I have to confess that I was just a wee bit distracted this week by Bjorn’s long, blond plait and Lagertha’s intricately braided and metal-studded coiffure.
Whoever is doing the make-up and hair styling on this series is having a field day, but the actors, especially Katheryn Winnick, must spend hours in the stylist chair. Some of her braids are so tiny and tight I don’t know how she can remember her lines! And while I’m on this topic, I wonder how long it takes to paint on all those tattoos that cover some of the actors practically from head to toe. I know the Vikings probably had a lot of down time in the winter, but still!
But I digress. The settings for this episode change with every scene as we follow the various characters and their story arcs from Gibraltar to York to Kattegat to Sicily to York to Kattegat to Sicily to Kattegat – see what I mean? It’s dizzying. I wish they wouldn’t hop about quite so much.
If anyone in this episode has a plan, as the title suggests, it’s Ivar. We know that because he tells Hvitserk “I have a plan” although he doesn’t ever say what the plan is and we are left wondering about it. Ivar and Hvitserk are squabbling, naturally, because Ivar is an obnoxious, controlling nutcase. We don’t like Ivar. We’re not supposed to like Ivar. He is not meant to be a good guy, and he probably wasn’t one in real life, either. No worries. At least his mother loved him.
Outside the walls of York our king-of-kings-bretwalda-king-of-wessex Æthelwulf finally grows tired of Bishop Heahmund telling him what to do as they try to outwit Ivar. This is understandable. Heahmund always sounds like he’s reciting a really boring speech that he’s been forced against his will to memorize. His voice is a monotone and his face wooden. Is this supposed to imply that he doesn’t really believe any of the pious platitudes, the visions, the claims about God’s wrath that he mouths? The most interesting thing that he says comes when they finally enter York to find it deserted and the cathedral full of trash and vermin; Heahmund stuns us – and Æthelwulf – by asking “Why are the rats above ground?” Could this be part of Ivar’s plan? Hopefully we’ll find out next week.
Over in Kattegat Lagertha welcomes Ubbe home and they become allies even though he still resents her for killing his mum (who liked Ivar best, anyway). Meantime Margrethe badmouths Lagertha to both Ubbe and Torvi (Bjorn’s wife). It backfires on her when Lagertha overhears her, but instead of punishing Margrethe, Lagertha’s response is a mild one, promising respect if Margrethe has the courage to be loyal. Wow. No bloodshed. Not even a slap. Lagertha, you rock.
In Vestfold Astrid finally decides to marry Harald because, she says, at some point one has to accept that you can’t deny fate. They are married under the ribcage of a whale and she only makes him sweat a little when she hesitates before saying ‘I do’. I don’t know about you, but I still don’t have a good feeling about where this is going. I worry about Astrid and that whale of a wedding doesn’t make me feel better.
Bjorn and Halfdan, meanwhile, have sailed through the Pillars of Hercules into the Mediterranean where they meet a ruler named Euphemius and a nun named Kassia who is so extravagantly gowned that she looks like a cross between the Byzantine Empress Theodora and the Queen of Bohemia.
After being greeted as Varangi (that’s Greek for Viking) they agree to be Euphemius’ bodyguards. Halfdan spends his time carving graffiti into a stone which is something vikings liked to do (Halfdan was here). He also seems smitten by the nun. They all decide to go to Ifriqya (northern Africa) to meet Ziyadat Allah who appears to be the real power in this part of the world. This is unfamiliar territory to me. I can only tell you that Euphemius and Ziyadat Allah were historical figures from the 9th century in Sicily. And yes, Euphemius supposedly kidnapped a nun from Byzantium. I think that nun might be trouble for Halfdan, or maybe the other way round.
In Iceland Floki decides he really can’t keep this awesome place that he’s discovered to himself, so with the gods’ approval he will set out to find true believers to join him. And I can’t help wondering how the heck he’s going to find his way back there again, since he was blown there by a storm in the first place, but he doesn’t appear worried and there does seem to be a giant volcano to mark the spot, so I guess he’ll figure it out.
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