Ragnar declares that two of his sons who are old enough to view a raid will join their father on their return to Paris. Yidu convinces him to take her as well. When the Vikings depart, Harbard returns to greet Aslaug who reintroduces Ivar to him. In Wessex, Ecbert decides to send both Aethelwulf and his son on a pilgrimage to Rome which includes the departure of Prudentius. Meanwhile in Paris, Odo continues to conspire his own rise to Therese which includes killing Rollo and the emperor to claim the throne himself after the Vikings are defeated. Ragnar and the others arrive in Europe and discover beacons of fire have been lit announcing their presence. They kill nearby sentries and travel down river. On their way, they spot Rollo who is seen dressed in Paris garb without his brethren, prompting the Vikings to believe he has once more betrayed them.
We’re on the precipice of another major battle, which has been building in promise for quite some time. In a way, this episode represents the foam of the tide, holding shimmers of gallant moments but a very loose narrative that doesn’t deliver much beyond the familiar art of traveling from ocean to river. There are spots of brilliance, but they come far and few between making this portion of the tale a rather tame and indistinctive one. Certain supporting antagonists are already paving the way to their own demise which, if carried out, won’t be much of a surprise beyond the method of departure.
The flashes of poignant moments do include Ragnar’s conversation with the seer, a chilling verbal vision of how Ragnar will finally see his end. We can spend weeks conjuring how literal the meaning may be, but it’s also good to believe in more surreal imagery rather than the cold hard truth of it. Ragnar’s subsequent vision of Lagertha, the white horse, and his family on the shore was also a very lively painting intermixed with his cold drug-induced stare, a calling to simpler days made flesh, foretelling of a kinder future where having a family meant more than the conquest of cities. Also, the return of Harbard promises even more atmospheric madness, as his very presence brings laughter to Ivar, who is growing stranger by the day. These are sharp needles sticking into a dull fruit of story that I did find fascinating and wanted to see more of.
In reality, nothing much happens aside from the bulk of traveling and a few Viking-style executions by fire and by tying a man to a board and sending him away through the river. Our characters are busy getting prepared for the worst in violent acts, yet in order to preserve the moment and make it sublime to the audience, we have to be treated to just more than random acts that have yet to correlate to one another. If those in Wessex have no bearing on Ragnar and his quest to take Paris, then it stands to reason the interest in those characters will fade, and rightly so. I was interested in Aethelwulf’s passion for Kwenthrith, but by removing it, I’m left with Judith and Ecbert who alone aren’t enough to carry the English plot without some interaction with the Vikings. And it’s too easy to figure out that Odo won’t be able to accomplish what he’s setting out to do, and the worst of it is that he trusts his consort too much to notice how fallible his actions are on the very subject. It’s telegraphed to well unless the twist is he actually succeeds, which even then wouldn’t be very entertaining.
Ragnar’s vision of Lagertha and the horse on the shore. The music and the images were of a superior blend, one of which I greatly appreciated. I was reminded of Hans Zimmer’s magnificent approach to a score and felt the same strings reach out in that hallucination. It was extraordinary and beautiful at the same time. Katheryn Winnick will always be stunning regardless of her stature as a shield-maiden or a simple wife and mother caring for her family. This felt like a rare moment beyond the culture and beyond the world of Vikings, but more about the man who saw not only a different fate, but one of great sorrow for not having pursued it when he had the chance.
Not much in the way of scene stealing happened tonight, but I think it’s fair to give Ragnar the honor for how he initially handled the inclusion of his sons to the trip and for both seeking the seer on his fate and handling Rollo’s betrayal with a sense of repetition. There’s enough evidence to support the concept that this may be his last raid on this world. If it’s enough to earn his place in Valhalla we can only speculate, but he’s trying his best while dealing with the fountain of possibilities that Paris has to offer should he fail or succeed in claiming it.
I think by giving Odo the fear that Rollo will return to his brother is evidence enough that it won’t happen. I’m hoping to be wrong mainly because Rollo does better as a real antagonist and not as someone who’s constantly living in the shadow of Ragnar.
At this point, I would suspect that Bjorn will deal with Erlendur either during the raid of Paris, or directly after in regards to the assassination attempt on his life. If it happens more organically, then I would expect Torvi will push for Bjorn to act sooner to help protect herself and her child.
Considering what Harbard represents, I ponder if he’s truly in the mood to help Aslaug or if he’s simply creating mischief and chaos to satiate his own desires and agenda. He appears when Aslaug needs help the most and there isn’t anyone blocking his way this time unless he and the seer meet up, which I’d like to see.
King Harald is also a bit of a wildcard as he stated very candidly what he intends to do and claiming Paris himself would seal his proclamation on becoming king of Norway. He’s a likeable character but has so far been fulfilling the typical routine of an untrustworthy friend on the side of Ragnar during an important raid. It could go sour at any point should the focus on Rollo shift to closer enemies.
6 out of 10. Placing all the characters before the battle can sometimes be a grueling task, making storytelling a bit flat, but tonight’s episode did pepper some scenes with some rich images and compelling scores. The crew are now aware of Rollo’s betrayal and Harbard has returned to Kattegat, two strong elements that will undoubtedly help propel the next episode into uncharted waters. Whether Ragnar has a death-wish remains to be seen, but I would expect Bjorn to shine even brighter once he’s dealt with Erlendur. Flocki was very reserved tonight which diminishes some of the flavorful parts of the story that involve his crass behavior and overall, I wasn’t interested much in Wessex’s storyline. There’s more to have next week which I imagine will spill much more blood on it’s way to the emperor’s stronghold. Thanks for reading.
No more words