc. The Vanir were also gods, just a different race of them. Njordr, the god of fishing and the sea. and his fertily god and godess children Frey and Freya were all Vanir. At some point before the dawn of the Viking Age the tribe who worshiped the Vanir most likely were absorbed with the tribe who worshipped Odin and the Aesir and the stories were integrated.

    In fact, Scandinavia didn’t succumb to Christianity due to outside presure or foreign missionaries. The deciding factor was that leaders and Kings such as Harold Bluetooth (Yes, the Bluetooth communication protocol is a refrence to him) saw the benefits of Christianity to their own power base (“divine right to rule” is so much easier) and converted.

    Yikes. Didn’t mean to go all lecture-y. Let’s get back to some final thoughts about the show shall we.

    Princess Gisla is an intriguing character, the way she rallied the troops with that banner was very impressive. But she doesn’t fool me. I saw her sneaking a peek at the hulking shirtless behemoth scaling the walls.

    Accordin to Gaia Weiss’s twitter it seems like what they’re trying to do with Thorunn is related to depression in some way, wether it’s from the injury or post partum or a combination of both. Wish they’d have given this story a bit more meat on it’s bones instead of time-jumping like crazy.

    An WHY OH WHY did Michael Hirst write that bizare booty call. It’s dumbfounding and almost insulting. A slimy slug like Kalf does not deserve a woman like Lagertha and hatef-cks are not sexy. This would have been the perfect time to use a small aspect of the original legend that was missing from how she killed doucebag 2nd hubby. A weapon hidden in her clothes and stab stab stabbity when he’s out of his armor with the promise of sexytimes. Are we going to have to suffer his slimy filth in season 4 as well?

    How am I going to continue to sell the shows strong writing for a female character to a friend who already was mad about the treatment of Lagertha in season 2 with stuff like that?

    • Don’t apologize! That perspective was exactly what I was hoping to get. I’ve seen some conflicting accounts of whether or not being a zealot was second nature to the Vikings and your take on it is super valuable to me forming my own opinion about whether or not it would have been probable (monotheism vs polytheism being a big sell for me, as well as the neutral trader perspective). Not a lecture at all! Very lovely and I thank you for it!

      I feel 100% on board with your take on the ladies of the show right now as well. While Gisla seems promising (in that she has dimension insofar as we can tell and what’s been shown of her), I really wish they would have gone more into the actual sorrow of Thorunn (postpartum is real!) instead of writing her off as a melodramatic footnote (which is how she feels to me at this point). I am also so, so disappointed with how they’re writing Lagertha this season. Why did she hook up with him? It doesn’t matter if you find him hot, girl, you should be more pissed than horny. Just say no to the D. It’s easy. They really are relegating her to the most reductive and eye-rolly plots this season, it is getting harder and harder to defend.

  8. Okay. I did watch. Ragnar would never sacrifice men unnecessarily. He would just flat out challenge Floki, who is, by the way, suffering from a severe case of character assassination at the hands of the writers, to a fight to the death.
    I guess the other thing is this is not exactly how it all went down. The way it all went down might have been more interesting.
    Kalf? Kalf? OMG. Lagertha has been so dumbed down.
    On the other hand, praise Odin Rollo came back from the dead! If Rollo dies I am so outtie– for good this time.

    • Why would he challenge him to a fight, allowing Floki to be rewarded with going to Valhalla by dying in combat? No, this way he’s instead taking from him what he holds most dear, his unquestionable faith in the gods. Doubt in the gods is the single worst punishment you can inflict on a zealot.

    • Well, seeing as they’re probably combining elements of both the 846 Ragnar lead raid and the 885 (this one featured the use of siege engines and failing to breach the walls) one lead by historical Rollo it’s hard to say exactly how many men they have. Both raids were said to have been hundreds of ships with somewhere between 5000 – 10000 wariors. So even if say a thousand were killed in the first failed assault, they’d have backups to spare.

      • Because, obviously, they can’t have that many extras it’s hard to give the impression of thousands of warriors. But, that being said… I cannot wait for a Rollo-specific storyline. I have been holding my breath in anticipation for that one.
        And if I may make another comment about Rollo – he would have made the perfect, and I do mean PERFECT Dougal in Outlander. The Dougal in Outlander great and I love him, does a terrific job with the role, but he is not the same sexy beast beefcake hothead as the Dougal in the book.

  9. I really don’t like princess gisla, I just find her very annoying. I’m waiting for Rollo to hopefully kill her.

  10. Do you find it the least bit out of character that she slept with Kalf? I mean she still hasn’t completely forgiven Ragnar for Aslaug and that was her husband/ father of her children/ love of her life. By the way, I actually enjoyed her relationship with Ecbert because it felt equal and mutually satisfying. It’s just that Lagertha doesn’t strike me as the type to manipulate with sex or sleep with someone who has humiliated her. Lagertha often feels she has to prove that she is just as equal to men so why does Jarl Borg get death while Kalf gets sex albeit with an eventual death sentence.
    Kalf wanting Lagertha makes sense but it doesn’t make sense the other way around. It just felt like an unnecessary hate sex scenario which I’m down with but only if I could understand how deep their relationship was before he betrayed her. Plus, I feel like the writers made Kalf into the better commander by making Lagertha make really foolish tactical decisions. It just seemed like they could have done that another way and still have Kalf rescue Lagertha without Lagertha seeming not good at her job. I admit that she is very stubborn but she has never been careless in battle. I just don’t see her sleeping with a guy that usurped one of the things she had to fight to take. Still love Lagertha and think she is goddess but a little upset with the writers. What are your thoughts?

    • I agree completely. I feel as if they are shortchanging her character a lot this season, like she’s lost her strength as a badass individual because of ~hormones~ and Kalf’s ~sex appeal~, which is just so cheapening to the Lagertha we were introduced to in the first two seasons. They’re definitely making Lagertha out to be histrionic and pouty and impulsive, to Kalf’s cool/calm/collected leader. It is highly, highly irritating!

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