Vikings (S04E14) “In the Uncertain Hour Before the Morning”

Ragnar’s death has been looming for quite some time and in this episode we are forced to acknowledge that his death is inevitable even if we cannot fathom the show continuing without him. Over four years Travis Fimmel has ensured that Ragnar has become indispensable and even the thought of the show going forth without him is mind boggling. King Ecbert’s words are the proverbial nail in the coffin, “I cannot kill you, yet you must die.” These words are clear and we are forced to acknowledge that Ragnar’s demise is imminent.  The long awaited reunion of King Ecbert and Ragnar lived up to expectations.

These two men, however different are bounded together through their love and admiration for their fallen friend Athelstan. Both men learned a great deal from the monk and revered him in a way only the two of them understand. Ragnar’s love for Athelstan is clearly depicted in the way he embraces Alfred, Athelstan’s son with Judith, in comparison with the way he vehemently rejects Magnus as his own son. One of the most poignant moments in the episode is the two Kings sitting on the floor discussing their respective God(s) which leads them to question whether Athelstan is in Heaven or Valhalla. Ragnar and Ecbert decide that he will be delivered to King Aelle. Here one wonders if this is some well-thought out ploy by Ragnar because this strategy still implicates King Ecbert and when Ragnar’s sons come to avenge their father King Ecbert’s fate will surely also be sealed.

This episode tells two stories, Lagertha taking back Kattegat and Ragnar reuniting with King Ecbert. The decision to focus only on these two stories was without a doubt the best choice to make. Lagertha and Ragnar’s stories have always been intertwined in some way and despite what may have happened between the two their connection remains. This episode tells two tales, the rise of Lagertha and the imminent demise of Ragnar.

In Kattegat Lagertha takes control of her “hearth and home once more.” Aslaug asks only that she be granted safe passage out of the town but as she walks off Lagertha shoots her in the back with an arrow. Before she surrendered Aslaug took one finally jab at Lagertha by reminding her of her infertility and that fact that she lived up to her destiny but giving birth to the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok. I firmly believe that the only reason Aslaug surrendered so easily is because she truly believes Ivar along with Ragnar is dead. A life without her son Ivar is a thought that is far too hard to bear for Aslaug. While there was a feast to celebrate her death, Aslaug was still given a proper Viking burial which even the Seer attended. Aslaug’s death is also a reminder that the Seer’s words have come true, a woman is ruling Kattegat, that woman just isn’t Aslaug.

I’ll be the first to admit that is truly wonderful seeing Lagertha on the throne in Kattegat again. Ubbe tries to quickly avenge his mother’s death while Sigurd couldn’t be bothered because according to him Aslaug only loved Ivar and Harbard. The great irony is that Ubbe stayed in Kattegat to protect his mother yet failed to do so because instead he was chasing after a girl. We can be assured that Ivar’s reaction to his mother’s death will be unlike anyone else’s.

As the reality has now set in we must face the facts. Vikings is going to continue without Ragnar and that is a bitter pill to swallow because Travis Fimmel is irreplaceable. That being said it is a good thing that Lagertha has taken control of Kattegat because she, along with Bjorn, will be the driving force in ensuring that the show remains brilliant because it’s yet to be determined if Ragnar’s other sons can carry the show.