Dymon Lewis ’14 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Despite some awkward cuts to Athelstan’s (George Blagden) detainment in Wessex under the care of King Ecbert (Linus Roache), this latest installment of Vikings was focused on the complicated love pentagon comprised of Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), Princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland), Rollo (Clive Standen) and Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig).
While Lagertha and Bjorn’s (Alexander Ludwig) return is welcomed (especially since they have brought much-needed warriors), it is not without its complications. Ragnar is clearly not over his first wife and would be more than content for her to stay, and Rollo’s previous infatuation with Lagertha has not been forgotten by Siggy. And though Siggy is happy to see Lagertha even if she fears Rollo is still in love with her, Lagertha’s encounter with Princess Aslaug is much more complicated.
While it is natural to expect a no-holds barred catfight (or at least a war of words) between Ragnar’s past and present wife, both women are far too classy for such behavior. Lagertha is warm and inviting to Princess Aslaug and also affectionate to Ragnar’s young sons. While Princess Aslaug is deeply indebted to her for her aid in Kattegat’s time of need. If anything the cordial relations between the five characters is almost too easy. Lagertha leaves to return to her husband but leaves Bjorn with his father; Aslaug and Ragnar are still together and happy; Rollo tells Siggy that he loves her and not Lagertha. It then stands to reason that the next episode of Vikings will disrupt this peace completely. The plot never stays neat and tidy on Vikings for long.
The battle with Jarl Borg’s (Thorbjørn Harr) forces also gives Bjorn a chance to shine. Despite his massive size (he’s even taller than Clive Standen), Alexander Ludwig is able to infuse in his portrayal of Bjorn the same earnestness and childhood awe of his father as his young predecessor, Nathan O’Toole. In this episode viewers got to watch father and son fight side by side for the first time. And while his Uncle Rollo offered Bjorn praise, Ragnar informed his first born son that he had much to learn. Ragnar is not a humble man and while he may be proud of Bjorn, Bjorn as an up-and-coming warrior is still a threat to his position of power. We also got to see the difference between father and son. Whereas Ragnar urged his friends not to fear death but to embrace it, Bjorn instead urged them to find safety in the gods. This difference may prove to the undoing of this recently reformed father-son relationship.
Over in Wessex, Athelstan has managed to become some sort of Pagan religious advisor/captive to King Ecbert. His exact role in the court is murky but he does help a battered wife escape a branding as an adulterer when he counsels King Ecbert to believe the woman’s version of events over her husband’s version. As with other episodes this season (since he’s returned to his homeland anyway), Athelstan is plagued with visions of religious mania.
In this episode he imagined the Virgin Mary but then she transformed into the battered woman he encountered earlier and rewards him with a kiss. Later at Mass he imagines a crucifix crying tears of blood. Despite these visions, Athelstan declines to partake in the Eucharist. This however is not an act reinforcing his paganism but rather a powerful Christian statement. Athelstan does not partake in the Eucharist not because he has renounced his faith, but because he feels unworthy. He does not feel that Christ is with him in his heart so he cannot take the sacrament. It is not until he is praying and imagines (or is it real?) an attack from a demon that he seems to reclaim his forgotten Christianity.
Despite Jarl Borg’s retreat and evacuation from Kattegat it is obvious that he is still a threat to Ragnar and his people. And with English land still ripe for the taking, the next episode of Vikings is set to introduce some plot twists to keep viewers guessing.
Overall Episode Grade: B+