A New God
This was another great episode, one that included two marriages, and the foundations of some complex plots, that if carried forward, should lead to some interesting developments in future episodes. As a note: I’ve decided that rather than repeat what I’ve been saying about Floki and Iceland over and over again, I’ll no longer be covering that plot unless something actually starts to happen. Until then I will be leaving it out of my reviews.
So I was wrong last week in thinking that Ivar had sent assassins to kill Marge–it was Freydis! It’s clear by the way she reacts to Hvitserk’s drunken raving and accusations towards Ivar that she was the mastermind and kept her new husband entirely out of the loop. Honestly, I’m not really happy with this development. We’ve had enough conniving women in the show–Ivar should be able to stand on his own feet as a leader than be manipulated by his new wife (who already has him believing that he could actually get her pregnant!). I don’t mind Lady Macbeth types, but it’s a trope that has been used poorly on the show before (Aslaug), and I’d prefer not to see it done again. I have a feeling I’m not going to get my wish, especially when Freydis cleans up loose ends by killing the slave that got her pregnant and killed Mar.
We also find out that Harald is headed back towards York, and is more than willing to make thinly veiled threats towards Ivar’s power structure before he does so. This comes on the heels of Hvitserk pointing out that the people of Kattegat don’t love his brother, and he will be sticking around to ensure his brother can’t ruin their father’s legacy.
For all I fear for Ivar’s development, I truly appreciate that of Hvitserk–he’s been the oft overlooked brother as of late, but I think he’s the dark horse in this all, and might end up be the one who takes down Ivar, after all.
We end our time in Kattegat with Ivar preparing to sacrifice someone. All the people of Kattegat are brought out to watch, regardless if they wish to or not. This is done in perpetuation of Ivar’s idea that he is a ‘God,’ goaded on by his wife. It will be interesting to see next week if we know who the sacrifice actually is–the first pre-season trailer teased that it was Lagertha, but we know due to timing, it can’t be her.
Things are being shaken up in Wessex as well; the death of Cuthred at the hands of Heahmund puts Alfred in a difficult position given his already shaky hold on the crown. Despite this, Alfred is willing to listen to Heahmund about the ‘conspiracy’ against his life–and seemingly believes our hypocritical priest. While there is a plot, I find it difficult to believe that Heahmund killed Cuthred for any other reason than ensuring his affair with Lagertha wasn’t found out.
Alfred discusses the matters with his mother and brother–and his brother is incredibly annoyed with the idea that Alfred might give Heahmund his position back; we find out later that Aethelred is to be wed to Cuthred’s daughter–so there is even more of a reason for him to have resentment towards the situation. If there wasn’t a rift between the brothers before, there certainly is one growing now.
An aside–I think Ferida Walsh-Peelo is doing an amazing job as Alfred. His talk with God and Eckbert is a lovely speech, elevated more by his acting than the script. Michael Hirst (showrunner) has shown that his scripts are only as strong as his actors, these days, and we are lucky to have Ferdia as Alfred the Great.
Another reason I adore Alfred–he meets with Princess Elsewith again and once more explains why he may not be the best husband due to his Kingdom’s current situation, and lets her choose if she wishes to stay or not. Elsewith says she is more than willing to accept a challenge, and accepts Alfred’s marriage proposal, letting them get married the next day. Despite her dalliance with Bjorn, I really hope she turns out to be a good partner to Alfred–he needs a smart, capable woman at his side.
Things aren’t going so well for our British Vikings. While Lagertha is trying to balance everything (a conflicted Heahmund, a rebellious son), Bjorn is just being an unrepentant asshole. The man refuses to see reason or any form of compromise–something they must do given their lack of power. Ubbe, however, is still very much willing to work with Alfred and will be converting with Torvi, as Ragnar once did.
I understand the lack of control is frustrating to Bjorn, but the man has not shown himself to have any sort of leadership capabilities in a long time; all he does is throw fits and do things to undermine his family, at this point.
This continues when ‘Magnus’ introduces himself. Magnus, if you remember, is the supposed love child between Queen Kwenthrith and Ragnar. Magnus finds Bjorn and informs him that Alfred’s family threw him to the wolves, and without any proof of his lineage or truth to his story, Bjorn believes him. It’s clear that Magnus is laying the ground to try and manipulate Bjorn to kill Alfred–we’ll see if he’s stupid enough to fall for it. I actually like Magnus being introduced back into the story–he was a loose end that was never tied up, and he definitely is a character that works well in this sort of storyline. I just wish that Bjorn wasn’t so susceptible to this type of manipulation, now.
We are introduced back to York once more, where the Ivar-affiliated Vikings have been in control of the town since they pillaged it in the first half of the season. In truth I had forgotten about that, so it’s glad we’re returning. Harald arrives and greets X [his name is weird] and starts to try and win the man over to his side–away from Ivar.
The lure of attacking Wessex and it’s weak King seems enough of a lure for X and he claims that when Harald goes raiding, he’ll join. I’m not sure if I trust him–but again, it’s an interesting development.
Everything this week moved at a pretty good clip, and save some of the developments within Kattegat, I’m feeling much better about this half of the season that I did about the previous. It will be interesting to see where this goes, next.