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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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 4×05 (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 4×02 (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 3×09 (That spiked wheel was utterly wicked!)

Vikings 09

The 11th hour has struck for Ragnar as his Vikings attempt once more to penetrate Paris and conquer its castle. The penultimate episode to the finale orchestrates one king’s passion for a spiritual release, and another king’s dangerous game against a suspicious son. Bizarre visuals and hallucinations play a distinct role in “Breaking Point” showing just how much Ragnar want to be reunited with his best friend. Perhaps his era of leading his people has come to a determined end. One thing is for certain, Floki and the others don’t like what they’ve seen at the tail end.

After the initial siege fails, Rollo, Lagertha and others attempt to gain entry at night, but Odo and his soldiers once more fend off the attack and take a pair hostage. One is executed while the other, claiming to be a wanderer and a speaker of French, is kept alive. Ragnar suffers greatly from his wound and hallucinates Athelstan. Meanwhile in Wessex, Ecbern seals his relationship with Judith and then Aethelwulf returns, skeptical of his father’s agenda with him. In Kattegat, Aslaug deals with a Christian who declares her gods as false compared to his own. He’s put to a test and fails and presumably put to death afterward. Paris civilians suffer from a mysterious illness leaving the king to try and negotiate a truce with Ragnar who meets with Odo on his own wanting to be baptized at the meeting. They agree but Floki, Lagertha, and others arrive as the deed takes place with uncertainty to Ragnar’s future hanging in the balance.

It’s interesting to view this episode as a swan song for Ragnar after everything he’s done to claim his throne and lead his people to new lands. Yet, even at the peak of his power, what he desires most is the presence of his best friend and the promise of conquest against a nation he’s told can’t be conquered. Now, at the height of his wounds, he’s ready to pass on but under the path of the Christian god, something his people likely won’t forgive him for. But is it enough to destroy the man after all he’s done, or will he simply succumb to his wounds as he suspects will be the case? Vikings has the opportunity to become an anthology series which has been talked about among it’s fan base in the past. Will that premise be fulfilled? I like the idea, because it can blow open the doors to many different Viking plots outside of the current generation. Maybe Rollo will finally get his chance to become the next breakout star.

The segment involving the Christian in Kattegat was an odd sequence to throw in. I wasn’t sure if this was meant to balance out Ragnar’s role as his strength in his gods wanes while Aslaug’s remains absolute, or whether it was just a moment to fill so we don’t forget that Kattegat’s people maintain their pride and beliefs. In any case, it felt very rushed and thrown in from my perspective. The man’s thoughts that his test would pass with flying colors was an interesting moment though easily shown as false as his hands truly melt at holding an iron rod.

As Paris became more of the focal point for the remainder of the season, Ecbern and his agenda in Wessex feels a bit soft on the story side of things. It’s almost as if the focus is making sure we don’t forget about Judith’s child, Alfred while the king makes her agree to his protective custody. Aethelwulf is straddling the fence on obeying his father and realizing a certain truth, that Ecbern can’t be completely trusted. If the situation is resolved in either of their death’s I wonder if Wessex will play any role in the next season. Ecbern has essentially become a likable character in my view and though he’s inherently sinister, he’s not outright evil. I could see him playing his role for another year.

FAVORITE MOMENT

That wheel put on a gross display of death and gore. It definitely made this episode more unique in that regard and felt like a great highlight for the night. Rollo worked his way around it even though the damage had been done. The ingenuity and execution of the device made me wonder why it wasn’t the first thing they used from the previous attempt to protect that long walkway. Still, it was freakishly stylistic and morbid in its own right.

CHARACTER MVP

I’m laughing, but the captured Earl who fooled the executioner by having his hair pulled was classic and worthy of praise. Not only did he show the expected defiance of his people, but he did so in a way that mocked the system in which he was to die through. He was still put to death after a fashion, but the manner made it more humorous to watch then the usual display of minor character deaths. Good job on that front.

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

Rollo was referred to as a crazy bear. High indicator that the Seer’s prophecy puts Rollo smack dab in the middle of it. Though it was spoken without Rollo in the room, so he doesn’t know he’s a crazy bear…yet.

Will Floki condemn Ragnar as he has done to others in the past? Even worse, will Bjorn and the others follow suit? The final trailer shows yet another attempt to take over Paris. One can only wonder if Ragnar is in on the assault.

The situation between Kwenthrith and Ecbern still feels pretty unresolved and the focus on Paris makes the plot in Wessex feel like it’s going to continue into next season. I like that Aethelwulf is still on the verge of either a great epiphany or a tragic curse considering he flat out told his father what dark scheme he might have hatched to put him out of the way. Hopefully there’s resolution next week.

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Solid performance all around. The wheel was a nice touch in artillery by the French and Ragnar’s ever-expanding beliefs have put him in a very awkward place with his people. Maybe it’s what he really wants or maybe he’s suffered in a way that has damaged his mental state beyond hope. If his people don’t believe he’s fighting for them and their gods, the finale could be his final episode. We’ll see how it plays out. I don’t imagine everyone making it out of the season 3 alive, and we’ve already lost a good amount of main-stayers from the show. Until next week. Keep up the good fight.

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