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A recap of season 4 episode 2

 

Vikings covered a lot of ground in this week’s episode. The overall theme was betrayal, as fled Kattegat, Rollo gave the Franks tips to defeat the Vikings, and plotted against Mercia. In the midst of these conflicts, there was a truly heartbreaking story of love and loss. Let’s get to it.

After Floki begged her last week to free him, shows her loyalty by helping him escape. But it’s a futile effort. He only manages to evade his captors for a short time before being captured. Rangar’s son, Ubbe, demonstrates his cunning by spotting Floki hiding in the river. This is another indication that ’s son is going to be an important character as the series progresses. I just hope that unlike the relationship between Rollo and , Bjorn and Ubbe will be able to work together.

Floki’s capture demonstrates how far he’s fallen. The great carpenter and warrior, Floki, is dragged screaming from the river after being caught by a child. Ragnar rubs salt in the wound by pointing out that the Gods must not want to save Floki. It almost seems like Ragnar wants an apology from him, in addition to an admission of guilt. While I used to worry that they would kill Floki off, I’m ambivalent about that possibility now. After murdering Athelstan and treating Helga like garbage, it wouldn’t be a big loss if he disappeared.

In Wessex, King Ecbert is plotting against Mercia. Queen Kwenthrith has been captured and is locked in a tower, so Ecbert’s son goes to rescue her. Kwenthrith is my least favorite character on the show, so I’m not thrilled that we’re going to be seeing more of her this season. The only good thing about her rescue is that it gives us a fantastic fight scene – not just with the soldiers but with Kwenthrith herself. Her ferocity is primal as she defends her life and that of her child.

Judith and Ecbert have an interesting relationship. Perhaps because of her connection to Athelstan, Ecbert takes a particular interest in her and decides to grant her “freedom.” This really means independence to do things that interest her. Their discussion is an exploration of what freedom means. Judith has been forced into a marriage and cannot leave her husband. In that sense, she will never be free. But Ecbert offers her an intellectual and creative freedom that has also traditionally been denied to women – he secures her a tutor to learn to paint the sacred texts.

In Paris, Rollo advises the Franks on how to secure the city from further Viking invasion. At this point, it’s fair to say that Rollo’s betrayal is complete. He doesn’t deserve to be called a Viking anymore. To complete his traitorous transformation, he gets a haircut and new clothes. You almost want to feel bad for him when Gisla laughs in his face when he unveils his new look. Almost.

The best parts of the episode are between Ragnar and Helga. He confronts her about freeing Floki, and instead of being angry, he says he doesn’t blame her. Ragnar also makes the astute observation that Floki only loves himself. He gives Helga food and shows true compassion for her and her daughter. Unfortunately, Helga is unable to protect her daughter. We see at the end that she has died. This is really Maude Hirst’s stand out episode for the series. A lot of attention goes to Lagertha (because she’s awesome) and Helga’s story has come in and out of the shadows. In this episode, we see how much she’s suffered by being with Floki and the high price she’s paid. Ragnar helps bury her daughter and his grief reminds us of what he felt when his own daughter died. These scenes demonstrate why Ragnar is a great King. He is unquestionably ruthless when he needs to be, but he still holds family above all (with the caveat, of course, that family doesn’t mean fidelity).

Ragnar has certainly paid a steep price for taking up with Aslaug. The relationship has deteriorated to the point where they barely are able to contain their disgust for one another. I’m not going to endorse woman beating, but the confrontation between these two has been a long time coming. Aslaug knows how devastated he was by Athelstan’s death and she spitefully pokes at the wound. I’m starting to wonder if she will run off with Harbard when he returns.

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