Sweatpants & TV | Vikings, Season 4, Episode 9 – “Death All ‘Round”
By Leslie Gayle
Ragnar’s gang finishes hauling the boats through the mountains and relaunches them past the towers. Floki has also built barges by show’s end. Are there catapults on them? Aslaug has lost it after Harbard’s departure. Ecbert crowns himself King of Mercia, young Alfred is crowned Consul of Rome, and Paris is on perpetual loop. Ragnar tells Bjorn he has to save his “medicine” for the fight with Rollo. Concerned, Bjorn tells Ragnar that Paris can’t be taken without him. Bjorn is torn when Ragnar’s response is, “I don’t care about Paris. I came here for Rollo.” People are dying “all round” for Ragnar’s personal vendetta?
Our Favorite Moments:
Death all ’round
My guess is that this week’s death have less impact on fans than last weeks, but they have major impact on the characters we love. The first death is Lagertha’s unborn child. She, after weeks of edging towards Paris, is now visibly pregnant but lifting heavy loads. She had already decided she has no control over whether this child survives. We know what the Seer said, but had hoped we misinterpreted him. We don’t know this child, but we love Lagertha. Ragnar and Bjorn are at her side after the miscarriage. Even though it is not his child, Ragnar is heartbroken.
She tells them to go away and leave her. This is my favorite scene this season. In a brilliant directorial show of devotion, Ragnar and Bjorn move back a few feet and firmly sit down behind her, faithful guard dogs. They aren’t going anywhere, just giving a strong shieldmaiden her space and respect. Despite everything, they are still a family.
The second death is Bjorn’s young daughter, Ziggy. Again none of us knows her. The impact we feel is from Aslaug and Ivar. Sigurd reports the death to a drunk Aslaug who is playing chess with Ivar. Both react callously to the death. Both react callously to each other. And it is underscored that Sigurd would be better off with Dad in Francia.
The last death is Erlendur. No one likes this weasel, but his death brings forth new questions. I was left wondering if Bjorn is playing Torvi and if Torvi is playing Bjorn. Torvi has almost as much reason to kill Bjorn and Ragnar as Erlendur did. The Terror Twins, Harald and Halfdan, make note of the plotting and treachery among Ragnar’s ranks with this death.
More deaths all ’round
Thing One and Thing Two have finally developed into the sociopaths they promised to be. They kill a farming family for supplies. It is good strategy, so Paris isn’t warned of their presence. But they go further. We are spared the gruesome details. The editors chose to let our imagination and the blood splatter patterns narrate the rape and torture that occurred. We never see the brothers’ happy-go-lucky temperament change.
Crowns all ’round!
While Ecbert is being crowned, young Alfred is in Rome getting a crown from the Pope, as Consul of Rome. Back in Wessex, King Aelle admonishes Ecbert for betraying him for not dividing Mercia. “Your new kingdom directly abuts mine.” Ecbert’s response, “But surely, we are still allies…But as you can see, we are not equals. Things have changed, for both of us. You must get used to it.”
Aethelwulf and young Alfred reach Rome. The Pope tells the men that the Viking incursions are the result of Christians being sinners. Alfred is crowned a Consul of Rome, whatever that means. How cute is this kid? But who gives a child a sword that big? He can barely stand up with it!
I love Aethelwulf in this episode. He is such a great mentor. Even knowing this child is the result of his wife’s infidelity, he beams with pride. (And now for the Pledge of Allegiance and Morning Announcements…)
Paris relives the same day every single episode. I hope Hirst wants us irritated with this monotony. Each week we get a flourish-y entrance into court, an announcement by the Emperor, a sign of loyalty by Rollo, and a mass exodus. The last person out of court shuts the door, but not before they have an intriguing exchange with the Emperor.
In this week’s edition of Groundhog Day, Gisla’s pregnancy is announced; we assume she is the requisite three months along. Rollo explains again how he is fortifying Francia against Ragnar and the Emperor gives Roland the title of Count. Gisla is definitely pissed about this appointment. Rollo is? Well, when he shows emotions, it is loudly. So we have no idea what Rollo is thinking. My guess is he is somewhere between “mildly amused” and “not angry.”
After court is dismissed, Charles asks Roland for permission to sleep with Therese. And he has one other request. What could that be? I will admit, these Franks can throw a mean curve ball. I’m still waiting for a Crying Game to erupt in Paris. We fast forward to a shot of the Emperor getting out of bed with Roland. Not quite as shocking as sleeping with his own sister, but Roland is definitely in it to win it!
Call me simple one more time
Onto the obligatory review of Rollo and Gisla’s private life. Gisla once again tells Rollo he doesn’t understand how things work in Paris, again calls him simple. And again Rollo is relaxing in bed, like Odysseus languishing with Calypso. She is annoyed that someone of “humble origins,” a simple soldier like Roland, has gained a title. And she once again asks for someone’s death. She wouldn’t know that history labels her father Emperor “Charles the Simple.” And I assume she doesn’t know that her husband was the son of simple farmers back in Kattegat? I hope these words hit Rollo as hard as “savage.” I hope he is simply biding his time.
Gisla refuses him sex because she is pregnant and that’s “sacred.” Are we back to pious Gisla? How sacred was sex when it was on the kitchen counter within earshot of a religious feast? This is wild speculation on my part, but is she truly pregnant? Does she think he’s simple enough that she can hide a lie that big for long?
Rollo laments that many things are better in Paris and some things aren’t better. Like I said first episode, he has more coins, but no one with whom to play his coin-toss game. Was the simple life better?
A duke in snake’s clothing
Is that gilded snakeskin you’re wearing, Rollo? “I am like a snake which has shed its skin. The pattern is just the same, but the snake is new.” Please hurry up and shed your skin. We all know you aren’t this “simple.”
Next week is the last episode before mid-season break. Will we have another open-ended death? Or a treachery upon Paris?