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“Vikings” Review/Recap: "Treachery"

Dymon Lewis ‘14 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Gustaf Skarsgård and Travis Fimmel in the Vikings episode "Treachery." Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession/History Channel.
Gustaf Skarsgård and Travis Fimmel in the Vikings episode “Treachery.” Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession/History Channel.

Season two episode three of Vikings gave us the return of Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) and (the bigger, but not necessarily better) Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig), the decimation of Kattegan at the hands of a very pissed Jarl Borg (Thorbjørn Harr), and a potential moving day for the boys in Wessex.

In other words, stuff went down.

Athelstan (George Blagden) took center stage this episode as he grappled with his dueling identities: former Christian monk and current pagan Viking warrior. As noted by an ever-suspicious Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård), just because Athelstan wears the armband of a free man and claims to worship Odin, his heart may still be devoted to Christ. While Athelstan is comfortable showing his new Viking brothers where the Christians hide their precious treasure (demonstrating that he possesses a value greater than his subpar fighting prowess), he is forced to confront the reality of the situation when he brutally murders a young monk and later when the head priest denounces him as an apostate and threatens him with crucifixion. Athelstan’s confliction is made public when he mercy-kills the head priest rather than watch him continue be tortured. While Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) is curious about Christianity almost to the point of being charmed by its tenets and values, characters like King Horik (Donal Logue) and Floki actively abhor the religion since Christian priests preach that their polytheistic religion is false.

Ragnar further proves that he is a forward-thinking Viking when he makes the argument to King Horik that the true wealth of England lays in its rich soil. Instead of raiding the land, Ragnar—the descendant of many farmers—argues, they should be farming it. King Ecbert (Linus Roache) is a striking counterpart to Ragnar in that he is also more forward-thinking than the Christian leaders the show has previously introduced. King Ecbert has been preparing for an attack from northern raiders and lets the town of Wessex fall to Ragnar and company to further study their attack patterns. It’s unclear what effect the murder of his son by King Horik, during what should have been a peaceful meeting, will have on the calm and cool demeanor King Ecbert has heretofore displayed, but he has already shown that he will be a formidable foe for Ragnar.

Thorbjørn Harr in the Vikings in the Vikings episode "Treachery." Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession/History Channel.
Thorbjørn Harr in the Vikings episode “Treachery.” Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession/History Channel.

Back in Kattegan, a recently married and very pissed off Jarl Borg leads an attack on the almost defenseless town. Since all the best warriors are busy raiding England, the call to arms is taken up by the old, the very young and the generally not good-at-fighting to be led by the perpetually drunk Rollo (Clive Standen), though to his credit he sobers up real quick. Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) proves she can’t hold a candle to Lagertha when she responds to the impending battle with sheer helplessness, while Siggy proves she’s a badass when she dons armor and grabs a sword and shield though she’s clearly no shield-maiden. The massacre of the townspeople by Jarl Borg is horrifying brutal—and almost identical to the massacre that befell the innocent English townspeople at the hands of the show’s “Viking heroes”.  This parallel is an important one. Though the viewer is meant to root for Ragnar and his merry band of men, it is key that viewers can never forget that these men are sailing to random foreign towns and raping and pillaging for the mere purpose of collecting shiny and pretty things.

Off in their own sucky situation, Lagertha is unhappily remarried to the abusive Earl Sigvard (Morten Suurballe) and Bjorn (who is now a giant, the boy takes after his uncle) is unhappily stuck in the position of being his stepson. Not much happens in this plot besides they are both very unhappy and are both probably, though independently, plotting the Earl’s murder. It should be glorious.

With Siggy, Rollo, Aslaug and her three sons (she had another son . . . with snake eyes) on the run, Lagertha and Bjorn bristling with pure rage, Jarl Borg taking up residence in Kattegan, Ragnar putting down welcome mats in Wessex and King Ecbert taking a level in badass all over everyone next week’s episode of “Vikings” should be as explosive as ever.

Overall Episode Rating: A+

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