Dymon Lewis ’14 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Triumvirates don’t work. It didn’t work for Julius Caesar, Pompeius Magnus, and Marcus Crassus and it’s certainly not working for Earl Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), Earl Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), and King Horik (Donal Logue) in “Boneless.”
While theoretically three leaders should create some semblance of a fair and balanced power structure, what it ends up creating are three leaders vying for control and trying to create alliances. The triumvirate of Lagertha, Ragnar and Horik is especially tenuous since Horik is a king—he is superior to them both. Furthermore Lagertha and Ragnar’s personal issues keep them mildly estranged. Being demoted by your husband from “wife” to “first wife” for a younger, more fertile female is bound to make Lagertha bitter—no matter how brave a face she wears.
While in turn Ragnar feels abandoned by his first wife. All three members of the triumvirate are skilled leaders and brave warriors but in order to succeed only one can really bear the mantle of “official decision-maker”—a mantle Ragnar has taken for himself. Though he is infuriating, Ragnar does deserve the right to be the “official decision-maker”: he speaks the language, he has a close relationship with Athelstan (George Blagden) who is now an important member of the Wessex Royal Court and he is clearly the most visionary of the triumvirate. Horik’s decision to ambush King Ecbert’s son, Aethelwulf of Wessex (Moe Dunford), shows how short-sighted the King is. In his quest for vengeance he has destroyed a powerful alliance that could have benefitted Vikings and English Christians alike.
Over in Wessex there is no such jostling for power. King Ecbert (Linus Roache) plays host for the wayward Princess Kwenthrith of Mercia (Amy Bailey). King Ecbert forms an alliance with the Princess and suggests that they use the Vikings as mercenaries to eliminate those family members of hers that wish to take her throne. Princess Kwenthrith is definitely the best new character of this season and it is unfortunate there are only two more episodes in which to see her. She is confident, forthright and sexually voracious—after bedding King Ecbert, she then takes on three of his guards. Princess Kwenthrith is the first female character on Vikings who has been shown using her sexuality freely to charm her contemporaries while also enjoying herself. She’s not the kind of person who could be bullied into bed but she can easily tire out King Ecbert but not lose his respect. She is no one’s whore and her fascination with the Vikings will make their future interaction interesting.
Before going on a raid it’s important to settle matters at home and “Boneless” was an episode used to do just that. Princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) gave birth to her prophesied “monster” of a son, Ivar the Boneless. Though historically Ivar did have the title of “Boneless,” historians have no official explanation of what the title meant with answers ranging from that he was born without legs to Ivar being especially flexible so that he appeared to not have bones.
Vikings took the middle path and had the child born with malformed, boneless legs that ensured the baby would never walk. While Ragnar, and even Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig), counseled Aslaug to let the baby die since he was crippled, Aslaug refused to kill her child. Though the character is not as beloved as Lagertha, Aslaug’s devotion to her children is exemplary. In a show full of warriors displaying overt strength, Aslaug represents pure femininity and motherhood. Over in Hedeby, Lagertha retuns home to inform her kingdom that she will be joining Ragnar to raid. The new earl is adored by her people and the numerous shield-maidens that attend her show that in her kingdom women have a great deal of power.
“Boneless” also had amazing cinematography. The birth of Ivar the Boneless, Lagertha riding with her shield-maidens back to Hedeby, the departure of the ships to Wessex with the women and children watching from atop the hills—all breathtaking. Vikings is a visual feast.
Only two more episodes to go. Will there be another major death this season? Let’s hope so.
Overall Episode Grade: A