A Sashurai’s Review: Vikings – Season 4×01 (How much French did Rollo learn to set up that ambush?)

Vikings 4x01

 

SUMMARY

Back in Kattegat, a weakened Ragnar dreams of the doorway to Valhalla being shut to him while his son Bjorn arrests Floki for the murder of Athelstan. Queen Aslaug attempts to discover from the seer if she’ll be the ruler of Kattegat after Ragnar dies. He is reluctant to tell her. In Kalf and Lagertha’s town, Einar proclaims defiance against Kalf sharing rule with Lagertha. Through a trick of admittance, Kalf has everyone against Lagertha killed including Einar. Ragnar returns to moderate health and openly conflicts with Bjorn’s arrest of Floki as it forces him to act publicly. Bjorn decides to leave to prove to his father he can survive on his own. Meanwhile, in Paris, Rollo marries Emperor Charles’s defiant daughter but does not consummate the marriage. Later, Eirick confronts Rollo that his people don’t wish to follow the Franks and Rollo promises to ease his people’s worries. He then has them all killed with a dying Eirick swearing vengeance from Ragnar when he returns.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

The haunting words of the seer and the mythical doorway to Valhalla mark the return of Vikings as its fourth season ignites. The familiar battle between brothers may not be far behind, but for now, the ruler of Kattegat is regaining his strength. In a way, this season feels like a clean slate on many attitudes toward characters I felt were on their way to remaining villains. While Kalf is gaining Lagertha’s trust, Rollo is once more choosing to serve his own ambition all the while Ragnar must deal with consequences he assumed control over before he fell ill. More political than brutal, tonight’s premiere carries with it a modern pace of building momentum before the vikings are once more unleashed onto the world. Satisfying in most aspects, I look forward to this arc with shield and axe as my companions.

 

THE GOOD

What we’re looking for here is a clear depiction of internal desires from our main cast. Aslaug wants to rule Kattegat alone, Rollo wants to use this alliance with Paris to finally break out of the shadow of his brother, Bjorn wants to prove his own independence as well, and Kalf wants his alliance with Lagertha to be ironclad. But what does Ragnar want? He’s one of the few characters who’s motives are only revealed at the tipping point of the plot and as he dawdles around with his decision on Flocki’s imprisonment, he also catches the small hints that his wife isn’t happy that Ragnar is still around. His jokes are a way to assess and navigate his next path while he likely ponders why his dreams show him a closed doorway to Valhalla. I’ve no doubt he’ll journey back to Paris when the time is right, but for now, I like when he’s still seeding his intentions and staying unpredictable.

 

Rollo’s arc is also one of many dark chronicles he’s enduring. How he gets away with so much betrayal is a testament to his way of life and as much as he’s supposed to be despised, I find myself rooting for the guy simply because we need a worthy villain that can face Ragnar as an equal. I don’t ever expect this to conclude with Ragnar killing his own brother, but if that’s the direction we take this season, so be it. He plays at being kind to his new wife while sacrificing his people to his allies using the tactics necessary to achieve his goal. How he moves forward now that his people have been decimated is unknown, but he won’t be short of an army when Ragnar does return.

 

THE BAD

Rollo is a distraction from a threat closer to home in both Aslaug and Floki. While I like elements that are being played out, I’m not very keen on how survivable Floki is. Ragnar hasn’t decided what to do with Floki, but delaying such a choice isn’t costing him anything. Everyone is already on Ragnar’s side with maybe the exception of Aslaug who has her own issues to work on. Floki is a popular character and I get that, but he’s also reached the end of his tenure as a valued member of Ragnar’s allies. Unless he gets a full pardon, I can’t imagine him escaping will do any good unless he finds his own allies to war against Ragnar with and I’m not seeing that as a good thing at the moment.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

I really liked the opening with the seer and Ragnar’s dream. The doors close on him for some obvious reasons and maybe a few hidden ones. Notably his more accepting of the Christian faith automatically denies him such an entry, but at the same time, he has work to do as a leader and he needs to be alive to do it. We don’t really know how Ragnar personally views his dismissal into Valhalla and for now he’s mulling it over like his decision to execute Floki or not. In a way if he kills Floki it could very well be against the wishes of the gods. On the other hand, Floki may just try to assassinate him again if the gods so wish it. Great seasonal opening. I enjoy any scenes with the seer because he’s entirely mystical and represents the amused wall to anyone wishing to gain the truth.

 

CHARACTER MVP

Bjorn was trying to serve his father and in doing so made the wrong decisions in his father’s eyes. Even at the cost of alienating his daughter, he’s going to seek his truth out in the world as it pertains to his survival and independence. He’s trying not to be conflicted, but he certainly has issues to work out. I’d like to think he’ll return a stronger more assured character, but we’ll have to wait and see.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

I liked the inclusion of the cross-bow to the Viking society. It serves a valuable purpose in eliminating everyone against Kalf and Lagertha’s share of ruling and it was utilized again as Rollo’s weapons against his own people. They represent swift justice and agonizing pain to characters like Einar and Eirick who couldn’t defend themselves against such technology. As the age of weapons grows stronger, so too will the warfare as factions collide.

 

As normal, Ragnar is eyeballing a new prospect in his life, this time the slave, Yidu, who remains voiceless but someone Aslaug saw and procured for reasons unknown. Perhaps she’s meant to be a distraction to Ragnar to serve a darker purpose. It’s too early to tell, but I’d bet Aslaug has some kind of plan.

 

Though she seemed reluctant to do so, will Helga help Floki escape? She’s never defied her husband as far as I can recollect, even though helping him is very risky to both her and the safety of her daughter. With turmoil running that deep, I wouldn’t be surprised if she tried anyway.

 

Is Kalf really turning over a new leaf, and if so, is it enough to genuinely change Lagertha’s opinion of him and her oath to kill him one day? If I were just tuning into the show Kalf would seem like a real stand-up guy. But there’s also Erlendur to worry about who still harbors ill will over the death of his father. That won’t simply go away and with him close to Kalf, there has to be some kind of plotting to be seen.

 

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. It was an enjoyable start. I wasn’t expecting a harsh battle like season 2 or 3 right out of the gate, but a slow ramp up to something epic we’ll see later. These characters need to marinate in their positions and homes before we can really gauge what it is that they’ll do to retain the power they have. Rollo, Aslaug, Ragnar, and Lagertha are important characters, each with their own agenda in mind. How it all crosses is what will make season 4 the best season yet. Rollo and Ragnar will meet again, and Eirick’s dying words mark that as the episode to watch out for. The seers vision was simple and hidden as Aslaug attempts to secure her place in Kattegat. I’m looking forward to hearing more visions blur the lives of our characters. I would like resolution with Floki to happen sooner rather than later and if that means a quick death, then so be it. His devotion to the gods helps and conflicts with Ragnar’s changes over time, and if he’s pushed too far, he may do unspeakable things. Thanks for reading.

 

 

No more words

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