Things truly picked up in this episode, and I again felt fully engaged with the show once more. While there was one storyline that I’m still very unsatisfied with (more on that later), I felt like the major ones moved forward, and we gained some interesting character insight. So let’s get started!
It seems Harald and Astrid are having a grand old time together; whatever issues she was harboring are seemingly to the wind, now. As time is nebulous in this series (they only provide us timelines if they are important), Ivar and crew have already arrived in Vestfold, ready to make an alliance with Harald, and to show off their new pet in Bishop Heahmund.
An alliance is made, but it’s clear that it’s a fragile one–while Ivar is promised kingship of Kattegat after Lagertha is killed, Harald still wants dominion of that Kingdom in the long run. We’ll see what happens with that. Now what was really interesting was how Ivar managed to manipulate Heahmund into agreeing to fight for the Vikings. By his reasoning, he wasn’t asking the Bishop to kill any Christians, or renounce his God–all Ivar wanted him to do was kill more heathens, which is exactly what the Bishop wished to do. Ivar is jealous of Heahmund, wishes to be him…so gaining his hand in the fight is more than he could have hoped for. I think this will come into play against Harald later, as well.
Now in a frustrating development, Astrid decides that she needs to warn Lagertha of the upcoming attack. While that within itself isn’t a problem–the man who is to take the message demands that she beds him…and then has the rest of his crew force themselves on her as payment. There is also, of course, the threat that they will tell Harald of her betrayal if she doesn’t give herself up. I’m honestly exhausted of violence against women used a plot device. While I know we may not like Astrid for the things she’s done, no woman deserves this sort of treatment, and this show has (repeatedly) shown that it doesn’t treat its women as equal parties in the plot as it does the men.
Little happens in York this episode, except to note that Alfred prays at Ecbert’s grave, swearing that if he becomes King, he shall reunite England, or die trying. Well, Alfred, you’re going to get your wish–if the show follows history, at any rate. To further his cause, he decides to go on a pilgrimage to where Aethelstan was trained; I truly adore that he does not judge his mother for his bastard status. He understands he was born of love, and with purpose–I think it will help him, especially if he has to go up against his brother Edmund, later.
Before Floki can leave, Lagertha and her people manage to stop them. Surprisingly, after having a discussion with them, she allows them to go–to save Torvi’s son, who is the one who gave them up. I genuinely feel bad for Lagertha. While she is struggling as a leader, currently, she isn’t wrong when she says that people betray her at every turn. She says she can’t get used to it…and why should she? She has suffered so much, and she will most likely bear more before the end.
For all Astrid went through, we do see that the men provide Lagertha the message, so Kattegat can prepare. Hopefully they will have the help of Bjorn and Halfdan because–oh yeah, that’s right–they are coming back to Kattegat. They managed to survive almost getting their heads chopped off, and the sand storm….and went back home?
I honestly have no idea what the point of going to Africa was. Seriously.
As for Floki and his group–they reach Iceland, but things aren’t going well for them. They are starting to think they may have made a mistake following him.
Overall, I felt this was a strong episode, but again, I’m annoyed at how this show treats sexual assault. I just don’t see why it’s necessary to have in the show to this extent. We’re 5 episodes in, and we’ve had already had two assaults. I just would have expected better from the show.