It’s the holidays on Vikings; the middle of winter. The English are fasting for Advent, the North is celebrating the Yule, and the French have a major Epiphany celebration. At least the princess does. And she does it in front of God and everybody.
All the Lothbrok men are finally getting some love (some more than others.) There is very little news from Wessex, except that King Aelle wants Kwenthrith’s son dead.
As happens after every midwinter celebration, the sun returns. For this solstice it is the literal son, Bjorn, who returns. Aslaug continues her plotting against Ragnar, and Harold the Finehair arrives on scene to openly challenge Ragnar’s throne? Ragnar shaved his head; is that a dig?
For anyone who hasn’t purchased the cliffnotes: Yol is the “Yule” and also “the road or way” in Persian. The phrase “the way” is used in all religions to some extent.
Not much is happening in Wessex. Judith’s father King Aelle is visiting for Advent. He’s a major bore. Everyone has to eat gruel due to his religious convictions and he threatens Kwenthrith’s child. Then he calls his daughter a hussy for sleeping with Ecbert and illuminating the gospels. Heaven forbid. (You forced her to marry into their family and now you complain about it?) I love when Judith tells him off. Let’s see who she helps in the overall power struggle to unify England.
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Method to their Madness?
Floki, who’s been over the edge for a while now, visits the seer. The seer cryptically says that he has been waiting for Floki “in the ground for 200 years.” I assume this alludes to the dragon that lives beneath the Tree of Life in Norse mythology and escapes at Ragnarok. Instead of the customary licking of the seer’s hand (blechh), the seer licks Floki’s hand and Floki giggles childishly. Maybe the gift of sight has been transferred to Floki, maybe the Seer now knows Floki to be Loki, or maybe it just tickles. I assume Floki figures prominently in betraying Ragnar or the collapse of the whole Viking way of life. Floki, being a religious nut, would rather see the apocalypse than a Christian king in Kattegat. (But ignore me. My seer skills are lacking.)
Tea with the Mad Hatter & Caterpillar
Ragnar’s relationship with Yidu finally emerges with Aslaug’s blessing. Like Athelstan, Yidu becomes Ragnar’s therapist and spiritual guide. He is consumed by thoughts of death and the bondage suffered by both kings and slaves. With Yidu’s comment, “They wouldn’t dare rape me,” she comes across as a bit of a Lagertha character. (Let’s see if we ever learn why “they wouldn’t dare.” I’m imagine it is because she is a princess or sorceress, but again, none of my predictions have been correct yet.) Ragnar takes her off to his private retreat where he frees her from slavery and she gives him some really good drugs. We assume after eating a snake and going all Jim Morrison that Ragnar has gained some great knowledge. Or maybe just a new girlfriend with some really good drugs.
Ragnar emerges from his sanctuary at the Yol festival in Kabuki makeup. Is that a butterfly on your face? I wonder if the story of “Ran” or “47 Ronin”, or both, will be played out on this stage.
Teach Your Children Well
Ragnar tries to bond with his son Ivar the Boneless. I like what they are doing with this young character. At maybe 5 years old, we can already see the bloodthirsty Tasmanian devil he is reported to be, despite his handicap. He loves his axe and could use a bottle of Ritalin. Aslaug is clearly grooming this child to hate and overthrow his father. She finally brings him to Floki and asks that Floki teach Ivar the way of their gods: “The True Path.” (Yol, for those not paying attention.) She doesn’t want Ivar influenced by his father’s open-minded ideas about the rest of the world. It’s interesting to note that since her arrival in Kattegat a decade ago, Aslaug hasn’t had an opportunity to LEAVE Kattegat. She is as isolated and handicapped as her son.
The Elephant in the Room has an Epiphany (in the same room with your mom and dad, their friends, your babysitter and your priest)
When an envoy from Rome arrives at Gisla’s request, Rollo begs the princess to not annul the marriage. And he asks in her language. THAT knocks her majesty off her high horse. She’s now mesmerized simply because he can speak French? I was having a difficult time reconciling her complete contempt for him, followed by her acquiescing so quickly and sending the Pope’s envoy away. However, she’s had a few months to get used to him and if you take a second look at that scene, her toes started to curl the minute she saw him. Maybe the DVD release will have deleted scenes.
Enter the new Gisla: Later in the episode Sandy enters the Epiphany feast in black leather, with her hips swinging and does a rendition of “You’re the One that I Want” for Danny. Alright, not really, Vikings isn’t a musical. But Gisla and Rollo let everyone know that the ice queen has melted. Things are definitely consummated now.
I like that Count Odo’s sadistic little plan for Gisla backfired on him (I’m sure he’ll find something new and twisted.) And I like that Gisla the Formerly Pious would desecrate a religious holiday so publicly. Will Rollo turn her to a more pagan way of thinking? Let’s hope so. It’s difficult to find reasons not to like her now.
Emperor Charles needs to stop with the eye rolls. Have you noticed that Gisla gets the same eye rolls from her dad that Rollo gets from his brother? She’s doing exactly what you wanted, buddy: making Rollo happy so he’ll stick around and fight your battles. You may not have wanted her to do it within earshot of your whole court and the clergy on Christ’s birthday, but you let that dragon out; deal with it.
One has to wonder though – when love burns this hot, will pots and pans get thrown? And I mean more dishes than the ones Gisla abruptly cleared off the kitchen table during her little celebration. Remember, she loves Paris and her daddy promised Rollo the future lands of Normandy. Will she want to trade in her city life for the country?
It is nice to see Rollo happy. For years Ragnar abused him as his personal battering ram. He now gets to be the princess’s battering ram! (Okay, that’s the last one this week. I promise.)
Fork in the Yol
I am not going to quote Robert Frost, but you know where I’m going. I think all the dominos are now in place. Spring will be early this year, and there are already a few cracks in the dam.
All pictures credit: History.com