Vikings – Review of Episode 2: Wrath of Northmen

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 “All things begin and end with stories.” ~ Ragnar Lothbrok

Ragnar’s first Viking raid on England was a success, and this episode also largely succeeded. Following along the events from the series premiere, this hour saw Ragnar preparing and leading his ship to the west, where they reached English coast and plundered a monastery.

It opens with a secret meeting hosted by Ragnar, where he tells the other Norsemen about his boat and the plan to sail to England. After a short speech, he asks “Have you got the balls to join us?” which nets him a crew. Soon the men are setting sail and beginning what seems to be a long and perilous voyage – in reality, the crossing from Norway to England would have likely taken them no more than three days.

They do make it across the North Sea, and land close to Lindisfarne monastery. In a nod to #goodhistory, the show actually depicts the Viking first raid on Lindisfarne, which took place in 793. The lightning storms and sightings of a dragon in the sky are also noted in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle‘s account of the attack.

The scene where Ragnar and his men come upon the monastery is well done – the Vikings are somewhat perplexed about this place and the people there, but their greed and violence come through. The fight with the monks is not a battle, but just mass murder. There were no heroic deeds done here.

We are now also introduced to a new character, Athelstan, who was one of the monks spared from death because he can speak in Old Norse. The young monk comes across as devout, if not a little naive. As he is taken by Ragnar into slavery with a few other monks, it will be interesting how Athelstan develops as a character.

The other main plot line deals with Earl Haraldson, who for reasons that are not clear, seems to be very worried about threats to his iron-fisted rule. He tests one of his henchmen by offering his wife Siggy to the man, and then having him killed when he has the audacity to accept the offer of sleeping with the lady. He also executes the local blacksmith for building an anchor for Ragnar’s ship – hopefully their village has more than one blacksmith! Yet, he also believes that Ragnar and his men will never return from their voyage, so why does he feel so threatened?

Another weak part of this episode revolves around the character Rollo, who was largely just a jerk -we seem him a rape a female slave, sit around on the ship from most of the voyage, and then grumble to his brother about sparing Athelstan. Hopefully his character will not just be a kind one-dimensional creep.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the main part of this episode. We get to see what the Vikings did best – raiding and pillaging ~ Peter




Sandra’s Take: A little preparation, a little prayer, a little plunder

“All things begin and end as stories…have you got the balls to join us?”~Ragnar

Why yes Ragnar…yes we do…

We open another violent *yet sexy* episode of Vikings with Ragnar holding a secret meeting to try and convince his men to join him on the journey west to England. This is completely against the wishes of Earl Haraldson yet, even with a few naysayers in the crowd, it doesn’t take much to twist their arms. A few of the men, Knut and Olafur, are spies and straight away tell Haraldson of the secret meeting.  In this episode, we meet Siggy, Haraldson’s beautiful and wise wife played by Canadian actress,Jessalyn Sarah Gilsig (Boston Public, Nip/Tuck). Strangely, Haraldson offers her up for sex to Olafur. Let’s just say its a test and Olafur fails miserably. Bad things happen. Next…

“Honour is a rare commodity these days” ~ Siggy

Meanwhile, back at the Viking ranch, Lagertha takes down a drunk Ragnar to prove she is worthy enough to join him on this voyage. This of course leads to breathy, sexy fighting and almost make-up sex until it’s broken up by their son, Bjorn. In spite of her efforts, Lagertha isn’t coming on the journey. She has to stay home, watch the kids and make sure Haraldson doesn’t take their land.

“Thor is striking his anvil, he is angry with us” ~ Rollo

Our band of not-so-merry men set sail and encounter some difficulties along the way. I enjoyed the scenes on the ocean. The filming is spectacular; the water is beautiful, and the scenery is still dark yet stunning. In spite of the terrible weather, Floki tries to push and inspire the men to press on. When the men encounter listless fog, one starts murmuring against Ragnar, but Ragnar nips that in the bud and sends ravens to search for land. They finally find England and we meet the monks, who get to bust out their best Old English. This was a very nice touch. They see Ragnar’s men land, sound the alarm and then all Hell breaks loose…

Great moments: When the show reminds us, “Hey, Vikings aren’t nice guys”. Rollo rapes a slave girl and then there’s a face-washing scene where they blow their noses in the same wash water. There are a few humourous scenes as well. The Vikings enter the Church and are confused by the Christian God and why the monks don’t lock up their treasure. The fight scene between Lagertha and drunk Ragnar was also priceless. She still wears the loincloth in this family. Meanwhile, Earl Haraldson’s scenes are all violent and brutal. If you see Haraldson in a scene, just assume the worst will happen. He’s not a man you want to mess with or piss off. Ragnar’s done both so it will be interesting to see how he survives the voyage home seeing as most people who disobey Haraldson don’t live very long.

Join us next week when Ragnar returns with more than just spoils! Tune in Sunday night at 10pm EST on the History Channel to find out!

 

SharanNewman