TV Shows

Vikings – Review of Episode 8: Sacrifice

“What have I done to anger the Gods.”~ Ragnar

This week’s episode of Vikings takes a break from the usual raiding and pillaging with the gang headed out to get some spiritual fulfillment. Fortunately, this also involves killing.

Vikings Sacrfice review

The story begins with Rangar obviously dejected by Lagertha’s miscarriage, wondering why he has gained such fame but cannot have another son. Soon the decision is made to head to the Temple of Uppsala and partake in some kind of annual festival, and everyone, including Athelstan, Rollo, Floki and most of the other characters going too.


Much of the show focuses on Athelstan, who gets his first look at the deeper aspects of the Viking’s pagan practices. The show seems to have been attempting to portray Athelstan as person conflicted between his Christian upbringing and having to adapt to living among the Norsemen, but instead his character seems to all but given up on being a monk – where is his habit, where is Bible? – yet also finds the Vikings religion both disgusting and horrific.

The main story follows the religious festival, which at first involves a few prayers inside the Temple of Uppsala, followed by magic-mushroom inspired revelry, where most of the characters either stumble around or wind up in bed. Even Athelstan seems to have given up his vow of chastity to have roll in the woods with Thyri, the daughter of Siggy.


What Athelstan doesn’t realize until its almost too late is that he has been chosen to be part of the Sacrifice – where 9 males from different animals, including humans get ceremoniously killed. Only when the Vikings priests decide that he hasn’t fully accepted the pagan religion does Athelstan get spared, and after a short meeting, Lief volunteers, thus removing another character that was mostly in the background so far in this series.

The entire depiction of the Temple of Uppsala and the sacrifice ceremony was based on the writings of Adam of Bremen, so the writers were not imagining these scenes, although the portrayal of the three Vikings priests was somewhat too fantasy-based.


The other main storyline of the episode involves Ragnar meeting with King Horik and pledging allegiance to him. Rangar wants the King’s help to send a bigger fleet against England and Francia, and the King wants his new follower to help him battle another rebellious Earl, so it seems like the relationship gets off to a good start. If they continue to loosely follow the historical outline, this relationship might not be pleasant for too long.

One scene that I enjoyed has Siggy upbraiding Rollo for having sex with other women and for being drunk while Ragnar meets with the King. He replies “I am who I am, and I won’t change. Not for you, not for my brother, not for anyone.” Siggy tells him that if he wants to be great and powerful like Ragnar he will need to change his ways, and listen to her good advise. Good character development for both Rollo and Siggy.


The characters head for home, leaving us to speculate on what will happen on the season finale next week – likely King Horik and Ragnar joining forces to fight a large battle against the rebellious Earl, with any more raids to the west to have to wait until the following season. Meanwhile Ragnar is going to have to deal with a couple of relationships – first, with his wife Lagertha, which has become strained by the miscarriage, and secondly with Athelstan. Basically Ragnar thought the monk could best serve him by dying, so one wonders what further use Athelstan might have for him.

Join us next week for our review of the season finale of Vikings!