Previously on Vikings, ‘Warrior’s Fate’
Bjorn carries Porunn into a tent, her face covered in a horrific bandage. Aethelwulf, high on victory, temporarily removes the stick from his ass and tries to chat up Rollo and Floki with simple Norse about friendship and fighting. Rollo warily agrees, but Floki turns his scowl up to 11, then yells at Rollo. Rollo reminds him that there are alliances amongst the gods, too. Floki dredges up Rollo’s baptism, saying he can see he’s “drunk from the poisoned chalice,” and stomps off. Foreshadowing!
Down by the water, Kwinthreth offers to help with Ragnar’s pain, then surprises him by peeing on his wound. I’m not sure if it actually helped or if he was so amused that he felt better, but he sits up to say her brother is weak and will be her downfall. Likewise Kwen says Ecbert is looking out for his own interests. We leave them about to get it on.
On the other hand, Athelstan and Judith finally get over their moral issues and make love, trading I love you’s. Ecbert and Lagertha are not so frivolous with their declarations. He asks her to stay, but she declines due to her responsibilities, and, anyway, he only thinks of himself. Some cream for that burn, Ecbert?
On the ship back to Wessex, Burgred complains to Kwen about being a prisoner and/or puppet of Ragnar and Ecbert. Floki comes to a revelation: it isn’t Ragnar who brought the Christ God into their lives. (Hint: it’s Athelstan) Despite Floki’s eye daggers, Ragnar, for his part, is perfectly satisfied with his own deeds and would have no trouble facing Odin, himself a wanderer full of curiosity.
The group arrives back at court to great fanfare. Ecbert tosses Judith into Aethelwulf’s arms, major awkwardness ensuing over his shoulder between her and Athelstan. Kwen shuffles her little brother over to seek Ecbert’s forgiveness. Ragnar of course pimp swaggers down the red carpet and beelines for Lagertha, circling like a bemused shark as they mutually snark on their “sacrifices” in the field. Look at her hair—almost Aliens queen-esque.
As the party cranks up, Aethelwulf tosses an arm around Ragnar, apparently still on Mission These Savages Aren’t So Bad, who replies as only he can: “I don’t like you.” Joining the Party Pooper category, Athelstan sulks over his impending choice between his homeland and his adopted land. Bjorn, too, frets over Porunn in a back room, and finally we see her devastated face. She pushes him away, fearing he won’t want her now, and he replies, “Don’t say that,” kissing her bloody forehead. But he doesn’t disagree.
Ecbert drunkenly group hugs Athelstan and Lagertha, once again enticing them to stay. Lagertha is all, no means no, and Athelstan escapes to find Ragnar hiding in plain sight like the introvert he is, wearing a helmet and crouching behind a gate, almost confessional-like. In that spirit, Athelstan admits he and Judith are involved, to which Ragnar replies that they’re all free to do as they wish. What does Athelstan wish? To follow Judith into a dark corner and kiss her under the voyeuristic eyes of Floki. Once he watched to protect; this time? Blackmail.
Best Scene Ever Alert:
Ecbert and Ragnar sit shoulder to shoulder, mirroring each other’s pose as they discuss how Ecbert plans to rule Mercia through Kwen and Burgred. Ragnar asks if Ecbert thinks he’s a good man. He does, and Ragnar says he is as well. Corrupt? “Oh yes,” they chuckle.
Meanwhile Floki perches like a giant stork on a pillar outside; he’s that one guy at a party that’s always outside being morose. The gods are angry, he pronounces, and he worries for the day he’ll have to choose between them and Ragnar. Rollo believes that he’ll never need to. Floki blows a raspberry. Mature.
Athelstan finally gives Ecbert the news that he plans to go back, but Ecbert says that’s a bad idea. Speaking of bad ideas waiting back at home, Lagertha still believes her earldom is watched by a good man. Rollo, speaking for all backstabbers, states: “All men have ambition.”
Women do, too. Once the party winds down to royals only, Kwen makes a pretty speech about victory over her abusers and moving on, toasting Burgred. He professes his love for her and drinks. Ragnar looks nauseated by the emotional display until Kwinthreth pours her drink out and Burgred chokes, poisoned. Everyone looks aghast, but Ragnar seems intrigued. She requests that they raise their cups to the one and only ruler of Mercia. “To the Queen,” Ragnar toasts in his twitchy way. Ecbert, bemused, follows his lead, and then, one by one, they all pour out their wine onto the floor, tossing their cups into the circle. Never underestimate crazy bitches, my friends.
When Ivar starts screaming again, Aslaug wonders where Harbard is, still not on board with the idea that his help isn’t cheap. Siggy tells her to get a hold of herself, but Harbard appears to help as requested. Siggy demands to know who he is. “You know who I am,” he replies, saying he wishes he was a god.
Later Siggy busts Aslaug for stepping out, ominously accepting the responsibility of the family and village while Aslaug asserts her royal right to do what she damn pleases. Aslaug finds Harbard, and he spins a tale of a son he beget who is now a great leader, then leads her into a fish curing shed. Mesmerized and possibly enthralled, Aslaug has sex with him on the salt-and-icy-fish-blood-covered table. Yum. Meanwhile, Siggy sits on the throne she once occupied, stroking Aslaug’s fur wrap.
Ubbe and Hvitserk ask Siggy where their mother is. She explains that Aslaug seeks Harbard for help with Ivar and one day they’ll understand what a mother sacrifices for her children. When she turns her back, they run outside. By the time she spots them, they’re already halfway across the frozen lake. Are they being compelled or just being troublesome boys?
In her fear, she removes her shoes and follows across the ice, barefoot, trying to call them back, but then the ice cracks. She races across the ice, cape flowing behind, and plunges in to save them. When she emerges with the first boy, a vision of her now-grown daughter receives the boy. She plunges under again and pushes the second boy up, this time into Harbard’s arms. He glances knowingly at her bloodied hand as it slips off the ice and she sinks below. This whole scene was so dreamily shot. As an end, it’s perhaps the best one Siggy could have hoped for—protecting the heirs at the expense of her own ambitions, earning her a place with the heroes.
On his next visit to the considerably colder hall, Harbard agrees it’s time to go. After all, Ivar is on the mend, and Siggy is happy in Valhalla with her family. Don’t believe him? Ask the Seer. Harbard lets himself out into the fog and disappears before Helga’s eyes. Somebody better check on the Seer ASAP.
Einar is all aflutter about Lagertha returning in glory with battle-hardened warriors and how that could mean trouble for their Evil Plans, but Kalf isn’t worried. In fact, he’s so not worried, he goes to bed with two women and wakes up to his backup plan arriving—two people even smoother-faced than he is: Erlendur, Horik’s son, and the late Jarl Borg’s wife, Torvi, along with Borg’s baby son. BUM BUM BUMMM. Erlendur is young and tiny—Kalf humorously stoops way down to speak to him—but those names still carry a lot of weight.
I loved this episode. The loss of Siggy was tragic and shocking, but done in such a lovely way. How will Rollo react, considering their tumultuous relationship? Harbard’s favors cost a heavy price indeed, consistent with the stories of Odin, who himself gave an eye for wisdom. Ivar’s peace cost the lives of two boys and a powerful woman, so this says something about his importance going forward. As for Harbard’s dalliance with Aslaug, the story he told is reminiscent of the fable of Rig, the avatar of Heimdall, who visited women of every station across the world and fathered leaders in those realms, which suggests he may have left a Halfling behind in Kattegat. As for Kalf’s surprise, I worry about Lagertha coming home to a village full of royal sympathizers. Can she take them on and win? What other dangers lie ahead for our raiders?