By Leslie Gayle
The long dry season is over for fans, but the forecast is pretty miserable for the players. Our Vikings are learning the curse of modern man: Everything is amazing, but nobody is happy.
You know things are depressing when Rollo is our comic relief for two episodes. The first two episodes show Michael Hirst setting up his dominos—slowly—precisely—like the Chinese water torture that Floki is handed as punishment. Ragnar’s forces are back in Kattegat. They have more money and more power. But goats still roam freely in living rooms and Scandinavia still has terrible lighting. Apparently winters are getting worse, too. (Why does no one have a coat when the snow starts?) Aslaug is scheming for her own power and buys a raven-haired beauty of a slave. (Even without the power of sight, she sees this one coming, right?) Rollo is setting up his future in Paris like a bull in a china shop. And England has an honest to God princess in a TOWER! (Okay, she’s a queen, but a damsel, nonetheless.)
Our Favorite Moments
Floki and Ragnar’s conflict.
Floki is arrested for Aethelstan’s murder. Ragnar is honestly pained by this decision to punish Floki. He seemed happier feigning ignorance. When Floki escapes, Ragnar gets a small glimpse of life without Rollo as his right hand man: He’s left with slack-jawed fools. “Well, go get him!(Eye roll)” Helga helps Floki escape. Ragnar clearly respects Helga for being a faithful wife, as his own unfaithful wife schemes against him. Finally, we see our golden boy crack and hit his wife. That scene has to be more cutting to some fans than any of Rollo’s betrayals.
Rollo—Will he? won’t he? Of course, he will; the real question is, ”Why?”
Rollo gets his much-hyped wedding and everything the Seer promised. But he too is miserable in Paris without an interpreter or anyone to play that coin toss game he enjoyed with his old mates. That’s because he kills off ALL his own men, leaving himself as the only Northman left to found Normandy. Is this the rash Rollo we love to hate, or a new savvy Rollo? (I am disappointed we won’t get to know that Erik guy better. He seemed like a stand-up kind of guy in the two minutes he was alive.)
Lagertha and Kalf: frenemies with benefits.
Okay, so Lagertha seems to be doing better than everyone else. Every man wants her. Every woman wants to be her. She gets revenge on yet another guy who tried to rape her. And that cutie Kalf agrees to share power with her. Does anyone really believe Kalf is going to make it through this alliance alive? (To quote another oracle, “You’re cuter than I thought. I can see why she likes you. Not too bright, though.”)
Kwenthrith and Aethelwulf: frenemies without benefits. For now(?)
Mercia’s queen has been locked in a tower by rebels. The original Disney plot! But bloodier. King Ecbert sends his faithful son, Aethelwulf, to go rescue Queen Kwenthrith. (Or maybe to die. Who knows with Ecbert?) I love this moment because it’s a damsel in a TOWER! And boy, does she let her hair down when she is cornered! This fairytale’s end is the most personally brutal scene for Vikings to date, including the blood eagle(Yes, I’m sticking to that statement). Both our heroes ended up in no-holds-barred street fights for survival. Anything within reach is a weapon. There’s head-bashing, rock-throwing, nails, teeth, stuff you don’t want to think about when you hear “zombie apocalypse.” I think these two will make a cute couple. Albeit, a couple in need of therapy.
I love the parallels on characters, morals and strategy that Michael Hirst is already setting up.
Lagertha cuts off Einar’s genitals with a knife. It’s payback for trying to force a marriage and himself on her. Then Gisla, after being forced to marry Rollo, whips out her own knife. She cuts Rollo’s hopes for their wedding night short, but she has no real follow-through.
Kalf ambushes a faction that disapproves of Lagertha. To keep his hands clean, he has archers do the dirty work. Everyone thinks he’s a sweetheart for it. Yet everyone hates Rollo, who uses the same method to kill ALL his people and rid himself of any dissenters. What’s the true motivation for each of them? Love, loyalty or power? Whose method of crowd control will work better?
Kalf emphasizes that he and Lagertha “AREN’T married” as a power couple, while Rollo reminds his wife they ARE married (even though she can’t understand a word of it). We’ll see where that juxtaposition goes.
Finally, Ragnar’s comparative religious course has already explored Pagans versus Christians. With the introduction of his slave from Asia, we will definitely explore more philosophies. Bjorn’s arresting Floki already forced Ragnar to “act,” causing that karma wheel to roll (I bet a Norse Dharma wheel will have spikes, like that wicked one we saw in Paris). Will Bjorn’s decision to leave Rollo in Paris pull us into a Bhagavad Gita dream sequence and the warrior’s call of duty? (I can already hear the conch shells and bullhorns.)
Fans are in for a long, dark winter with lots of commercials. It will definitely be frustrating, but I doubt the thaw will be boring.