Battle flows through the hands of the heavy hearted as Ragnar takes the fight straight to the would be prince of Mercia while King Ecbert witnesses Lagertha perform an animal sacrifice to bless the crops on their new land. Meanwhile at Kattegat, the wanderer, Harbard arrives and offers amusement and a bit of solace to Aslaug’s child, yet it is Siggy who keeps a watchful eye on the man. After two children are found drowned in the vast lake, she goes to the Seer who can offer nothing, for the Gods have kept him in the dark of any visions or foretelling.
From start to finish, Vikings was paced itself yet was quick to settle the fate of Torstein, who gave his life to distract the enemy. It was a generous departure considering Flocki had nothing but irritation in his heart over what he perceived as a pointless death and threw it back at Ragnar. Flocki has never been one to hide his emotions even if at times they make no sense to himself. Patient Ragnar saves himself from any kind of argument, yet takes some frustration out on his son, Bjorn, who allowed Porunn to go to battle and as a result, suffered a facial wound that may render her severally scarred. It’s still a mystery as to whether or not Porunn is with child, but at this point Ragnar is already punishing Bjorn for acting with the will of a little girl.
The battle itself had a flair for sloppiness. The mist was daunting and you could feel the dampness soak as both sides shot and flung their weapons with crazed accuracy. And at the end, Aethelwolf poised his archers above the bowl where Kwenthrith’s brother was being protected, and together, the Vikings closed in until he surrendered. At first I was expecting a strong comeback since he had held the bulk of his army inside, but by cornering himself like that, he was defeated with nowhere to run. It was a muddy mess showcased on purpose. In itself, the fight was a job, and Flocki enjoyed it the least.
After the battle, Ecbert, Judith, Athelstan, and Lagertha enjoy a moment in a bathhouse which gives way to Ecbert and Lagertha getting intimate while Judith leaves, uncomfortable with her thoughts. Athelstan reassures her even after she told him her longing of him and they remain ever faithful. Lagertha and Ecbert’s coupling are pushed forward while the other two remain fixed and innocent. There hasn’t been any visible deception from Ecbert regarding his plan with Lagertha which stems the question, is he in fact taken with her? His nobles offer nothing but shocked and appalled attitudes toward the “pagans” and try to be a voice in his head for reason to at least change their religious views. The struggle now is whether he’ll listen to them and risk alienating Lagertha, or whether he’ll continue to play along watching their lifestyle slowly transform the land and possibly him in the process.
Back at Kattegat, Harbard finds Siggy, Helga, and Aslaug and is treated to some aid for his wounded hand, which is offers a great story at dinner and an ability to calm Aslaug’s crying child. The more friendly and innocent Harbard seems, the more Siggy and we the audience feel he’s anything but. Is he really acting alone or is he part of a darker plot conspired by people like Kalf? Could he be an opposing force to the Seer himself given Siggy’s suggestion that he may be something more than he seems. Harbard isn’t ignorant to Ragnar being the king and though the death of two children raises a lot of questions, there’s no way to know if Harbard is directly responsible or if it just seems that way.
And finally, Ecbert sees first hand what one animal sacrifice looks like as Lagertha is drenched in blood and it is offered into the earth to help with the growth of food. The nobles don’t like it and they continue to push Ecbert to do something about the Vikings, at the very least turn them from their Gods. That won’t be an easy accomplishment, and I think if anything, Ecbert would be more susceptible to losing his own convictions at the hands of love and lust. Lagertha may be falling for him, but what will that mean for Ragnar when he sees his ex being intimate with another king?
I very much enjoyed Harbard’s story and his portrayal with pretending to be Thor through it. This kind of mythos deserves more moments like these where the people are doused in the old tales, much like the telling of Ragnarok, which by far was the best story within story shown yet. This called back to that a bit and I appreciated the delivery.
Kevin Durand brought his A game this episode, and put on a stellar performance, acclimating to a seasoned character who easily integrates into the group and offers mystery and intrigue as a neutral character we don’t know. His story was fascinating to watch and I believe he’ll be a mainstay hopefully for at least the rest of the season.
LONG TERM THOUGHTS
I actually thought Porunn’s makeup was very well done, an interesting contrast to her pale complexion and eyeliner. When she sustained her injuries, it was interesting to note that Bjorn seemed at first concerned about her face and what would be the result. It took Rollo to talk a bit of sense into him, saying to coax her back from the dead. I liked that moment.
Aethelwulf actually played his part without any deception during the battle. I suppose that means that the deception will come later, possibly at the focal point of Judith’s choice to lie with Athelstan or not.
It might be a bit distracting, but I’d like to see some kind of text telling us how much time has passed between certain scenes. It’s almost impossible to tell how many days or weeks happen between let’s say the start of the battle of last week’s episode and the end of it. Minor gripe.
With Torstein gone, there aren’t many male supporting characters left on Ragnar’s side. Rollo and Flocki were always mainstays, and Bjorn is still green but relatively invulnerable to any serious plot issues. I wonder if this number will continue to dwindle to the point one of them will be next. Hope not.
I still find it odd how easily Lagertha and Ecbern are becoming intimate. It’s not so much forced as it is too simple. Athelstan and Judith have a lot of layers to get through before their passion is realized while Lagertha and Ecbert aren’t wasting any time at all. I ponder if their relationship will be long lasting or not.
8 out of 10. Very entertaining episode and Harbard’s inclusion to the plot is a good addition all around. The battle was decent though the archery work always feels a bit stubborn and off when there isn’t 300 people all firing arrows at once. Torstein’s death stung, but he got the death he wanted, even Flocki doesn’t agree with it. I think Porunn will recover, because Ragnar and Bjorn shouldn’t be fighting, not this early, though it’s poetic that Rollo is consulting the son considering the role he played against Ragnar over the last two seasons. Still, there’s trouble brewing and it’s happening at the right pace. Keem ‘em coming.
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