So here we are, at the final episode of season four. Overall, I thought it was a relatively solid episode, with some notable sour points. We spend our entire time in Wessex, with no mention of Kattegat–so we will have to wait until season five to find out if Torvi survived (I’m still under the assumption she didn’t).
We start where we left off, with the battle between the vikings and Aethelwulf turning into an utter brawl in the mud. It’s clear there is no way that the British are going to win, and with dejection in his voice, Aethelwulf tells his men to save themselves, and orders the retreat. I find it really interesting that they are starting to try and rehabilitate Aethelwulf, after all the seasons where the show made us really dislike him. He heads back to the compound where he tells his father that all is lost, and they need to escape. Ecbert, however, refuses to leave, and renounces the crown to Aethelwulf, basically making him king. Again–Aethelwulf is King now, and that will be important to remember for later on. Ecbert feels that it’s his time to die; he wants it, and God wants it for him, too.
He says his goodbyes to everyone, and it’s a genuinely touching moment; Judith tells Ecbert that she is thankful that he loved her. Without him, she never would have been able to thrive. Ecbert tells Alfred that he has a destiny to fulfill, and that he must always try to have humility, and Alfred tells his grandfather that he loves him. With that, everyone leaves, save the Bishop Edmund, who chooses to stay with his (former) King.
The vikings head into the compound and are obviously surprised that no one is there. However, that doesn’t stop them from setting fire to everything like school children, including things that our beloved Athelstan created. Yes, dear reader, I’ll never let go of him. Eventually Ecbert is captured, and Sigurd kills Bishop Edmund, much to Floki’s apparent confliction.
Here is where we get to the scene that left a nasty taste in my mouth, and I’ll be including it in a larger essay next week. Helga is wandering with her newly adopted/saved daughter, who, finally done being a prisoner to a woman who only wanted to save her, murders Helga, and then kills herself. While I understand that this young girl never asked to be saved, she genuinely only served as a plot device–just as Helga did. And what plot device is that? To drive Floki’s story forward, to take all of his ties away, and leave him poor and tragic (so he can wander away into the distance), as he buries his poor, pure, beautiful wife. Who, despite being stabbed in the neck, is buried in the same dress she was killed in, without a lick of blood on her. Please; it’s fridging at its lowest and I had hoped the show would be better than this, but this is not the first time the show has killed a woman to move a man’s story forward. I have a feeling it won’t be the last.
Back to the main plot: Ecbert manages to get the sons of Ragnar to agree to something– he will give them land to farm, if they let him die in the way he sees fit. Ivar wants to Blood Eagle him, because Ivar is a child, but more sound voices reign and the contract is agreed upon. What confuses me, however, is the fact that Ecbert is no longer King–he can’t make agreements like this? But hey, I guess we’ll find out if that is a big deal in season five.
In an emotional scene, Ecbert slits his wrists in the roman baths that have always held such meaning to him– many key scenes for him and the vikings he has cared for have occurred here, so it is fitting this is where he dies. Ecbert was never a good man; but he was complicated, and I am truly sad to see him go.
After all is said and done, Bjorn attempts to get his fellow vikings to follow through with what Ragnar wanted: to farm the land in England and be relatively peaceful. Ivar, however, wants to raid and make war. He is rude and dismissive towards his brothers as he asserts himself, and Sigurd calls him out, and questions his manhood. Ivar, in return, kills him? That’s…lovely. As someone who really loved Sigurd, I’m sad to see him go, but it’s clear that the line is now drawn between the sons and Ivar. There is no way they will side with him, now.
Meanwhile, in Dorset, here is Jonathan Rhys Meyers, as Bishop Heahmund, a very good looking priest, who is overseeing a funeral…and then having sex with the grieving widow. Because, hey, we can’t have Meyers on a show and not have him have sex, right? As the sex scene is going on, the cameras pan over to a giant sword, so I assume this means that Heahmund will be fighting against the vikings.
But time will tell.