It was another intense visit to the Dark Ages tonight, as Vikings Season 2 Episode 3 set in motion the events that will play out over the next several installments.
The King of Wessex made plans to defend his kingdom from the invaders and we learned that Ragnar’s true purpose is to move his people to England for a better life.
Athelstan once again held his own in battle and, most importantly, Lagertha’s back!
This week’s episode kicked off with our Viking marauders approaching a large Christian church in Wessex. Athelstan explains that if it’s Winchester, there will be a lot of treasure there. Floki gets very excited by this news, his giggles crack me up.
King Ecbert knew it was just a matter of time before the Northmen arrived in Wessex. Since he had some experience with these invaders, he quickly put a plan in motion, tasking his son with raising an army. Knowing the Vikings never venture far from their ships, he also sends riders to watch them and report back.
This strategy is very different from King Aella of Northumbria, who lazily waited for the Vikings to come to him. We all know how that situation turned out last season.
Ecbert is a true strategist and it’s clear right away he is going to be a serious threat. Now we understand Athelstan’s remark that the King is like Ragnar much better.
I mentioned in my review of Vikings Season 2 Episode 2 how much I missed Lagertha. It was wonderful to catch up with our favorite shieldmaiden and a grown up Bjorn. Not so great, was the fact that her new husband, the wealthy but abusive Earl Sigvard is introduced hitting her. I was terribly bothered that Lagertha left Ragnar, who clearly loved her, for this guy. Sure, she's not going to put up with it for long, but physical abuse over polygamy… really?
Apparently, the Earl of Scandinavia is as resentful of Bjorn as Ragnar’s son is of him. When Lagertha tells Sigvard he doesn’t love her son, or anyone for that matter, she’s rewarded with a slap across the face.
Sigvard apologizes, but the damage is done. We instantly hate the guy, and hope that either Lagertha or Bjorn dispatch him in a violent manner.
I want to mention that I love the way Bjorn looks out for his mother. It’s like he took Ragnar’s last words to him, four years ago, literally to heart. Also, though I’ll miss young Nathan O'Toole as Bjorn, I think Alexander Ludwig fits in rather well right? He’s a strong presence in this episode, and he’s got the accent down.
Meanwhile, back in Wessex, the Vikings enter the small town with the large church. A young monk rings the bell, townfolk retreat to their homes and English soldiers face off against Ragnar and company.
Again, this scene played out quite differently from that first raid in Northumbria. Athelstan holds his own in battle, and it’s great to see many more shieldmaiden’s fighting this year. Still, the English soldiers are simply no match for the Northmen and are quickly defeated.
After proving himself time and again, Floki continues to doubt Athelstan. He's constantly calling him priest, knowing full well he’s left that life behind and asks Ragnar why he listens so much to Athelstan. Floki’s instincts have served him well in the past. I wonder if his behavior toward Athelstan will ultimately prove that once a Christian, always a Christian.
King Horik complains that there’s no treasure but Athelstan points them to the alter. He explains to Ragnar that Christians bury the bones of the revered dead beneath the alter. While Athelstan educates Ragnar on saints, martyrdom and miracles, Floki looks on jealously.
Can it really be jealousy that fuels his distrust of Athelstan? I mean, last season Floki was clearly the person Ragnar trusted and confided in most right? Not so much anymore, so it’s entirely possible.
As Athelstan enters the monastery I had a sense of déjà vu, which I’m sure was writer Michael Hirst’s intent. He looks over the monk’s writings adoringly and seems to feel at home there. Yet, with his long hair and Viking wardrobe he doesn’t quite fit in anymore, does he?
Killing that young monk came as quite a surprise, I wasn’t expecting that. After all, Ragnar had shown him mercy and spared his life all those years ago. When faced with a similar situation, Athelstan reacts savagely and instinctively. Was it simply his training taking over and Ragnar's words telling him never to hesitate? All I know is that one act will weigh heavily on the former monk as the season continues.
George Blagden played this scene beautifully, and along with Travis Fimmel is without a doubt, one of the strongest actors on the show. It's a pleasure to watch them do their thing, honestly.
Athelstan is discovered by the town’s main priest and though he warns him to hide, it’s a bit late for that no? The priest realizes Athelstan is one of them, and tells him one day he will be caught and crucified. Enter Floki, who takes the priest to King Horik.
I’ll admit, the use of the poor priest as target practice was extremely unsettling. Yet it’s important the series doesn’t shy away from the horrors the Vikings left in their wake. These guys are not the good guys, they just do what they need to in order to survive.
Ragnar spots a young boy hiding and covers him up. His reaction to Athelstan putting the priest out of his misery, also reminds us why he’s our hero. While he may be a flawed man who does terrible things, he’s not a monster, he does feel deeply.
The scene where Ragnar explains to King Horik that England’s land is rich, not just in treasure, but for farming is important. As a farmer he feels that by living in England they would eliminate hunger. This is his true motivation, a better life for his people not riches or fame.
Ragnar: This land is rich, but here is the real treasure.
King Horik: Earth?
Ragnar: Have you not seen? Everywhere we go there are crops. There is food growing. I am a farmer and the son of a farmer, and this is what I understand.
Back in Kattegat, Aslaug has given birth to Ragnar’s son, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye. The fact the baby has that mark in his eye, tells us Aslaug is indeed a seeress. I want to know more about her.
In Götland, Jarl Borg has remarried and decides it’s time to seek vengeance on Ragnar for going back on his word. I knew Borg wasn’t going to accept being left out of the raids lightly. He plans to seize Ragnar’s lands and kill Rollo, who rejected him last episode. In the end, I think Borg’s pride is going to be his downfall.
King Ecbert sends an envoy to strike a deal with the Northmen. Ragnar explains they want peace with the King, in the hopes he’ll offer them land to farm. Horik foolishly kills one of the emissaries, proving himself to be rash and hotheaded. Anyone else feel that Horik is only out for himself, and will eventually turn on Ragnar? I don’t trust the guy.
In the end, Jarl Borg invades Kattegat. Though Rollo attempts to defend their lands, they are overwhelmed since Ragnar took the best warriors with him. Rollo, Siggy and Aslaug flee into the mountains, as it is much more important to save Ragnar’s sons.
That does it for another excellent episode of Vikings. I will see you guys back here next week, when Ragnar returns home and Athelstan finds himself in a compromising position. Need to catch up or want to check out this episode again? Watch Vikings online right here at TV Fanatic!
When Ragnar learns of the invasion, he will head back home. Will Athelstan stay in Wessex to help King Horik or will he follow Ragnar?