By Leslie Gayle
We left off last week with Lagertha leaving Ragnar, and Horik arriving to raid England again. In this week’s past highlights, Athelstan gains, and again loses his freedom, and Rollo gains some self-respect.
We start this week with Horik’s ships finally arriving in Kattegat. I think Ragnar wants those ships, cuz there’s that look.
Horik tells Ragnar that he doesn’t trust Borg and he won’t let Borg raid with them. Neither Borg or Rollo are allowed to raid this time around, as further punishment for the land war. Borg tries yet again to twist Rollo’s ego to his favor. In one of the most satisfying Rollo scenes to date, Rollo smiles, giving no hint of annoyance, then throws a left hook from out of nowhere, flattening Borg. It seems he is learning a little self-respect and can think for himself after all.
Once in England, a surprise attack gives Athelstan his first battle experience. And Ragnar gives Athelstan an arm ring. Ragnar is so proud of his pet that he gives him his freedom. Keep this scene in the back of your mind after Bjorn’s first battle scene later this season. (I have to add, if there is a color sexier than black under a blue filter, I have yet to see it.)
In England, we’re finally introduced to King Ecbert and his really big bath. A messenger arrives to inform the king of the Vikings’ arrival. Up until now, Ecbert has done a piss-poor job of protecting his people against Ragnar. And it doesn’t seem that is going to change. He is irked that his messenger brought mud in on his boots. The fact that another village had been ransacked doesn’t bother him as much.
Athelstan has proven useful in the raid, pointing out that the church hides valuables under the altar. The bones of a saint are found with the gold. Ragnar is curious as to why the bones are important. Athelstan gives him a lesson on saints, martyrs, and miracles.
Back in Kattegat we see that Jarl Borg has invaded Kattegat in retaliation for being cut from the raid. He is hell-bent on killing all of Ragnar’s blood relatives. He admits it is all Horik’s fault, but sees the opportunity to Kattegat while all the men are away. Weasel. Rollo is convinced it is better to escape with Ragnar’s young sons then to fight to the death.
Then we catch up with Lagertha’s story in Hedeby. She is the wife of a cruel earl who is jealous of Ragnar and his son Bjorn. Bjorn wants to strike out on his own to become a man, but his stepfather refuses. I assume he wants to keep potential rivals close. In our first meeting with them, her husband slaps her across the face for publically insulting him. She and Bjorn learn of Jarl Borg’s invasion of Ragnar’s lands.
After the raid in England a messenger arrives from the North to tell Ragnar that Jarl Borg has seized his lands. Ragnar immediately leaves England. He has already negotiated peace with Ecbert. Athelstan, to Ragnar’s dismal, stays to act as King Horik’s translator while they wait for their payment. Athelstan looks through an illuminated gospel given to him by Floki as an insult after raiding the cathedral. The painting of Christ starts to bleed. I never put this scene together with the next one until just now.
It turns out that Ecbert had no intention of honoring his agreement with Ragnar and attacks the Vikings. Many, including King Horik and Floki escape, but Athelstan is captured. His freedom didn’t last long. When they learn he was an English monk, the English bishop crucifies him. And back in ~900 AD, that was a literal crucifixion. Luckily when Ecbert arrives, he is feeling sympathetic, or possibly just wants intel the Vikings. He insists that Athelstan be spared.
Back on the outskirts of Kattegat, Rollo starts to feel good about himself again, with the purpose of protecting Ragnar’s family. When Ragnar arrives, Rollo tempers Ragnar’s need for immediate revenge, so they can ultimately win back all the lands. They don’t have enough men to fight Borg. Eventually Lagertha arrives with Bjorn and troops she raised in her husband’s lands. Ragnar hasn’t set eyes on Bjorn since he was a boy.
Everybody is happy Lagertha has returned, except for Aslaug. Everyone knows Ragnar is still in love with Lagertha. And Siggy has an unexpressed angst about Lagertha’s return as well, since Rollo has never stopped pining over Lagertha. We’ll pick up there next week, since there is a next week!
Picture source: http://www.history.com/shows/vikings