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“Vikings” Recap/Review: “Unforgiven”

Dymon Lewis ’14 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Clive Standen in the Vikings episode "Unforgiven." Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession/History Channel.
Clive Standen in the Vikings episode “Unforgiven.” Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession/History Channel.

This was not a good episode to be a lady on Vikings. Not a good episode at all.

While the subjugation of various female characters on this latest episode of Vikings was believable and crafted well, it was still very disappointing. It’s easy for viewers to believe and accept that women in fifth century Viking culture would have been dominated by their male counterparts—women in modern society are still being dominated by their male counterparts. What makes Vikings so striking is the complexity, strength, and power of the series’ female characters. While the female characters certainly didn’t have it easy (no one has it easy on Vikings) their hardships were not simply because of their gender. They had human troubles not female troubles. That changed this episode.

Alyssa Sutherland and Travis Fimmel in the Vikings episode "Unforgiven." Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession/History Channel.
Alyssa Sutherland and Travis Fimmel in the Vikings episode “Unforgiven.” Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession/History Channel.

Both Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig) and Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) were abused this episode by men of authority as a direct result of their gender. While Lagertha’s relationship with her second husband has never been portrayed as loving in the series, their antagonism reached a new level when the Earl had her beaten by three men and then further humiliated her by attempting to expose her breasts at dinner in front of their subjects. Siggy willingly had sex with King Horik (Donal Logue) earlier in the second season, but in this episode she was forced by the gross king to have sex with his son while he watched. And Kattegat being as small as it is, of course Rollo found out and was not pleased. While Lagertha got her revenge by stabbing her husband in the eye and then watching as he was executed by one of his own men, Siggy’s humiliation seemingly has no end in sight.

This second season of Vikings has focused on the struggles of being a ruler and the different approaches the characters take to being a leader. King Ecbert (Linus Roache), Earl Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), Jarl Borg (Thorbjørn Harr), and King Horik are very unique and flawed men. Though they come from two very different kingdoms, Ragnar and Ecbert are the most alike. Both men are forward thinkers; they are rulers that can see weaknesses of their cultural tradition and the potential success in exploration, modernization, and other ways of life. Ecbert can see the value in ancient Roman art and history while Ragnar can appreciate a Christian god and bountiful soil of England. Jarl Borg revealed particularly hidden depths in this episode when he whipped out the skull of his dead first wife, consulted it for advice, and then French-kissed it—right in front of his pregnant, new wife.  King Horik is the sleaziest ruler by far, and his motivations are the most muddled. No one really knows what side King Horik is on, and perhaps the only side he is on is his own.

Alexander Ludwig in the Vikings episode "Unforgiven." Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession/History Channel.
Alexander Ludwig in the Vikings episode “Unforgiven.” Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession/History Channel.

The climax of this season is still unclear. King Ecbert can only be brought back into play if our Viking warriors return to England. However, it is clear that Ragnar and Horik’s forces combined could not mount any kind of successful war-band without Jarl Borg’s help. Ragnar’s desire for revenge however renders this three-way alliance completely unfeasible. Jarl Borg’s life hangs in the balance as Ragnar prepares to get revenge on the man via the horrific blood eagle. While these three Nordic rulers war between themselves, King Ecbert is preparing for their return.

Overall Episode Grade: B

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