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Vikings 3, Episode IV: SCARRED

This episode was, I think, the best so far. Well, they just keep getting better. What the title, Scarred, is referring to – other than Porunn, who appears only briefly in two scenes – escapes me.

The episode begins, as it will end, in Kattegat with the ever more mysterious Harbard. Once more he soothes Ivarr’s pain, and once more he sidesteps the question of who he is.

In Mercia, the victorious Saxon and Viking warriors return to their camp where Porunn’s injuries are being tended and where Æethelwulf is trying to make nice with Floki and Rollo. Rollo meets him half way, but Floki resists. That old ‘my god/your god’ tension is still needling Floki, and he insists that Rollo, Ragnar and the whole lot of them have drunk from the Christians’ poisoned chalice. We’re going to remember that line later.

Somewhere nearby Kwenthrith, who is becoming more like my character Elgiva with each episode, practices some unorthodox healing measures on the wounded Ragnar. He warns her that her brother is weak and will be her downfall; she reciprocates by warning Ragnar that King Ecbert is always out for himself. (Gasp! Ecbert the Awesome? Surely not! Surely he is a prince among men.)

Across the North Sea, in Kattegat, Siggy is annoyed with Aslaug that her fascination with Harbard is drawing her away from her children and her duties as queen. Siggy suggest that she will take on those royal duties since Aslaug is too busy mooning over Harbard. Aslaug goes off for a pleasant interlude with the Wanderer, and Siggy perches on the queen’s throne in the empty hall, as if remembering what that was like. We recall, of course, that she was once the wife of the Earl. Ah, those were the good old days.

Back in Wessex, Judith and Athelstan have succumbed to passion – naked limbs and all, and I wonder if I’ve missed something, but apparently not. They’re just THERE, young and in love.

The warriors are on shipboard, making their way to Wessex. Kwenthrith is reassuring her brother of Ecbert’s support, Floki is still upset about the gods, Bjorn is upset about Porunn, Rollo is upset about Floki…and Ragnar is watching all of them with a brooding gaze.

King Ecbert, in a moment of post-coital tenderness, is trying to convince Earl Lagertha to stay in Wessex, but she has his number and gives us this episode’s zinger line:

The only person you truly care for is yourself.

And even Ecbert knows it’s the truth.

Back in Kattegat something momentous is taking place and part of it involves a visit from Siggy’s daughter who died of pestilence – along with many other children – in the first season. And in Hedeby there are other characters arriving from last season. The next generation is stepping in to pick up the feuds of their fathers. Here we go again!

There were three scenes in this episode that I really loved, and one of them took place in Ecbert’s hall at the feast that the king is throwing to celebrate the defeat of the Mercians. We see Ecbert and Ragnar seated side by side, and the conversation between them, along with gestures and facial expressions, is absolutely brilliant writing and acting. Hugely entertaining.

My next favorite scene is also at the feast, when Kwenthrith toasts her brother and their joint rule in Mercia, and shows herself to be exactly what I’ve always thought she was: smarmy, deceitful, and dangerous. The gathered company’s responses to her little bit of dark ages theater are priceless.

And finally, over in Kattegat, the Wanderer decides it’s time to leave. Helga watches as he walks away from the settlement, and I stand by my earlier opinion about his identity. Harbard = Odin.

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