I have reviewed my research about Vikings, and nowhere can I find any mention of fighting platforms that were attached to the prows of Viking ships. Grappling hooks to bind ships together and form a fighting platform? Yes. Ramming one ship into another? Yes. But the platforms we see here, I’m pretty sure, have been invented by the creative minds of the production team.
Give them credit, they are trying to one-up themselves. That attack on Paris last season in Episode 8 was always going to be hard to top.
For my money, having Rollo and Ragnar duke it out in hand-to-hand combat was not nearly as cinematic as last year’s battle for Paris, but there were some nice moments this time around:
Gisla, weeping, prays before a statue of the Virgin – and when the statue begins to weep we wonder what it means. Will the Franks win or lose?
The emperor dines (he’s always dining!) with Roland and Therese while the battle rages. When he has the slimy duo dispatched – clearly a well-planned execution – we discover just how devious, manipulative and cunning he truly is.
Gisla prays before the virgin again, and now she places Rollo’s arm ring at the virgin’s feet. And the tide of battle turns against the Norsemen. In Kattegat the spamaðr is wailing. Is it just this battle that he perceives he is losing, or is it a larger battle – one between the gods for the devotion of men? I have always liked the conflict over religious belief that is woven through this series because it was so important to the people of that time.
When the dust settles, some major characters have been badly wounded and we don’t know if they’ll survive. Ragnar is dragged aboard a ship and spirited away. Rollo lets him go. The battle is over. After his fisticuffs with Ragnar, Rollo is almost unrecognizable. The make-up crew must have had a field day with this. Throughout this series, I don’t think any of the characters has suffered more physical torment – and still lived – than Rollo.
In Paris, Emperor Charles is grateful, Gisla is grateful, the people of Paris are grateful, and Rollo weeps. Because he is alive? Because he has finally been accepted by the Franks? Because he has at last beaten his brother? Because every inch of his body hurts? All of the above, I suppose.
Now, the timeline jumps forward 8 years. I knew this was coming, but did not expect it to happen mid-episode. I think, though, that it was a wise decision to place the jump here rather than in the fall. It’s the perfect hook to keep us thinking about the show for the next few months. And we are given a glimpse only of what’s going on in the Viking world, not what’s taking place in Wessex or Frankia. So, what do we see?
After losing the battle in Frankia, Ragnar promptly disappeared. Not into thin air, of course. He just up and left. This seems unsurprising to me. He’s done it before. Remember how he climbed a mountain at the end of Season 2?
Ragnar likes to go away to think. Eight years, though, is a long time to think.
In his absence a smarmy Aslaug is queening it in Kattegat and someone named Thorhall has arrived from Wessex to report that Ragnar’s son by Kwenthrith (Magnus) is being raised at Ecbert’s court, and that the people who settled in England all those years ago are now long dead, butchered by the English way back when.
The sons of Ragnar are hanging out together, fishing, and we are introduced to the now-grown Ubbe, Ivar, Hvitserk, and Sigurd. They seem resentful that dad left, and now multiply father/son conflict by 4.
We learn that Floki and Helga survived the battle on the Seine, and we hear again about that map that Bjorn had in Episode 5. He wants to find the Mediterranean, and Floki, who is building boats for him, agrees to go along. So, more adventures ahead for them – and us.
And then, Ragnar returns to Kattegat, challenging his sons, asking which of them wants to be king.
“You know how this works. If you want to be king, you must kill me.”
Cut to credits. But there is still so much that we don’t know!
Where is Lagertha? Lording it in Hedeby?
When Æthelwulf returned from Rome to find his sweetie, Kwenthrith, dead, what was his reaction? Does he learn that she died by Judith’s hand? Is he still Ecbert’s willing slave?
Presumably Gisla has given birth to William Longsword. Are she and Rollo still getting along? Is Emperor Charles still alive? Who’s ruling Frankia?
What’s Rollo been up to? Who else has he had to fight in order to hold on to his lands in the intervening years?
There will be answers, and just to get us all excited, here’s a Preview of what’s to come.