Vikings S4E5 Review: “Promised”

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Season 4 Episode 5

“Promised”

Warning: Spoilers

 

This is an episode where women truly ruled in some amazing ways, and I felt this week was substantially better than last week. We are getting closer to going back to Paris with a Viking contingent. There was some interesting shuffling of power in this episode, as well, so let’s move along and get started, shall we?

The main bulk of our action happened in Hedeby and Kattegat this episode, with only small plot pieces in Paris and Wessex. Interesting aspects, but not what we need to focus on.

In Wessex, it was decided that yes, despite Queen Kwenthrith being a horrible Queen and unable to control anything, an attempt would be made to take Mercia again. King Aelle is still against this decision, but since Aethelwulf is siding with his new lover, he was basically overruled.
Later that night, we see Aethewulf self-flagellating himself over his sins…and then asks Judith to come to bed. When she refuses, he calls her a whore, but she simply throws it back in his face, and says they are married in name only–and she likes it that way. When Aethewulf threatens to hit her, in true Judith fashion, she stares him down and calls his bluff. I love this new Judith. Even if things don’t end well for her, I’m so proud of how she’s taken a stand for what she believes in, and what she wants. Never again will she be used and abused by a man.

Judith then visits Ecbert, who gives her his dead wife’s ring.  This is the thing that truly baffles me about Ecbert–the man is incredibly manipulative and cutthroat, but I genuinely believe he loved Athelstan, and I am starting to believe he actually cares for Judith. However, he could be playing the long con, and will destroy her without another thought. Time will tell.

We also see an amazing scene later on in the episode where King Ecbert prays to God and says that he feels that he has already been cast out, and hopes that one day he can be let back in…and in the next breath says he would happily eat at the Devil’s table if it gives him what he wants on Earth. Linus Roache is an amazing actor, and it’s in scenes like this where we truly get to see him use his talents to their fullest extent. I really can’t wait to see what happens with the Wessex plotline. Roache brings such a complexity to Ecbert that makes you root for him, even after the horrible things he’s done.

Meanwhile, Paris is filled with intrigue. Rollo seems interested in helping Count Odo prepare the City for battle, but Gisla points out that she doesn’t trust Odo at all, and would rather have Odo removed during a battle. Rollo states he doesn’t kill people by stabbing them in the back (since when, dude?), but Gisla says that he is French now, and in France things are done differently–and he needs to learn, and quickly. I like the idea that they both have things to teach each other; their relationship seems so much more equal than his and Siggy’s, and I really hope it lasts and stays as healthy as it is becoming.

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Meanwhile Roland and Therese (who we find out are brother and sister–uh, I really thought they were fucking…oops?) make their move against Odo, and meet with Emperor Charles to claim that Odo wants the crown. The main thing that I gained from all of this, though, is that Charles seems…unbalanced. Paranoid, sick, and just mentally ill. Something is very wrong with him, and how it will play out with the vikings soon coming back, who knows. But I have a feeling it means Rollo and Gisla will soon be in charge.

Across the ocean with the vikings, we have other plots afoot. In Hedeby, Erlendur and Kalf both agree that Lagertha can never find out what they had planned for Bjorn. Meanwhile, Lagertha trains with a large contingent of shieldmaidens, looking completely badass. She breaks off from the group to speak to Kalf and tell him that she’s pregnant. Given that she was told by the Seer she would never have another child I’m skeptical but…hey, stranger things have happened. Kalf seems overjoyed and asks for to marry him. Lagertha looks conflicted, but agrees. I have a feeling that nothing is going to go as planned with that, but we’ll see.

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Back in Kattegat, King Harald is continuing to create tensions within the village. Bjorn and Ragnar can’t seem to get along either–Bjorn is still not taking care of his is daughter Siggy, and states that he would rather remember things associated with his missing wife. Which, hey Bjorn, stop taking after your shit dad. Ragnar admits he hasn’t been the best father and has definitely failed at being a husband.
Bjorn goes to speak to King Harald and while Bjorn can’t seem to decide what to make of him, I have to say he is incredibly charming. His brother Halfdan will soon be arriving with men and ships to help raid Paris–but that also means they will be outnumbered in Kattegat. Despite the threat he poses I like Harald, so far.

Back in the ‘love cabin’ as I’m going to start calling it, Yidu is in traditional Chinese garb. I’d love to know where she got it from–did she make it herself? So much about her I find strange and…implausible. While I appreciate her inclusion, I feel the buildup to her hasn’t been believable, and I don’t feel the connection between her and Ragnar. She tells Ragnar a story of the Chinese Emperor and his children, alluding to the fact that she might be one, but gives nothing away. There is more flirting, but nothing comes of it.  Instead, Ragnar wants to get high again–off of which I’m starting to think is Roseroot, which China had access too, as well as the vikings during this time.

Harald’s brother arrives, and Halfdan, Harald, and all the men enjoy a great feast with the people of Kattegat in the great hall. Floki and Helga show up, causing the entire hall to fall into a hush. When asked by the brothers why Floki has been cast out favor, he proudly announces that he killed Ragnar’s pet Christian (Guess what? I wish Athelstan had never wished for mercy on you, buddy). Well, Harald and Halfdan seem interested by this, and continue to talk to the couple, while Aslaug watches on, looking pleased. Clearly she’s plotting something here–I have no doubt she might be angling to marry one of the brothers at this point, especially with Ragnar off with Yidu constantly.

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Speaking of those two, Ragnar and Yidu are not at the feast, but instead on top of a roof, where Ragnar confesses his guilt over the loss of the English settlement; Yidu confesses she is indeed a daughter of the Emperor. Honestly, I think it would have been a lot more interesting if she was just nobody. Why make her someone so special? It feels too much like the exotic-oriental trope. I love this show a great deal, and trust it, but this storyline is clunky.

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Back in the love cabin we’re given an extended scene where Ragnar washes/seduces Yidu. While I’m completely struggling to care, at least it was great to see a scene that was about a woman’s pleasure. Kudos to History Channel for going there when a lot of other shows won’t.

…in direct contrast to that, we later watch Ivar, after getting frustrated playing with other children, pick up an axe and kill another child. Aslaug of course protects the child while Floki looks really pleased by this turn of events? Ivar is going to be a problem going forward–and I don’t mean because of his handicap. There is something going on with him that has to do with prophecy, and it isn’t good.

For our final scene(s), we see Lagertha getting ready for her wedding in Hedeby, while Bjorn speaks to Tovi back in Kattegat. He is messing with Erlendur’s ring, and while Tovi recognizes it, she says nothing. Instead, she confronts Bjorn about how she only feels close to him when they have sex; otherwise he treats her like she isn’t there. It again confirms to me that Bjorn is becoming more like his father every day, and truly only wanted Tovi around for sex–especially when he tries to shut her up by initiating sex. To which Tovi drops the truth of the ring on him. Cut to–

Lagertha looking incredibly happy in her wedding dress. She greets Kalf warmly, who seems over the moon. I think he genuinely loves her. Which is sweet really, because as he kisses her…

…Lagertha takes out a knife and stabs him between the ribs.

She promised she’d kill him one day. Don’t think I forgot that; it seemed Kalf did, though.

In a beautiful and sad way, Kalf seemed to accept the death, and kissed her as he was dying. It seemed he understood why she was doing what she did–she could never trust him, and needed him to die to gain what was hers once again. After all, he had taken it from her.

Covered in blood, Lagertha strides out of the tent, flanked by her shieldmaidens and announces herself Earl. Hell yes, my Queen is back, and she isn’t going to let anyone take her down again.

And that is how you end an episode. Bjorn, take notes–this is the parent you should be paying attention to, you idiot. Lagertha keeps her promises and pays for them in blood. And when she finds out about Erlendur?

That boy is going to pay.

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