Wow. Visually, that was absolutely stunning.
We've seen countless battles over the course of five seasons, but none quite like the one we saw on Vikings Season 5 Episode 10.
Kudos for the fantastic direction!
Watching the battle from each character's different point of view and seeing it interspersed with flashbacks made it more compelling. Instead of just watching another bloody battle, it felt like we were inside the character's head. It brought the audience into the battle rather than just making us feel like an outside viewer.
This could easily have been one of the best of the series based on direction alone.
As with any war, there are always causalities, and this one was no different.
Halfdan's death was sadder than I expected. He's really grown on me as a character and was one of Bjorn's closest allies.
Bjorn: I heard you singing with your brother. This must be hard for you.
Halfdan: Let me tell you something. I owe my brother so much, but I owe you far more. You took me on a great adventure. You showed me that life has more to offer than fighting for land, or for worthless glory, against your own Viking brothers. And if I have to die today, so be it. I'm ready for Valhalla.
Witnessing him die at the hands of his brother made it even harder to watch, especially since Harald didn't have any qualms about doing it.
Sure, he said he didn't want to kill him, but he didn't hesitate. It's clear that he and Ivar belong on the same side.
It was no accident we watched that happen shortly after seeing Ubbe do the exact opposite. While Harald struck down his own brother, Ubbe couldn't do it when he found himself face to face with Hvitserk.
Instead, he turned around and continued the fight elsewhere, and Hvitserk lived to fight another day.
Lagertha's visions were my favorite, especially seeing the flashback to her as a little girl. She expected to die, and maybe we all expected that too, but so far she's still kicking.
Now that Ivar won the battle, it's hard to say what Lagertha's life expectancy is, and it will be interesting to see if she flees Kattegat with Bjorn and Ubbe or stays behind to face Ivar and accept her fate.
Astrid's death by her hand was surprising and tragic.
Lagertha: Astrid, stop, I don't want to kill you.
Astrid: You have to kill me.
Astrid: Otherwise we will kill you.
Lagertha: You helped me. You didn't betray me. I know you love me.
Astrid: There is no use, Lagertha. I have to die. I cannot have this child.
Again, the direction and the way the scene was shot was incredibly well done. I loved watching them approach each other as if they were the only two people on the battlefield and then finding that they were surrounded.
But to them, in that moment, it was just the two of them.
Astrid's insistence to Harald that she fight despite being pregnant did not clue me into her desire to die at all. It probably should have, but she's such a fierce warrior that it made sense that she'd want to fight anyway.
Watching her break down in front of Lagertha, knowing what she had been through and how she got pregnant in the first place, was devastating. It was some of the best work we've seen from Josefin Asplund. I wouldn't want to see Astrid go out any other way.
It was annoying to have to check in with Floki and his settlers.
While the battle used flashbacks, slow-motion, and different POVs to bring us in, cutting to Floki in Iceland abruptly took us out.
It was a little disorienting to switch from the action in Kattegat to the situation in Iceland and then go back again, especially considering Floki's story has not been very compelling.
We have failed the Gods. We have behaved like humans. They gave us every opportunity to be better people and we have all failed. There's only one way to stop our settlement from descending into chaos. We must offer a sacrifice which will mean something. A sacrifice that will give us a second chance.Floki
Will Floki sacrifice himself to the Gods?
If the whole settlement storyline is going to continue, that certainly can't happen. If it feels boring now, it won't be worth watching at all without Floki.
He's the only one making it even the slightest bit interesting, so he can't die unless they're planning to scrap the whole thing, and that would mean we wasted a lot of time on it when the focus could have remained on Kattegat.
No, something better has to come out of this eventually.
Margrethe is still her usual creepy, power-hungry self.
For a second there, I was legitimately worried about Torvi and Bjorn's children. Thank goodness she didn't kill them.
The Seer may have saved their lives when he told her that Ubbe has no shot at ever being king of Kattegat. If she felt there was even the slightest possibility, I would not have put it past her to go on a psychotic killing spree.
It is interesting that he specified he won't be King of Kattegat. Does that mean he may be a king somewhere else?
Considering his side just lost the battle and Bjorn told him to gather his things and prepare to retreat, it's an interesting theory. If they're all about to move someplace else, it might not be so cut and dry who will be in charge.
If they do retreat, hopefully, it's just temporary.
I just can't imagine letting Harald and Ivar take control of Kattegat. Hopefully, Lagertha, Bjorn, and Ubbe will regroup somewhere else and come back stronger, ready to reclaim their home.
Of course, there's also the matter of the surprise guest returning in the final seconds.
What will Rollo's return mean for all involved? Will he orchestrate peace between his nephews? Maybe there will be no retreat at all.
What did you guys think of the mid-season finale? Where do you think the show goes from here? Will Ivar eventually get his revenge on Lagertha? His picturing her fighting skeletons was a neat effect.
There's no return date set yet, but while you're waiting, be sure to watch Vikings online!
Stacy Glanzman is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.