Helga frees Flocki in the night, but is later captured by Ragnar’s son and his men. As punishment, Ragnar ties Flocki within a cave, always standing. Helga is unable to save their child from ailment and Ragnar helps to bury her. Elsewhere, Bjorn finds an abandoned cabin and begins to survive the harsh winter alone. In Wessex, Ecbert and Aethelwulf learn of Kwenthrith’s kidnapping and a small regiment led by Aethelwulf is dispatched to retrieve her. Meanwhile, Ecbert helps Judith adjust by allowing her to learn the art of “painting” from a monk. Aethelwulf and his men storm the tower holding Kwenthrith and save her from soldiers that attempt to kill her and her son. In Merci, Rollo instructs Count Odo with plans to prevent Ragnar from infiltrating their kingdom and Therese endures Odo’s sadism while later revealing his disconcerting words to her lover, Roland.
This is as close to normality as the lives of Vikings and Europeans will get on a period show such as this. With Ragnar’s return likely months away, our three “kingdoms” will be undergoing civil disputes and relationship hardships until battle is called upon them. I do feel bad for Flocki and what he continues to lose despite his reluctance to give Ragnar what he wants to hear. And Ragnar wears a heavy crown knowing what he puts Flocki through likely hurts him internally as well. There are a few highlights and an excellent showcase of action between kingdoms in tonight’s episode that explores the foundations of trust and compassion between all sides.
As always the concentrated violence was well shot and really well paced with tension and payoff in regards to Aethelwulf coming to Kwenthrith’s aid. She showed a ferocity that we shouldn’t forget considering the unstable nature of her character and Aethelwulf showed great resourcefulness in how he fought and killed his foes. He may not be a good-natured character, but in a historical setting as this, such alignments are rarely black and white. This was a solid piece that didn’t even involve a single Viking axe or warrior for that matter. It’s a good mechanism for building up Ragnar’s foes as credible enemies.
The last segment involving Ragnar helping Helga bury her child and Flocki roaring in defiance and pain held some powerful and meaningful moments for the trio. Ragnar deeply cares for his people and regardless of Flocki’s actions, Ragnar doesn’t hold his family responsible even after she helped him escape. He attempts to personify that which he feels Flocki is lacking in for trust as a king should do for anyone under his authority. Flocki continues to represent the kind of defiance necessary to accentuate stubbornness and a primal belief in how he perceives will and commands of the gods. If they keep this up with Flocki, they’re liable to make a martyr out of him. But as a fan favorite for many, I’m starting to think losing him may not be in their best interests.
There were many threads tonight that spread out the major themes of the episode. Ecbert is building trust with Judith as is Rollo with Odo and to the same degree Aethelwulf and Kwenthrith. And of course, Ragnar and Helga. These are all fine and are of a similar quality, but at the same time, this was a bit of a busy episode that didn’t necessarily tell us what everyone’s real intentions are. We don’t know what Ragnar intends to do with Flocki long term or about his next plans for conquest. We don’t really have a good grasp with Odo and his intentions except that he’s unaware of what’s transpiring near his presence. Rollo was very much a background character and he lost some of his hair which already make him look a tad bit silly as he’s rarely a civilized character. I realize it’s only two episodes into this 4th season, but some real forward momentum is necessary to keep the pace alive and kicking. We should really see some plans set in motion soon by someone and preferably Ragnar.
When Kwenthrith fought through and almost managed to kill both soldiers guarding her. She’s fierce and almost unpredictable given her stature in the past. The raw power she displayed was a major sight to be behold and it was all done with great close quarters choreography. Excellent performance and stuntwork.
This could have been an easy one for Flocki if he had more screen time to work with, but I feel it goes to Ragnar tonight. He’s showing a lot of passive conflict that came out against his wife, Aslaug, who he likely knows will eventually turn on him. The atmosphere he creates is one of both calm sincerity and happenstance decision-making. He cannot appear weak, but even more so, he cannot be fooled by those closest to him as Rollo had already done again. With his health back to form, he’s starting to return to older habits of thinking and scheming. It’s just a matter of time before he wants to travel overseas again.
It’s intentionally unclear if Bjorn is going to be facing other challenges outside of staying warm and full while alone in the snow. I’d like to think he’ll find the mother of his child, but in all honesty, that’d be too easy to guess. If he encounters another “god-like” character on his own, that would be a fantastic way to up the importance of his character not already knowing what he’s destined for.
I thought for half a second that Gisla would start to warm up to Rollo because that’s where I think this storyline should be going, but her laughter is essentially telling us that she’s nowhere near that kind of outcome. Unfortunate for Rollo.
I’m fairly certain Ragnar had Floki tied up in that cave to somewhat resemble Loki’s imprisonment in mythology, only instead of venom dripping on Flocki’s face it’s just water. If Helga shows up with a bowl to collect that water then we’ll know for sure.
7 out of 10. With a very intense tower battle, and more defining moments for Ragnar and Flocki, most of the episode detailed on some fine moments that will push certain plot points remarkably forward. Other similar themes of building trust did somewhat pull away from more attractive features on the episode but not so much that it felt disjointed and off-base. Aslaug will no doubt be driven to her own self-ruling desires now that Ragnar has openly punished her and it could still lead to an alliance with Flocki if he isn’t careful. The European segments do hold merit, but right now I’d rather see more focus on Kattegat and those who rest there and around. But we also need credible opponents thus the conundrum of screen-time is every present. Thanks for reading.
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