Vikings (S04E18) “Revenge”

The Greatest Heathen Army ever has been established and they are ready to avenge the death of their leader, Ragnar Lothbrok. Warriors have come from Norway, Denmark and Sweden to assemble the biggest army the Vikings have ever seen. Lagertha as Queen insists that a major sacrifice must be made to appease the gods. Immediately it is clear that the sacrifice will not merely be an animal but rather a person.

Ivar, being his cocky self shares with Ubbe that he believes he should lead the army because he is the son his father picked to accompany him to England. Sorry to burst your bubble Ivar but the situation was really that you were the only one willing to go with you father, he did not choose you specifically. Bjorn being the eldest and the most experienced warrior makes it clear to his brothers that he will lead the army because he is experienced and has dealt with not only victory but also failure. Bjorn is the natural choice for leader. The interesting thing here is that Bjorn has to assert his power and position, unlike his father whose power and leadership was never questioned. This reminds us that Bjorn in so many ways is constantly living in the shadow of his father.

The human sacrifice is not as shocking because we’ve seen this before but it was still executed so well. Lagertha walking in looking more regal than ever. She’s dressed in robes, wearing sparkling make-up and her pet owl on her shoulder. One becomes completely enthralled and then unfortunately  Bjorn and Astrid’s leave the ceremony to go and have sex. This love triangle between a mother, son and mistress is wholly unnecessary and quite frankly leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I think especially taking into consideration that right after Ubbe marries Magrethe in the episode he agrees to share her with Hvitserk. The love triangles makes it feel like one is entering into soap opera territory. What is significant to note is that Lagertha and Torvi both acknowledge that their lovers have left the ceremony which makes it clear that they are both aware of the illicit love affair between Bjorn and Astrid. Lagertha even remarks on it when Astrid sneaks into their bed later that night. Which begs the question, what is going to happen here? It won’t end well, that much I’m sure of.

These last few episodes have painted Bjorn in an awful light. He was one of my favourite characters but he seems to be unraveling much like his father did. He is cheating on Torvi and he is treating her so badly, it’s almost hard to stomach. Torvi, the woman who killed her husband so that she could be with him. Bjorn has always had a very good relationship with his mother and yet now he’s engaging in an affair with her lover. I would never have imagined that Bjorn would betray his mother in this way. It may that he is trying so hard to not be like Ragnar that he is ending up exactly like him.

The actual revenge in the episode came in the last ten minutes and while it was worth it in some ways (I mean King Aelle dying by blood eagle is genius) but the fact that we saw none of the battle was a huge letdown. We get to see King Aelle completely shocked by how large the Great Heathen Army is and just as we see the Vikings shouting Ragnar as their war cry and advancing on the King and his troops the screen cuts to Ivar dragging the King with his chariot. It has been a while since we’ve seen a battle scene in Vikings and this felt like a brilliant opportunity to show off their excellent battle scenes but alas. Bjorn then proceeds to kill King Aelle in one of the most brutal ways ever, with the last face Aelle sees being Ivar’s.

King Harald and Halfdan are still plotting to take over Kattegat (seriously what’s new?) but in this episode we got to see a different side of Harald. Harald sees the woman he loves and who told him she would only marry him once he was king of all of Norway. Unfortunately for him his love did not wait for him and is now instead married to a common Earl. Halfdan urges his brother to kill her but Harald shows real emotion here and states that he loves only two people in this world, Halfdan and his Princess. This was undoubtedly Harald’s most poignant moment in the show.

The true great battle is still looming. Ragnar’s sons will now move on to Wessex where will they will come face to face with man (King Ecbert) who handed their father over to his death. We can only hope that the battle against King Ecbert will bring us the fighting scenes Vikings is well-known for. One thing is for sure, this battle will be much harder for the Vikings because unlike Aelle, Ecbert is force to be reckoned with.