It’s been a week since the massacre at Paris that left the Vikings emotionally and physically wounded. I say emotionally, because Floki is about to have an internal revelation to gigantic proportions. I say physically, because there is no way that the Vikings didn’t lose a massive chunk of their fighting population in Ragnar’s costly and out-of-character lesson plan. However, tensions are high. Extraordinarily high. The entire season has felt like the tuning of a string instrument, tightening and winding the strings until they snap under the pressure. This episode, we will see what Floki’s reckless (cowardly) leading has wrought upon his people and the new (cataclysmic) mistakes they have to rectify if they want to conquer Paris. Our Scooby gang is in rough shape. How, exactly, are they going to pull through this? With two episodes left, including this one, there are a lot of loose ends to tie up before season 3 comes to a close.
(I will also have you know that I had to pause my Netflix stream of Labyrinth for this episode. Sure, I have seen it approximately 800 times, but 801 sounds better tonight. it’s been that kind of a week).
Let’s get to it!
Finally. The show might’ve lost me mid-season, but I can’t disregard the allure of the past couple of episodes. So. Good. Will they conquer Paris? Who will survive the season?
Oh, dear and innocent Internal Monologue Me. Don’t go on Wikipedia. Ever.
We start this episode with Ragnar peeing blood. Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) has never peed blood before, so we can assume that this is not a good thing for him to be doing. Just a guess, though! Generally not a painless experience! While he is cradling his aching member –
Member? What is this, a free bin smut book?
No, this is a blog that might have members that are sensitive to sensitive content. Despite my swears and my general abuse of grammar I care, okay? I care. Anyway, so, Ragnar is in pain while he looks around at the mass of people around him. They are living in relative squalor, which makes me think that this is taking place a few months after last episode. I can’t say that for sure, of course, because this show is allergic to time frames, but considering how not thrown-from-a-tower Ragnar is looking, I will consider it a lucky guess. THEN AGAIN, he’s peeing blood. So, even if it is a few months after the incident, there is something obviously internally wrong.
But, yeah, back to the scenario at hand – the Vikings are not in good shape. They’re eating food they don’t like and don’t recognize, there isn’t enough of it, and I’m sure they’re feeling the vice grip of being absolutely fucking obliterated by the French.
Ragnar visits Floki who is in his Peter Pan-ish series of treehouses and bridges and Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) is obviously still in shock about his complete failure. Ragnar, being the good friend he is, doesn’t confirm nor deny the fact that he lost spectacularly and just tells Floki that they will be trying again to night against Paris. It is then, under the cloak of darkness (uh, this seems so obvious?) and Lagertha’s (Katheryn Winnick) hair is shining like a halo in the darkness. They decide to swim to Paris.
It is subtler than taking a giant pack of boats? They’re probably just gauging their competition.
Honestly, it seems to have worked, because the next thing we know is that they have made it into one of the pathways to Paris and are stabbing the shit out of the soldiers that are standing guard. It’s a badass moment, with Vikings lurking through the shadows like way-too-scary ninjas with flawless hair. Eventually, they’re caught and the French soldiers bring out the hot oil. They ruin the life and the hair-do of a fair shieldmaiden. Around this exact time, Princess Gisla has gotten word that the Vikings have invaded. How, exactly? Is she telepathic? Is she sexting one of the guards? This feels ridiculously historically inaccurate. Alas. She alerts everyone that the heathens have arrived! It’s scary, obviously, so she arms her ladies in waiting with daggers.
Yet again! the Vikings main strategy is “fight a horde of people down a very long hallway that has no hiding spots and the end is our goal.” Oh guys, that worked out so well last time! I’m glad you considered the success of the last raid while planning this one. Good job.
Seeing as there was no way to take down the people internally, Lagertha calls for recruitments by lighting the door into Paris on fire. There are literal hordes of Vikings waiting to enter (naturally!) down a narrow corridor (!) where they have magically reloaded crossbows and a historical backbone that tells us this will end well, especially when Princess Gisla appears in the fray with her…uh, dagger? Okay, so, at least we have established that both sides are capable of absolutely numbskulled planning. Good to know!
So, the French release an Indiana Jones-level booby trap of a spiked wheel ball thing and it barrels down the corridor like it means business. The Vikings try to retreat in a hurry, but not before some people are lost to the crazy device. Well, I’d say lost, but they are still alive. Writhing in pain because they’re stabbed with giant nails and haven’t died from the impact. Ugh. Their screams of mercy were rough.
Rollo (Clive Standen) is having none of it, though. He takes an arrow head spear and GOES FOR IT. He climbs that fucking death wheel and winches it into place. Floki helps him and he uses his sheer strength to hinder it, opening up the door for a ton of warriors to make their way through to fight. You know who notices Rollo slaughtering? Gisla. With RAPT attention. You know that look. We all know that look. Aw yeah. (It’s business time).
Count Odo, obviously trying to damage control the situation, goes to King Charles for some insight into how they will deal with the invaders. Charlie is pretty much like fuck that shit, I’m not putting myself in danger even if it would strengthen the resolve of my people. On one level, I understand this. On another level, get it the fuck together, Ruler of Paris. Be a leader for your people. Of course, he doesn’t bite because he is a coward. Count Odo tries to evoke the image of Charlemagne to get Charlie to go out onto the bridge, but he ultimately refuses. Despite wanting to be compared to Charlemagne and to be mentioned alongside him (as per what previous episodes want us to believe), he wants to do it without putting his delicate curls out of place..oh, precious.
Surprisingly, albeit somewhat surprisingly, the Vikings are making legitimate progress through to the city beyond. It is still a deadly conflict, but it is obvious that attacking at night (somewhat unexpectedly?) as helped. The Parisian forces seem somewhat weakened, but ultimately, they call to fall back to their camp. Not without putting legitimate fear into their opposition.
Meanwhile, Ragnar watches on. He pukes violently as the cross pendulums from his neck. With his newly shorn hair, it is very, very evocative of Athelstan and is still a horrible sign for the future of Ragnar. Soon, he falls into a delirious state where he envisions Athelstan. Athelstan calls him to a light beyond the woods, but when Ragnar comes to he realizes that he’s just been puking a puddle of blood and proceeds to curl into a fetal position inside of it. His mind brings forth visions of Odin and his birds, a stronger Ragnar, and an enigmatic Athelstan. “Don’t abandon me,” he pleads through his illness. It’s clear that his situation is dire.
Wait, is this show saying that Ragnar is dying?
Yes. Bleeding from multiple areas profusely usually indicates that much.
This show has been renewed for a fourth season, are they really going to continue on without Ragnar?
Who is to say for sure? Until the legitimate season finale (and not looking at filming spoilers), it is anyone’s guess. A large part of the charm is Ragnar’s enigmatic aloofness and the show has given little opportunity for other characters to test the waters as a lead, so I’m leaning towards no…but it is Vikings. It is anyone’s ballgame.
The Parisians have captured one of the Viking soldiers that didn’t retreat immediately with the rest of the pack. He is brought to questioning before the French rulers. Oh! OH! It isn’t necessarily a Viking that has been captured by the French! It is the bizarrely androgenous fantastic character from a few episodes ago that just told Ragnar all about France! With his cascading locks and eyeliner, how could I forget about this marvel? He confirms that he does understand French and can speak it, because he is a wanderer that patently means absolutely no harm. He just wanders around. It is what he does. “I belong to no country, I belong to no people, I just belong to the wide, wide world!” he exclaims as another captured (actual Viking) looks on. Man. If this guy doesn’t make it out of this situation dead (shh, grammatically that made sense maybe), that other captured Viking bro will surely kill him. Did you see that side-eye? That was a murderous side-eye.
So, being that this guy was a canary in his last life, he gives up the information that the other man who was captured is Earl Sigfried. Without referencing past episodes, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that that’s the same guy Kalf brought along as back-up. Being a loud as hell canary, he also gives the French nobelmen the name of Rollo (even referring to him as a bear of a man). This guy is horrible at negotiating – what he should be saying is, hey, if you spare my life I can tell you information about these guys who want to invade you! not willingly volunteering the information without some sort of deal! COME ON MAN!
Ultimately, the one wanderer strikes a deal and Gisla tells Count Odo that if he cares for her, he will bring her [Sigfried’s] head. She’s ruthless. To me, she’s still very one-dimensional, but man, she is ruthless.
We then cut to Wessex, because WILL HE OR WON’T HE BEHEAD A MAN FOR GISLA.
He probably will.
Anyway, in Wessex, which we still bafflingly care about, we cut to Judith and her perfect side-braid meeting King Ecbert (Linus Roache). He wants to see her (in more than one way, hubba hubba winking smiley face) and inquires about his grandsons with dispassion. Ecbert has received word that he was successful in his meeting with Princess K and will be returning back promptly. “Thank God,” Judith says, like that will stop her lech-as-hell father-in-law from trying to get with her. That doesn’t stop him from essentially offering her protection from her husband in exchange for sex, of course. Because all leaders have to boil down to power-play sex in this show! Ugh, really? Really? Ecbert has always used sex as a tool but sexuality in this show is constantly problematic for me, because it is so rare (the exclusion being Princess K), that women are actually in charge of their own sexuality and not just using it to sate the urges of the men in the cast. Sometimes, you might think “oh, she’s having fun! sex is great!” or “oh! she’s using sex to get ahead like a commonwealth Hollywood starlet!” only for it to shatter in a million pieces and for the man to (pardon the pun) come out on top. It’s just discouraging. It’s a little gross.
However, I do find it interesting that he always places the protection of Alfred (Athelstan’s bastard son) over his biological grandson. Man, the men in this show crushed on Athelstan hard. It must have been those dreamboat eyes. Sigh.
In Kattegat, we zone over to Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) ruling over her people with an ironclad-yet-insightful fist. The sting of her having cheated on Ragnar (even without texting I feel like that sort of news gets around) has seemingly abated and she’s ruling well, in my opinion. She is judicious, but stern. Honestly, I like seeing her like this, so I found the scene compelling. Do I feel bad for the missionary? Ehhhh. Eeeeh. (Kind of, because ouch!!!) Respect other religions, man. (Easy to say from my perspective, yes, but just be accepting. It’s okay!) How did he even get there, anyway?
Back in Paris, Siegfried is about to have a hard time. He is lead to his own personal judgment day among spitwads and rocks from onlookers. He handles it like a baller, though, and requests that his hair is held off to the side so a clean cut is made. What. I aspire to be that nonchalantly badass one day. Preferably without the beheading. So, at the last minute, motherfucker moves his head just enough so the axe comes down onto the hands of the man holding his head, lopping it off. OH MAN THIS GUY. THIS GUY is going to be dead soon but CAN WE KEEP HIM? that was gross but AMAZING.
Well, now that we have momentum, let’s go back to Wessex!
I’m not entirely sure. I really enjoy Ecbert a sa character, but the entire scene is flowery script ultimately boiling down to how Ecbert wants to get his hump on with his son’s “harlot” wife. Judith is willing to become Ecbert’s mistress as long as Alfred is protected. What is the other kid’s name, even? Honestly. I can’t remember. The juxtaposition of this scene with the French scene feels out of place and disconnected (Wessex, Wessex, you were once so pivotal). so we hop back to Franch where Siegfried’s head hang’s as a beacon of hope amongst plagued Parisians. They are incredibly sickly (you can tell by the writhing in the streets) and all I can think is – MAN – now is the PERFECT time to invade. Kicking someone when they’re down (and dying and puking and plagued)? Sure! It seems as if droves of civilians are dying. The city is beginning to starve from their lockdown.
They are aware that the pagans are outside of the city gates, just itching for an opportunity like this. Count Odo wants to make peace with them, fearing their ability to maintain a successful defense. Gisla begs her father not to succumb to cowardice, because when they are judged by God, that will appear a subscript. Dear Charlie “understands both these points of view” and requests time alone to think about his ultimate decision. I am sure he is just dying in nerves.
Back in Viking Camp, Ragnar is exhibiting Torstein (RIP) levels of sickness and fever. I know this is building up to Ragnar dying (I know, I know) but unless he appears as a Hogwarts-level ghost next season in presence, we all know (seriously, we all know) that he will be surviving. I will literally be blown away like a decayed leaf in wind if he dies and I will put it down in writing that I don’t think he will die, he is going to live to see season 4 and I don’t mean it in a flashback way. That doubt, that honest doubt, makes it hard for me to buy into these scenes – especially because Ragnar always always has something up his sleeves.
Still, only time will tell.
In the meantime, it feels like a Wessex break!
Aethelwulf is back, obviously! It’s a very awkward family dinner. I would not want to be there.
Now that that’s over, let’s go to Viking camp.
Not everyone is looking quite so great (Bjorn seems to have an active limp), but the crowds part to allow French soldiers through on horseback. The captured Wanderer serves as a translator, telling the Vikings that the French believe that it would be in their best interest to stop trying to blow their house down because it totally isn’t going to work so just stop it, guys. The Vikings (understandably) aren’t buying this. After this offer (Bjorn tells the soldiers that they will think on it for a day. Also, Rollo frees our Wanderer), the dire situation becomes a bit clearer. They have lost over a thousand men in the failed Floki attack, it isn’t like they have continuous men to throw that the walls of Paris – but on the other hand, if they feel weak enough to offer a deal, should they stop there? Why should they stop the siege without any reasoning?
Ragnar takes this chance to have a pep-rally of sorts. He frames his success as the reaction to other people’s actions (meeeh I dunno Ragnar) and – after he takes a small blood-puke break, continues. He’s fucking King. He lets everyone knows that he is King, he makes the decisions, and he has the last say. After all of this talk for his people, he takes the time to make an absolute point that he is the end-all-be-all. It is a strong Ragnar speech, but it is still a weak Ragnar speech. After all of his talk of calling power corrupting, he fails to listen to anything anyone else is saying because he ultimately has the power not to do so. Absolute power corrupts absolutely thy name is Ragnar.
And, honestly, I know that this will be explained away as ~Ragnar secretly knew what was going to happen, because life is a chess game and Ragnar is the Alpha and Omega of chess~, but I am getting very, very tired of that being a substitute for actual plot. He could buy a 52 pack of crayons next episode and it could be explained away as part if Ragnar’s Grand Scheme. It just feels so easy.
Anyway, whatever, they’re going to meet France in the morning. No one seems happy. But grand plan, guys. grand plan.
In Kattegat, the boys have obviously grown older – the first indication (other than the lack of open wounds on Bjorn’s face) that there has been a significant time leap. Ivar has grown noticeably larger and is now nearly a toddler. Oh and by the way, go ahead and kill that Christian.
That was a cute-weird segue. So back to France. There, we see Ragnar meeting the French men alone (uhhhhhh dumb? Dumb.). He lets them know that he doesn’t want just treasure, but that might be because he wants to be baptised so he can see Athelstan in the afterlife.
Wait. Wait. What?
Yup. That’s the reason he gives. And then he practically forces to be baptized.
My face pretty much mirrored the face of the Vikings as they approached. Floki’s disgust aside, I physically embodied Lagertha and Rollo’s bewilderment. Seriously, bro, what the fuck is wrong with you?
And that’s where we end the episode.
I, uh. Well, Okay. Ok. That’s….
I’m sure it is part of a…plan. However, all I can say is ?????????????????????
In case that wasn’t enough confusion. ??????????
Huh. Well, with next week being the season finale, we are coming to a close on the season and that’s when all of the loose ends are tied into a neat bow in Vikingland.
Will that happen this season? Who knows. With Ragnar’s supposed death approaching and the situation in France looking dire, it is hard to say where it will be going. Overall, I give this episode seven out of ten B-Movie-War-Props. Some parts were captivating, other parts felt completely and utterly out of place.
As always, the remarkable and wonderful insight from the commentators was amazing. I learned a lot about crossbows (cool!) and a lot about the zealot tendencies of paganism (from at least one very rounded perspective). Throughout the weeks, you guys help me view every episode with a different perspective. For that, I can’t thank you enough! How did you all feel about this episode? Let me know below!