In this week’s rewind, all our new relationships go sour. Kwenthrith betrays her brother, Lagertha turns down Ecbert, Athelstan abandons Ecbert, and Kalf betrays Lagertha.
The first moment this week is a lesson in medieval medicine. Kwenthrith soothes Ragnar’s wounds by, uhm, peeing on him. I love Amy Bailey. As an actress, she’s willing to go pretty much anywhere with a role. After her medical advice, Ragnar gives her some advice of his own. He really has issues with brothers, doesn’t he? Would she have killed her brother, were it not for Ragnar’s prompting?
Ecbert turns up the heat on his gifts to Lagertha. What do you get the woman who isn’t impressed with gems and has her own kingdom? A plow. At least he waited until their second date. I guess this metaphor is the same in every language.
With the first harvest sown, Lagertha and Athelstan go back with Ecbert to improve diplomatic relations with the two peoples. Lagertha is impressed by the Roman gods depicted in the bath, but gloats that they are nothing like her gods. Judith is nervous about this godless encounter, but is too intrigued by Athelstan to decline.
Athelstan and Ecbert talk about their time in Paris. Athelstan, who still vacillates between a secular and a cloistered life, gives in and makes moves on Judith. And Judith finally remembers that she’s married and leaves. It’s okay, she changes her mind later.
Back at the settlement, Ecbert insists that his party stay for the pagan sacrifice to bless the harvest. A calf is bled. Athelstan seems to stand between the two worlds again, not knowing if he should prostrate himself, pray, or what. He does his own mixed ritual, like Floki with his quirky hand motions.
Back at the battlefront, Porunn is close to death after the battle, and she is pregnant. Ragnar, once again, can’t find much in the way of encouragement for his son. But again, Rollo steps up and gives Bjorn some advice. Rollo is too far gone in his own relationship to take this advice himself because, ironically, he hasn’t made it worth Siggy’s while to coax her from the gates. Back in Kattegat, Siggy sees a vision of her dead daughter and gives into death.
Ragnar has already warned Kwenthrith that Ecbert will treat her like a pawn and that her brother is weak. Her brother, by contrast, is showing some cunning. He understands very well they are pawns and possibly prisoners to Ragnar and Ecbert. In one of the biggest understatements of the series, Kwenthrith tells her brother, “Better prisoners than dead. Prisoners can always escape.” That may have been a good strategy had she not killed her brother. (That death is covered in 25 top Memorable Deaths earlier this Spring. It was an awesome death.) And we learn in Season Four that prisoners can’t, in fact, escape.
Here’s the moment when Lagertha’s affair with Ecbert implodes. She’s been playing along with the gifts and sex for the good of her people, but wants nothing to do with a long-term relationship. Had Ecbert planned the settlement massacre all along? Or did Lagertha’s brush-off trigger his anger? I still can’t tell if he honestly cared about her.
When the freedom fighters return with Kwenthrith, all attend a welcome reception. During the party, Rollo questions why Lagertha would leave her lands in the hands of another. Lagertha insists her lands are secure. Rollo counters that “All men are ambitious.” In another great understatement from this episode, Lagertha emphatically states, “Not Kalf!” And in the next scene, we are introduced to Earl Kalf, who’s taken over Lagertha’s lands.
In our last moment this week, Ragnar and Ecbert feel each other out. Ragnar tells Ecbert he knows his plan for Mercia, then asks him if he is a good man. They both agree they are good men. They then take turns asking if either is corrupt. Ecbert’s response, “Oh yes.” And Ragnar responds, “Mmm-hmm”.
Next week we’ll cover highlights of Athelstan’s big life choice and plan a trip to Paris!