The Most Terrible Thing
Sometimes I feel this show is one step forward, two steps back. While we had a great episode last week, I feel the plot was once again spinning its wheels this week, save in Iceland that had some strange developments that seem counterproductive at worst, and abortive at best. Again, I think a lot of the issues within the show fall to the extended episode order–there are simply too many episodes with not enough plot to fill them. I genuinely wish they would cut back on the episode count if only to make the plot tighter, and given that it was recently announced that next season will be the last, the show could really do with some retooling so that it can go out on a high note.
Surprisingly, little happens in England, despite the developments last week. While Alfred recovers in time to stumble into Aethelred’s funeral, it seems everyone believes he died of just a sickness. When pressed privately, however, Judith owns up to what she did–and Alfred throws the most ridiculous fit. I hate to say it, but it reminds me of the ‘throwing everything’ fit that Johnny has at the end of The Room. Which really, for a King, is ridiculous–and in the end it accomplishes nothing, as Judith just tells Alfred that Kings have to do distasteful things, and he will have to live with them. However, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Alfred who killed his brother, so from my standpoint she seems to be trying to manipulate more than teach.
Of course, if anything will come of this–time will tell. Right now, the Danish vikings (those are a thing, apparently) are nearly to Wessex and will outnumber the British. Ubbe wishes to be put at the head of the army to ensure they win, and I think Alfred is going to give it to him–while I think Ubbe’s reasoning is sound, it isn’t going to endear Alfred to the nobles any more than he already has.
In York, there isn’t much going on but relationship drama–something I had hoped we had left behind after Heahmund died. But no, it seems Harald isn’t happy that he doesn’t get Gunnhild for himself, and Bjorn is determined to needle him for it. Of course, Gunnhild is also acting oddly; she may be playing both sides, or just manipulating Harald in an attempt to get more information for Bjorn. Bjorn himself confesses that he’s in love for the first time, which seems a bit of a retcon, given his past relationships…but hey, whatever the writers want, right? We’ll see if he gave his heart to the right woman, or if karma is finally catching up with him for every woman he’s done wrong.
I said I wouldn’t talk about this place unless something interesting happened–I suppose killing off half the people that reside on the island counts? Revenge is taken, someone commits suicide, and I think we’re down to literally three people left here. With the mass murder happening this episode, all I can reason is they are killing everyone off to drive Floki back to Norway. Which would be fine with me; everyone seems tired of this plotline, including the actors.
Very little happened here in Kattegat this week; very little happened last week, as well, which worries me. I’m assuming that due to how Iceland heavy this episode was, Kattegat got the short straw, meaning next week we can move the plot forward more. Ivar decides to send Hvitserk to be an emissary to Count Olaf. It’s clearly a test to see how faithful his brother can be, one that holds the threat of danger towards Hvitserk’s new lady-love (Thora, we finally got her name!) if he should refuse the mission. While Ivar’s actions were spurred on by Freydis, it was good to see Ivar continuing to act less mad and more like the conniver we saw in past seasons. I’m also hoping that by removing Hvitserk from Kattegat and putting him in a new setting, his characterization might continue to grow as well–it has potential, but I still have my reservations.