TV Shows

Vikings – Review of Episode 3: Dispossessed

“Why did you spare my life?”~ Aethelstan

“I don’t know yet”~Ragnar

What happens to Ragnar and his band of merry men this week? As Ragnar races home with monks and booty, Bjorn and Lagertha get paid an unpleasant visit by a member of the Earl’s household who takes the son of one of the local women as surety for Ragnar’s return. We find out that Ragnar actually attacked Lindisfarne from a conversation he has with Aethelstan on the ship and he’s not sure what to do with him or the other monks. Meanwhile, Aethelstan tells Ragnar he believes their coming was foretold as devine retribution for their sins.

“My lord, we were more fortunate than others…we had Thor on our side”~Ragnar

Well, Thor stopped being on their side once they got back home. Cheering erupts as Ragnar proved once and for all that the west has land and plunder. Not so fast – Cnut comes to rain on their Viking parade by telling them Earl Haraldson wants to see them in his great hall. This doesn’t bode well for our leather clad hero. Ragnar tells Haraldson that the raid was like taking candy from a baby. Haraldson decides since it was so easy, and he’s still ticked that Ragnar disobeyed him, he will claim their plunder entirely for himself. However, he is such a “nice” guy that he lets Ragnar’s band pick one item from the horde to keep as a reward for their efforts. Ragnar chooses Aethelstan to be his slave. Rollo is angry that Ragnar didn’t put up a fight for more items but Ragnar realizes that Haraldson was just looking for any excuse to kill them all. Rollo admits to stealing more than he was permitted to take and Ragnar is worried his stupidity will be discovered and they will be punished.

The remainder of the show veered between some fantastic and some seriously flawed moments.

The good: The conversations between Ragnar and Aethelstan. We find out Ragnar landed in Northumbria and the monks lived a peaceful existence prior to the Viking’s arrival. Ragnar asks a lot of questions about Aethelstan’s way of life, about his language and Christianity. The conversations are interesting – I like these scenes. After taking in all this information, Ragnar decides he wants to sail west again. Surprisingly, his wish is granted on the condition Cnut accompanies them. Also great, the scene when they land again in Northumbria and encounter the King’s men. The Old English exchange that happens here is amazing, a really nice touch.

The bad: Aethelstan is supposedly a slave, yet he’s invited in their bed for a threesome. Ummm…OK? *head scratching* Realistically, would a man of status have invited a slave into his bed? No, not likely. Ragnar leaves Aethelstan in charge of the farm and children when he sets sail. After having lived among them for all of five minutes, is this remotely plausible? Again, highly unlikely. Lastly, Ragnar asks his wife to accompany him on this raid. Not a chance. Wouldn’t happen. Lagertha is an awesome character and totally badass but this isn’t Lord of the Rings, and she’s not Eowyn. Someone needs to separate fact from fiction here. While I get that Ragnar doesn’t consider Aethelstan a slave he still doesn’t know him from Adam. Aethelstan is a hostage, and yet Ragnar’s leaving all that he owns plus his most vulnerable family members with a complete stranger. It’s just utterly ridiculous to me. Someone on the writing team lost the plot and has taken some serious liberties.

In spite of these issues, I enjoyed the episode. The imagery is still great, the characters aren’t one dimensional, and the combo of fight, pillage and chat in Old English is a workable, fun mix ~ Sandra

Peter’s Take: The third episode of Vikings was somewhat disappointing – coming off two strong episodes, this one has less drama and has portions that stretch basic believability (and historical accuracy). A final scene showing a tense confrontation-turned-into-battle on the beaches of northern England was a strong way to end the episode, but ultimately not enough to redeem this effort.

We begin by seeing Ragnar and his crew on their way home with a ship full of treasures and captives – the happiness of the Vikings stands in strong contrast with the fear and desolation being shown by the Christian monks. Once they arrive in Norway they are met with a hero’s welcome, but the Earl soon confiscates their goods and Ragnar accepts – what the rest of the crew might have thought about this is left unstated.

We are then confronted by a series of  odd scenes that don’t make sense, even within the show’s own logic. First, Athelstan, who has been taken by Ragnar as his own personal slave, gets invited to join his master and Lagertha in bed. Why they would be interested in having their slave join them is beyond comprehension – did we not learn from the last episode that having someone sleep with your wife is quite dishonourable – and why are they asking their slave, when they could just force their slave him to take part – he is a slave after all.

Later on, Ragnar and Lagertha prepare to go on a new expedition, and decide that Athelstan is to be left in charge of their farm instead of Bjorn. In the first episode Bjorn was made a man and underwent an oath to the Earl, but now he is considered still a boy and unable to take care of the farm?

We also have Earl Haraldson deciding he needs to bury some of the treasure he gained for the afterlife, and also has a young boy murdered so he could allegedly protect the gold. Perhaps this some sort of scheme he is playing out, but it seems very much out of character for the Earl to become so religious that he wants to bury his treasure instead of to use it in the here and now. Moreover, the idea of the Vikings killing their own like this doesn’t seem to have any historical basis.

The last scene of the episode, where the Vikings land on the coast of Northumbria and are met by the local sheriff and his men, was well done – both sides are tense and it seems seems a battle will break out, and while the sheriff almost gets the  Vikings to come peacefully, a rash move leads to a brawl.

Vikings still has a lot going for it – Ragnar is an interesting character and the overall plot is sound, but hopefully the show will not have too many more weird scenes. ~ Peter

For a different take, check out Abby Murphy and Daryllee Hale from The Tower Light giving their views on this episode

Tune in next Sunday night at 10pm EST on the History Channel to see what happens next!

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