A Sashurai’s Review: Vikings – Season 4×10 (The seer cries and a king lies. No wait…a seer wails and a king bails)

Vikings 4x10

 

SUMMARY

Ragnar’s fleet is confronted by Rollo’s forces on the river as the two armies collide, boat to boat. Rollo and Ragnar meet and battle with neither gaining singular victory. As Flocki and Lagertha sustain injuries, Ragnar is separated from his brother as Rollo declares victory over stopping the invasion of the Vikings once more. He returns to Paris and is rewarded as “Caesar” by King Charles. Ragnar disappears upon returning to his homeland. Years later in Kattegat, Bjorn receives word that the settlement that stayed behind near Wessex was destroyed shortly after the Vikings left years prior and Kwenthrith’s son, Magnus, also the son of Ragnar, is alive and with King Ecbert. Distraught and angry, Bjorn tells Ragnar’s other sons who proclaim their hatred toward Ragnar and plans to kill him should he return. Later, Bjorn goes to Flocki and invites him to sail the Mediterranean when their ships are ready. Sometime later, Ragnar returns to Kattegat and faces his children announcing any to challenge him for his role as King. Everyone stands in silence as Ragnar stares intently toward the crowd awaiting.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

If this were the final episode of the season, I think the bloodlust and battle would have ended with a major death, but alas it was not so. What we did see was the culmination of brotherly turmoil met with steel and fist yet neither succumbed to death. When the seer wailed in dismay, I thought for sure someone would meet their fate and for a brief moment I feared it to be Lagertha. Though, she hasn’t been seen since the end of that battle, I’m certain she survived. What transpired was the second longest time-jump since Bjorn became a man and with it the transgressions of Ragnar along with the judgment of his kin. With stories still to tell with our main cast, I expected Ragnar to persevere and live on, but with a decade of roaming the lands underneath his feet, are we given the king set to a new goal, or did he in fact return home to die by the sword of one of his sons? A satisfying breather between this double-sided season, Vikings holds true to the bedlam of war and rewards our thirst with a sea of death with promises of future glory to be told.

 

THE GOOD

Shooting straight out of the gate with the final battle was the right move. We lost almost no time as Rollo and Ragnar met on sea instead of the castle, which I’m sure many thought we’d be returning to including myself. The boat to boat skirmish was an interesting bite to it as both sides utilized similar tactics most notably their collisions, archery, and axe to shield. While Rollo rallied his men to victory, Ragnar pursued only his brother for that final clash. It was marvelous to watch the two throw down as this was meant to be their only scene together all season and what a rush it was. punching faces until they could barely stand, while blades whirled around them. Excellent crafted battle, maybe not the best as Paris holds that honor, but a fine attempt nonetheless.

 

The time jump was a bold but necessary move. By now, Ragnar, Flocki, Rollo and Lagertha have to be reaching ages around the 40’s, and in some cases it’s easily seen, but now we have our first glimpse with Aslaug’s sons who all harbor similar misgivings over their father who essentially abandoned them for those missing years. Yet, when Ragnar returns, he’s as confrontational as ever and allows for any challenger to assume his title. No one can truly say Ragnar is fearful, but at his age, he’s reached a certain catharsis of anarchy that his family may never truly understand save for Flocki. I imagine his sons aren’t ready to shed blood on their own father, but then again, they could swerve us at the start of second half by making a decimate choice.

 

THE BAD

Not giving the brothers a final strike means we’re either bound to see it once more, or one of the brothers will be put to rest first without definitive closure. Without knowing what this show is truly becoming, it’s hard to ascertain if Ragnar and Rollo are meant to drift further apart from here on our or whether they’re destined to fight each other forever. I want the show to continue being about them and it very well maybe, but at the same time, the history of the Vikings so much more that keeping the spotlight on Ragnar could keep other fantastic parts of Viking lore from ever being showcased on this show. For the interim I would prefer the brothers maintain the height of this storyline mainly because I would hope there is still closure to be had, unless history dictates that isn’t the case.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

Easily the brothers meeting one on one. It’s what we’ve been waiting for and when Ragnar called his brother a bitch, you knew just how serious it was going to get. As with most sword fights, they can only last so long before either both warriors disarm each other or one kills the other. They opted for disarmament which was the better call because their punching match far outweighed their test of steel. And as much as I would have been fine with Ragnar winning, it was good to see Rollo finally feel that moment of worth and the support of the city as Charles crowned him in front of the populace. Good fight and I hope they will once more meet on the battlefield.

 

CHARACTER MVP

The brothers meeting and dishing out their two-way assault earned them as dual winners tonight. Rollo reveled in his glory as Ragnar sought solitude to deal with yet another defeat on his hands. As logical as their actions were, what drove them to rage against their faces with bloodied fists brought out that raw hostility only matched once before during the premiere of season two when they were on opposite sides. They’re at their best when they’re fighting and even more-so against one another. It’s a shame it might be some time before we get to see this again, if we do. And points for Ragnar for returning to his home with all but his sword ready to face against the entire town if need be. I’d hope he has some plan, but in all likelihood, he’s honestly looking for someone to send him to Valhalla.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

Unless I’m mistaken, we didn’t get any indication that Rollo knew Ragnar was coming downstream from the north. The fact that he met Ragnar in the river was very surprising and at first I thought it cheated the epic battle that would have come from the castle, but at the same time, Rollo had something to prove and prove it he did.

 

On that note, hearing him rally his men with his own speech really helped turn the tide. It’s amazing how far he’s come as both a warrior, a leader, and as someone who isn’t just looking for glory, but a place among those he protects. If I had only just started with this episode, I’d have thought Rollo was the protagonist and Ragnar the villain.

 

Props for young Ivar, he has his father’s speech pattern and inflection down to a T. There’s a sinister expression mixed with a calm voice that calls to attention his thought process as very different from his brothers. He didn’t grow up to be psychotic, but that remains to be seen what he will represent in the coming season.

 

Charles putting to death the siblings, Roland and Therese was an acceptable means to an end. The king of Paris proves he’s pathological but not without some reason behind it. The image of him putting the golden wreath on Rollo’s head and calling him Caesar has definite symbolism which could spell a strange doom for Rollo if he doesn’t understand what’s to come. If Rollo becomes too beloved and popular, Charles could feel the pressure of his position and be forced to act accordingly to save his name and title. With Rollo’s son now a relevant part of the storyline, it’ll be interesting to see how Charles reacts if he’s in fact still alive by this point.

 

It’s unlikely to have happened, but I wonder if perhaps Ragnar and Harbard met during the decade that took place between the present and the battle on the river. I’m sure the two would have had an interesting conversation about the gods, Aslaug, and who knows what else. Maybe such a meeting can still occur.

 

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. They gave us a battle that took half of the episode, but none of the expected casualties. Our eyes glued on the brothers as they flung every fiber of their might and though they meant to kill with every strike, both survived to live on. A lot of beats came and went with the thrill of anything manifesting as the shock moment, but none came. What came after the time jump was a father who raged for his town to make good on their distrust of their fallen king or to let him once more lead them to some unspoken victory. The seed has been planted for the Mediterranean a new target for the people of Kattegat as Flocki and Bjorn marvel at the prospect, but will Ragnar be joining them, or will one of his sons put him to the blade. Instinct says Ragnar still has a role to play as the main character and that’s easy to accept if that’s the case. Or it’s possible Ragnar will linger on Paris and Wessex but if so, it better include Rollo and he crossing paths again. All in all, it was a fun episode to watch and our cravings to watch the crew battle was satiated for the time being. I know not how long this break will last, but we’re promised to get 10 more episodes out of this season, and it sure beats waiting a whole year to see what happened next. As always, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the season as much as I have thus far.

 

 

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Vikings – Season 4×09 (Yes Aelle, your kingdom is next. Start packing)

Vikings 4x09

 

SUMMARY

While Ragnar and his men continue to transfer the boats across the land, Harald, Halfdan, and his men track down a farm and pillage it, murdering the family who lived there. Meanwhile in Rome, Athelwulf and Alfred meet the Pope, who gives young Alfred a sword in an assembly. In Wessex, Ecbert is officially crowned king of Mercia and he shares mixed words with King Aelle who is doubting their role as allies. In Paris, King Charles humbly asks Roland, now a count, if he can sleep with his sister, Therese, to which Roland agrees. In the forest, Lagertha suffers a miscarriage while Erlendur unsuccessfully attempts to kill Bjorn at night. In Kattegat, Aslaug continues to mope at the departure of Harbard. As the Vikings find the north side of the river and prepare to move the boats back into the water, Erlendur orders Torvi to kill Bjorn, and as she nears him to do so, instead shoots Erlendur above the chest near the heart. Ragnar begins to hallucinate and tells Bjorn he’s saving the remaining drugs he has for when he faces Rollo, who is more important than the taking of Paris itself. On the waters, Ragnar vows to kill Rollo.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

The penultimate episode to the mid-season finale brings about an average sense of danger and politics as Ragnar inches closer toward his intended destination. Erlendur’s presumed demise couldn’t have come sooner as we all knew he wouldn’t be successful. His cowardly act in making Torvi his assassin proved to be the wrong course which robbed us from watching Bjorn dismantle Erlendur himself. Lagertha’s moment in tragedy struck hard, and next to watching Harold’s brutal aftermath of the family at the farm, were the more emotional moments of the episode. What permeated the air was a lack of anxiety over what was building and aside from the last minute of the show, not much escalated into a frenzy of hype and excitement. Ragnar teeters on the precipice of emotional madness as he legitimately thinks he’s seeing spiders, one of the more outlandish hallucinations found in the lore of withdrawal. While I will be gearing up for the bloodbath that’s soon to follow, the build up to it hadn’t been as fulfilling.

 

THE GOOD

Taking care of Erlendur’s vengeance plot before the siege of Paris was the right move, and though I would have preferred a one on one battle between him and Bjorn, Torvi being the one to choose Bjorn did have more significance for her as she was the conflicted and often tormented member of the group. I would suspect that the wound isn’t fatal, but it may not entirely matter at this stage since everyone is on the water and I doubt Bjorn would let him take part in the siege considering the betrayal, and if he did die, then good riddance.

 

It may seen counterproductive, but keeping Ragnar on edge like this helps put him on a wavy course with Rollo, who has been seen as nothing but the prince of calm since Gisla accepted him as her husband. The two will meet on very different terms, almost shadows of their previous personas when they met last. Granted, Ragnar was very physically sick, but now he’s more mentally ill than anything and that paints a contrasting picture. At this stage it’s hard to say if Rollo will subject himself to the savage spirit in order to face his brother again, but at least there’s always that chance.

 

THE BAD

It’s not so much the details as it is the breadth of the European lands that disjoint us from the vision and culture of the Vikings, something that they’ve barely dipped into this season. We’ve learned more about Wessex, Paris, and now a bit of Rome then we have of the show’s namesake. I almost feel like they threw in the family’s murder at the farm just to remind us that sometimes Vikings actually pillage and plunder the towns they occupy. And since it was the Harald and his brother we’re supposed to actively dislike that makes it more of a despicable act. I realize Ecbert has a much larger role to play, but right now, his part in this universe is too far removed from Ragnar and hasn’t made as near an impact as he should have back last season. He’s building his title and lands, I get it, I just want to know where it’s going.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

The set up at the end when they showcased the additional platforms on the ships. We’re seeing another portion of Ragnar’s plans come to fruition as he doesn’t intend to be tricked by Rollo’s chains again. I wish the build up was more, like seeing Rollo’s face when the alarms sound and the Northmen are coming from the north this time. But, yes we’ll see that in one week’s time.

 

CHARACTER MVP

Lagertha went through a traumatic episode with losing her unborn child alone, and how it led up to it and how she persevered through it really shows her strength and fortitude as a shield-maiden on this journey. If she had to, she’d lead the charge on Paris herself, and who knows, that could still happen.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

Sigurd mentioning his finding of Siggy was an interesting throwback to one of the more enduring characters of the past. Whether it was a portent for Aslaug to consider or not is unknown, but Siggy was eventually removed through the presence of Harbard or the gods he allied with. Things are still a bit fuzzy on how that all went down.

 

Now that the seed has been planted, I would expect Ecbert to begin staging his next conquest against Aelle and considering Judith really dislikes her father, I’m sure she would give Ecbert her blessing on the matter.

 

When Flocki rolled his eyes in the back of his head, we’re given some impression that he’s in tune with what’s happening back in Kattegat, or at the very least he’s trying to recreate the same communion he felt only a few episodes ago. Whether he’s somehow connected to Aslaug or whether he’s connected to Harbard at all is presently unknown as we don’t see another scene like this again in tonight’s episode, but they’re still keeping us fully aware of his clairvoyant capabilities which we’re seeing for a reason.

 

With both Harbard and Flocki gone, Ivar has become more aggressive toward his mother which could spell a strange encounter in the finale, considering Ivar’s newly found violent nature. How this will manifest is still up to the gods, but I imagine Sigurd is keeping a close eye on everything as he seems the most level-headed of the family currently.

 

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. A little above average, Vikings dispels with Bjorn’s rather annoying thorn in the side and concludes Ragnar’s trek through the wilderness and onto the river of conquest. All meaningful points that will lead us to hopefully a similar collision as the last time Paris was under attack. Beyond the Vikings, we’re given some time in Rome with the pope, a few segments with Charles and Rollo, and of course our greedy king of Wessex who will likely be devouring more land as the days go by. Leading more on the political machinations of Europe’s monarchy’s tonight’s episode had less build-up and more of a mild sweep of carnage mostly dishing out punishment to the undeserved by Harald and his men. Ragnar’s descent into withdrawal held an interesting merit as he’s purposefully saving his solace for the fight with Rollo, an act that could be very disastrous should be lose composure before the effort is in place. We have a reason to glue our eyes to the TV next week, they just weren’t very glued tonight. Thanks for reading.

 

 

No more words

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

A Sashurai’s Review: Vikings – Season 4×07 (If this is the road to Ragnar’s downfall, they’re doing it right)

Vikings 4x07

 

SUMMARY

Ragnar directs his men to follow their intended path downriver to Paris while Lagertha and her group attempt to subdue one of the two towers guarding the river. Rollo and Odo’s forces are prepared and make short work of Lagertha’s attack while Rollo’s chain across the river disrupts Ragnar’s fleet. After a show of fiery destruction, Ragnar retreats as does Lagertha. In Kattegat, Harbard seduces the women in town including Aslaug. Ragnar and his group return to find their camp decimated and Helga deeply injured, bringing Flocki to depression. Somehow while alone, he becomes psychically linked to Harbard and he lives the same sexual experience with Aslaug as Harbard does with her back home. Ecbert and his forces leave Wessex and stop by an old fort where Prince Wigstan awaits. They broker a deal where together their men will take Mercia and Wigstan will relinquish control to Ecbern and leave on a pilgrimage, tired of the tragedy endured in his life. Back outside of Paris, Ragnar, deeply troubled by Rollo and his defeat, ingests more of Yidu’s drug and later tells Bjorn that they will attack again on the next morning. Alone, he vocalizes different plans while conversing with a severed head in his tent.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Rollo scores one over Ragnar, an act we should have figured would go down considering Rollo’s loyalty to Paris and ingenuity as of late. The entire river slaughter had the right feel and closed-sense of dread as everyone huddled in their rounded shields for protection. Rollo knows their methods and won’t hesitate to exploit them, giving Paris a long respite and confidence toward facing the Vikings again. While the Paris invasion remains the focal point, the other two arcs are still significantly falling behind with Harbard’s angle still the greater of the two, Ecbern’s quest to take Mercia isn’t leading him closer to Ragnar in anyway, unless somehow they cross paths in later episodes and perhaps join forces in an unexpected move. Ragnar might have to suffer another defeat before that can be arranged. Tonight’s episode picked back up and though Ragnar was hit hard, I expect him to bite back harder, even if he is growing more senile by the day.

 

THE GOOD

Rollo’s victory was hardly a costly one, but it was important that he get the early win for himself and his new people. He still has a lot to prove and whether Odo claims credit on the successful defense, both Gisla and Rollo are riding higher than ever before. His calm manner almost betrays a sliver of sorrow, but then I imagine he remembers what he’s gained since betraying his brother and how he finally has the kind of love he’s been yearning for since the beginning. To him, he’s in a good place and no amount of raiding will replace that. This is how good villains are made especially when they feel very justified over their selfish decisions.

 

Flocki’s transcendent moment was another surreal spike given to us in a “historical” drama. I like how they implant these segments because it continues to add to the mystique of these people and the allure of Harbard, who is still as much an enigma as ever. Never would I have thought that he and Aslaug would share such a scene together, but given the Seer’s groveling toward Flocki gave us some indication that he was connected to the gods, or was one himself. A connection seems to be the safe bet. I liked the placement of it too considering the sorrow he’s enduring over Helga’s injury. That can get very sophisticated with the “how’s” and the “why’s”, but for now I think it’s easier to just absorb the scenes as they happen and move forward knowing there’s a greater story being told here.

 

THE BAD

I’m expecting Ecbern’s quest to Mercia to pay off eventually this season, and I did think he had a rather important scene with Wigstan. I’m just too much at a loss for caring and it doesn’t matter to me whether Ecbern succeeds or not in taking that area. What I expect is his forces will be in range of Paris and he’ll need to ally with Ragnar otherwise they’re really telling two distinct stories and never shall they meet. With the stretch of 10 more episodes this season I figure more arcs will have to be inserted, but again, I’m trusting that there will be something here to look forward to, just right now I’m not seeing it in the moment.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

Everything after the chains went up from the river. There wasn’t as much blood and carnage as the events in Paris last season, but we got our first taste of it here and while only the extras and minor characters took the brunt of the arrow and fire onslaught, the remaining core group was spared the frothy death of the icy blade. I also want think it was a good moment to have Ragnar dive in and save Flocki. There needs to be a reconnection for these two after what they’ve gone through. I don’t expect it will be enough to turn Flocki completely around, but it’s a start. Maybe if Ragnar saves him one or two more times. However if Helga dies, I expect he’ll lose what’s left of his mind and there won’t be any hope for him at all.

 

CHARACTER MVP

Though he didn’t have a lot of screen time, Rollo’s plan worked almost too perfectly. His success drove the Vikings back and for him, this was the boost he needed to elevate his status and gain more favor from Gisla who is also elevated by proxy. I actually want her and Lagertha to meet up now that she suggested it as a possibility. Rollo will have to face Ragnar eventually, but for now he’s savoring the victory as best he can. He needs to be built up as much as possible so that when the final battle does come, whoever takes the day will surely have earned it.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

Yidu was very much in the background tonight, and I’m surprised she lied to him about the drugs so much that she actually gave in when he began ransacking the tent. She’s beginning to see the affects of using the drugs to keep him bound to her and it’s disrupting his ability to lead which will cost them even more lives if he continues to slip down that spiral. I wonder if Bjorn will catch onto this relationship.

 

Speaking of Bjorn, his confrontation with Erlendur was too subtle and weak. He should have known Erlendur would deny the ring belonging to him, and if he’s supposed to being growing into this mythic historical character, I’d hope he’ll burst more into that role and face this conniving brat before too long. I just hope it’s not tin the middle of the Paris raid and more one on one somewhere in the wilderness alone.

 

Harbard has such a lock on the ladies of Kattegat I wonder what his true agenda is if not to sow his seed and reveal the flaws of Ragnar’s leadership, namely his connection to Aslaug or lack thereof. I’d hope Ragnar and Harbard would someday meet, but I’m not getting that vibe here. The seer on the other hand…

 

I only caught a glimpse of the head in Ragnar’s tent, but if someone can let me know if that head belonged to someone in-particular that’d be great. And did he actually intend to retreat rather than move forward? There’s a lot of basic madness he’s sifting through and I wouldn’t be surprised either way if Ragnar came up with something so crazy that it makes his fake death in the coffin seem like a cheap prank. He’s creative like that.

 

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. Relatively entertained by the initial boat craziness and Rollo’s plan coming to fruition. I’m disappointed that Lagertha suffered the same kind of defeat, but at least she’s still there to try again. The attack on Ragnar’s people after the fact was definitely a low blow that probably came from Odo than Rollo, but it really doesn’t matter. Flocki’s strange connection to Harbard continues to add the flavor of impossible craziness to the series and I’d like to see where it goes if it in fact has a point. Ecbern’s story still has no draw, but I’m hopeful it will lead him to Ragnar as fate inevitably does considering both had dreams of Athelstan not too long ago. Three episodes remain before the first break, and I imagine Paris will be the bulk of it while Harbard gets busy fathering the entire town of Kattegat. Thanks for reading.

 

 

No more words

 

A Sashurai’s Review: Vikings – Season 4×06 (When the blind man sees him, then he will know)

Vikings 4x06

 

SUMMARY

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.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

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 GOOD

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.

 

THE BAD

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.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

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.

 

CHARACTER MVP

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.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

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.

 

OVERALL SCORE

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

A Sashurai’s Review: Vikings – Season 4×05 (Never forget a shield-maiden’s promise)

Vikings 4x05

 

SUMMARY

Lagertha tells Kalf that she’s with child, prompting an excited Kalf to propose they marry. In Wessex, Judith defies Aethelwulf over their mutual infidelity while Ecbern assures Kwenthrith they will take Mercia. Ragnar grows closer to Yidu and discovers she is the daughter of the Chinese Emperor. Charles is given light to Odo’s ambition for power while Gisla attempts to convince Rollo of the same. While playing with a band of children, Ivar attacks and kills a child with Flocki watching. King Harold (sp?) attempts to persuade Ragnar his men will help take Paris as Torvi reveals Bjorn’s captured ring belongs to Erlendur. On their wedding day, Lagertha murders Kalf and proclaims herself the sole Earl of the land.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

All signs point to a second invasion of Paris, this time with a new pseudo-ally that Aslaug may or may not exploit while utilizing Flocki for her own means. Trust and secrets are the themes rippling throughout tonight’s episode giving light for some and aggressive charge for others. Most of the elements are played casually yet close to heart leaving the only real highlight here at the end when Lagertha followed through with her promise to kill Kalf. Some logical moments play out as intended giving the episode somewhat of a predictable feel. It doesn’t change the heightened sense of mood as we perceive Ragnar’s guilt and curiosity projected onto Yidu who could still be the spy Aslaug wants her to be. Once Paris becomes the prime target, it may not matter unless he takes Yidu with him. Overall, not a superb episode but a solid introspective glance into the mindsets of most of our regional characters.

 

THE GOOD

With Ragnar forever on a path of self discovery it’s important that we understand his motives as much as possible. He teased and danced around Yidu until he finally caved in and chose to trust her first, earning hers in the latter moments of the plot. Like all pursuits, Ragnar discovers what allures them both together and magnifies those feelings, creating an intense atmosphere of emotions and rampant change in his approach to another love in his life. He needs to be given the energy and motivation to pursue both his earthly desires and the means to understand his choices in life. Conquest is secondary to his primal nature to absorb new cultures through one person at a time. Yidu is quickly replacing Athelstan which could be Aslaug’s key to undoing him. It’s the most sensual and exotic plot of the season, almost trumping the need to invade Paris again, almost.

 

THE BAD

Paris’s political power plays are still very much a low-point in the show. Rollo is showing signs of being manipulated by Gisla who on the surface, seems to understand Rollo to a fault, but if she has an agenda of her own, it likely will mean using Rollo to accomplish those tasks. In any case, we know nothing will happen here until the Vikings or Wessex decide to intervene. With the exception of Charles’s strange attitude, these segments might be best left for later parts of the season.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

It’s rather short as intended to be, but Lagertha’s murder of Kalf was overdue and oddly unexpected for what may seem like obvious reasons. I choose to believe Lagertha’s heart when it’s in the moment, so her murdering him came as a little surprise even though I knew she swore she’d kill him just like Ragnar swore he’d take Paris. I’ll never doubt her convictions again. But the exact moment was when she and Kalf kissed as though he wasn’t taking a serious wound. He could have fought back in anger, or bled in fear, but he took the strike and still met her with a loving embrace. It was tragically romantic if not for his part in trying to assassinate Bjorn, something we knew he wasn’t one-hundred percent behind.

 

CHARACTER MVP

Yidu and Ragnar tie this week. Together, they made this episode very amorous most notably the wash scene with Ragnar cutting her hair at the end. There’s a strong dynamic here, one I wasn’t positively sure of when she first appeared. Her history is slowly coming out as is his own secrets that she’s no doubt compiling to either retain or spill to Aslaug, depending on where she lands. It’s too early to tell if there’s betrayal in her heart, but one would suspect it will be an issue of note in the next few episodes.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

I believe the rune Flocki was showing Ivar was the letter “o” or “os” aka Ansuz which is the rune for Futhark. I barely caught it, and it could have been something else. What’s interesting is even though he showed it to Ivar, there wasn’t a response of identification, we only caught the end of the lesson shortly before Ivar went axe on the kid for trying to take the bag from him.

 

We know now that Bjorn was trying to ascertain the ring’s origin and now he knows thanks to Torvi. It would probably be best if Bjorn wrapped up this side plot before they descend on Paris again. And I suspect it will be a vicious axe kill much like we saw earlier.

 

Is Lagertha really pregnant? Or did she make it up to subdue Kalf into the marriage proposal? I’m not sure that’s the case, because they weren’t actually married before she killed him, at least I don’t think they were. It could easily be more of a message to the people as she seems to be making those in abundance, reconfirming her place and power. With the exception of Erlendur, she has no opposition, which hopefully puts her in a position to rejoin Ragnar in taking Paris, unless she really is pregnant in which case, she’s likely not going anywhere till after.

 

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. A lot of finesse went into propagating Ragnar’s relationship with Yidu which was shot and made very convincingly, but the surrounding segments were more than a little disjointed because of it. Ragnar’s new “ally” is being placed in the line of sight as a villain, yet he tries to convince Bjorn of his intentions to help. There’s an easy summary to decipher here, but with 5 episodes left, it’s still too early to tell how this will play out. Flocki’s influence on Ivar is already showing aggressive results which may not reach Ragnar’s radar for the time being, due to his fascination with Yidu. The Paris and Wessex plots are again, stifling our Viking tale, something I think should be avoided until all parties can once again reunite. Lagertha makes an impact and I’m glad she followed through with her promise, but in a way I’m also sorry for Kalf who seemed like he wanted to do good by her and was unfortunately cast as an evil accomplice of Erlendur’s, who will see a reckoning quite soon. Next week I imagine will speed some things along appropriately. Thanks for reading.

 

 

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Vikings – Season 4×04 (Tell me that make-up on Ragnar doesn’t look like Road Warrior Animal!)

Vikings 4x04

 

SUMMARY

Ragnar learns of Yidu’s past as he invites her to his home away from home and partakes in some of her organic mind-altering substances. Meanwhile, Aslaug brings her youngest son to Flocki to learn the ways of the Viking heritage and tradition. In Wessex, the king of Umbria arrives but finds hostility toward Kwenthrith when he proclaims his intentions to still kill Ragnar. Rollo reveals his understanding of the French language and convinces Gisla to remain a wife to him. Bjorn is attacked by the berserker but kills him, taking the ring Erlendur gave the assassin. Bjorn later arrives in Lagertha’s town and retrieves Tovi as they make their way back to Kattegat. After an evening of traditional celebration, a Viking crew arrive on shore led by the acclaimed King Harold, who tells Aslaug that he intends to become king of all Norway. Aslaug realizes this means he’d have to overthrow Ragnar and ponders on the opportunity as Ragnar returns to greet the aforementioned king.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I wonder if Bjorn knows too little or realizes too much as he waltzed in and took Tovi from Erlendur with the confidence of a wolf. Outside of that minor tense moment, tonight’s episode of Vikings explored a few fascinating aspects including Ragnar’s interest in Yidu, Rollo’s steadfast understanding of the French, and Flocki’s renewed sense of heritage as he laughs in the presence of the seer. And just as everything settles down. a new challenger emerges, with an arrogance that Ragnar senses right off the bat. Casually pedantic at times though a bit more introspective than usual, Vikings sees its long episode count and stretches it’s plot into the minor mid-season area with no definitive plan for a siege, invasion, or massacre. But a fight is coming, and it’s going to be closer to home than we might have thought.

 

THE GOOD

Ragnar is always a careful king, one who ponders and observes without making hasty decisions. His new relationship to Yidu offers him the kind of respite he needs from the everyday life a Viking king must endure. He’s not stressed, but he’s perpetually bored, and that makes for a lethargic Ragnar who finds some simple pleasures in being around a new face, one who traveled a long way against her will. They make a fascinating pair, but like all of Ragnar’s previous interests, they too were all very colorful and exemplary at the start. I think one key note to take away is Ragnar’s passionate lure toward other cultures and what he’s willing to experience to gain more insight on himself and his role as the leader of his people. He never abandons his heritage but he’s willing to absorb more of what the world has to offer and in doing so, maintains a layer of awareness and expertise in people and in how to act tactfully.

 

Unexpected, but welcome, I really enjoyed Rollo’s sudden expertise level in speaking Gisla’s language. And furthermore, how easy it came to convincing her to love him. Just one conversation was all it took to understand each other and that’s progress I was afraid wouldn’t happen due to his apparent inferiority to learning, but as it turns out, he’s quite capable when set to the task. The pair are now a dancing fire, vocal and bright. In a way, her explanation to him with how “Viking” it was to kill his own people, almost made the act forgivable in his eyes. I doubt Ragnar will think of it the same way, unless they both have an understanding of culture that transcends their own.

 

THE BAD

The Wessex scenes were a dismal bust in my eyes. I would have preferred more time spent on Flocki or Bjorn than of Judith’s father trying to belittle her or him trying to threaten Kwenthrith with her son’s life should he actually take vengeance on Ragnar. Neither Ecbert nor Aethelwulf spent any quality time with their “love” and nothing was furthered with us knowing that these affairs are silently on-going. If progress is to be made, someone needs to be caught or confess to their situation, at least before the next great war strikes.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

When Bjorn fought and killed the Berserker. It was the only part of the episode that contained any violent action, and as such was the best shot segment of the lot. Bjorn is learning more and becoming efficient in both survival and in determination. I’d like to think he knows what that ring is and where it came from, but it’s also more likely that he’ll discover the truth down the road and then make a U-turn back to his mother to right the wrong done to him. He’s keeping his thoughts close to home and for now that’s fine.

 

CHARACTER MVP

I’d like to give it to Rollo for his accelerated use of language and with his purpose redefined by Gisla’s hand. If he’s going to be any threat to Ragnar, he needs to gain the respect and loyalty of Gisla’s people now more than ever. And with Gisla on board the others should follow suit. In time, he could be running that castle if Gisla so wishes it.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

Flocki’s visit to the seer has a different outcome than likely most were expecting. The seer is growing older and more frail in the mind by the looks of it. Whether he sees Flocki as a god or as a manifestation of death itself, it’s too early to be sure and clear. But Flocki finds humor in the Seer’s admiration of him and it could lead to some twisted realizations in the future if we’re given more visions of what’s to come.

 

This King Harold is an immediate threat, one Aslaug seems to be in favor of even after a short time there. This can play out a few different ways, but since Bjorn has returned, I wonder if he’ll have a bigger part to play in this play for power. He’ll be on his father’s side of course, but if Harold just isn’t some one-off villain of the week, I’d hope this will have a lasting portion of episodes to utilize.

 

It would have been funny or even impressive to see Rollo speaking in actual French, but the show has a way with switching to English to showcase whose language is the dominate one when two are speaking at once. Aw well.

 

I’m not kidding, look up the Legion of Doom and compare Ragnar’s face paint with Animal’s, complete dead ringer.

 

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. Tonight’s episode of Viking’s was polite in its violence but offered a complacent look into Ragnar’s mindset as he explores a new relationship based on mutual understanding rather than just physical attraction. At least, that’s the symbolism we’re privy to at the moment. Gisla’s comfort with Rollo promises new heights for the pair as Bjorn grows closer to his new defined role as a powerful warrior. Floki is very reserved for good reason, but maintains his servitude to the culture that he inhabits, reinforced by Aslaug’s request that her son be trained by him. More promises of strange battles to come as King Harold marches into Ragnar’s home and passively proclaims his intention to become king of all Norway. For most parts I consider tonight a success, but Wessex needs to pick up the slack as they felt the weakest portion of the tale. Thanks for reading, we’ll see you next week.

 

 

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Vikings – Season 4×03 (You either learn to draw, learn to speak, or learn to kill the bear)

Vikings 4x03

 

SUMMARY

After Kalf admits his love for Lagertha, Elendur convinces him to send a beserker to kill Bjorn. Rollo attempts to learn French but loses patience in it as Charles fears he’ll abandon them to another Viking invasion. Judith gives herself to Ecbert pressing to be seen as an equal. Both Ecbert and Ragnar dream of Athelstan with Ecbert realizing Athelstan is dead and Ragnar realizing he needs to free Flocki. Aethelwulf and Kwenthrith return to Wessex and are later drawn to each other in bed. Bjorn encounters a bear in the snow and successfully kills the larger beast in battle. Ragnar frees Flocki who had recently learned his daughter had died.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Some of the best imagery comes from this show’s uncanny ability to weave in a surreal atmosphere amidst a historical background. Our ability to understand, sympathize, support, and trust these characters often comes from the subconscious manifested from dreams, hallucinations and sheer will of force. Tonight’s episode brought a myriad of heightened senses most notably from Ragnar, Ecbert, and Bjorn, who the latter draws closer to the legend he’ll one day become. The pace continues to draw out certain encounters, but now more than ever comes the motivation and drive that our three kingdoms are experiencing that will make this season all the more fragrant of lust and power.

 

THE GOOD

I’ve seen many movies where the human tries to battle the bear and more often than not, the bear wins. This is one of those situations where it was vital the bear not win. Given how difficult shooting a scene like this must take, it was fascinating watching the older son of Ragnar bravely face the bear while experiencing the harsh north winter. What’s epic in hindsight is that this is a victory only Bjorn can savor. True he can return to his father with the bear’s head hanging on his head, but I don’t think that’s the point here. He’s facing challenges that only he can witness and survive through. When all is said and done, he can move forward and prove through conscious acts that he’s ready to lead and not rely on proof of his vigilance. He’ll earn it through that sheer will now that he’s faced nature and won.

 

The Wessex subplot remains intact and in fashionable dramatic swing. Now that both Ecbert and his son are bedding each other’s wife, unbeknownst to the other, some questions surface on how this will affect their relationships should either find out. Ecbert is in more of a position to get what he wants in the long run because as king, he pretty much calls the shots. And there’s more betrayal from that perspective from his son stealing bed time with the queen than Ecbert being with Judith. Still, what I like most is how they’re layering these characters and giving them depth so that they can add more meaning to the show that is predominantly about Vikings and their conquest throughout history. Ecbert maintains nobility and some sensible natures while still succumbing to Judith’s unyielding charisma as she claims her place as an equal among him.

 

THE BAD

The least effective scenes in tonight’s episode revolved around Rollo, who unfortunately is no closer to settling in with his new people than when he first started. He is trying to fit in, learn their language and somewhat understand their culture, but one main problem is he isn’t the Rollo we know and engage with on a primal level. The art of learning civility is that there are rewards that should keep him moving forward and they are simply not there for him. Gisla continues to shun him and even declares publicly her desire for a divorce. Rollo reacts poorly to being taught their language and Odo is left to be the one to cater to Rollo’s demands or risk his departure from their kingdom. My issue here is he isn’t interacting with anyone that’s left from his homeland. He’s out of his element and isn’t swinging an axe at anything in a blood-fueled rage. Essentially his scenes are the least entertaining, but they weren’t awful by any means.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

I’m glad they continue to utilize Athelstan in the show as he had an immense impact on Ragnar, Ecbern, and Judith. I wouldn’t expect them to over due his presence in this season, but this appearance was appropriate and welcome. I never thought I’d feel sorrow for Flocki after what he’d been through but seeing how Ragnar’s subconscious is dealing with his loneliness and unsure feelings, I do think it makes sense that he free Flocki and finds a way to forgive him for killing Athelstan. Great moments both for Ragnar and Ecbert who both miss their friend and ally.

 

CHARACTER MVP

I have to give it up for Bjorn who not only survived his encounter with the bear but is finding all the courage and independence he needs to become the warrior he intends to be. There was a moment where the shot of him laying on the ground and still having the advantage over the bear seemed silly and extremely unrealistic, but I have to shrug at it since shooting scenes with a bear can’t be all that simple even if it is trained for such stunts. Still, in character, I think Bjorn is truly learning exactly what he needs to. Now comes the next test. The berserker.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

I can imagine there are “spies” around where Bjorn is currently living, but we really don’t have any context into how Erlendur knows where Bjorn is and are not told. Erlendur just knows. I also wasn’t expecting Kalf to commit to allowing Lagertha’s son to be killed after what he told her.

 

It’s too early to tell if Flocki will fall in line with Ragnar again, or if the two will have an extremely unsteady alliance until Flocki proves himself to Ragnar again. It’s also possible Flocki intends to betray Ragnar, an act I can imagine Aslaug nurturing if she decides to truly rule Kattegat for herself.

 

I liked the fact that Flocki was placed under a dripping point in the cave to prevent him from ever falling asleep. Helga’s act in using a bowl to block the water does in fact mirror Loki’s imprisonment as the lore describes. It’s the little things like this that really accentuates these segments. And bravo for Gustaf for looking the part of a weakened man who could barely handle the routine of it all.

 

I hope Ragnar decides to travel again soon. I imagine Bjorn will hopefully return by then to lead the charge. We need everyone to cross paths again or this season will be a very deflated one.

 

I always wonder if the beginning credits are in fact Ragnar’s final voyage before he succumbs to a violent death. The images change throughout the seasons, but the core of the grim and watery fate remains the same. It’s too epic not to duplicate in the series finale if they decided to try it out.

 

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Very effective piece of storytelling. Probably one of the least violent episodes in the entire saga but also a very poignant one. Bjorn roars toward a stronger path as his father realizes potentially what Flocki means to him. Ecbert and Athelwulf are following their passions while Rollo continues to hit walls with his place in life. Learning and patience are a big part of this episode’s theme along with personal conflict and what it means to long for others. In a lot of ways, Flocki is Ragnar’s only real friend left and maybe it’s time they saw the meaning of it. Well delivered story and though some moments with the bear weren’t shot very tactfully, I enjoyed this episode much more than others in the past. Thanks for reading.

 

 

No more words

 

A Sashurai’s Review: Vikings – Season 4×02 (I often forget Judith is still missing an ear)

Vikings 4x02

 

SUMMARY

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.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

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.

 

THE GOOD

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.

 

THE BAD

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.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

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.

 

CHARACTER MVP

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.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

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.

 

OVERALL SCORE

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.

 

 

No more words

 

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.

 

 

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