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Sweatpants & TV | Vikings, Season 4, Episode 14: “In the Uncertain Hour Before the Morning”

By Lesley Gayle

Do you know those times your bestie sleeps over and you stay up drinking and being silly, and then you get around to solving all the mysteries of the Universe at 4am? That’s what happens in the Uncertain Hour Before the Morning on Vikings. Lagertha takes Kattegat back. Initially Aslaug says she wants to hand it over. Lagertha kills her anyway. Ubbe wants to avenge his mom, Sigurd doesn’t want to waste his energy. Aethelwulf and Magnus try desperately to impress their fathers. And Ragnar turns himself in to his old friend, Ecbert. Their conversation feels vaguely like Harry and Dumbledore at King’s Cross Station.

Our Favorite Moments:

Lagertha ascends to the throne

The blows were not physical, but they cut deep. It wasn’t a typical battle for Lagertha and Aslaug. It felt like the women were punching themselves in the face with each comment. Lagertha claimed Ragnar only stayed with Aslaug because she was a witch. (If it makes you feel better about yourself, darling.) And Aslaug says she is fine with losing control of Kattegat, because her legacy is solidified. “I gave Ragnar his sons.” (Way to knock a woman down for infertility, oh worshipper of Freya.) Aslaug is willing to renounce her power, and her sons won’t seek revenge, if Lagertha will give her safe passage to “wherever the gods take her”. (Insert knowing nod from both.)

There was no way Lagertha wasn’t going to kill her. There is no way Ragnar’s sons WON’T seek revenge, not if they are real Viking. Both women nod. Aslaug smiles when she realizes she is shot. Lagertha gave Aslaug passage into the next world and gave her the funeral of a queen. Is it a setup to increase everyone’s fame in the sagas, especially both their sons? The fall out will be epic, the stuff of legends…literally.

Ubbe & Sigurd

Ubbe and Sigurd head back to Kattegat. Ubbe tries to take revenge on Lagertha right then and there. But he can’t get past her warriors. He is pinned down, but Lagertha will not have him killed. She respects Ragnar’s sons, even if she hated their mother. Sigurd tries convincing Ubbe that Aslaug isn’t worth avenging. Ubbe is upset that they may now be orphans. Full grown, lethal orphans. Sigurd insists dad isn’t dead, because “Ragnar Lothbrok can’t die.” He seems pretty sure of himself. Does he have the sight like mom? Then Astrid shows up and threatened the boys. This scene is confusing. She wants to “change their look?” (Is she a beautician?) and admits she wants to befriend Ragnar’s sons. It’s a hobby. She’s freaking me out now.

Aethelwulf

Aethelwulf is so proud of himself for bringing in Ragnar. All he did was recognize Ragnar. Ragnar turned himself in, and Aethelwulf beat down an old man and captured his crippled son. Aethelwulf tries to interrogate and threaten Ragnar. Ragnar brushes him off with, “Where is your father?” (You aren’t in charge here, little boy. That had to burn.) Once Ecbert arrives, Aethelwulf is again excited to show his papa what he’s done. “Where is he? What have you done with him?” And ultimately, “Leave,” is all Ecbert says to him. No credit, no credit at all for poor Aethelwulf.

Magnus

We finally see Kwenthrith’s son, Magnus. Ecbert did as he promised and raise Magnus to love his father, Ragnar. But Ragnar dashes the boy’s hopes, telling the boy “Someone once explained to me what a miracle is. And you are a miracle.” because “I never had sex with your mother.” (Translation:Your mother was a whore and your whole life is a lie. Hirst isn’t pulling punches this episode.) Was Ragnar telling the truth or is he trying to prevent the boy from becoming a pawn? Will Magnus end up with Sigurd’s attitude about their loose moms?

Later, Aethelwulf forces Magnus to leave. But he is still Kwenthrith’s son, Aethelwulf loved her. Why is he being so mean? He tells the boy, “There are animals in the villa.” Is Aethelwulf referring to Ecbert or Ragnar? Or is he playing a different game entirely?

Ragnar and Ecbert

Ecbert gets to meet Ivar to prove to Ragnar that his son is fine. He treats him kindly and probably assumes he is defenseless. (Does no one question why the defenseless cripple is wearing warrior leathers?)

Ecbert wants to get the unpleasantries out of the way, so they can enjoy ourselves. He freely admits to massacring the settlement. “It was part of a large, bolder strategy.”

“I don’t like to see you in a cage. What would you do if I let you out?” Ecbert asks. “I’d kill you.” “Oh.” He is really hurt and surprised by that response. And drunk. Oh yeah, he’s really drunk. Ragnar goes on, “Or not. It is your decision, not mine. You have the power, not me.” (He knows how to stroke Ecbert.) “You like power, don’t you?” Ecbert then feels the need to justify himself to Ragnar.

Remember when Athelstan was drunk and gave Ragnar too much information on the English language and their secrets. Yup.

“What took you so long?” Ecbert echoes Kwenthrith from earlier this season. Ragnar echoes, “It is part of a larger and bolder strategy.” Ecbert thinks it’s funny. He really thinks Ragnar is making fun of his vulnerable position, with no men and a cripple son.

Ecbert unlocks the cage. Ragnar uncoils himself from the enclosure, like a snake, then falls on the floor. Ragnar insists that Ecbert has to kill him. Ragnar has decided he knows the Seer’s prophecy that he will die when the blind man sees him and for some reason Ecbert is the blind man. (Is he blind because he doesn’t see what’s coming?) Ecbert says he has to decide Ragnar’s fate, yes (but that isn’t necessarily death). “You sound like one of our gods,” says Ragnar. “Well I’m NOT a god,” from Ecbert. (Wow, never thought we’d hear Ecbert admit THAT!)

Then the leaders get more drunk and start waxing philosophic.

Ragnar decides heaven is ridiculous, “Everyone is happy.” And Ecbert insists Vahalla is ridiculous, cuz “all the dead warrior fight each other in the courtyard each morning, killing each other AGAIN. Then they all have SUPPER together!” They conclude both ideas are crazy.

They eventually get around to discussing Athelstan. Ragnar says Athelstan chose to be with him, it was his path, so he isn’t to blame for his death. Ecbert sees Ragnar’s squishy parts exposed and goes for it. “Now who’s the one not being honest.” Ecbert wonders if Athelstan is in heaven. Ragnar doesn’t give Ecbert the satisfaction of knowing Athelstan reverted back to Christianity. Ragnar says he feels guilty over Athelstan’s death and Ecbert already feels guilty for Ragnar’s inevitable death. Ragnar keeps telling Ecbert that he has to kill him.

In the end, Ragnar asks, “We trust each other?”  “Yes.” This is brilliant. Since Ecbert doesn’t want to kill Ragnar, Ragnar requests that Ecbert get Ivar back to Kattegat. Ragnar will tell his son to spread the word that King Aelle killed Ragnar. And they will seek revenge against Aelle, instead of Wessex. Ecbert is almost shaking, he wants this so badly. He needs to rid himself of that self-righteous oaf, Aelle. But he wants to be good (if only to impress Ragnar and convince himself he is doing all this for the greater good).  He doesn’t want to kill Ragnar, Ragnar is his only equal.

As you can see, next week things can only get more complicated. Yes, there will be an episode next week!

Picture source: http://www.history.com/shows/vikings and @TeamParmenter

Leslie Gayle

Leslie is a one time CPA, wife and mom of twins. She’s an over thinker who loves karate, thunder, and travel. Her sweatpants are yoga pants and she takes her coffee with milk.

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