Bjorn is filling out with strength.
Judith has managed to keep her resolve strong despite her circumstances.
Lagertha owns everything.
Ragnar is looking on he up and up in health thanks to Yidu.
King Finehair and Halfdan are absolutely up to something.
Ragnar is veering to the Joker side of Vikingdom.
Bjorn's relationship with Ragnar is souring.
Floki has the look of bitterness and revenge about him.
All the plots are raining down and Ragnar has no time for any of them on this week’s Vikings.
On this week’s Vikings blood is spilled and relationships are questioned, but who really came out on top this round? With the arrival of more and more of King Finehair’s (Peter Franzén) men and also the arrival of his brother Halfdan (Jasper Pääkkönen) it is looking more likely that they are gathering to make a raid or perhaps take over Kattegat itself. Either way, these men are biding their time and using that time to learn all they can about their surroundings. If Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) is not careful, he may soon find himself out of a kingdom and off on his own if not the victim of plot to be overthrown. Even his used-to-be closest friend, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgärd) and his own son, Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) have good reasons to not think so kindly of him. Even elsewhere, his brother Rollo (Clive Standen) is plotting against him and what is he currently doing? Off getting high and ‘sharing his secrets’ with a former slave girl, Yidu (Dianne Doan.)
Meanwhile, in Wessex the struggle over kingdoms and relationships grow ever more complicated and heated. King Ecbert (Linus Roache) is certainly doling out his fair share of promises, as his usual way, but will this complicated twist of knots come unraveling for him in ways that he does not foresee? It certainly is no secret that Judith (Jennie Jacques) is now his mistress and that her husband, the king’s own son, Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford) is spending his leisure time in the company of Queen Kwenthrith (Amy Bailey.) Wessex not only the kingdom in peril there are also seems to be underlying plots concerning Count Odo (Owen Roe) in Paris and certain informants are not shy about spreading their knowledge to Emperor Charles (Lothaire Bluteau) in order to take him down. The reason behind their hatred still remains to be seen, but for now we can only assume it has to do with the rulership of Paris itself.
Quite a few things happened in this episode: heart racing sensual scenes, unexpected murder, and a ton of secret sharing. Let’s take a closer look at some of these topics closer and then some.
Much ado in the kingdom of Paris and Wessex.
It looks as if Rollo finally has things made by winning over the trust and at least passion of his wife, Princess Gisla (Morgane Polanski.) In what seemed to be an overnight change, Gisla not only has begun to give herself willingly to her husband, but also shares her secrets and advises him accordingly on how things are done in Frankia. Whether this development will be good for Rollo in the long run will remain to be seen. A large passage of time from when the viking settlement there was murdered at his behest will no doubt go unnoticed by Ragnar and his men upon their return. I have a feeling that there will be no amount of preparation for the ire that will be directed to the ‘former’ viking once he is recognized and called out as the traitor he has become.
Other concerns in Paris arrive by not so unexpected sources. We’ve been witnessing a lady of the court, Terese (Karen Hassan) under the guidance by Roland (Huw Parmenter) how has now been revealed to be his brother, as informants to Emperor Charles about the nefarious deeds and information they claim to have received by Count Odo himself. The poor Count has made several enemies and no one will step up for him in the end once his name is sullied and made to be synonymous with deceit and mutiny.
“That is what a viking would say. But you are no longer a viking. In Frankia we do several things differently. That is something you will have to learn, my love. Something you’ll certainly have to learn.” – Princess Gisla
Wessex is no place to be as far as kingdom squabbles and happy relationships go, either. King Ecbert is further drawing himself into a tight circle by promising his help and good graces to everyone and trying his hardest not to publicly displease anyone. As he has done in the past, he has promised aid and protection and shown a friendly face to those that would take him down should he threaten him. He was in the past the reason Ragnar was able to establish a settlement in Wessex, only to have it destroyed upon his departure by Ecbert’s own son Aethelfwulf. Instead of punishing his son and making amends with the northmen, King Ecbert praised Aethelwulf and made no explanation that he was involved, making it seem as if he had no hand in the destruction and removal of the settlement. King Ecbert uses his many faces, the most prominent the friendly and understanding ruler and friend in order to bring more riches and alliances to himself at any cause. This may not prove wise in the case of Queen Kwenthrith, especially with her involvement with Aethelwulf and the twisted web of distrust he has created by taking his own daughter-in-law, Judith as his favored mistress.
Home is where the heart is and betrayal.
You would have to blind to miss the major connection happening between Ragnar and the sometimes slave girl, Yidu. For the past two episodes the two have grown closer and closer with and without the aid of Yidu’s medicinal herbal knowledge from the East. However close these two become, there is still a great wall of mystery between the both of them. Yidu claims to be the daughter of a simple merchant, but it is apparent that Ragnar thinks otherwise. The relationship seems to be two-sided, as Yidu is always keen to give Ragnar whatever information he desires and is even a willing confidant in any information he chooses to offer her. Whatever the case, she has consumed the attention of our King of Kattegat with her extensive knowledge and exotic beauty. There may be a new queen in Ragnar’s future and it may not be a terrible loss for Queen Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) who seems smitten with Kattegat’s new arrival and perhaps old acquaintance, King Finehair.
“I don’t know you and you don’t know me, yet I want to tell you my most terrible secrets. Do you want to hear it?” – Ragnar
As far as Finehair and Halfdan go, their arrival was certainly unexpected but by looking at the docks and activity in Kattegat it was not unwelcome. Only Bjorn seems to open question and worry about their presence and is obviously displeased with his father’s current disdain and inactivity. What remains to be seen in this case is if Bjorn will take it upon himself to lead a raid back to Paris without Ragnar or if he will lead the mean of Finehair and Halfdan instead. Being that winter is departing the lands of the north, the interference or perhaps of aid of Finehair and Halfdan could be what keeps Kattegat afloat in the long run. Ragnar’s failing health has made him weak and unsound in the minds of his citizens and he certainly has inspired the ire of many by his continued mourning of his christian friend Athelstan (George Blagden.) When Finehair and Halfdan invite Floki to sit with them along with his wife Helga (Maude Hirst) they make it no secret that they would like to know what is behind the obvious disdain of his person amongst the people. Floki being Floki is quick to point out that Ragnar is only displeased with him for murdering a christian. This information will not bode well for Ragnar if Finehair and Halfdan are set to make good on their promise to be rulers of all the north. A king who harbors and sides with christians would certainly not be a king that would be held in honor amongst the people and if given a choice, there would be more for the side of Finehair and his men than in the case of Ragnar to keep his rulership amongst the vikings.
What’s mine is yours until it’s not.
Perhaps the most interesting play of events in this episode centers around Kalf (Ben Robson) and Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick.) This union has had it’s ups and downs and betrayals galore. The current betrayal being that of Kalf helping Erlendur (Edvin Endre) in an attempt to murder her son, Bjorn. As Lagertha may have suspected, his good intentions, though made highly public by the murder of those in the land that did not support the shared earldom, do not make a bit of difference to her when it concerns her progeny. Lagertha is a smart woman and the shared rulership of the land’s she had rightfully taken as her own previously are something she takes with the upmost seriousness. Her announcement to Kalf that she is with child may or may not be genuine one, depending on the certainty of past visions and predictions of the Seer (John Kavanaugh), but it does not seem that is any good news to her other than that she would be blessed with another child, though not from the place she had wanted or expected.
“Earl Kalf is dead.” – Lagertha
By whatever means, once Lagertha learns of the betrayal of Kalf and his aid in trying to assure the death of her son Bjorn while he had gone into the wilderness that winter, she wastes no time in showing the true penalty of inspiring a mother’s ire. In what is what I considered to be one of the most unseen acts of the episode and perhaps of the entire season thus far, Lagertha happily stabs Kalf to end his life on the eve of their wedding and marches out the door with her ladies in waiting all the while covered in the fresh blood of her dead husband-to-be. Training the women of the village as shield maidens has done her credit as she now has a guard of faithful women she can trust to guard her and keep the strength of her rulership in check. All I an say, is that Erlendur perhaps should watch his back a little more closely as his only ally has met his end. But where will he go? Certainly not to Kattegat where he would have to witness his ex-wife Torvi (Georgia Hirst) dallying with Bjorn and possibly bring back their child to be near his mother. It would unravel in steps he considered to be ahead of the Lothbrok clan, though now, who can say if he’ll be much longer for this world.
Conclusion: Rome is burning while Ragnar plays his fiddle.
There are pros and cons riddled throughout this episode. The biggest con being Ragnar’s disdain for the world happening around him. It’s as if he’s given up and decided not to participate in life, other than seeking his own pleasures and just using each day to keep on living rather than making things happen as he had before. Arguably, this could be the effects of his injury and illness coming to head along with the mourning of his closest friend and confidant, Athelstan fading to an acceptable point to allow him to be less emotional. The timing of the arrival of Finehair and Halfdan can be seen as both unfortunate, considering their aspirations of greatness and wealth or it can be seen as fortunate as it may be the urging to action that Ragnar requires to pick up the pieces and become himself again.
As far as Lagertha goes, she may prove to be Ragnar’s greatest ally if a raid is put together back to Paris. Her army and people would be the only ones solely on his side being that Queen Aslaug has also grown wary of Ragnar’s great abiding of the christian faith. Without her aid, and even with Bjorn by his side, things could turn sour for Ragnar if he takes the chance to set out back to Paris. Of course, the unexpected betrayal of his own brother Rollo could be his ultimate undoing or the fuel to the remaining fire to seal the deal of Ragnar’s glorious return to greatness.
Writer and creator of the show, Michael Hirst, again delights us with the twisted underlying plots of power and deceit. Not only does he make the struggles of kings and queens interesting by throwing in the personal relationships behind it, he manages to interconnect each story line to relate to one another either by a distant connection or close comparison of things that have happened in the past. Along with the beautiful costuming and production, each scene has us on the edge of our seats to see what comes next. Excellent dialogue, picturesque scenes, and heart wrenching relationships keep us coming back for more each week.
Questions, Comments & Concerns
- King Finehair and Halfden seem friendly enough, though their intentions of eventual takeover of Kattegat are thinly veiled behind their desires to raid Paris.
- Will Ragnar snap out of his Yidu daze and step back into this kingship or will he continue to drifting along letting everything happen around him?
- Will they ever go back to Paris or is all of Rollo’s betraying and readying the army for not?
- King Ecbert is sinking further into a hole of deceit he may never crawl out of. Will it hinder is grand ambitions of domination?
- Bjorn came back out of the wilderness with strength, but his relationship with Ragnar seems to be faltering. Does it have something to do with taking on Torvi as a protecter or is there something deeper behind it?
- WHAT THE HECK with Ivar the mini ax killer!?? Viking for sure. He does need Floki’s tutoring.
- Is Lagertha actually with child or was it only a ploy to lure Kalf into a rushed marriage?
- Lagertha is truly badass and should not be crossed. Ever. Look out Erlendur.