Ragnar seems to be regaining his strength.
King Ecbert is treating Judith with respect.
Rollo is trying to impress his new wife rather than displease her.
Bjorn is managing to stay alive in the wilderness.
Rollo is further betraying his brother and entire people.
Helga's troubles increase after the punishment of Floki.
Queen Aslaug continues to be condescending to Ragnar.
Ragnar is not yet out of the clear in his illness.
A manhunt takes place, a brother’s betrayal runs deep, and the life of a Queen is at stake on this week’s Vikings.
Last week’s season premier of Vikings on the History channel was full of action and fraught with betrayal. That theme continues this week in “Kill the Queen.” Rollo (Clive Standen) remains in Frankia, plotting against the return of Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and blending into his surroundings in the expectation of success and wealth. Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) makes his way on his own in the wilderness to prove his worth and will to live on his own. Another man on his own, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) escapes in order to flee Ragnar’s judgment but is only found again and ultimately punished. Ragnar continues to struggle with his ailing health, but continues to be an honorable man in some respects during the turmoil and uncertainty as winter creeps up on Kattegat.
It seems as if some key players are being drawn in very different directions yet they still somehow manage to effect one another. The settlement at Kattegat still remaining somewhat at rest for the winter, their problems lie mainly with inner betrayals and struggles for power. The kingdom of Frankia looks to defend itself against further raids against the northmen and to strengthen it’s defenses against outsiders. Wessex has it’s own struggles with rulers fighting against rulers to seize control of their lands. What is there connection? How does this effect all of them in the long run? Let’s take a look at what happened this week and speculate as to what that could mean for the future.
Save the Queen of Mercia.
We all know Queen Kwenthrith (Amy Bailey) had once sought the aid of the northmen led by Ragnar to gain her piece of the kingdom of Mercia from her brothers. We also know she can be little off her rocker and a resourceful woman when it comes to her own survival and continued reign. So, it is surprising when we learn that a group of nobles in Mercia have refused homage to her and King Ecbert (Linus Roache) and have overthrown her. As she is trapped in a tower somewhere with her son Magnus, King Ecbert is quick to send his son Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford) along with a large group of soldiers to her aid.
“If you have any cause to doubt the honesty of your scout, then think as I would think and kill him without conscious… And whatever else, save the son. Save Magnus.” – King Ecbert
Aethelwulf does well in defending the Queen and arrives just in time to save her from her captors who had begun to attack as the tower was approached. The battle that ensued was exciting, but also became somewhat confusing. At first, there was no telling who’s men were who’s and even if they were for or against the Queen. At Aethelwulf’s heroic moment, I was certain that he would arrive to kill the Queen himself rather than rescue her. With Kwenthrith safe and secure, we will see how long she will remain so and if King Ecbert intends on allowing her to continue to rule.
On the other hand, King Ecbert allows a lot of indulgences within his kingdom. It looks as if his proposal to Judith (Jennie Jacques) on being his mistress is not quite working as planned, though she seems to enjoy a certain freedom she was not otherwise allowed. She certainly still holds a flame for Athelstan (George Blagden), which we assume she does not know is dead and gone. When she expresses the want to paint and learn as Athelstan did, it was surprising that Ecbert actually listened and procured a teacher and man of the cloth to help in that matter. Only time will tell if Judith’s feelings are transferred to her reluctant teacher or if she will be refused on the fact that she is a woman.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The preparations for the defense of Paris continue with the help and advise of their newest nobleman, Rollo. By counseling with Paris’ best officers of defense, he further digs himself into the hole of ultimate betrayal. It was apparently not enough to have the entire viking settlement destroyed at his command. Not only does Rollo aid them in what to expect from Ragnar and his men upon their return, but he even makes an effort to blend in with the latest fashions. You almost feel sorry for him when he goes through a rigorous makeover with his hair and clothing only to be laughed at by his wife, Gisla (Morgane Polanski), and her handmaidens. We would feel bad for him, if he had not put himself in that position to the detriment of his entire tribe. In fact, Rollo’s presence in general in Paris has become highly comical due to his ignorance of their language and over eagerness to please his new masters in the making.
“He’s telling us to build more boats capable of attacking the northmen in the water. Good.” – Count Odo
We’re not quite sure what is all going on with the overly creepy Count Odo (Owen Roe) and lady of the court, Therese (Karen Hassan), but one thing is for sure, he is sharing highly sensitive information with her. It’s revealed later that she is in fact passing on this information to someone sale, her real lover, Roland (Huw Parmenter). Their importance remains to be seen, but it is a great glimpse into the inner mechanics of the court of Paris and the constant plots and schemes running beneath everything. It goes to show that Paris does not only have invaders to fear, but should be worried about those within, seeking to gain power and information from the inside.
Long live trust and loyalty.
When Floki murdered Athelstan, he did much more than end the life of a Christian that had denied their Norse gods, he killed the trust and friendship and respect that he had in his friendship with Ragnar. His arrest was based on that lack of trust and loyalty and it only complicates matters when he escapes and makes a run for freedom. Helga (Maude Hirst) is approached by Ragnar in the suspicion that she helped Floki escape. Ragnar shows his loyalty and good will toward’s Floki’s family by leaving her and her daughter food. This is a touching moment, that really brings to the front the goodness in Ragnar’s heart, looking after the family of the man that he feels has most wronged him. We see later this continued act of tenderness and goodwill when he finds Helga alone digging a grave for her young daughter that had somehow died between his last visit. This scene alone is the most heartbreaking yet the most emotional and uplifting in regards to Ragnar’s character. We see him care for a woman that is associated with his current enemy and subject to be punished.
“What did he do that was wrong? All he did was kill a Christian. Why should he punished just for that?” – Queen Aslaug
Whereas, we see not moments later Ragnar’s stern hand against his own wife, Queen Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) when she speaks her opinion about Floki’s deeds. To her, he was only doing what was natural and doing away with another Christian in the world that denied their gods. It is no doubt a shock to her when Ragnar takes out his anger in a physical way against her at her words. She does have a point, a valid one. We have seen her in the past have a man of god murdered without batting an eyelash in Ragnar’s absence. To her, Athelstan, served no particular purpose other than be a friend to her husband. Ragnar, shows his deeper feelings towards the man that he was able to look past his religion and denial of the gods he worshipped and rather look at his character and continued loyalty as a friend.
Conclusion: Long live the Queen and her kingdom.
This episode had an interesting theme running through it, a theme of Queens and women of note in royalty or leadership. The only woman in that position not addressed in this episode was Lagertha (Kathryn Winnick) and I deeply missed her presence. Still, it was interesting getting a glimpse of the highlighted women in power, all captives in some way. The Queen Kwenthrith quite literally was held captive in a tower. Judith and Princess Gisla are both held captive by a marriage they did not desire. Helga is held captive by her circumstances in life and association to man that is now shunned amongst her people. Finally, Queen Aslaug enjoys her high status and role as a ruler in Kattegat but lately her wishes seem to lean more towards a solo rulership or at the very least, lifting up her sons to the seat of king.
The colliding plots were a little hard to follow in this one. In a way, not much was going on in each storyline addressed, yet there was a ton of things happening upon the screen. For me, there was a little too much filler in the chase scenes, battle scenes, and the odd scenes of Bjorn wandering the wilderness. Not much information was given in this one to further the plot and if there were not a few major points such as Floki’s daughter dying and Floki escaping and being recaptured, the entire thing could have been glossed over without having to show any of it. Still, the editing and directing was beautiful and the camerawork and locations shot were beautiful as usual. This episode was more a focal point for cinematography rather than for the script or plot.
Hopefully, next episode will give us more a storyline rather than a romp in the woods and a drawn out battle. For me, I’m hoping to see more of Rollo and his humorous attempts in becoming a true Parisian noble. Also, I’m eager to catch up on Lagertha and how she is fairing with her new shared lands and power.
Questions, Comments & Concerns
- How will Helga survive on her after the death of her daughter and the punishment of her husband, Floki?
- Will Queen Aslaug take her low-key plotting of taking over the kingdom into high-key plotting?
- Will Princess Judith take another monk as a lover, even without knowing that Athelstan is dead?
- Will Rollo ever realize that most of the citizens of Frankia are using him and once his knowledge is imparted on how to defend themselves against his people, that he will be useless and disposable?
- How does Count Odo manage to continue to be so freaking creepy???
- Will Bjorn manage to keep his wits and his life in the bitter cold of the wilderness?