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Sweatpants & TV | Vikings, Season 5, Episode 6: “The Message”

By Lesley Gayle

Warning: This recap contains spoilers and a ton of snark. Like most fans, I’m pissed about that one scene and I’ve taken it out on the whole episode.

This week Bjorn is saved from decapitation with a groin punch and a well timed sandstorm. We don’t know how his band survived the sandstorm. But by the last scene Bjorn sails intensely into Kattegat. I’m using a picture of Halfdan here, because Halfdan is adorable and his story is going nowhere. He deserves some face time before he dies.

Harald and Astrid’s honeymoon is interrupted by Ivar’s arrival. The newlyweds seem genuinely happy romping in the woods. To gain Harald’s cooperation, Ivar plays the part of a weak cripple, who doesn’t want Kattegat at all – only Lagertha’s head. Harald seems cool with Ivar helping him. But Astrid isn’t happy with Ivar’s presence.

Ivar keeps Heahmund alive because he’s a great warrior. He jokes about crucifying him again, and again, as if he were the Dread Pirate Roberts. It’s all good fun.

It’s decided that Ivar and Harald’s forces will attack Kattegat in two months. Astrid immediately finds a whaler to deliver this news to Lagertha. The price she pays is gold and being gang raped by the fisherman’s crew, because, “everyone wants to have sex with a queen.”

This, like Lagertha raping Harald, was another confusing and clumsy scene with no impact. Hell, Rollo raping an unknown slave in Season One was more emotional for the audience. We hated Rollo and he was within his legal rights. Now rape’s just something that happens. Oh well.

Astrid’s message goes through and in a heavy handed attempt at irony, Lagertha rewards her loyal lover’s rapist. Here’s what I think of this writing.

Plans to defend Kattegat immediately start. Lagertha puts Ubbe in charge of the armies that, as Ubbe says, “Will tear my father’s legacy apart.” Then Lagertha delivers the STUPIDEST line of the series. It’s as if fans haven’t been drowned in apocalyptic marketing for a year. I mean, isn’t this what the whole season is about?

Lagertha learns of Floki’s departure through Torvi’s son – a technique Earl Haraldson used with Ragnar’s crew. Lagertha huffs and puffs about the “betrayal” but let’s them leave. What is she upset about? People want to spend their lives devoted to the gods, instead of worshipping Lagertha, that’s what.

Floki’s pilgrims are not impressed with Iceland when they arrive. No one is happy about the barren landscape. He told them it would be hard.

Prince Aethelred, wants to return to the swamps after the defeat at York and losing Heahmund. King Aethelwulf won’t run anymore. Despite Aethelred’s missing backbone and vision, Aethelwulf keeps training his eldest son for the throne, because, well, that what’s he’s supposed to do as an Englishman. I’m posting this photo of Aethelred and Aethelwulf, because their story’s going nowhere this season and they deserve some face time before they die.

I imagine they’ll die when someone tells them to walk in a straight line and they go right off a cliff – because no one told them to stop.

My Favorite moments:

Ivar and Heahmund

Ivar asks Heahmund to kill heathens for him. He’s jealous of Heahmund’s strength and respects his fighting skills. It is a rare glimpse of the fading humanity in Ivar.

Floki and Lagertha

Floki asks Lagertha to not imprison him again. He’d rather die. Lagertha lets Floki and his group leave. She says she could never kill him. He says she has done worse.

What has she done? I know my moral bar is pretty low since watching Vikings. Was he referring to killing Aslaug? I guess that was bad. But is there something worse we don’t know about yet? Did she buried someone’s child with her hoard, like Haraldson did?

Floki bids farewell to “Lagertha, shield maiden, blessed by the gods.” But I don’t think he meant “blessed.”

Heahmund’s decision

Ivar makes Heahmund decide whether he will fight for him. He hands the Bishop a knife.

Rather than kill himself or even Ivar (Why does no one kill Ivar? He’s just SITTING there! He can’t run!), Heahmund kills one of his heathen tormenters. Ivar has found his avatar for the battlefield.

Alfred talking to Grandad, Ecbert

Alfred seeks counsel with Ecbert, the Martyred King, before heading off to Lindisfarne. When Alfred speaks to Ecbert, you can feel his faith and devotion to an unseen force.

In this moment, I realized why I hate Heahmund’s character so much. Heahmund spews the words, but they’re just words. Heahmund’s dead prayers makes me miss Ecbert’s fury. That man knew how to hold court with God. You can feel a presence with Ecbert, Athelstan, and even little Alfred.

Even with the flowery words and dramatic lighting, Heahmund can’t do what Alfred does by simply sitting on a dark step. Maybe the Bishop will find passion with the Norse gods – or maybe he’ll die. Heahmund dying in a pool of his own self-doubt would be better.

Don’t pretend it was just something that happened

Alfred is the only Saxon not making excuses or pretending they have fallen from God’s graces. He tells his mom he needs to find himself at Lindisfarne and asks that she stop pretending that everything in their family is normal.

Alfred should say that to the show’s director for the rape scenes they throw in for kicks.

Who will win the fight for Kattegat? Will Aethelwulf think of a strategy? And if all these story lines are just one big karmic repeat, does that mean Ragnarok will never actually arrive?

Picture source: http://www.history.com/shows/vikings

Leslie Gayle

Leslie is a one time CPA, wife and mom of twins. She’s an over thinker who loves karate, thunder, and travel. Her sweatpants are yoga pants and she takes her coffee with milk.

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