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Vikings - Series 1.05 - "Raid" - Recap/Review (Spoilers)

“Raid”

Welcome back to another week of Vikings! This week’s episode not only brings us another Raid, albeit of a different kind than we’ve seen on the show, but I think it delivers once of the finest hours of the season so far, even though it primarily serves as set up for the next episode. Episode 5 starts to bring the many aspects of the show together in a cohesive narrative, including the rivalry between the Earl and Ragnar, the rivalry between Rollo and Ragnar, and even the rivalry between the Norse Gods and the Christian Gods.

Last week ended with Ragnar preparing for something and in this episode we find out what that something is, albeit not till the very end. Our episode opens with the Earl, bestowing his blessing upon the newborns of the village and we can clearly see he’s troubled by something but we don’t get to find out what as we cut away to Athelstan and Ragnar doing some male bonding/fishing. Which is actually the ultimate male bonding activity.

Athelstan wants to know if he is still Ragnar’s slave and Ragnar thinks it really doesn’t matter much. Athelstan thinks differently and points out that in the Viking's world slaves aren’t actually treated all that well, and wants to make sure no ones going to beat him to death because that is technically legal. Tough life.  Ragnar points out that Athelstan has never tried to escape, and Athelstan admits that he has less and less of a desire to do so. I think we can see this one of two ways; first, even if Athelstan did try to escape, he would have nowhere to go. He can’t very well get back to England and he would most likely be unable to support himself in this Viking society. Or, Athelstan has adapted very fast to his new situation. I like to think it’s a combination of both, I think he genuinely does care for Ragnar and his family but I also think there is a sense of survival in him, and he knows this is his best option.

It turns out the Earl is planning a raid of his own this week, on Ragnar’s farm. The Earl has obviously grown tired of Ragnar’s games and takes matters into his own hands using his men to lead an attack on the Lothbrok homestead. Ragnar is out hunting as the attack starts but soon hears the screaming and rushes back to the farm to find Lagertha and Athelstan waiting for him with the children. He orders them to escape through and underground tunnel and goes to face the Earl.  We get some great fight sequences here and Fimmel just shines.  I honestly couldn't take my eyes off the screen as Ragnar made his way through the Earl's men like they were flies.

Ragnar is wounded by an arrow and all around looking in pretty bad shape as he meets the Earl and it seems this will be the end of our hero as he says he accepts his fate and is ready to meet his God. But it turns out Ragnar has another trick up his sleeve as he commandeers a horse and gallops away to a ledge on the river, where Lagertha and family wait below. Ragnar jumps, and Athelstan saves him from the water but Ragnar is looking like he needs some serious medical attention, pronto.

Who better to administer such medical attention than resident quirky shipbuilder, Floki? I’m no doctor so I can’t say exactly what is happening in this scene but Floki is working to save Ragnar’s life and everyone else is praying, including Athelstan who prays to his Christian God to spare this man’s life. Very interesting since Ragnar gave no thought to sparing the life of Athelstan’s brothers.

Back at the Earl’s place, we find out that the Earl is having a visit from a Swedish friend who he intends to marry his daughter to (sorry Rollo) only he forgot to inform his wife and daughter about this. Personally I like to know who I’m marrying before I meet them but I guess that’s just how Haraldson rolls. Siggy is not very happy about this arranged marriage but the Earl tells her that their daughter will be lucky to have the protection of this rich Earl from Sweden. It’s clear that Siggy isn’t going to get much of say anyways.

The Earl doesn’t believe Ragnar is really dead and has men out searching for him. One of Ragnar’s men, Torstein, comes to the cabin in the woods to find Ragnar and his family and inform them that the Earl is trying to hunt him down. We learn Ragnar is healing from his wounds but not fast enough for his liking, and Lagertha feels ashamed that they are eating all of Floki’s food.

Later that night Ragnar wonders to Torstein why the Gods spared him, he thinks it’s for a purpose, but he cannot do anything until he heals properly. Obviously, Ragnar is planning something, we saw that in the last episode, but we’re still not sure what. We also learn that the Earl has taken the boat. Oh no, don’t tell Floki, he will be crushed.

We check in with Rollo who decides to crash Thyri’s wedding (I mean it could have been his!) and the Earl is none too happy to see him. The Earl thinks that Rollo will lead them to Ragnar but Rollo insists that Ragnar must be dead because he has heard nothing from him, and you know, he would have called or something if he was alive. Right? I’m not sure your relationship was doing all that well Rollo. Either way, Rollo seems a bit nonpulsed by his brother’s apparent death, and he begs the Earl to trust him because he was born to raid and fight and that’s what he wants to do.

At Floki’s cabin in the woods (can’t decide if this a summer camp I would want to stay at, I go back and forth) everyone sits around the fire, teaching Athelstan about the Norse gods. We learn about the Vikings concept of afterlife, and how the earth was created. Athelstan is equal parts intrigued and horrified by their explanations, judging from the look on his face. When they ask him how he thinks the Earth was made he seems unable to answer.

We find out that Rollo and the Earl’s wife Siggy have apparently been sleeping together! That one kind of came out of left field, but interesting. Rollo, just find a nice girl that’s NOT married to someone else, will you? Siggy has come to warn Rollo to leave because the Earl is not happy with him. Turns out Siggy was right, as the Earl captures him and tortures him to try and find Ragnar’s whereabouts. The sad part is, I’m pretty sure Rollo doesn’t actually know for sure if Ragnar is alive or dead.

Torstein comes back to Floki’s to inform Ragnar that Rollo had been captured and tortured by the Earl, information he learned from Siggy. I hope we get to see more of this new (and improved) multi layered Siggy, because it brings so much more depth to the character. Ragnar decides that torturing his brother is the last straw and makes plans to challenge the Earl to one on one combat.

What Worked? 
- There were a lot of elements of tonight’s episode that really played together, and I would consider this a very strong episode especially in terms of set up and story telling.

- Interesting to note that when Ragnar's farm is being attacked, Athelstan rushes to save his book.  I may worry a little too much that he is adapting a bit fast to his new family (although I think this is in part survival instinct) so I'm glad to see that he still sees value in this.

- The introduction of Maude Hirst to the cast, who plays Floki’s “companion” is lovely and provides some nice comic relief moments as Torstein develops a tiny crush on her.

- Once again the relationship between Rollo and Ragnar is explored this week and it continues to intrigue me. If Rollo does know that Ragnar is alive and hanging out at Floki’s than is makes his torture all the more noble, because he is not betraying his brother and telling the Earl. And even if he doesn’t know, it still adds an interesting element to their relationship in the fact that Rollo doesn’t seem too upset about his brother’s death.

- Ragnar’s epic fight through Haraldson’s men to get to his family was lets just face it, pretty awesome.

- More religion talk this week, which I always enjoy, and I love when the show points out not only the differences between Athelstan’s God and Norse gods, but the similarities as well.

What Didn’t Work?
- I think the biggest issue for me this week, was the Rollo and Siggy relationship. Not that I don’t like the relationship itself, and it gives depth to both Siggy and Rollo but it seemed kind of thrown in there and out of nowhere. Especially when we’ve been made to believe that Rollo has the hots for Lagertha. That’s not to say he can’t be into two gals, I just wish this hadn’t felt so forced. Hopefully they develop this in the coming weeks.

That’s it for this week, and this is also the last screener I had access to, so you can expect next week’s review a little bit later than usual, as I will be watching it while it airs! What did you guys think of this week’s episode? Are you anxious for next week? Who do you think will win in open combat? And what’s next for whoever does? Will Rollo and Siggy get to run off together? Chime in below!

 


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