The Two Journeys
Well we are in three places this week, so like I have done sometimes before, I will be breaking this review up into geographic locations. Makes it easier to follow the story, don’t you think?
So let’s start with the simplest of all the stories–
Bjorn and his crew make it to the French outpost, where Rollo is waiting for them, happy. Things don’t go exactly how we might have thought, though. They are barred from getting very close to Rollo and Gilsa (and their three!! children), and for a bit, our French Viking speaks only in French. There are no subtitles, which I enjoy–it really shows the stark contrast between the two groups. Floki is understandably annoyed and announces, “I’ve never done anything stupid but I am contemplating dying rather than dealing with him.” I’m really glad to see the humorous version of him back–for so long Floki was miserable, and he brings some added levity.
Rollo, for his part, says he won’t apologize for what happened in the past, and after some talking with Gilsa, asks why they are there. Bjorn explains the why, and asks if they can have the safe passage. Instead of saying anything…well. Rollo takes the map from Bjorn, and has the vikings thrown into prison. Not the best way to re-endear yourself, Rollo.
In prison, Halfdan and Harald are annoyed to say the very least. They basically accuse Bjorn of not being looked on kindly by the gods. But honestly, it just seems like a trick by Rollo, and in truth, it is–he comes and gets Bjorn to speak with him. Apparently he sent for a librarian all the way from Paris to help decipher the map. There is an excitement to Rollo, as he and Bjorn discuss the dangerous waters ahead of him. Then he makes his ultimatum: he will not give safe passage unless he can come with them. Bjorn looks surprised, but I’m not. I’m so happy to have Rollo back in the picture, and going out to raid. It’s going to be great, I just know it.
Gilsa, though, oh my favorite french Princess is not happy. She states that Rollo isn’t a Viking anymore, and neither are their children–and if they were, she would kill them, and then herself. Those are some seriously harsh words, and Rollo doesn’t take kindly to them. He doesn’t harm her, though, besides putting a hand around her neck and quickly backing off. He’s learned to temper himself, which I really like seeing. Instead, he tries to explain himself–that he loves Gilsa dearly, but he can’t deny the viking parts of himself. He says, passionately, “When you hear thunder, you only hear thunder. But for me it is still Thor, beating his hammer.” Oh Rollo. It’s such a beautiful line, and Gilsa realizes she’s lost, and simply says, regardless if Rollo returns, she fears this will be the end of them.
So off they go, off to fight and raid… but not before Bjorn subjects Rollo to a viking version of the keelhaul (where they tie someone up and drag them under the boat). It’s to test Rollo, and his viking soul, but when he comes up, he ends up smiling. It’s lovely, and I’m really excited to see how this whole voyage goes.
Meanwhile, over in merry ole England, Ivar and Ragnar wake up on the shore, having survived that huge storm that nearly killed them. A few of their men survived, it seemed, but none of the ships did, that’s for sure. They are effectively marooned and the crew, save Ivar, is certainly blaming Ragnar for these troubles, saying he is cursed by the Gods. They narrowly escape being seen by Prince Aethelwulf (our favorite Essex cuckold) and a small group of his men, which head out towards where the vikings wrecked.
There is a lovely scene shortly after, where the vikings start moving quickly over land, but Ivar struggles, wanting to walk instead of crawl. Ragnar refuses to let him use his walking device, instead ripping it off and throwing it off a hill. He tells Ivar that he will never be normal, and that greatness will only come to his son when he realizes that he isn’t ever going to be normal. It’s clear that Ragnar is understanding his son more, now, and how unique he is. Ivar simply has to stop wallowing in pity and see that, as well.
By way of his son, King Ecbert knows that Ragnar is back (you see, Aethelwulf found a sigil with Ragnar’s raven on it). Ecbert says he isn’t particularly worried, and that he has to go to council–Aethelwulf should deal with it on his own. After all, Ragnar is “just a man”, and Ecbert doesn’t see why he would cause any serious damage. We do get to see Judith, briefly, wearing an elaborate hairstyle to cover up her missing ear. It’s clear the family situation is far from a happy one at least in Aethelwulf’s estimation, but there is nothing to be had for it.
After a few close calls with getting caught, Ragnar and his crew set up camp. Away from the crew, he and Ivar have a chat. It seems that if caught, they will be seen as a raiding party, no matter what their goals. Ivar questions if they should steal a boat, but Ragnar quickly nixes that idea, and tells Ivar that he did not come here to go back. He also reveals to Ivar that only he and Ragnar can continue–so they must kill the rest of the crew. Welp.
They attack their fellow crew in the dead of night, and it’s a wonderfully shot scene, with them killing the men quietly, Ivar crawling like some snake. It’s creepy but really interesting as well. After that, Ragnar carries Ivar over his shoulder as they move across the countryside. At one point, Ragnar admits that he had been wrong about Ivar; he had once wished him dead, but the boy’s legs weren’t a weakness–they gave him strength. Ivar seems so genuinely touched, and through their relationship, I’m learning to love both of these characters, for all their complexities.
Once they find the castle, Ragnar tells Ivar that no matter what happens, his son must act like a cripple, so he is underestimated–and no matter what they do to Ragnar… he must bear it. Again, it’s a very touching scene, and with a kiss to Ivar’s forehead, Rangar goes to turn himself in.
I’m genuinely unsure where this entire storyline is going, but I’m very excited to see this plot play out–it has some of my favorite characters, and we have yet to see Ragnar’s bastard son. It’s going to get interesting, to say the very least.
Last, but not least, we have the intrigue of Kattegat. We see Lagertha in Hedeby, training Astrid and the rest of her people in fighting. As this is occurring, Aslaug has a bloody vision of her town being attacked. Well–I think we can see where this is going, can’t we? When asked what she is doing, Lagertha announces to Astrid that she is going to take Kattegat back. All of Aslaug’s sons are gone besides Ubbe and Sigurd, so they shouldn’t be a problem–but still Astrid asks after them, concerned. I’m genuinely curious why Astrid seems so concerned about them–if she cares, or if she thinks that they could cause serious problems.
Lagertha has a plan, though, which is revealed when Torvi brings in Margurette, who states that she is so afraid of Ivar, she doesn’t want Aslaug’s crew to be in power anymore. While this is interesting, I’m more excited to see that Torvi is siding with Lagertha in all of this.
Ubbe and Sigurd are invited to Hedeby for dinner, and they seem genuinely confused why Margurette is there. Lagertha spins some tale about how the slave loves both of them, and if the boys can share her, they can have her. Well–that doesn’t work too well. The boys take the bait and are soon locked up as Lagertha and her warriors go raiding.
And oh what a raid/attack it is. The fight scenes are amazing, moving in and out of the streets of Kattegat. When an impasse seems to be set up, Torvi appears on top of the huts with archers, who fire on the enemy. Lagertha truly has a brilliant military mind–it’s amazing people continue to underestimate her. Eventually she stops the fighting, saying that these are her people. Aslaug brings out some beautiful sword, and starts walking out of the main building. We don’t see what happens from there, though.
All I know is that Lagertha is finally taking back what is hers, and after so much heartbreak and loss–this is what she deserves.