I can’t believe we’re back! It feels like it’s been a while, doesn’t it? If you need a recap of what happened at the mid-season finale, you can find it here. As usual, I’ll be breaking this into geographical sections to cut down on time hopping. We’re in familiar areas this episode, and save a few remnants of the ‘old guard’, it’s very clear at this point that Vikings is becoming about the younger generation now. While some people might not like this–it really was the only choice for the show. After all, history moves on, and so should the show.
We start immediately where we left off, with Ivar and Harald arriving in Kattegat, announcing that they are in charge now–and that Ivar is King. The townspeople don’t seem all that pleased, but of course go along with it. Honestly, I would really hate to be a common person in this town, at that point. Sure you might have good trade routes, but with how often power changes hands…it has to be exhausting. Ivar continues to prove that he’s still very much a child, pissing on Lagertha’s throne, ranting about revenge, and prancing a goat about in effigy of Lagertha.
For all Ivar is manic, King Harald is the exact opposite, for understandable reasons. While his group may have ‘won’, he lost his brother (by his own hand), and his wife…who he loved, for better or worse. It’s going to be interesting to see if his loyalties slowly start to shift away from Ivar as the show goes on–he’s older, wiser, and has ambitions of his own that don’t include a wild child.
One of the main reasons Ivar won the battle against Lagertha was the French troops that Rollo provided. As has been teased for a bit, we finally see Rollo (Clive Standen) in the flesh. We haven’t seen him in any real capacity for almost a season, so it’s great to see my favorite bear of a viking back in his former home, even if he looks much older, and much more tired.
Rollo has arrived to cash in the favor he made for Ivar: he wants to make an alliance for trade and co-protection, but it wants it to heavily favor the French. It makes sense, but it pisses off Ivar, who thinks he can always have his way. To his credit, Rollo doesn’t react, but simply lets him have his fit.
There is an ulterior motive to Rollo being in Kattegat as well. He wishes to seek out Bjorn and Lagertha, which he does in secret, of course. I’ll talk about their meeting in the next section, but suffice to say, it doesn’t go well. When he returns he provides Ivar the information regarding their location, but makes sure it was with enough buffer that Lagertha could escape. And with that, he leaves, heading back to France. I’ll discuss Rollo’s appearance a bit later on, but I really wish we could have seen him more. I understand why he only stayed for this one episode, but it was great to see a familiar face.
So here is where we find our little band of rebels: Lagertha, Heahmund, Bjorn, Ubbe, and Torvi (who is shacking up with Ubbe now, if you forgot). Lagertha’s hair is as white as it was in the previous episode–I assume just from the trauma she suffered. It’s fine; the wig is usually very natural, but at times it really shows itself to be a wig, and pulls me out of the action. Everyone knows that they aren’t going to be safe in Scandinavia very long; Ivar’s reach is long and many groups will sell them out to ensure they aren’t attacked. Despite everything she’s been through, Lagertha refuses to believe that her story is going to end here–I truly appreciate her strength, and willingness to go on in the face of tragedy after tragedy. Heahmund makes a case for them returning to England–Aethelwulf will accept them if they fight for them, but it will be a safer prospect than anything else. It also will allow those that want peace to have it: Ubbe, ever the one to dream, still wants to farm.
An aside here: I know many people don’t like Lagertha and Heahmund’s relationship. While I contend that it could be written much better, I truly love it. As someone who has always loved Lagertha, I have watched her suffer through one tragedy after another when it comes to love–everyone renounces her and/or fails her in the end. Heahmund may do the same, but right now he is providing her commitment and loyalty in a way she has rarely ever experienced, and I think it matters a great deal. He’s her Athelstan.
As everyone is planning, Rollo shows up, ready to drop some serious bombshells. As was hinted in my discussion with Clive Standen (you can read here), Rollo not only wants to try and make amends, but he also wants to spill some secrets he’s been keeping–or at least things he thinks are secrets.
Lagertha seems more than a bit conflicted over his arrival; she always cared about Rollo, but like every man in her life, he betrayed her. She doesn’t attack, but hears him out when he speaks of wanting to take them to France–because he still loves her…and believes Bjorn to be his son. Well, that is why he wanted to ensure Ivar didn’t kill the kid. While I think the revelation without the context provided by Clive is almost soap-opera-ish, the conversation that occurs due to it is one that I really enjoyed.
While Lagertha seems to refuse to see any truth in the news, Bjorn simply decides that it doesn’t matter, as he acts like Ragnar, therefore he is Ragnar’s son, regardless of who is his true father. And in many ways, that’s true; it makes me sad, though. Rollo, for all his faults, has always been more compassionate than Ragnar, and it would have been better for Bjorn to turn out more like his mother and Rollo–but fault lies with all three parties here, I think.
Rollo takes the rejection hard, but to his credit doesn’t attempt to stand up for himself, even when Bjorn throws a tantrum and threatens to kill Rollo for all he’s done. Instead, when Lagertha rejects the offer of France, he simply says that they will not see each other again, and heads back to Kattegat.
And with that, our little group of rebels head off towards England.
Well, we are also back in Greenland with Floki and his crew. I’m going to be honest: I still really hate this plotline. Maybe others enjoy it, and I’m in the minority…but there just isn’t anything to really hold my attention. I don’t find any of the characters (other than Floki) interesting. So often I just find myself yelling at the screen, “I don’t care!” — which shouldn’t be something I’m doing.
Suffice to say, after all the mess of the first half of the season, Floki feels like he’s failed the people, and is willing to sacrifice himself to the Gods if everyone wants it. The vote is relatively split, but eventually it comes down on the side of letting Floki live, because of course it does. So yep, that’s it. Back to the better stuff.
Ah, and now we hit Wessex, where things are almost completely down to young characters, save Judith. I’ll let you know right now that I’m worried they are going to be turning Judith into some conniving ‘Lady MacBeth’ type figure; she’s always been one of my favorites, but with what I saw in this episode, I’m concerned about how they will be using her, going forward.
Alfred, as he mentioned in the front half of the season, is very much interested in building up Wessex’s Navy, and trying to modernize the Church by having them teach and pray in English, so that everyone has the opportunity to learn. Of course, the Church being the Church is very much stuck in its ways and doesn’t want to enact any of the alterations.
The argument is soon abandoned when it’s found out that there is a group of Northmen attacking Winchester (a group of northmen we aren’t familiar with currently). Alfred sends Aethelred to go take care of the situation, and he does an excellent job of it. While we know that he’s upset by not being made king, there is a great deal of good in him–I’m glad they haven’t made him a buffoon or someone that we can’t root for.
So the point I made about Judith earlier–she’s already on Alfred to get married, and says she’ll find him a suitable wife. While the logic is sound (without heirs he’s vulnerable), it’s clear that Alfred dislikes the idea, but his mother is going to get what she wants, one way or another.
To join up the plot line with Vikings and Wessex, Heahmund, Lagertha and crew arrive to find out that Aethelwulf is dead, with Alfred on the throne. They aren’t attacked outright, but the vikings are put in a cage and taken to Wessex for ‘discussions’ to be had. Honestly, I’m not quite sure this is going to go well for anyone…but we’ll see.
Overall, I enjoyed this episode. Unlike some season (or mid-season) premieres, the bouncing about to catch up on everyone didn’t seem to drag the plot down. I think it helped that we are picking up immediately where we left off, and we haven’t expanded our cast much (if at all). Again, the only area that needs work is the Floki and Greenland storyline…but honestly, I don’t think there is any way it can be salvaged for me.