This week on Vikings, “The Joke,” we learn Ivar wasn’t meant for a career in stand-up. Get it? He can’t stand on his own two legs! Ha! He also isn’t very funny. And after much more talking and posturing, we finally have the “great battle.” (Note my use of lower case.)
A few of Floki’s people still aren’t happy. They have food and shelter, but they’re squabbling over building a temple to the gods before their own homes. (They have a minor point. Who wants to go through a winter on the interior of Iceland in a makeshift tent.) Floki keeps his mouth shut to show no preference to anyone. Kris Holden-Reid’s character, Eyvind is the biggest naysayer. The unborn child is his grandchild, and he claims it has no future. He’s a lazy pain in the ass, who was upset to find the gods hadn’t prebuilt an entire town and economy for him before their arrival. (Someone should point out that Floki wanted “True Believers,” not lazy ingrates.) Eyvind claims no one can go back to Kattegat and everyone will starve, even though there is no evidence for what he says. I’m sure Lagertha would happily accept people prostrating themselves to her after Floki’s failure.
Bjorn sees Guthrum off to battle. Ubbe and Torvi head into battle together, leaving Torvi’s children to be watched by Margrethe. Will Ubbe come back wanting the same relationship his dad wanted with Lagertha and Aslaug? Margrethe hasn’t had any children yet? And is anyone else confused about the skewed age differences of Torvi’s children since the end of Season Four?
Will Torvi launch a coup with Ubbe, claiming her son has rights to the throne? Or is she keeping watch over Ubbe for Lagertha? And is anyone else wondering how Jarl Borg, a red head, and Torvi, a platinum blonde, had Guthrum, with pitch black curly hair?
Lagertha makes one last attempt to avoid the battle with talks. Both sides try to convince their hostages to return to the fold. None of this works.
Heahmund gives away his end game to the audience. He hopes to be part of the chaos in the Viking world, to weaken their entire culture. Finally, a twist in this otherwise annoying character’s story. His cooperation makes sense now.
Surprisingly, Bjorn is right about Ivar’s plan. A third of Ivar’s troops are held back to guard the boats. Ivar sends Hvitserk’s group into the woods to cut Bjorn’s troops in half. But Lagertha shuts that plan down, with the Sami waging guerilla warfare in the woods. A whole slew of extras die, but no one of any importance. Harald sees the battle is lost and pulls out. Heahmund is left on the field and captured by Lagertha. Can we all agree Bishop Heahmund ISN’T some great warrior now? Dude’s been captured two battles in a row.
Ivar pisses off Bishop Heahmund by calling him “Your Grace”. I think Ivar calls him that because he honestly respects him. But Heahmund takes offense.
Ivar knows he can’t effectively fight on the battle field, no matter how great his weapon. So he gives Heahmund back his sword saying “its magic only works for its owner.” I’m not buying any allusion to Heahmund becoming King Arthur.
Ubbe and Hvitserk
During negotiations, Ubbe tries to convinces Hvitserk to come back by his side. I think Ubbe could have changed his brother’s mind, until one last discussion where Ubbe cuts Hviterk off and then calls him “little brother.” That’s where Hvitserk’s expression changes. Ubbe. Just. Doesn’t. Get it! He always claims first rights as older brother, even to Margrethe, for whom he cared little. He’ll always see Hvitserk and Ivar as beneath him.
I blame all this infighting squarely on Lagertha, my one time hero. She wants to have the Ragnarsson boys increase HER power, since she is the oft repeated, overly enunciated, “rightful ruler of Kattegat.” (lower case fully intentional on my part.)
Just because you say it (over and over) doesn’t make it true, Lagertha. Lagertha isn’t the rightful ruler, anymore than Jarl Borg was when he raided Kattegat’s shores, or Ragnar was when he killed Earl Haraldson and King Horik. How exactly did Lagertha claim legitimacy to rule over Hedeby, after killing their Earl? Lagertha didn’t have his children. And the good folk of Hedeby weren’t her people. That’s why she claimed she had more right to Kattegat than Aslaug. She knew the brothers would want Kattegat in succession, but she didn’t need to kill their mother. Or maybe Lagertha did need to kill Aslaug. As Ragnar asked, “Who wants to be King? Kill me. Isn’t that how it works?”
Lagertha first appeals to Astrid. Who announces she has married Harald. We still don’t know how loyal she is to either. Is she staying in Harald’s camp to hopefully kill him for Lagertha? Or does she now like the idea of being queen? Lagertha never tried to save her.
One point I need to mention, wasn’t the attack supposed to be kept secret, punishable by death? Why aren’t Harald and Ivar concerned that Kattegat’s forces are FULLY prepared for this battle date? No one is talking about it.
She then claims that Ivar will be called a usurper for jumping line to get to the throne.
The best lies have a grain of truth. Ivar tells everyone he won’t fight. He asks for Ubbe’s forgiveness. He can’t forgive himself for killing his brother, Sigurd, and he knows this battle will make him feel worse. He’s telling the truth. But in the end, he’s too damaged to forgive himself or Lagertha. He throws mead in Ubbe’s face and says he’d never take back a promise. He promised his dad he’d avenge his death and he promised to kill Lagertha. Ivar’s “joke” was marginal writing to delay the battle further, but Ivar is at his best when he’s emotionally pained or angry. He had to dash everyone’s hopes and piss off Lagertha.
Alfred tells his mom about his trip to Lindisfarne. Alfred isn’t impressed with the church leaders. Alfred doesn’t believe praying will save England, nor does he think the regular course of battle is enough. Like any teenager, he knows dad won’t understand his new way of thinking. He wants to protect England’s shores by building a navy he discussed with his grandfather. Judith clearly wants her son to continue showing Aethewulf respect and tells him to speak with his father. Respect or no, Alfred knows King Aethelwulf won’t listen to any new ideas. Aethelwulf still thinks ground fighting is the future.
Even though he allowed her to come to Kattegat, Harald has Ivar take Astrid away from the fighting. Aww, he really cares for her. He’s going to be a great dad one day. It’s probably not his kid, but still a great dad.
Ivar didn’t exactly rip the sky apart this episode. Where will he go from here? Stay tuned to see is we get another battle next week or if he moves onto Dublin.
Picture source: History & Vikings