Warning: Major Spoilers if you haven’t seen this episode!
There isn’t much action this week, but a lot is going on. I love that Katheryn Winnick, the actress that plays Lagertha – legendary shieldmaiden and mother to Bjorn Ironside – directs this episode. It’s as if Lagertha is smacking her son around from the grave.
Bjorn passes judgement on Hvitserk for killing Lagertha. Hvitserk owns up to his failures and seems to welcome death.
Even though he didn’t really mean to kill Lagertha, Hvitserk accepts his fate. And even though Ubbe turned away from Hvitserk, he now takes pity.
Bjorn wants Hvitserk to feel his immeasurable pain, by burning him alive. But Bjorn is the one burning alive. He suffers from his own self-doubt. Bjorn is sung about in the sagas as a son of Ragnar, but like Hvitserk, Bjorn feels he never made his father proud.
Bjorn has Ubbe cut Hvitserk free from the bonfire and exiles Hvitserk instead. He wants him to suffer more before he dies.
Now that Bjorn has return, Ubbe, wasting no tears on Hvitserk, wants to immediately leave for Iceland. Ubbe is certain that it is his destiny to find the new wanderer and Greenland.
Flat Nose, a.k.a. Mr. Hyde, may have other plans.
Prince Oleg sends raiding parties to the outskirts of Scandinavia as scouts. De-crowned King Olaf foretells that they will be back with an army. So King Harald has his first real challenge coming.
My Favorite Moments
Oh the (Lack of) Humanity!
Bjorn publicly shames and beats Hvitserk. Hvitserk openly admits to killing Lagertha, because of alcoholism. Bjorn says he will never forgive him. Everyone with background on the situation, remains quiet.
They feel badly for Hvitserk, and are shocked at Bjorn, but never say a word.
Out with It Woman!
Everyone remains silent about Bjorn’s role, when speaking of Hali’s death as well. Lagertha was already mortally wounded in a battle against the outlaws Bjorn exiled. And those outlaws killed Bjorn’s son, Hali. Gunnhild reminds us of Bjorn’s own struggle as Ragnar’s son. “Hali wanted to make his parents proud.”
Stand By Your Man
Bjorn informs Kattegat of his election defeat and warns that Kattegat may be attacked. He gives his people the option of replacing him. Everyone is silent. Gunnhild speaks up, reminding everyone that Bjorn is a great man.
The servant Ingrid claimed she would make Bjorn the most confident man in the world with sex. And Gunnhild continues to uplift Bjorn despite his stupid decisions. Neither of these women can help him.
Ivar’s Inner Child
Oleg is annoyed by the young prince for speaking his mind. Igor lets Oleg know, he knows he is the real future King. Oleg destroys the boy’s puppet and tells him he is nothing without him. He hurts Ivar as well – reminding Ivar of the child he once had. It seems like Katya doesn’t entirely care for Oleg’s temper.
Ivar consoles Prince Igor.
I Got 99 Problems (But the Extraordinary Women in My Life Haven’t Caused One)
Queen Gunnhild, walks in on Ingrid and Bjorn’s affair. She knew about it. She wants to negotiate terms of a multiple marriage, like Ragnar had hoped for with Lagertha. Earlier Bjorn remembered his mother’s decision to leave Ragnar, and his decision to side with his mom.
Gunnhild is doing Bjorn a huge favor by removing one problem in his life – his guilt over this affair. Ingrid throws a wary look. She isn’t thrilled with the idea of being a second wife, or mother to Gunnhild’s child. We can’t even be sure she wants to be Bjorn’s wife. She may just like the game.
Bjorn indicates he can’t deal with this situation, “I don’t know what to say.” Gunnhild advises, “Sometimes saying nothing is best.” She then FINALLY reveals that Lagertha’s village was attacked by the very outlaws Bjorn exiled. Bjorn smarts with the same flinch Ragnar made, after Lagertha told him their divorce was his fate. I’m sure that took his mind off getting caught with his pants down.
Gunnhild gives him a little grace, by reminding him that he is a good man. And even good men make mistakes.
Goodness knows Odin tried to point Bjorn in the right direction. He sent Erik the Red, a redeemed outlaw to save Bjorn. But Bjorn kicked poor, sick, Hvitserk out to the elements, unable to make amends for his part in Lagertha’s fate. Bjorn deserves that smack upside his ego.
So Much Water Under That Bridge
Ubbe and Torvi travel to Iceland as they had planned. Bjorn admonishes Torvi for making a dangerous journey, while she is pregnant. Mind you, this is after Mr. Always Right was caught with Ingrid! He STILL thinks he knows best. Echoing Gunnhild’s earlier advice, Torvi speaks volumes, by not speaking at all.
Gunnhild (Wife #4) and Torvi (ex-wife #2) understand each other.
The Bromance Continues
King Harald needs to make an example of someone to make all the earls heel. Deposed King Olaf offers up Bjorn Ironsides as a potential example. But oh no, Harald says Bjorn is special. He wants to kill Bjorn last – then he will truly be the King of All Norway. You can feel the respect he still holds for Bjorn. His brother Halfdan had the same respect. I think Harald hopes Bjorn will ultimately pledge his loyalty to Harald, for the good of all Norway.
Bjorn is caught in his own mind all episode, with life passing him by. As he sips a drink, the whole day passes in seconds. When he offers a farewell speech to the Iceland expedition, the boat and everyone in town, are gone before he is finished speaking.
Is Bjorn’s story running out of time? Will Bjorn submit to Harald’s rule to save Kattegat? Will Bjorn find Hvitserk to make amends for his poor judgement? And will Gunnhild, who was certain she would be the “Queen of All Norway,” leave Bjorn for Harald? Tune in next week to find out!
Picture source: History, Vikings, Bernard Walsh & Johnathon Hession