Previously on Vikings, ‘To the Gates!’
If you were hoping the sometimes-superhuman Ragnar would be better this week, sorry to say, he isn’t, because he’s still pissing blood. On top of that, the camp is miserable, rain is falling, their food is wet, and Floki is still emo. But, it’s time for another shot at Paris. That night, Lagertha and other shield maidens swim over and climb up the bridge, silently slicing their way through the guards to the gate tower where they’re slowed down by another dose of hot oil.
By contrast, Gisla hands out daggers to her own maidens—not to defend themselves, but to kill themselves instead of being taken alive. Lagertha uses the oil to her advantage, burning the gate open for their raiders including Earl “Hunk of Meat” Siegfried and Sinric, their living map. Floki leads the group down the drawbridge gangway, but the Franks release a gigantic spiked barrel that kills the stragglers. Before they can recall it, Rollo climbs over it and blocks its path with Erlendur’s door spikes, allowing the rest to climb back over it and fight. Odo is aghast, but Gisla enjoys the Shirtless Rollo view once again.
Count Odo begs the Emperor to man up and encourage the troops, but Charles refuses, saying he ain’t his grandpappy Charlemagne. His daughter, however, manages to get herself to the front line every 5 minutes, so you know who got all the Charlemagne genes.
Lagertha, Kalf, and Rollo (and Erlendur, but who cares about him) fight fiercely down the gangway, but the bottleneck makes the growing body pile into a problem. Floki calls that they can’t get through, so Rollo instructs them all to fall back, leaping through the drawbridge at the last second like a beast. Siegfried and Sinric don’t make it to safety, but Sinric claims they’re both important, so they are hauled to the throne room. Sinric declares that he’s just a harmless hippie wanderer. Odo mainly wants to know about the shirtless stud that keeps tearing up his guards.
“He fights like a crazy bear,” Sinric summarizes of Rollo.
Insert flashing neon lights here. Sinric the Harmless Hippie gets to live, but Gisla wants Siegfried’s head.
Siegfried is paraded through the streets to the block where Odo and Gisla await. Siegfried asks that someone hold his hair out of the way “for a clean cut,” but what he really means is, so I can jerk back at the last second and get the guard’s hands chopped off, then Villain Laugh before they mount my head on a spike in Dem Streets. Kind of hilarious. Speaking of, Dem Streets are filling up with plague victims, a common siege problem due to close quarters and poor nutrition/hygiene. Odo advises Charles to come to terms with the Vikings, but Gisla vehemently disagrees. Charles, who has already hit his limit on thinking for the day, blows up and wants to pray about it ALONE, i.e. punk out per usual.
Time Out: Kattegat
A Christian missionary is dragged into the great hall for preaching against “false gods.” Aslaug allows that Christ is a god, but their gods are greater, right? Every conversation with Aslaug right now probably ends with, “This reminds me of the time I banged Odin and you didn’t.” She challenges the missionary to a judgement of the gods. In his mind, he sees himself taking the red hot bar from the metal forge and walking it back to Aslaug, unharmed. What really happens… well, is painful reality. She sits placidly on the throne, amused, because Odin. That night, she puts the kids to bed, including the peaceful, growing Ivar, and blithely tells her guard to kill the Christian.
Time Out 2: Wessex
Back in her rich, fitted velvet dress, Judith looks more like herself. Ecbert reluctantly reports that Aethelwulf’s mission was successful and Judith sardonically replies, “Thank God.” All the right words, all the wrong tones. Some things need to be said, he drones, but others should only be understood, reiterating his promises of protection, namely from crazy people who rhyme with Baythelgulf. But, protection isn’t free, wink wink.
Judith goes to his bedroom where he’s waxing poetic in the moonlight. She interrupts, but if there is one thing that cannot be stopped, it’s a Man Soliloquy:
“What might have been and what has been point to one end, which is always present. Footsteps echo in the memory, down the passage we did not take towards the door we never opened. Somehow we are always here at this moment, you and I.”
What the entire eff? She replies that they aren’t always at this moment, just right now. He asks her to be his mistress, and she assents for Albert’s sake. I, however, wouldn’t have lived to see another day, seeing as how my eyes would have rolled to Mercia after that nonsense.
Aethelwulf returns home and brags that he successfully fended off Kwenthrith’s feminine wiles. Judith appreciates his fortitude, but she’s no hypocrite UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE. But his time away has put him in a Zen place, so today he’s on the Athelstan the Holy Sex Ambassador bandwagon. What’s REALLY giving him the agita, though, is the thought that Ecbert might have been trying to get him killed just to annex Mercia. Ecbert gasps and crosses himself in his best Lawd Have Mercy, swearing to be the first Saxon king to turn over his kingdom to his son and heir, and not just that, but all of England. Aethelwulf offers a dramatic toast to the world’s best dad, and, despite all of the flying side eyes, nobody chokes and dies. I know, I was shocked, too.
Time In: Battle for Ragnar’s Soul
Ragnar watches the battle from the hill, then vomits and begins hallucinating. Odin and his ravens hover over him. Athelstan reaches across the vail, then Odin flashes back in view. A pool of blood appears under Ragnar and he curls up into it, begging Athelstan not to abandon him. Again Odin, then Jesus, then a monster, and finally his own soul peers down at him, blue flames flickering on the ground. He fights feverishly for his life all night.
The next morning, Odo’s envoys arrive at the Viking camp with Sinric, who translates their desires to end the siege through a future meeting outside the city walls. Ragnar watches from his bed while Bjorn uses his height advantage to glare down at Odo’s lieutenant. Rollo takes Sinric back, boasting that they’ll find a way in soon, and then the other earls start arguing over what to do next. Ragnar interrupts and limps into the center, saying that he became earl and king, not because he wanted to, but because he needed to, thanks to other people’s actions. Erlendur responds with some twitching straight from the Lettie Mae School of Lip Acting (True Blood). But seeing as how he IS King Ragnar, he gets the last say if they are all quite done being losers. He coughs up more blood, declares they will meet the Franks tomorrow, then hustles Sinric off, muttering in his ear.
Early morning. Rollo discovers that Ragnar is already gone, so he, Lagertha, and Floki rush after him. Odo asks Ragnar how much treasure he wants to go away, like 5760 pounds of gold and silver (historically accurate). Ragnar says NOPE, but while Odo’s coming up with a new number, he wants to be baptized.
“I am a dying man, and when I die, I want to be reunited with my Christian friend who is in your heaven.”
The priest snorts that infidels go to hell, but Ragnar says that’s not his decision and walks into the Seine, demanding they do it now. When the priest lifts him out of the water, the Franks cross themselves to his right… and his scandalized contingent arrives on the left, each reflecting his betrayal in their own ways.
This episode felt a bit scattered to me. The Kattegat visit, in particular, seemed unnecessary, although it contrasted Aslaug’s easy dismissal of Christianity with Ragnar’s fevered desperation to spend eternity in Athelstan’s peaceful company. The Vikings will most likely walk away from this adventure with treasure and perhaps some land, but potentially without their leader. If Ragnar survives his injuries, how will this baptism change his relationships? Of course Floki will be offended, but what of Lagertha? What if she has been content to fight at his side and keep a boy toy while believing that she and Ragnar would spend eternity in Valhalla with their children? Or perhaps there is something more to this wish. Ragnar always has a plan, our “Bear” has a prophecy to fulfil, and next week is the season finale.