Will the gods ever smile on me again? ~ Siggy
For an episode that took place mostly in feasting halls, Vikings was making sure they had a lot of action and dramatic moments – Siggy sleeps with Horik’s son, while the King watches; Lagertha is brutally beaten but gets revenge on her husband; and Ragnar ultimately betrays Jarl Borg, captures him and prepares a grisly execution.
As I watched the episode I was reminded of the Red Wedding scene from Game of Thrones – I had guessed that Ragnar would not let Jarl Borg get away with his attack on Kattegat, and that he would take revenge. However, you can see how Vikings does not take the same risks that Game of Thrones does. For example, the actual capture of Jarl Borg is rather anti-climactic: basically Rollo and a couple other men just barge in on his room, beat him for a while and drag him back to Ragnar. It seemed to me a missed opportunity to do something more creative.
At the same time, they don’t harm Borg’s wife, and the deaths of the Jarl’s men are largely off-screen. Both of these choices by the TV show were probably done to downplay what is an evil betrayal by Ragnar and his men. I had this same problem with the show Borgias – while the show wants to portray their lead characters as blurring the lines between good and evil, they are unwilling to show them act like villains.
There were a lot of little details from this episode not to like – Jarl Borg, who previously gets portrayed as a sensible leader, is now carrying around and talking to skull of his first dead wife, making him look crazy and silly; Ecbert gives Athelstan the writings of the ancient Romans but doesn’t want him to share it with others because of their pagan origins – while grossly inaccurate historically, it also doesn’t make sense from what we already know about the Anglo-Saxons and Athelstan’s own education; Siggy visits with the Seer, who instead of providing her with some weird prophecy just basically gives her advise to be more brave; Lagertha’s husband being upset that Bjorn stayed with Ragnar – he finds it to be a humiliation but never actually explains why this would be a bad thing for him.
The scenes between Bjorn and the servant girl, which included the stupidest line so far spoken in the series (“Do you have a boyfriend?”) was probably the weakest plot line of the series. Bjorn is smitten with this young woman, but she does not seem interested in him – it feels more like a case of a boss sexually harassing his employee than a possible romance.
The only bright spot in this episode were the scenes of Lagertha and Earl Sigvard. While I am perplexed on why he is actually angry with his wife, Sigvard plays the abusive husband very well, and I’m sure most of the audience was very happy to see Lagertha stab him in the eye!