Vikings Review S4E11: The Outsider

 

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The Outsider

Warning: Contains Spoilers

Can’t remember what happened last episode? Here is Episode 10’s recap.

Well, we’re back with the second half of Viking’s season 4, and before I get into this episode, I wanted to again express how disappointed I was in the midseason finale. It jumped too far forward in time  for me; much of what happened could have been tacked on to this new episode. It was jumbled, disjointed, and overall left me frustrated. However, I still love this show, so I’m interested to see where it goes–but I clearly have changed allegiances on who I care about (sorry Ragnar). 

We open on Ragnar, who is looking out at the ocean, looking worse for wear. It’s only a moment, though, something to set the mood, as we quickly cut back to where we ended last episode–with Ragnar screaming about his sons challenging him for kingship. He accosts his sons, trying to egg them into a fight (really great parenting, really), but most of them seem disgusted and unwilling to be goaded. Finally, though, Ubba steps forward, and instead of a fight…Ragnar just hugs him. Everyone in the town seem confused, and really, I am right there with them. Ragnar hasn’t been acting like himself this entire season, and this just adds to it. Bjorn confronts his father about why he came back–and while I was expecting a fight, they instead go off to talk privately.

There, Bjorn informs Ragnar about Magnus (you know, his British bastard). Bjorn is practically seething–and frankly, I live for his bitterness. As the series has gone on, I’ve fallen for him more and more; Alexander Ludwig has become such an amazing actor, and it’s been great to see him grow.  Ragnar seems to disbelieve his son, and informs him that he came back for him–he came back for all his sons. Except that isn’t really the case; he wants to go back to England, and wants to recruit his sons. So again, it’s really a selfish desire that is driving him, not actually the wellbeing of his children. Thankfully, all of his sons except Ivar seem dismissive; Bjorn still wants to travel to the Roman Empire. He has such wonder still left in him, such hope–it’s a huge contrast to his bitter and lost father. Floki has made good by his word and has built him boats, and we also find out that Harald and Halfdan will be sailing with him. The other sons however want to stay back in Kattegat and protect their mother; the town is a major trading port now, and they are needed here. So they all walk off, leaving Ragnar alone. I was pleased to see them dismiss him; it may not last, but he deserves it.

A lot of this episode is devoted to an interesting little subplot involving all of the siblings and a slave girl named Marquette. They all have the hots for her, but Sigurd seems most smitten with her, and seems to have the strongest relationship, though we find out that all of the sons, save Bjorn and Ivar, are having sex with her. It’s…weird, to say the least. We also get to see the boys sparring with one another, which shows off their prowess–including Ivar’s. Despite his inability to use his legs (the actor does an amazing job with this) Ivar is an excellent fighter.

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After they are done, the youngest brother states that since he knows that all of his brothers have had Marquette, he wants to have her too. Ubbe protests, wanting to make sure that the woman really wants to (hey go consent!) before anything happens.

When we next see them, we find out that Marquette has agreed to sleep with Ivar. I have a horrible feeling about this, as Ivar is manhandled into the bed by his brothers. For once though, the youngest son seems nervous (we have always seen him overly confident and aggressive), but Marquette tries to ease his fears. Things do not go well, however, and it seems Ivar is impotent–and scared of being embarrassed, he starts to choke her, saying has to kill her to keep her quiet. Which–uh, no? It gave me a horrible pit in my stomach, but Marquette, brilliant woman she apparently is, talks her way out of death by flattering Ivar and telling him that greatness is what matters, not sex and children. It seems to touch Ivar, who starts to cry–so at least that crisis is averted. Poor poor woman, though.

Let’s go over to my favorite character, though–Lagertha. She’s currently training a new woman in physical hand to hand.

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It’s a very asian style, and frankly I’d love to know if that is actually historically accurate, or if the choreographer just chose it because it looked cool. Apparently our favorite viking shewolf is planning something, but she’s nervous over it. The new girl seems interesting as well–but more on that later.

Back in Kattegat, Bjorn goes to see the Seer, who says that Ragnar had no choice but to come back, but his return will bring chaos. Like ‘you should curse the day’ sort of chaos. It’s a very ominous premonition, but Bjorn puts it in the back of his mind as he goes back home to see Torvi, who is alive and well, taking care of their second child. I’m really happy to see them happy; Bjorn, as long as he is taking after his mother, has always been a good man–and it seems he wants to choose that path, as he says he will no longer listen to Ragnar.

On the Ragnar front, our fallen leader goes to find Helga (who is looking wonderful, I’m so glad she’s okay), and Floki, and to check out the ships that are definitely not for him. He needs to remember that. Floki is happy to see his friend, but makes it clear that he is going with Bjorn–not to England. He goes on to state that no matter what happens, they will always have Valhalla, but it is clear Ragnar isn’t sure if he will get in. I agree with his concerns, to be honest.

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Ragnar does tell Floki that he loves him, and after everything that has happened, it’s a touching scene, especially when Floki begins to cry. Still, it’s interesting to see them mending the fences after everything that Floki did to Ragnar, and vise versa.

After this meeting, Ragnar goes to see Lagertha; Hedeby has become a large town in the passing years, which is excellent. I’m so happy to see her thriving. This is when we are fully introduced to the woman Lagertha was sparring with–Astrid. She is coy, and Ragnar comments that she is young enough to be his daughter, and she seems to be toying with him before Lagertha finally makes her appearance. She has a snowy owl with her, and goodness I can’t love her more than I do. It is clear that Ragnar thinks that Astrid and Lagertha are together, but our queen dismisses Astrid to talk to Ragnar privately. He again states that he is going to Wessex and wants her to come with him. She turns him down, stating, “We approved of your choices, but they didn’t work. Ragnar Lothbrook didn’t succeed.” It’s a poignant, heartbreaking scene. It’s clear she still has feelings for him; there are tears in her eyes. But what can she do? Ragnar is clearly upset as well, stating that he wishes he never left their farm. In turn Lagertha says she has, “No regrets, yet every regret,” then gives him a chaste kiss, before sending him away. Their past is never going to be fully gone, but it seems that despite the pain, Lagertha is determined to move forward.

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And yes, Lagertha and Astrid are together. The seem happy…and I honestly hope this is written well. I am always a bit nervous when these sort of storylines are introduced. When done well, they are excellent, but often, they are done poorly. Also,  I would love a gay couple, now that we have our first female same-sex pairing.

Well, after Ragnar has left…he attempts to hang himself. Yes, I’m completely serious, the man tries to kill himself. I understand that he’s upset that no one will go with him, but he left them. He genuinely has no one to blame but himself. I know we are supposed to feel sympathy, but I just can’t. I’m really tired of all of his antics. Of course, the hanging doesn’t work, as the symbolic crows show up and break the rope. SYMBOLISM!! (I’m sorry, but I rolled my eyes)

 

After this, Ragnar goes to talk with Ivar, who shares that he used to sit on his father’s throne when no one was watching; Aslaug never let anyone sit in it. It’s a small, quiet scene, and when these two interact it’s clear that Ragnar still has some good left in him–and the chemistry between the two actors is great. Ivar states that he will go with Ragnar, if he merely asks…and he does.

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So the episode ends with Ragnar having one family member going with him. Honestly, this episode, despite setting everything up, felt like a nice return to form after the poor midseason finale. While I have made it very clear that I’m over Ragnar’s man-pain, everyone else is a joy, and I’m really interested to see where the storylines go. But man, man, Ivar seems so close to madness. I wonder if he is ever going to be pushed over.

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