If a king is too nice and lenient, surely he must be a scheming tyrant. Ecbert reveals his true agenda as his son Aethelwulf carries out a plan to massacre the northmen who stayed behind to grow crops in Wessex. With it’s conclusion, Ecbert determines which nobles were planning the attack against his elusive wishes and likely will be disposing of them. In Kattegat, Flocki discovers the strange truth between Harbard and Aslaug relationship that puts Ragnar on a path straight for Paris.
With the season half done, Vikings rallies the cry of a siege larger than any they’ve undertaken before. If such a raid is to succeed, Ragnar will need everyone on his side and already he’s lost Lagertha due to Kalf assuming rule over her land. And news of Siggy’s death puts Rollo further into a pit of anger and despair over his place in life. All this and an eerie telling by the Seer that the bear will marry the princess which won’t spell good fortune for Ragnar and his people.
As the homecoming drums signal the return of Ragnar back home, All isn’t well with the northern folk. Porunn is distant and sullen putting Bjorn in a state of uncertainty over their union. At the same time Rollo is heckled by other warriors over Siggy’s death prompting Bjorn to stop Rollo from fighting and getting himself killed. It’s easy to say Rollo is quickly becoming the most conflicted character on the show. He’s lasted as long as Ragnar and lost everything he’d hope to gain. His kinship with Ragnar could be next if he’s truly snapped.
Ragnar encourages Kalf to join his raid of Paris even though it may be a lost cause. He isn’t winning the support of Lagertha in doing so and now he has to deal with Flocki’s belief that the man who slept with Aslaug was Odin in disguise. The look in his eyes suggests he finds Flocki’s conclusion trite at best. How does one confront the possibility that a king’s wife was seduced by the father of all their gods? In a way, one could view this scenario as a test set up by Flocki. Out of all the Vikings who worship the gods of old, Flocki is the only one that determines the real identity of Harbard. His greatest fear as of late is that the Christian faith will do away with the gods and he ridicules anyone who associates with the Christian god including Rollo and Aethelstan. His fear that Odin came to Kattegat to seduce Aslaug could mean many things, but more so than most, Flocki thinks his own faith is being tested. Will he use that for or against Ragnar?
To what end will Ecbert’s plan take him? If earning his trust with Ragnar is no longer the issue, then the only conclusion is he intends to destroy the Vikings completely when they return to Wessex. This could mean an alliance with Paris that will result in Ragnar’s worst defeat in history. To ignore a laughing seer’s prophecy could spell disaster for everyone in Kattegat, yet it’s clear some union will take place between a bear and a princess we don’t know the identities of yet.
Kalf’s profile led to the possibility that he was planning something quite more violent in nature when Lagertha returned home. Yet, all he did was summarize his rightful place as ruler and even mildly offered Lagertha and he join. If he’s playing at a longer game, it could mean he doesn’t intend to stop at just ruling at his current stead. Now that he knows Ragnar’s plan to raid Paris, he could easily use that time to conduct his own raid of Kattegat, something that’s been done at least once.
The episode ends with Ecbert playing at his charade that he didn’t approve of the northmen’s massacre in Wessex. He did so to discover his enemies and his son played the role to Ecbert’s satisfaction. Does this mean he’ll continue to play at ignorance when Ragnar returns or is that long past and now the only thing left is war? It will be a time before they meet again and meet they shall.
There were a few to choose from, but my favorite scene was when Bjorn and Rollo fought in the rain. There’s something about the end of a man’s rope that he begins questioning his own way of life and the inevitable fate that will be declared on him. He wanted a fight, though more so he wanted to be beaten, to feel something other than the loss of Siggy. Until now he had her support no matter where he stood, but it’s gone now, swallowed by the cold ice and water of the lake. Rollo is on the verge of becoming a broken man again, and he’s at his best when he doesn’t know what to do. Conflicted natures go a long way to discovering what one must do to survive.
I want to give this one to Rollo even though he hasn’t been displayed as much. In the last few episodes, he was simply there to fill in a moment here or a segment there, never really adding to the plot but just to be one of the many Vikings doing what they do. Now he’s back to sharing a pain that we’ve recognized since day one. He’s lost a lot and it’s time to understand where his future lies. He knows he’ll attend some joining, but the seer won’t translate beyond that. His answers will have to come from elsewhere.
LONG TERM THOUGHTS
The seer’s prophecy is always dancing between the literal and the metaphor. Obviously he isn’t referring to a real bear, maybe. Perhaps there’s a man in Paris that dawns the symbol of one or perhaps it could refer to someone even closer to Kattegat. My first thought was Aethelwulf and Kwenthrith would be married, but that doesn’t really fit considering Judith’s situation and whatnot. There’s a lot of theories to pass around on the subject, but one thing we know, the seer is never wrong.
I think Bjorn will support Thorunn long enough to help her return to the way she was. Her injuries are permanent and the scars will be forever linked to reality that maybe she wasn’t as prepare as she thought. Still, I have positive thoughts that the two will eventually be fine.
Ragnar has the most peculiar reactions that always make me think he’s never taking any situation seriously. Flocki’s tale of Odin, his attitude toward Kalf, and even his reaction when his son cried after he picked him up. He’s always so preoccupied with the chance at raiding that everything else just has to fall in place or he won’t deal with it the way he’s supposed to as a king and father. Aslaug thinks Ragnar was sleeping with a number of women in Wessex which wasn’t true, yet Ragnar doesn’t dignify the accusation with a response because he wants to be back at what he does best, raiding.
It appears as Lagertha is heading out on her own, but to what end? Will she take Kalf up on his offer or plan an attack that may not see the side of victory? It doesn’t seem likely that she’ll be joining Ragnar on that path to Paris although it seems prevalent that she confront Ecbert when his betrayal is revealed.
This episode also dealt with both sides of unfaithfulness and how it’s viewed. Aethelwulf was raging in anger only to be quelled by the massacre of the country northmen. On the other side, Ragnar dealt with his news of his wife with silence and a look of passive annoyance even when he ignored Aslaug’s accusation. As different as cultures can be, there’s still the threat of miscommunication and a reluctance to deal with issues at heart. Looking for others to embrace when problems need to be sorted out is the culmination of any couple’s life struggles regardless of country or worship.
7 out of 10. “The Usurper” dealt with the aftermath of Harbard’s time in Kattegat and Ecbert’s true motives were known in cunning fashion. Some characters were given more opportunity to explore their anguish and for once, nobody notable died. As always with Vikings, alliances are formed and shattered in the blink of an eye making friends into enemies in as easy as a breath or a trip to and from home. I don’t expect Ecbert to maintain a relationship with Ragnar for long and expect a huge problem when they set their sails toward Paris. Ragnar will do what he has to, for his family and his people.
No more words