A Sashurai’s Review: Vikings – Season 4×08 (So that’s why we keep discovering ships in the middle of the forests)

Vikings 4x08

 

SUMMARY

While Ragnar convinces his people to move the boats across the land to attack Paris from the opposite side of the river, Odo attempts to persuade King Charles to capture Rollo because he can’t be trusted. Therese and Roland devise a plan to ruin Odo which sets Charles to choose Rollo over Odo especially when finding out Gisla is with child. In Wessex, Ecbern returns a conquering hero and proclaims to Kwenthrith that he now rules both lands. Distraught by his turn against her, she attempts to leave the kingdom but is easily captured. Desperate for release, she kills a guard at night and tries to kill Ecbern in his bedchamber, but Judith is there and stabs her in the back, killing her. Back in Kattegat, a distrustful Sigurd shows Aslaug that Harbard has been sleeping with other women. Angered, she confronts him, but Harbard confesses his role as someone who takes away the pain of others. Disappointed, he seemingly leaves town. Near Paris, Ragnar desires more of Yidu’s medicine and when the two argue over freedom and secrets, he drowns her while his sons watch from afar.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Now the deaths are beginning to seep in like blood to a dry cloth as our fourth season of Vikings draws closer to its first break. One must remember that political servitude barely holds a candle to personal ambition and desperation can lead to no good outcome in this world. Ragnar once again proves how his sparks of brilliance can ignite the will of his people when they’ve all but labeled him the cornerstone of failure. Paris was moderately tame compared to the wicked trappings of Wessex and Kwenthrith’s struggle to remove herself from Ecbern’s reach. There’s a sad story here that escalated for greater than I would have anticipated given the speed of this season’s plot, but change is often welcome if it propels the story forward. If Hardbard’s appearance and departure don’t reasonably give Aslaug a new lease on her issues of trust and power then I can’t say for certain her plot-thread is holding much more meaning either. As a whole though, what we’ve seen tonight is a flash of excellence that finally treats these separates plots as stories that could potentially stand on their own.

 

THE GOOD

Ragnar never quits thinking outside the box, and tonight he’s attempting a very risky move, one that takes the rudimentary functions of land and water and turns them in on itself. How long this will take, I’m certain it will be weeks, but if it plays out, Paris will once more be in peril and Rollo will have plenty more on his hands then a disarmed Odo trying to betray him. The radiant moment is coming, one I very much want to see pay off with the Viking fleet dawning upon the city from the opposite direction. Ragnar’s ability to adapt makes him more dangerous than any character on this show and that’s why he can afford to look crazy every second of the way.

 

Kwenthrith’s demise came at Judth’s expense for the love of Ecbern is quickly turning her into a morbid and ever-evolving character, one that I wonder won’t continue down a darker path as the weeks edge forward. I would think this will have a drastic effect on her, but at the same time, she could write it off as necessary and find the means to dispel it from her thoughts should a guilty conscience make its way to the surface. She’s turning into a very complicated character and one I would think Ecbern will realize he can’t control.

 

THE BAD

While I’m glad Aslaug stood up to Harbard, I can’t help but find the climax of this plot thread a bit disappointing. Harbard is very much an interesting character, but he hasn’t seriously been challenged yet and remains an enigma who appears for reasons truly unknown. He is beyond the realm of the living then they should continue to play off with more strange occurrences and not turn Harbard into a womanizer that has no real power beyond a charismatic smile. In the end, this is on History, so we have to ground as much as we can, but the surreal exist in this reality, and once we’ve established the fantastic, it’s safe to maneuver as much as we want to tell the best story they can.

 

King Charles has these moments where he’s both exceptionally aware of the situation and completely blind. That kind of trait makes him unpredictable to a fault, but right now Rollo’s plight to remain the king’s most trusted servant isn’t shaping up to be anything special right now, which is why they need Rollo and Ragnar to confront each other as soon as possible. Rollo isn’t meant to be politically confident, he’s still a vicious warrior and needs to remind the people of Paris of that even though he’s on their side. And we need to be entertained.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

When Torvi imagined Erlendur killing Bjorn. It was a fine brain-breaking moment because for one, Bjorn is a legend and is essentially safe from death for the time being. And for two, Erlendur is insane if he was actually going to attempt an assassination from such broad daylight in the open. Luckily, it wasn’t a real moment, but it easily could have been as Torvi’s mind played the perfect trick on us. All the while I kept thinking, surely one can survive an arrow through the throat, right? He killed a bear for crying outloud.

 

CHARACTER MVP

Try and she might, Kwenthrith did the one thing every villain is infamously known for, the dreaded monologue. True, words were traded, but Kwenthrith managed to give Ecbern enough fear to contemplate if he made the right decision in keeping her in his capable grip. Kwenthrith had always been an interesting character, it was tragic to witness how quickly she lost her place and her life in tonight’s episode. Resourceful in killing, but not in escaping, she faces Ecbern in that final moment before succumbing to Judith’s stronger ties to the king. I would have liked to have seen Kwenthrith continue, but the truth is, she’s eccentric, but not devious. Still, she gets the MVP tonight in her seemingly last appearance.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

Speaking of, will this inevitably come back to haunt Ecbern when or even if Athelwulf returns to Wessex? I would think this will be something safely tucked away to bring back later in the season after the break, but this does deserve some kind of reckoning, though more for Ecbern and his personal greed than for Judith and her passion to live free.

 

Will Therese and Roland set their sights on Rollo and Gisla and more pawns to dispose of? Or will they shoot straight for King Charles himself? I don’t doubt there are machinations at work here, but I scarcely believe Therese will distract Rollo in such ways as to make him betray Gisla. If anything I’d expect this plot to wrap up before the next invasion by Ragnar and crew.

 

Yidu’s death had a strange dissonance to it. She’s not the first to have a drowning scene on this show, but it definitely felt harsh and raw with how Ragnar treated her moment of defiance. It’s unfortunate the only purpose he ended up serving for him was his drug supplier as their surreal moments back in Kattegat were left in the cold.

 

In a way, Ragnar’s idea for hauling the boats up and over the land gave Flocki more reason to build trust, and though I’m sure he’s still angry and resentful toward Ragnar, Flocki may have been strangely satiated by the ingenuity needed to accomplish such an outlandish task. This could all build up to a scenario where it’s Flocki’s turn to save Ragnar and he indeed does.

 

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Ragnar proves he’s still able to lead his people into new directions even though he also killed someone who wanted to be free alongside him. That’s a reoccurring theme that came to Kwenthrith and Judith as well, with the former being released from life. Even Harbard gave a harsh tone to Aslaug about not wanting to be or feel possessed. While on the opposite end, Odo wanted to be shackled and became stripped of everything, the dichotomy here is balance between personal needs of freedom and the overt desires of power and how wanting too much or either can lead to death and destruction.  Only two episodes remain until the break and by then we’ll know if Paris will once more be in control of Ragnar or his brother. Thanks for reading.

 

 

No more words

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