Bjorn thrives in the wilderness and showcases his wits and brawn.
Ragnar receives an important vision from his late friend Athelstan.
King Ecbert continues to be soft and understanding with Judith and indulge her freedoms.
Floki receives his freedom.
Bjorn is still in danger.
Rollo remains in Paris and continues to go along with his betrayal and deceit of his brother and his people.
Judith finally learns the truth about Athelstan.
Lagertha may have to choose sides and be engaged once more in a turf war.
The call of the wild reigns free in this week’s Vikings. This episode we take a look at the inner human spirit regarding survival, loyalty, and grace.
Last week on Vikings many story lines were left hanging in the balance. What we saw of Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig), he was making his way in the wild, using his wits and staying alive against the weather. This week, the weather was the least of his worries when he was pitted hand to paw with a grumpy grizzly bear. Also left hanging in the balance was the fate of Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) at the hand of Ragnar (Travis Fimmel). By the looks of things when last we saw Floki, he would be receiving the brunt of Ragnar’s temper after having escaped his imprisonment only to be captured again. Rollo (Clive Standen) struggles to maintain his dignity yet acclimate to his new chosen home and people and learn the language of the land and attempt to woo his unwilling wife Gisla (Morgane Polanski). Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) and Kalf (Ben Robson) get cozy in their united front to rule their land and people under a shared earldom, but not all is happiness and loyalty in the land of the vikings. So far the multitude of plot lines have remained fairly separated but they are rapidly building to join at some point soon. Let’s a take a look at what this episode brought for us this week and what we might look forward to seeing in the future.
By tooth and claw.
As we saw in the last episode “Kill the Queen”, Bjorn was making his mark in the world and proving his worth as a man and a viking by living off of the land with only himself to rely upon. This week, we see that he is getting along just fine and on top of that is embracing the finer points of solitude and extreme survival. Though I’m not sure what the importance of this storyline is in regards to Bjorn and his place amongst things as Ragnar’s son and a possible heir to the earldom of Kattegat, I do know that it affords us the chance to see Bjorn display his overall manliness and ultimate badassery. Did you see the way he totally owned that bear with the axe in the skull? The brief scuffle between man and bear got our adrenaline pumping and gave us a chance to cheer on Bjorn and his mad skills at mastering the art of staying alive. All of this showcasing of Bjorn’s hard won will to live and prove himself may prove useful in the near future as it seems not everyone is hoping for his happy return and good health.
“I thought we came together to destroy the family of Ragnar Lothbrok. I thought that was your ambition as it is mine. For me, I will not rest until my father’s death is avenged.” – Erlendur
It seems as if the eldest son of the late King Horik (Donal Logue), Erlendur (Edvin Endre) ha plans of his own to do away with the Lothbrok legacy in whatever way he can find. After his public support by way of Kalf for Lagertha in securing her place as a joint leader of the land he calls home, it was surprising to hear that he desired the fall of the Lothbrok legacy. Perhaps the hatred and need for vengeance only concerns the direct bloodline of Ragnar and Lagertha is not a concern as her only role is the mother of Bjorn. Even more surprising was Kalf’s willingness in supplying Erlendur with aid in taking down Bjorn at his behest. We can only assume that Kalf does not share all of the inner workings of the people that he has chosen to rule with his object of desire, Lagertha. Also, we can only assume that if Erlendur knew half of the truth of Bjorn’s actions, for one sleeping with Torvi (Georgia Hirst) his young wife, he would maybe take matters into his own hands in taking down Bjorn instead of working in the shadows and using the aid of others. Though the berserker warrior Kalf recommends may be frightening as all get out, I don’t think we have anything to worry about concerning Bjorn’s safety after we watched him take out a bear using only a small hand held axe.
For the sake of Paris.
The struggle certainly is very real for Rollo in his stubborn attempts in taking an important role and place amongst the society of Paris. His wife takes every chance to insult him and defy him, much to the horror and dismay of her father Emperor Charles (Lothaire Bluteau). What was once amusing and comedic has become almost painful to watch but only a very shallow level. Rollo is above anything a turn coat and a betrayer to the very people he was born and raised to regard as family. The fact that he took the chance to grasp a title he knew little of in order to achieve a standing in what he saw was above Ragnar, leaves little for us to pity him for. He in a sense, did this to himself, and the people of Paris only abide with him so long as they view the vikings in the north as a terror and threat to their beloved city.
“Don’t touch me! Don’t ever touch me you ignorant savage! I will never be your woman. I want to a divorce. Arrange it.” – Princess Gisla
We have to give credit to the hierarchy of the Paris for putting up with Rollo and his exaggerated behavior of being a savage. When he cannot blend in and be peaceful in the meantime he opts for the exact opposite and tries to inspire fear, most times successfully. The only citizen it seems unaffected by this continued barbarism is the Count Odo (Owen Roe) whom in his own right as a hidden side of savagery and barbarism. For the continued protection of Paris and the success of Rollo’s aid, Odo is quick to come to his side and offer what he can to fix the situation of the latest insults for the out of place viking. The offer of providing someone to teach Rollo the language of the land is only successful to a point. It will be interesting to see if Rollo can curb his temper enough to actually let it do some good and perhaps in doing so will expose the two sided coin he has put himself in the mercy of. While Rollo remains ignorant, the language barrier is one of the little things that allows the Frankish people to use him and treat him with only the tiniest bit of respect. Perhaps, once he has a better understanding of his position as a citizen among them he’ll go back to defending his own people and manage to gain a place back with them even after all his black deeds have been exposed.
Change of heart.
Floki certainly has had better days. The punishment that Ragnar set aside for him after his previous escape can only be described as borderline evil. His life and sanity are literally hanging in the balance as he stands shackled in a dark cave with water eternally dripping upon his head. It was heart warming to see his wife Helga (Maude Hirst) dutifully at his side once more trying to ease his pain and make his torture a little more bearable. It was heart breaking to witness her give him the news of the passing of their daughter. It was excruciating to wait for the decision of Ragnar in what was to be done with Floki. On one hand, he was a great friend and ally, on the other he murdered another close friend and ally of Ragnar’s. Call it a miracle, or the grace of god, Athelstan (George Blagden) appears to Ragnar and begs him to free Floki and practice his Christian belief of forgiveness for his own death. Interestingly enough, Ragnar follows the advice of the vision, Christian or otherwise and sets the suffering man free.
“Mercy.” – Athelstan
Athelstan also made his rounds to King Ecbert (Linus Roache) confirming his suspicion that the holy man was indeed deceased. The vision and blessing of King Ecbert can be seen as two things. One, it is a thank you for watching over Judith (Jennie Jacques) who bore his son and a message that he looks upon him kindly from heaven. The other meaning could be that King Ecbert sees his intent upon gaining more lands and his kingdom as the grace of god and by keeping Judith close along with her son, he is doing the work of god. Judith at least now knows that her beloved Athelstan is no more and can perhaps move on with gaining some closure.
Conclusion: Paris is prepared to go the distance.
The city of Paris is indeed afraid for it’s continued safety if they are continuing to rely on the aid of the one savage that the managed to take into their fold. There are no guarantees when the vikings will be back to raid Paris once more, but when they do, they will perhaps be surprised by the change in guard and the role of their once brother Rollo in their battle. For now, this confrontation looks to be in the distant future. Winter has just set upon Kattegat and it’s still unclear as to whether Ragnar will recover enough to lead anymore raids into the outlying lands. Bjorn, assuming that he lives long enough may be the one to confront his uncle and take back the position they enjoyed at the city of Paris. The name and legacy of the Lothbrok name seems to be in question and in jeopardy and the weak state of King Ragnar does nothing to reinforce his position or readiness to continue to lead.
This episode brought to light some interesting questions on behavior and the need to survive and understand the world around us. Show creator and writer, Michael Hirst, frames these aspects perfectly in bringing a multitude of storylines together with one common trait: human nature. This episode explored many things, such as the need for survival, forgiveness, love, and even the need for commonality and understanding. It was interesting to see the variety of characters struggle with their own positions in life in very physical ways and also mental ones. Hirst is a master of taking a mix of what are very different characters in social standings, cultures, and religion and bringing them together by giving them problems and solutions that rely on the very basic needs of the human condition.
Superb writing, beautiful filmography, and thrilling action and emotional acting really tied this episode together and had us looking forward to the next installment of History channel’s Vikings.
Questions, Comments & Concerns
- Will Bjorn continue to thrive after surviving a bear attack and the impending arrival of the hired berserker?
- How long will Queen Aslaug continue to take Ragnar’s abuse, physical and mental?
- Will Rollo finally blend into his surroundings and make a place for himself among the people of Paris?
- I think Athelstan would be proud of Ragnar and his decision to free Floki.
- Is Ragnar recovering from his injury and illness?
- Will Lagertha remain in her relationship with Kalf after his admission of love?
- Looks like Yidu has slowly started to make her presence known to Ragnar.
Vikings Review 4×03: “Mercy”