Warning Major Spoilers if you haven’t seen this episode!
Vikings was much better this week, mostly because Hirst stopped telling people what was happening, and let actions speak for themselves.
Ivar holds an impromptu “Thing” and changes the rules. Remember “Thing” is an assembly for Vikings, mostly for governing. Remember our first thing? Even Earl Haraldson begrudgingly publicly accepted the final vote of men pledged to him. At Ivar’s “thing,” no arm rings are handed out, no opinions sought. Instead Ivar removes the public vote, and tells Kattegatians to turn in their neighbors and family members, if they speak ill of him. That’s a pretty terrible Thing.
Alfred overcomes his illness just in time to see his brother entombed. Judith puts on a good public face, convincing everyone she has no idea what killed Aethelred. Judith sends Aethelred’s wife packing. No need to keep the daughter and wife of Alfred’s main conspirators under her roof. In private, Judith confesses to Alfred that she poisoned Aethelred. That’s a terrible thing too.
A new wave of Danish Vikings plan to attack Wales. Torvi is given another line this week, where she insists the Danes won’t be threatened by seeing King Alfred leads the troops. He is nonthreatening, even with his villainous goatee. Ubbe takes the opportunity to secure his spot. He’ll find a way to stop the attack, despite Alfred’s limited forces, if Alfred makes him commander of the armies.
There’s a hint at another terrible thing – Judith may have breast cancer. Or was she looking at a bruise inflicted by Aethelred last episode?
In Iceland, the scenery is beautiful, but Flatnose goes insane and kills all of the exiled family, instead of rescuing them. Innocent Helgi sees his whole family slaughtered before being beheaded. That’s really terrible. Flatnose sings a Viking dirge song not heard since earlier seasons.
The warriors in York echo the same dirge, as they train for their next battle. Bjorn makes Harald ready forces to attack Kattegat. Harald would rather wait until the storm season is over, but Bjorn is certain the fates are with him. But Hirst didn’t show us Bjorn’s dream of Ragnar, so I don’t believe it.
My Favorite Moments:
The dialogue this episode avoids the labored repetition of plot that has been dragging this season down. Even Judith explaining her motives for murder is natural. Along with the explanation, she gives a meaningful speech reflecting Ecbert’s training.
“You are behaving as if you are an ordinary person. You grieve as if you were an ordinary person. You show your feelings as if you are an ORDINARY person. But all of that must stop. A king cannot BE like an ordinary person. You must not BEHAVE or have feelings like an ordinary person. A king must be prepared to do the terrible things, things against all conscience, IF he wants to survive.”
Alfred’s head is down, barely able to look at his mother as she speaks of terrible things. The scene mirrors Ivar’s next scene -head down, pondering the terrible thing, Judith just justified.
Freydis intervenes as Ivar ponders killing Hvitserk to instill fear in others. She wants Ivar to be a merciful god.
These Two, Am I Right?
Ivar sneaks into Hvitserk’s house. We aren’t sure if he means to kill him or not. Thora, Hvitserk’s new girlfriend insists they love each other. It seems genuine. So when Ivar threatens to burn her alive, Hvitserk bends to Ivar’s will.
Rather than kill Hvitserk, Ivar sends him on a diplomatic mission. Ragnar often sent Rollo on missions, or left him as a hostage, with the real possibility he’d be killed by other rulers disagreeable to terms.
Hvitserk leaves to negotiate with a nearby kingdom. But why leave Thora behind?
Aren’t they the cutest? I like them more than Ubbe and Torvi or Bjorn and Grunnhild.
Ragnar Chose Me
While bargaining with Harald for ships and men, Bjorn tells him that Ragnar told him he’d be safe sailing during the stormy months back to Kattegat. He also assured Harald that Ragnar chose him as the oldest, not Ivar, to be king. I don’t think Harald buys it, but he’s willing to strike a deal. He had planned on attacking Kattegat anyway. Bjorn swears on the life of his future wife Grunnhild, that he’ll hand over Kattegat to Harald after his death. Bjorn’s a little too confident that Grunnhild will marry him.
We all know Ragnar chose Ivar to carry out his goals. Bjorn was the first to abandon Ragnar’s goals. Bjorn has never had troops. The troops in Kattegat were Lagertha’s. Ivar has men willing to follow him. Even Ubbe has a king willing to put him in command. So Bjorn thinking Ragnar chose him just because he’s the oldest, makes him as delusional as Magnus.
Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Why is She the Fairest of Them All?
This is a beautifully shot scene. Grunnhild tells Harald that Bjorn hasn’t claimed her, no man will. But she’d love to queen if he still plans on being king of all Norway.
She’s honest with Bjorn about Harald’s intentions. But she never tells Bjorn that she wants to be a queen. Bjorn is jealous of Harald’s heart, because he’s never been in love. Grunnhild seems to fall for Bjorn’s broodiness again when he claims to be afraid of losing her. Does he really love Grunnhild, despite never really loving anyone, or is he playing her to get to Harald? To me, it’s more likely he has separation issues now that he’s lost his mommy.
I mostly like the cinematography of this scene. Floki appears to be melting away, becoming the moss-covered landscape of Iceland. It’s also a nice twist in Iceland plot, since History’s PR department gave away the entire revenge twist in previews.
Flatnose’s daughter, gentle by nature, can’t handle the turn her father took. She jumps off the cliffs by the waterfall. Will Floki be blamed for her death, since he’ll have to report on it?
Stay tuned next week for “Baldur”!
Picture source: History, Vikings & Jonathan Hession