Previously on Vikings, “A New God”
In Vikings, sacrifices are the spiritual high point of each season, revealing with firelight and chanting something critical about Kattegat’s state of being. In Season 1, Athelstan experienced the full meaning of the Viking way when he was almost sacrificed in Uppsala. Season 2 brought us the sacred “Blood Eagle” of Jarl Borg which solidified Ragnar’s trajectory towards kingship and the oneness of him and his people. Season 3 included Floki’s sacrifice of Athelstan before Paris in “Born Again,” severing Ragnar’s lifeline to compassion and reason. Season 4 included the dark, drug-filled sacrifice of “Yol” which revealed fracture lines between Aslaug, Ragnar, and Kattegat. Late season 4 brought the triumphant voluntary sacrifice of Earl Jorgensen after Lagertha reclaims Kattegat, juxtaposing the profane blood eagle of Aelle in “Revenge.” Thirteen episodes into Season 5 and the only sacrifice thus far was a short-lived one in “A Simple Story” when Aud officiated the dedication of Thor’s temple and it burned down that night, clinching the disastrous downswing of their young settlement. “The Lost Moment” more than makes up for it, wrapping terror, fake news, and gaslighting all into one. It’s the kind of late-Vikings-era horror show one imagines became the soul-killing, blood-drinking heathen cliché.
In past sacrifices, the priest emphasized willingness in the participant; this time, the victim isn’t even who Ivar says she is: Lagertha. It’s just some poor blond woman dressed in fighting leathers, crying that she isn’t Lagertha (although if someone told me she was Winnick’s stunt double, I wouldn’t be surprised) as she’s hauled up by the feet, throat slit, and burned. Despite his having the priests proclaiming him a god, someone in the crowd yells, “What the hell?!” One bold shieldmaiden screams that it isn’t Lagertha and others follow suit. Kattegat’s people are not Ivar fans, and despite series creator Michael Hirst’s enthusiastic interviews to the contrary, it seems questionable that anyone could be, thanks to this murder-in-effigy. Ivar has a perfectly valid point, yet seems unable to function as anything but a Batman villain.
Meanwhile Hvitserk seethes in the wings with a new Aslaug-lite lover, calls him out at dinner, and shoulder checks his body guards on the way out into the rain where Thor’s hammer rings out over the smoking body. For him, “The Lost Moment” was many episodes ago when he chose Ivar over Ubbe. The Seer, who’s moaned for many seasons about living in the ground and has now dug himself a little hole in the ground like an old dog, tells Hvitserk that eventually he will accomplish what others have failed to, “but the cost will be too high.” Unable to brook anyone with sense left in Kattegat, Ivar follows up by a visit to the Seer himself, and, after hearing he’s got “snakes in your skull and your eyes betray you” (poetic way of saying, “You’re batshit crazy and everybody knows it.”), he murders the Seer, who’d seen his own death and immolation coming at the last moment. Considering the Seer already felt himself to be dead or at least between life and death, it is possible that Ivar still might not be able to escape this haunting conscience of the Viking Age, but his body is certainly dead. Another Season 1 character down, rest in Valhalla.
Don’t Scroll Past This Time, Iceland is Slightly Interesting
Iceland’s saga at last hits a crucial peak as the moment for peace is lost. Jack McEvoy pulls at heart strings as Helgi tearfully pleads with Eyvind, hands on his father’s face like a child, to know his wife’s fate. Eyvind protests that he’d do nothing to the carrier of his future grandchild. But in another thunderstorm, Floki envisions the missing Thorunn (Mei Bignall). She reveals that Helgi’s brother Asbjorn lured her to the waterfall, accused her of bewitching Helgi, and killed her. As she turns to reveal her burial site, she exposes a horrifying open-brain wound with Sixth Sense aplomb–chilling and impressive. Despite Rafarta’s raging lie that Thorunn killed herself, the murder and her resting place proves true. At their community Thing later, Asbjorn wins the Worst Viking Brother award from longtime-title-holder Rollo when he, having slaughtered his brother’s wife and unborn child in premeditated cold blood, tells Helgi how bothersome it is that he cries all the time. Weirdly, not one person in Eyvind’s family condemns Asbjorn and his mother defends him! So Floki banishes the entirety of Eyvind’s bloodline because they are trash, and that includes Helgi. So awkward for him.
The largest lost moment of the hour is on the eve of battle. Alfred calls in his chips with the new Vikings as Harald’s army approaches, wondering if they might betray him. Ubbe steps in as a semi-father/brother figure, cutting Alfred’s hair and teaching him to fight, starting with a classically comedic scene of tossing axes at him and coolly advising, “Don’t be afraid.” Emboldened by his Man Time, Alfred tells Aethelred how much he values and treasures his love and loyalty as a brother, unknowingly laying that anvil of guilt on THICK. So, once he gets in front of the conspiring council to announce war plans, Aethelred, freshly layered in guilt and embarrassing marital bliss with his new wife Ethelfled, is unable to pull the trigger on overthrowing his brother. The best part is the knowing looks from Vikings In Attendance as Aethelred, stricken with the most obvious case of the Fratricide Sweats ever, punks all the way out. Even Heahmund looks like he wants to send Aethelred to his room, and you know what he did two episodes ago.
Speaking of brothers, Bjorn seems ready to allow their newly discovered maybe-brother Magnus into the fold, or at least ready to provoke everyone else with his existence, but with other things on their mind, Ubbe and Lagertha put him on ice, which instantly breeds resentment. If Magnus had hoped for acceptance, a good start might have been toning down the lies about Ragnar tearfully embracing him and saying he loved him as much as the others. Sure, Ragnar might have lied about having sex with Kwenthrith, but Ragnar was never that effusive. Ubbe knows that and shuts down entirely while Magnus goes from pumped to dumped. Did Crazy Kwen and Ragnar have sex? Honestly, probably, but I’ve never believed Magnus was even Kwenthrith’s son, much less Ragnar’s. The important thing is, Magnus believes he’s their progeny and wants to make everyone pay for that fact.
Ramping up his florid vows by the episode, Heahmund declares his love for Lagertha and claims he’d go to hell for her. The strength of his declarations seems borderline Protesteth Too Much, so that remains to be seen. Continuing in the key of potential betrayal, Harald meets Jarl Olavson’s wife, Gunnhild, during their approach up the river. Played by Ragga Ragnars (short for Ragnheiður Ragnarsdóttir), an Icelandic record holder and Olympic swimmer, Gunnhild gets Harald’s attention and Olavson’s side eye when she proclaims belief in their cause, his future marital prospects, and his success, mirroring his phrase, “I feel it in my entrails.” She’s the first shield maiden we’ve seen in many years who was not directly trained by Lagertha, and because Harald is completely unable to remain chill around anything remotely female, he asks her immediately if she thinks they’ve been drawn together by fate. She gets his obvious drift, but says she only knows she’s supposed to be here for some fated reason and wants to betray no one. Hide yo kids, hide yo wife, ’cause Harald is up in here wondering why they’re not his instead of just finding a single woman.
With “The Lost Moment,” we move on to the second episode block directed by Stephen St Leger, who’s worked on Vikings as second unit director since Season 3’s “Paris.” Experienced in epic battle scenes and final episodes for major characters like Ragnar and Aelle, St Leger directs this and the following episode, “Hell,” so set your expectations now.
Vikings S5E14 Review Score
"The Lost Moment"
Starring: Katheryn Winnick, Gustaf Skarsgård, Georgia Hirst, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Alexander Ludwig, Alex Høgh Andersen, Jordan Patrick Smith, Peter Franzén, Marco Ilsø, Jennie Jacques, Adam Copeland, Kris Holden-Ried, Leah McNamara, Jack McEvoy, Roisin Murphy, Dean Ridge, Alicia Agneson, Tomi May, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Darren Cahill, Donna Dent, Ragga Ragnars, Scott Graham, Elijah Rowen, Ann Skelly | Director: Stephen Saint Leger | Writer: Michael Hirst