By Leslie Mahady
I hear Paris is lovely in the springtime. Anyone ready for a road trip?
This week sees more positioning of Hirst’s dominos. People leave—that sums up this episode. King Ecbert sends Aethelwulf and young Alfred on a pilgrimage to Rome. Ragnar’s fleet sets out for Paris, finally. As soon as Ragnar leaves, Harbard shows up in Kattegat again. Much of Ragnar’s fleet is separated in a storm.
Rollo once again says he will not betray the Emperor or Paris or his wife. Why do they keep asking him the same question? I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t trust the guy who’s betraying his brother and all his people. Count Odo now privately says he’ll deal with Ragnar himself and take the throne! He’s jealous that pagan Rollo has the Emperor’s affection. (Did I actually feel a pang of pity for him?) He says “pagan” with Floki’s inflection on “priest.” None of us has seen Rollo praying or crossing himself and he still believes in the Seer’s predictions. Will he become conflicted like Athelstan?
Ah, Athelstan. We saw him again this week, too. It was a drug-induced vision from Ragnar about what he’s lost in his pursuits for, um—do any of us remember why Ragnar’s doing this anymore?
Our Favorite Moments:
In Mercia, Ecbert announces that Alfred will go to Rome with Aethelwulf and the priest who has been teaching Judith to paint. He has to again turn the screw on all parties present and remind us of why Alfred exists. Aethelwulf is a little upset about leaving. But I’m sure he likes the whole holy pilgrimage thing, and the weather in Rome has to be hella better than in Wessex. Alfred learned that the journey will be by foot and take three months. He’s young, but doesn’t like the idea. Aethelwulf seems genuinely upset for Judith and clearly doesn’t want to leave Kwenthrith. Now my Ecbert is left to guard the henhouse. That will be fun going forward. Will Aethelwulf travel through Paris on the way to Rome?
Yidu plays the siren again this week, literally. She insists she go to Paris as Ragnar’s pharmacist. After the fleet sets out, she sings a song to calm the boys. She is heard across the whole fleet. A storm then hits and the fleet is scattered. Once they are on the Seine, she becomes restless. Is she looking to escape or did her plan to delay Ragnar not work?
Floki, once again, is not on Ragnar’s ship. But most fans will agree that he isn’t a double agent for Ragnar this time. The Brothers Grim make him feel important again. Floki isn’t even fazed when Harald and Halfdon tie Frankish guards to the signal pyre and light it. They know how to enjoy spring break.
Sigurd is left behind. Aslaug sends him to play with Bjorn’s daughter, Ziggy. He insults Ziggy saying, “You’re so dirty. Don’t you ever wash?” Is Aslaug neglecting her? When Sigard looks for Mom, he finds her nursing Ivar, who should long since be weaned. We’re reminded that all the children are neglected for Ivar’s needs. Last time he arrived, Ziggy died as compensation. Will another Ziggy die this time? I had hoped to see Aslaug give Harbard a surprise right hook when he said, “I know all your pain…I’ll put an end to all your suffering,” like Rollo did when Jarl Borg tried to manipulate him again.
Ragnar announces Ubbe and Hvitser are going to Paris with him. He slights Aslaug with the line, “They are safer with me than they were last time with you,” referring to when they fell through the ice. He didn’t let Bjorn go on raids at that age. So let’s face it, he’s simply taking his boys away from Aslaug’s influence.
The Seer reveals the date of Ragnar’s death: when “the blind man sees you.” Thanks for the clarification, Seer. Ragnar discuss Kalf’s death and her baby with Lagertha. She gives no details on either. Is she actually pregnant? And if she is, is Ragnar thinking, “Damn, why wasn’t it me?” Finally a white horse draws us into a hallucination of all the people Ragnar has lost. Is Paris worth all this? How does Paris lead to a happy life as a farmer?
Superman or Batman? Captain America or Ironman? Ragnar or Rollo?
We are poised at the Parisian river towers. Are we ready to make a choice? Ragnar’s the hero of the show. Even though the show is Vikings, he’s the one on all the DVD covers. He has Odin’s blessing and those incredible eyes. He wants a better future for his people and he doesn’t seek revenge. He’s a visionary. He wants land for his people, not power. He’s just in settling disputes. He forgave his brother who sided against him in battle and saved his life. He’s a great guy, isn’t he?
Rollo has been our villain since day one. He has raped women, recklessly sought wealth and pleasure, hit on his brother’s wife, cheated on Ziggy, betrayed his brother in battle and somehow managed to get on Lagertha’s bad side (We don’t know why. But whatever it was, Lagertha hasn’t killed him for it.)
But Ragnar tried to sacrifice Athelstan. He cheated on his wife, and worse, gave up on her as the mother of his future children. He uses Aslaug as a broodmare. He hid the truth about the settlement in Wessex. And he blames others for outcomes of his own making. Last episode he even blamed Bjorn for abandoning him in the divorce. Bjorn was 12 years old at the time. Beyond all that, Ragnar now has forgotten the end goal. He became so obsessed with Paris that he lied to everyone about his death. It was about winning, not wealth, not land for his people.
In Rollo’s defense, Ragnar said they would be equal, but has never treated him equally. After showing Rollo the navigation system, Ragnar stopped sharing information. Rollo helped his brother in the trial for Knut’s death. (Maybe just to save Lagertha.) He was tortured by Haraldson, rather than betray Ragnar. He still had scars from the torture on his face, when Ragnar left him as a hostage to Jarl Borg during land negotiations. Yet by the time the battle was over, Ragnar blamed Rollo for the whole mess. Later Rollo saved Ragnar’s family when Jarl Borg raided the village, helped Ragnar reclaim his earldom and went on to help make Ragnar king. All Rollo netted was an unfaithful wife and a lot of scars.
Who wins in Paris? Who wins at life? We wait until next week to find out. Or maybe Episode 10; remember how long the first siege on Paris lasted?
All picture source: http://www.history.com/shows/vikings
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