Vikings, Season 4, Episode 3 – “Mercy”
By Leslie Mahady
You say “Mercy.” I say, “Merci.” Let’s call the whole thing off. Ragnar shows mercy and ends Floki’s punishment and we all wish someone would show Rollo a little mercy, as his wife calls for a divorce. (Seriously, girl. Your insufferable attitude is getting old.)
It’s still winter. Nothing much to do but scheme for the Spring and have sex with someone other than your own spouse. Kalf expresses his undying love for Lagertha (Is she falling for it?), while discussing the murder of her son behind her back. Ecbert makes a pledge to Judith regarding her “freedom’ that sounds like wedding vows. (Is she falling for it?) And another bombshell romance heats up that I think has left fans forgetting all about Rollo’s potential betrayal. Or maybe it’s the appearance of Athelstan’s ghost that has us forgetting the petty squabbles for power.
Oh, yeah. Bjorn fights a bear. Since his name means “bear,” is this some textbook allegory about fighting himself? (He WAS pretty drunk when he made that decision. And God only knows what was actually in that barrel of mead he found.)
Our Favorite Moments:
You Tarzan, me never gonna be your woman
Paris has been a series of funny gags. But it isn’t funny anymore. Believe me, I wish it was. That princess makes even the most hardened hater feel bad for Rollo. She whipped out a knife on their wedding night, laughed at him in his new clothes and insulted all his efforts. Now it is just painful, like watching animal cruelty ads. The acting is brilliant, down to the detail of Rollo struggling with a goblet after a lifetime of drinking from a horn. He reaches out for his wife when he senses she’s upset and she again insults him in front of everyone. (At this point, I don’t even wish a good death upon her.)
The future “Earl of Greystoke” realizes he isn’t like the other apes and needs to learn man’s language. He begs Odo to finally teach him. (I’m not being snarky here. His treatment just makes you hate the Franks!)
The question is: How much does Rollo already understand, but can’t speak? He has been creating strategy with Roland and Odo. He seems to know enough to look up when prompted to “look” and gets angry when he hears the word “savage” again. We’ll see.
Athelstan, Athelstan…The one character everyone wanted back, returns. As a ghost. (He really is dead, people. Get over it already.) He washes Ragnar’s feet and repeats the word “Mercy” with his signature compassion and tranquility. Not a word is spoken by Ragnar. It ultimately prompts Ragnar to end Floki’s (and Helga’s) suffering. (I bet Floki will be pissed when he learns the “priest” was the one who got him pardoned!)
Athelstan appears to Ecbert as well. Unlike Ragnar, Ecbert speaks to him. He doesn’t know Athelstan is dead at this point, and it’s Ecbert, he talks, it’s WHAT he does.
Athelstan remains silent and crosses himself. The king assumes he’s being blessed (Of course he does. He’s awesome! Who wouldn’t want to bless him.). I don’t know, Athelstan looks PRETTY pissed to me. Ecbert did massacre a whole settlement, cut off his girlfriend’s ear, and started sleeping with his son’s wife since Athelstan last saw him. And that’s what we know about. If our monk had any influence on Ecbert’s morality, I hate to think what he was like before. Actually, I hope this ghost doesn’t cause Ecbert to grow a conscience. King Ecbert is best when he’s bad. He is so very good at it. He’s like Kevin Spacey-in-a-Grinch-suit-dipped-in-gold bad.
Ragnar toying with his food and his wife’s mental state
We see that a Viking king still needs to gut his own fish for dinner. (Who can blame Rollo for wanting a cushier gig?) Ragnar recounts a myth about Harbard (Odin) to his sons and taunts his wife about sleeping with the wanderer named Harbard. Then he bites the head off the fish he cleaned. We have to wonder if our hero is devolving into this:
There’s a transcendental moment when a raven flies overhead. Ragnar senses it is a sign of his son Bjorn’s struggles, fearing his death. At that moment, Yidu interrupts Ragnar’s thoughts and awkwardly asks for the fish. I can’t wait to see how Ragnar teaches her the language or how he torments his wife.
That moment our jaw hit the floor
Aethelwulf and Kwenthrith bond while trying to leave Mercia undetected. Who knows what all has gone on since the battle they fought together. But they clearly are soldiers in arms now. (Literally and figuratively) While the audience wonders if Ecbert will send in someone to Kwenthrith’s room to kill her, Aethelwulf shows up. As the only character left who could feasibly be sainted, Aethelwulf hesitates for a split second (at least we all want to believe he did) before hopping into bed with Kwenthrith. And we all know her history with Ecbert and Ragnar and half the foot soldiers in Wessex. I make it sound sordid, but they are really cute together. We’ll have to wait and see if he saves her or is playing her.
Oh, What Poor Dumb Animals These Mortal Be
Things are still moving slowly. But it allows for great acting. Lots of sad, mournful eyes this week. I love that Hirst rarely relies on dialogue to tell the story. We’ll be waiting to see how all these hook-ups will play out. Who’s toying with whom, who will get burned, who will get killed off? Will Ragnar or Rollo ever hook up with anyone again?
It seems Athelstan and that bear have it easier being dead. At least the incessant dripping has stopped.
Special thanks to @TeamStanden and @MoeDunfordFans for helping me with photos and info!
All other picture source: http://www.history.com/shows/vikings
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