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“Vikings” Episode Review/Recap: "Invasion"

Dymon Lewis ‘15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Alyssa Sutherland and Travis Fimmel in the Vikings episode "Invasion." Photo Credit: Bernard Walsh/History Channel.
Alyssa Sutherland and Travis Fimmel in the Vikings episode “Invasion.” Photo Credit: Bernard Walsh/History Channel.

Continuing along at its breakneck speed, the second episode of Vikings opens up four years after the season premiere. It’s been four years of peace in Kattegan under Earl Ragnar’s (Travis Fimmel) reign, and his second-wife Princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) has managed to have two sons, with a third on the way.

This four year peace is broken when King Horik (Donal Logue) and Jarl Borg (Thorbjørn Harr) arrive in town, ready to make good on their pact to join forces with Ragnar and rape and pillage the hapless English. However, King Horik, still smarting over the terms of the pact, refuses to raid with Jarl Borg, and Ragnar opts to leave him behind. Why Ragnar thinks it’s smart to leave his village behind unprotected (Princess Aslaug ain’t no Warrior Lagertha) with a pissed Jarl Borg around the corner is beyond any sort of reasoning. Once the crew arrives in England, they discover they are in Wessex and meet the first big bad of season two: the legendary King Ecbert (Linus Roache), who is rumored to be just as badass as Ragnar. Apparently the English aren’t so hapless after all…

The dynamic between Ragnar and Rollo (Clive Standen) becomes increasingly complex this episode. Rollo has apparently spent the last four years in a David Hasselhoff style breakdown falling asleep drunk in snowbanks like a big old giant loser and requiring the constant supervision of the lovely Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig). An effective kick in the butt by the aforementioned lady leads Rollo to formally ask Ragnar’s forgiveness. Ragnar “forgives” Rollo, but forbids him from taking part in the raid.

Clive Standen and Travis Fimmel in the Vikings episode "Invasion." Photo Credit: Bernard Walsh/History Channel.
Clive Standen and Travis Fimmel in the Vikings episode “Invasion.” Photo Credit: Bernard Walsh/History Channel.

This “forgiveness” emasculates Rollo completely, but when tempted once again by Jarl Borg into betraying his brother, he resists. It appears that whatever independence Rollo gains will not be gained by betraying Ragnar, but from proving that he has the capacity to lead. Ragnar’s voyage to England is the perfect opportunity for Rollo to prove himself to the people he once betrayed.

This episode featured no Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), but the absence of her character was used to highlight the differences between her and Aslaug and how it impacts Ragnar’s style of reign. Whereas Ragnar and Lagertha ate with their friends, Ragnar and Aslaug eat alone above their subects. Princess Aslaug is not the lady of the people that Lagertha was. Aslaug’s attempt to befriend Siggy mirrors a season one scene where Siggy approached Lagertha asking her for a job. Lagertha’s scene spoke to her strength of character and ability to see Siggy beyond her role as wife to Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne), but as a woman now without a husband, and alone in the world. Aslaug’s scene is focused on her power and she reaches out to Siggy as a power play. Aslaug claims that because Ragnar has “forgiven” Rollo it is acceptable for them to be friends, but she takes care to remind her that it is she who is the wife of the Earl. Then again, Siggy’s romp in the sack with King Horik and offer to spill to him all of Ragnar’s weaknesses might lead her back to a position of power with or without Rollo.

This was a strong episode for Vikings and the introduction of this season’s first villain definitely puts viewers on edge—a wonderful, tune in next week edge.

Overall Episode Grade: B+

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