Again, I’ll be breaking this episode up by location; I found this episode on the whole to be slow and plodding. While I understand needing expository episodes to set up future events, this one felt a bit disjointed and boring, sadly.
Straits of Gibraltar
We finally spend some time with Bjorn and Halfdan, where they arrive in the Mediterranean. While Bjorn wishes to go to Rome, he’s told by their guide that the power no longer rests there, but it would be better to go to Sicily, where the ruler is powerful and dislikes Rome.
When they arrive, they are known to be Vikings, and after apparently needing to ‘prove’ their abilities (the Commander attacks Bjorn), they are welcomed. We find out that Ziyadat Allah, the man in power, isn’t truly in control–that is actually held by another man, who is in Africa. So of course, that is where Bjorn wants to go.
There is a side plot here, about a woman named Kassia, who may or may not be a nun, who may or may not be having an affair with the Commander…and whom Halfdan has a crush on. While she’s beautiful and mysterious, at this point I’m just not interested in this.
While I think this area could prove more interesting in the future (after all, this is where Bjorn truly traveled), right now it just feels like a poor imitation of Game of Thrones.
The most interesting things were happening in York, where the Saxons, after a small debate, decide to starve out the Vikings by cutting off all the roads and any access to food. Aethelwulf had wanted to gain more soldiers before trying anything, but of course Bishop Heahmund is determined to have his way. While I initially liked him, I’m not quite sure I like how Johnathan Rhys Meyers is playing him–it’s all stoic and stone-faced. While I know he’s hiding a great deal behind that facade, it is leading to boring acting choices.
The Vikings are kept from gathering food, and are all slowly starving–except Ivar who is eating like there is food to spare. He also is incredibly dismissive to his lone brother left. He’s arrogant, snide, and truly acting like a petulant child. He apparently has a ‘plan’ but won’t tell Hvitserk about it. Hvitserk really should have gone with Ubbe.
As for the English, the Northumbrians arrive with new soldiers–I’m not quite sure how they found out about their need for help, but it’s good to see Judith happy, as these are her father’s people.
We also see Aethelwulf get frustrated with Heahmund, and make it clear who is the real leader. It’s an interesting clash of wills, and I genuinely never thought I’d be on Aethelwulf’s side regarding anything, but since last season he’s gone a long way into ingratiating himself.
While all of this is going on, a scout comes in to tell them the Vikings have disappeared–and when the Saxons enter the city, they find no one–just the dead and dying, covered in rats. There is one question that lingers (and one that should lead to an answer), “Why are the rats above ground?”
Ubbe returns, and Lagertha offers him a choice that he can’t refuse–help her with Harald, and she’ll help him with Ivar. Of course, this might all change as Margrethe starts to whisper that Lagertha is losing her power–but she also whispers this to Torvi, as well, which is a bad idea in general. Lagertha overhears this conversation and warns the woman off. After all–if she forgives the former slave, that is one thing but, “The Gods were Listening.”
Lagertha also goes to the seer, and is told that she will see her son again, but under terrible circumstances; Ragnar’s death is still playing out, and there is no telling what will come. I feel bad for her–her life is constant tragedy and betrayal. I don’t know if she will ever get anything like a ‘happy’ ending, but I could dream.
Ah, so we have an official name for where Harald rules! While little happens here this episode, what does happen is important: Astrid decides to marry Harald, and the ceremony is had. We do see that Astrid does think of Lagertha during this decision, and might even feel a bit of guilt, but again, with little choice, and power being offered…it’s not a surprise that she chose this.
Oh and what is Floki doing? Well, Floki has decided that others need to see the Gods’ land–so back to civilization he goes. …that was quick.
Again, it isn’t a bad episode, but with all they are setting up, the episode just felt boring and flat. We’ll see how next week goes.