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Vikings Review: Four Years Later...

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I mentioned in last week's review that Vikings Season 2 Episode 1 felt very much like the tenth episode of the first season. There were several loose ends that needed to be tied up. In reality, the new season began tonight.

Vikings Season 2 Episode 2 leaped forward four years, during which time Floki has been building new boats and the Vikings have been strengthening their forces. Many young men were lost during that brutal battle last week.

In the time that's passed, people have been comparing Earl Ragnar to Haraldson because there have been no raids. This gives Ragnar the chance to address his people, letting them - as well as the audience - know the Vikings are venturing West again.

We quickly realize that Aslaug and Ragnar's relationship is very different from his relationship with Lagertha. When that young serving girl catches Ragnar's eye, Aslaug is quick to put her in her place. It was almost as if she was this fire breathing dragon, right?

Naturally, Ragnar plays it off, kissing her belly and playfully talking to the next baby. However, I think that scene gave us a taste of Aslaug's strong personality. Where Lagertha might have accepted him bedding other women while on raids, his new wife is not going to put up with that.

I also enjoyed the Aslaug/Siggy confrontation later in the episode. Aslaug is very direct and definitely not one to be messed with. I like her. Though I count myself part of Team Lagertha, I think Aslaug is not as bad as many fans make her out to be.

She also believes herself a seeress, which is interesting. She tells her husband their baby will be born with the image of a serpent in his eye. Since history tells us that Sigurd Snake-in-the-eye is one of Ragnar's sons, does this mean Aslaug really is gifted? I'm curious to learn more.

When Ragnar visits the seer, he's told that his sons will enjoy much fame. One will marry a king's daughter. Another will sail across the sea with no tides. The seer also tells him that Bjorn is one of those sons.

A quick peek at Wikipedia informs me that Bjorn Ironside grows up to be a powerful Viking chieftain and naval commander. He and his brothers raid France, Spain, Italy and all along the Mediterranean. Hence the "sea with no tides" the seer refers to in that scene.

Apparently, Rollo has done nothing but drown his sorrows in booze for the past few years. Siggy dumping a bucket of ice water on him was great. She manages to talk some sense into him by offering two choices, speak to Ragnar or kill yourself. Damn, talk about tough love right?

Rollo tells Ragnar that brothers hate and love each other all the time. I can understand that statement, since my brother and I haven't always been the best of friends over the years. We get along now though, in case you're wondering.

Ragnar: Tell me, why should I ever trust you again?
Rollo: Because I ask you to.
Ragnar: Shouldn't you be asking for forgiveness after everything you have done?
Rollo: I ask only for the opportunity to regain your respect. To fight beside you again in battle.

I think the moment where Ragnar tells Rollo he broke his heart, is when he made his decision. He can't trust Rollo, let alone fight alongside him.

Which brings me to Athelstan. The former monk was training hard for his first raid. How does Ragnar encourage him? By saying "not bad for a shieldmaiden." I love the Ragnar/Athelstan bromance, it's a highlight of the show for me. And how badass is "the priest" looking these days? It makes sense that Ragnar trusts the priest over Rollo. Their friendship has strengthened, while he and his brother have grown apart.

Ragnar accepts Rollo back as his brother, but forbids him raiding with them. This leads King Horik to go back on his word to Jarl Borg. In the same way Ragnar doesn't trust his brother, Horik just doesn't trust Jarl Borg. The sly king asks Ragnar to deliver the news that Jarl Borg will not raid with them. Unfortunately, this is going to lead to a whole lot of heartache for Ragnar.

Meanwhile, Siggy jumps into bed with King Horik promising to share all she knows about Ragnar. I've never trusted her, even when it seemed she honestly cared for Lagertha. That said, she's all about survival and Rollo is a broken man. The King, on the other hand, now there's a real option.

It was great to see Rollo knock out Jarl Borg when he badmouthed Ragnar and tempted him back to his side. I guess he has learned a valuable lesson. I have a feeling Rollo is going to surprise us before this season is done.

Still, Rollo watching the Viking ships sail off to raid, was worse than any punishment Ragnar could subject him to. He's a warrior and lives to raid and pillage. It's like everyone going off to a party and leaving him behind.

Considering this show is relatively new, and doesn't have a huge budget, the storm sequence at sea looked fantastic. This was obviously shot against a green screen, and all the storm action is added in post-production. I was impressed with the scene, it was extremely well done.

When the storm finally clears, Athelstan sighs looking at the land ahead. I wonder if he realized they had not landed in Northumbria, or if the sigh signified regret about what he was there to do.

The landing was uneventful, but that single rider galloping off to warn the King the Northmen had returned meant trouble. Were the Vikings so out of practice that they let their guard down for the English to attack? The ambush in the forest came as a surprise, there were arrows and English soldiers everywhere. The Shield Wall helps the Vikings gain the upper hand, though King Horik's eldest son is hit with an arrow. Was he killed?

It was a nice choice to have Athelstan save Ragnar during the battle. The priest has certainly come a long way and does not hesitate to kill. How does he reconcile this with his Catholic beliefs? Part of him must be struggling with the fact he is killing human beings. I'm sure this will be addressed as the season moves forward. In the meantime, Athelstan's bravery earned him an armband.

We learn the Vikings landed in Wessex, ruled by King Ecbert. Athelstan admits he's heard many things about the King.

Ragnar: What have you heard about King Ecbert?
Athelstan: That he is just like you.

I'm assuming Athelstan meant the King is smart and calculating. That he's someone patient, and doesn't simply rush into battle. Sounds like King Ecbert is going to be a real match for Ragnar Lothbrok.

Did anyone else miss Lagertha this week as much as I did? The good news is, we check back in with her and a teenage Bjorn next week.

Want to check out this episode again or relive the intense season premiere? Watch Vikings online right here at TV Fanatic!

Will Jarl Borg exact revenge against Ragnar for not taking him raiding?

 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Rating: 3.5 / 5.0 (21 Votes)
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Not a fan of Aslaug, in fact, I find her character the least appealing. Call me a huge fan of Lagertha what a stupid choice Ragnar made between these two women! I hope Ragnar learns to regret his choice....

Hanko9
@ gw

Remember, in reality Ragnar chose his sons. He wanted to have his cake and eat it to... Two wives! It was Lagertha who decided to leave. Since Ragnar's all about his legacy and could no longer have children with Lagertha, pregnant Aslaug became the priority. To me, that doesn't mean he didn't love Lagertha. Aslaug does give him four sons.

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Borg will raid while Ragnar is gone, and Rollo, who is left behind with all the crippled and old people" will save the village with a few shieldmaiden. that's my prediction :) Oh. And I am totally team Lagertha. I have a major girl crush on her!

Hanko9
@ TiffanyO

Great prediction! Next week's episode shows us how it all plays out. I'm team Lagertha too btw.

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I gotta be honest with you, S2 isn't doing it for me. I can tell because I started tuning out part way through this episode. I don't know what it is, but I do think Aslaug is "weighing down" the show. Her character certainly has increased the soap opera quotient of the show (and this isn't good). Really this whole episode was slow. I liked Ragnar last season. This year I don't know what to make of him. He's certainly weaker and kind of a d**k. What is it with show thinking fans want to see the lead charcaters as a**holes? I've also noticed that without Lagertha in the episode, it truly lacks. Hopefully she remains a strong female character and doesn't fall to the typical trappings of show writers, that would be a shame. (This is my biggest complaint about Aslaug. Although the showrunners are trying to portray her as strong, she doesn't come off that way)

Hanko9
@ CM

I agree Ragnar's a different guy this season but keep in mind this show is based on historical events. These characters lived once upon a time and Ragnar had three wives in the tales. The show actually did away with one and brought Aslaug and Ragnar together sooner. Don't give up on the show, though Lagertha's absence was definitely felt, she remains a strong female character. Aslaug becomes more complex as well, and Athelstan is in for quite a journey.

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What is going on with Ragnars eyes ? In the Storm scene he looked like a Vampire from the Underworld series. not too much of a complaint but it is kind of distracting.