Surprise! Ragnar and Ivar survive the shipwreck this week and wash ashore. Aethelwulf requests a level red threat alert in Wessex when he finds the raven flag of Ragnar Lothbrok. King Ecbert brushes off his zealot son, by issuing a level blue advisory (yawn). Bjorn makes a pit stop in Normandy to secure safe passage to the Mediterranean. (I don’t know why Mr. Hirst is so bold as to call it Normandy at this point. Rollo is still the only “North” man there.) On the home front, Lagertha attacks Kattegat because she doesn’t think Aslaug is fit to be queen. (Lagertha could have saved a lot of time and energy by putting it to a vote. She would’ve won in a landslide.)
Our Favorite Moments:
Lagertha raids Kattegat. There is a quickie vision from Aslaug of the fight, so she knows it’s coming. Lagertha gets the upper hand and calls off her warriors. They are her people after all; Lagertha isn’t going to slaughter them.
The interesting part of this fight is the buildup. Astrid is overly concerned with the welfare of Ragnar’s other sons. And it turns out Margrethe has been sleeping with all the Lothbrok boys for protection from Ivar. Margrethe helps Lagertha lure Ubbe and Sigurd into her web, by pitting them against each other for her affection. Ubbe’s capture harkens back to Jarl Borg’s capture, with Astrid apologizing like Rollo’s comment to Borg “It’s nothing personal.” (If Ragnar had been around to give these sons the talk about thinking with their head, and not their pecker, they wouldn’t have been so easily manipulated.) Is Lagertha keeping the boys out of harm’s way, or planning an execution? Torvi worked from the inside to pull soldiers together within Kattegat.
Side notes: Why does Lagertha kick Astrid out of the room for ALL important conversations? Is it me, or does Astrid seems more enamored by the legend of Ragnar, than with Lagertha? And why is Hirst making Astrid look like Trinity?
A Lamb Among Wolves
Faithful Aethelwulf finds the wreckage and Ragnar’s slaughtered survivors. He gives an impassioned speech to his dad, “Ragnar is the HISTORY of his race! He is the face of the enemy that we must always fight! If we are the lambs of God, then HE is the eternal WOLF!” When Judith walks in and apologizes, “I didn’t mean to interrupt”, Ecbert backhands his son with “You didn’t (interrupt. Nothing important going on here.)”. Ecbert has decided there is no threat if there aren’t 3,000 Vikings on his beach. Ragnar is just a man. Easy for him to brush it off, he has no faith or conscience whatsoever. But Aethelwulf, like Athelstan before him, probably believes the Vikings are the Apocalypse, and he has a guilty conscience over killing an entire village of innocent people. Ecbert on the other hand, has already made a deal with the devil and will be making a few more. Hell, he’s still openly sleeping with his son’s wife.
The gods have spoken (to Rollo)
When we left Rollo, his wife wasn’t allowing sex, due to her “sacred” condition, and his face was bashed in. His face is now healed but he’s bored in a big empty room with tiny windows. The Norman Lothbroks have had three kids in five or six years, so his wife’s been “in a sacred way” much of that time. He smiles when he sees Bjorn’s fleet. The only times he has looked this happy is when he’s looking at (cough) Lagertha or Bjorn. When Bjorn and Floki enter court, Rollo won’t apologize for the past, “We are where we are. The gods have spoken.” Well, that’s a loaded statement for those questioning Rollo’s heart and faith. A statement his wife doesn’t understand because it’s said in Old Norse.
Rollo ultimately and un-ceremonially leaves with Bjorn. Once on the river, Bjorn hog-ties Rollo and drags him under the boat. There is no urgency for fans because we already know Rollo makes it to Morocco, but I like this scene anyway. As Ragnar once told Bjorn, “It takes a lot to kill Rollo.” Rollo has to atone for his sins against his people, including the two times he was baptized. Bjorn finally has Rollo pulled from the water, as if to say ‘if his fate is to live, he’ll still be alive.’ Will this Vikings’ near-death baptism leave Rollo washed clean of the Christian faith?
I wish the scenes of Bjorn’s group in prison and the cartographer had been dropped. They added nothing. I’d rather have seen more with Rollo and Bjorn, or Rollo and Gisla, to explain Rollo’s desire to go. But Rollo leaves nonetheless and that’s a good thing. He and his wife are super happy about the arrangement.
Gisla and Rollo
Gisla doesn’t understand why Rollo would ever go raiding with heathens. So we are to believe Gisla and Rollo are a happy couple, when Gisla doesn’t know what’s in her man’s heart after six years?
‘You have renounced your heritage, accepted our God, I gave you children!’ Gisla threatens that if she thought her children were Viking, she’d kill them and herself. (So she’s Medea now, and Rollo is off with the Argonauts?) Rollo initially grabs her by the throat, then backs down and agrees with her yet again. Sigh. Stand up for yourself, man!
I liked this scene because it’s the only scene where these two have chemistry. The only reasons I can think that Rollo tolerates her, are that he thinks she’s his “destiny”, and Rollo has an insatiable need to be mentally and physically punished. (To that end, he and Aethelwulf are kindred spirits.) Before she storms off, we hear Gisla threaten, “This will probably be the end of us.” Probably? Way to screw your courage to the generalized, non-vital sticking place, girl. I guess this is our cliffhanger for what Rollo will have awaiting when he returns. A dead wife and kids, or a brat with no resolve. I say he’ll come home to the latter. She’s all talk.
Ivar and Ragnar
Ragnar and Ivar bond after washing ashore in Wessex. It is impossible to get enough of these two. Ivar insists he is normal. “NO you are NOT. Once you realize that, that is when greatness will happen.” Ragnar huffs as he throws Ivar’s brace away.
We learn Ragnar isn’t going back to Kattegat. It is a suicide mission for him. Does Ivar feel the least bit used at this point, knowing dad brought him for a specific purpose? They don’t want healthy warriors, with a desire to live, weighing the cripple and the old man down, so Ivar and Ragnar kill all the other men.
One surviving shield maiden offers herself up to Ivar to spare her life. Ivar kills her. You need not worry about being manipulated by a woman when your manhood doesn’t work, eh Ivar? That’s a nice parallel that his brothers could have learned from.
“I bet you wished you’d killed me when I was born.” Ivar says when they struggle to get to Ecbert. “Only when you talk,” Ragnar jokes before his serious talk. “I thought your legs were a weakness. Your legs have given you a strength that even your brothers don’t have. You are like a deaf man whose eye sight is sharper than anyone else. You are special, not in spite of your legs, but because of them.” Ivar is a little choked up and doesn’t know what to say. So he takes after dad and jokes, “That must be the first time you’ve ever been wrong.”
Over the course of the episode, Ivar thinks he has figured out his father’s mythic status. Ivar always thought his famous dad was lucky because the gods chose him for greatness. But he now sees his father won’t “accept the verdict of the gods”, with all the trials and failures they are enduring, and everyone in Kattegat hating him. Maybe it is not the fate of the gods that makes his dad great. Ragnar is driven despite what the gods hand him, despite what people think of him, and that’s his legacy. So what’s Ivar going to do despite what the gods have handed him?
Ragnar’s plan is to have Ivar act like a cripple and the English won’t think he’s a threat. Ivar can’t hide the anguish over what he and dad have to do. Ragnar turns himself in. Next week we see Aslaug turning Kattegat over to Lagertha. Is she giving up because she thinks her baby is dead? And Ragnar cuts a deal with Ecbert.
Picture source: http://www.history.com/shows/vikings and @TeamParmenter