There’s believing what you see, and then there’s knowing with your heart what is, and isn’t real. All one had to do was remember the look in Ragnar’s eyes when he swore he would take Paris, and like a servant of death, he concluded his raid by fooling everyone, including those closest to him that his dying wish was to die a Christian. Bjorn took his father’s sage advice and helped him carry out a scheme that even Floki couldn’t see coming. But how much was Ragnar truly pretending as he was dipped into the waters, being given a rebirth. And will his ending whisper to Floki begin a downward slope that may split the two forever?
Until the last twenty minutes or so, there wasn’t much that felt like this would be a grand standing finale that should have easily toppled over the last two. After all, how does one find a more epic frame than Ragnar sitting atop of Preikestolen? The answer is simple, you don’t. But what one can do is prove that not only is Ragnar still the king of his people, but that he most assuredly deserves to be. In that sentiment, the last portion of Vikings was very fascinating to watch, from Ragnar’s blood-soaked victory stare, to Rollo’s realization of the Seer’s maddening prophecy. Once more, the brothers are presumably on opposite sides, but in all fairness, that’s not remotely an issue at the moment.
After receiving the appointed gold from Paris, Ragnar convinces Bjorn to request that Paris giving him a Christian send off when he dies. Ragnar has Floki build him a boat-like coffin and when it is finished, Ragnar is placed inside with Bjorn telling everyone he’s gone. After Lagertha, Rollo, and Floki sill their earthly woes near Ragnar’s body, it is brought within the halls of Paris, but as the traditional words are spoken by their holy man, Ragnar emerges and steals the princess declaring that he had won. The Vikings gain entry and they carve out a piece of Paris to take back to their lands. Rollo and others stay behind to prepare for a spring raid as Ragnar and the rest return home. The king offers Rollo a duke title and riches along with marrying his daughter in exchange for his loyalty and promise to fend off Ragnar when spring arrives. Though the princess is reluctant to marry, Rollo presumably accepts this new title. And in a boat on its way back to Kattegat, Ragnar tells Floki and he knows Floki killed Athelstan. Floki stares with careful eyes.
Now we know that Ragnar will be the leader for at least another season, taking his people to victories while Rollo is once more put in opposition. Though, It would be more humorous to learn that Rollo could easily deceive the king and share the title only to betray him. It’s not a bad tactic, and I think he should go that route. Should he truly accept his new role and side with Paris, we may yet see a very critical moment between brothers.
Odo and Therese’s scene was also another indicator that the situation with Paris was far from over lending to Ragnar’s ultimate survival. A scene of that nature wouldn’t have belonged in a finale like this especially since Odo is hardly character deserving of that kind of attention unless it was long term. In a twisted and perverse sense of amusement and frustration, he whips Therese as a form of pain/pleasure while Therese endures for his affection. It’s not a very compelling piece of the plot, but I suppose diversity in characters will show further down the road how wicked people can get when they settle for what’s within reach versus what’s beyond.
The last shot was especially important as it spells a necessary collision between two favored characters. While I was fully expecting Ragnar to kill Floki on the spot, the subtle and passive approach was done just as nicely. This kind of development needs to simmer and be speculated until next season because Floki and Ragnar share such a deep rooted history that to simply cut either one off at the climax of this season is to rob us of an even finer battle the two will likely have next season. How will it end? Can’t wait to find out.
When Ragnar came out of his coffin, it was surreal and fun to watch. I realized I let myself believe he might be truly gone even though the evidence was there that this was planned. He executed with perfect precision and only took a chunk out of the city, knowing he’d be back for more. He’s not decimating Paris, but letting it stew and rebuild so that they may be conquered again. Ragnar had a plan and Athelstan helped even from beyond. Great moment and helped boost the overall feel of this otherwise bland finale.
Ragnar played dead and did an excellent job selling it. It couldn’t have been easy breathing in a sealed wooden coffin like that, and even before he was resolute in both his wish to be in heaven with Athelstan and as the man who finally raided Paris. Luckily, the latter won out and he got his rewards by taking them. He gave Bjorn the kind of fatherly advice a king would give his son and very subtly informs Floki and he knows that Floki knows. Always impressive and guile as ever, Ragnar is the clutch performer in tonight’s finale.
LONG TERM THOUGHTS
From here on out, it’s all speculation and looking up historical moments to gauge what happens next. Rollo and Bjorn have a long road ahead, and it’ll be interesting to see how much more of a role Ragnar plays in each of their rises and prominent characters of their own.
With Ecbern and Athelwulf absent in the finale, I ponder what they will bring to season 4 and whether they’ll play a part in the protection, destruction, or viewing of Paris’s continued raids by the Vikings. Ecbern seems distracted enough, but there should be something to help include them in future storylines.
Lagertha may have to deal with Kalf early on in season 4 if we’re going to move past that little piece of the story. For now he’s accepted his fate that she’ll kill him, though I’d think he wouldn’t just bow down and let it be done without some plan of his own. Maybe I’m giving him too much credit.
Will there be any more wives to Ragnar next season or will Aslaug remain the only one? Kwenthrith still has a part to play in this and I doubt Ragnar will forget about her.
The seer will also still be around which means, more prophecies and strange imagery to be had. It appeared a few times that he might be close to the end of his days, but to my recollection, he’ll be there to give Ragnar more interesting news and double meanings for the future.
7 out of 10. It wasn’t a blood-soaked hellish finale, but it pulled through some great moments at the end. If Ragnar had indeed perished by the middle point of the episode, this review would have been quite different. A character like him will hopefully be awarded a much more epic finale that even the gods themselves will have to pay attention to. As for this episode and season in general, it contained some powerful moments and a few deaths that weren’t entirely expected. Next season, there will be more raids, and Ragnar to lead them. Whether his belief in heaven and the effect of being baptized will forever change him, who knows, but that’s what having layers is all about. There’s always more Ragnar to figure out and that what makes him a great principle character. Until next season.
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