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Welcome back to another week of Vikings! We are heading down to the wire, with just two episodes to go after this week, and this episode not only keeps the pace moving but sets up some intriguing storylines for the series to work with. Also some standout performances this week as we get a glimpse into not only more Viking warfare, but the world of their Christian adversaries.

I’m afraid I have to do a slightly abridged recap this week, so I’m only going to hit the main points.

You’ll remember from last week, Ragnar and his band of merry warriors are heading back to England, sailing up the river ready to raid once again. In the opening scene we meet the King’s brother, who has come to lead his armies and defend him against the invading North men. Interesting to introduce another brother dynamic into the show, and it uses this similarity to its advantage.

While Ragnar is off raiding, Lagertha keeps the peace back home. A couple comes to her, the husband saying the new baby in the family is not his. After hearing both their stories, Lagertha decides that the visitor that came to their house was actually a god and the husband should be honored the god choose his home. While I really loved seeing Lagertha take charge and cunningly find a way to protect the women and her child, I also very much enjoyed watching Athelstan’s reaction to this in the back round. He seems awed by the fact that they would believe such a thing could happen. I was reminded of this scene again later on in the episode as King Aelle and his men are trying to decide why the Northman have come, and one man suggests God has sent them and another the devil. I don’t find this line of thinking so far off from Lagertha’s explanation. I don’t know if the show was trying to make that sort of connection, but I’m not sure Athelstan has any right to be throwing stones at this point.

Back in England the King’s brother and his men set up camp not far from Ragnar and his men. It seems both sides are waiting for the right moment to attack, and for Ragnar and his men that moment comes under the cover of night. They move through the camp quickly, killing most of the men, but capturing a few, including the King’s brother.

The scenes that follow are a series of showing off and power plays between Ragnar and the King. Ragnar goes to the gates of the cities with the King’s brother in tow but says nothing and after being told the King would like to talk with him, simply rides away. Eventually Ragnar decides to meet with the King, a decision that Rollo of course disagrees with. Rollo believes the King will kill them all, and Ragnar insists that since they have his brother they will listen to him. Rollo asks why the King should care about his brother. Ragnar’s response, “Do I not care about mine?” And it all links together.

Ragnar meets the King, and there’s a tense few moments before someone suggests they eat before they talk. This scene is actually incredibly amusing as we see the differences between these two world’s, but there is an underlying tension that just resonates with the viewer as well. (My favorite part of this scene was Ragnar bragging about the fact that he too had a man of God at home. He’s so proud.) The King asks what Ragnar wants to return his brother and leave him alone. Ragnar requests 2,000 pounds (in weight) of gold, which the King reluctantly agrees to under one condition. He asks that one of these pagan north men be baptized and become Christian. Rollo volunteers.

As Rollo is baptized everyone looks on but it’s clear that one person is not happy about Rollo renouncing the Norse gods. Floki looks on in disgust, and when Rollo late confronts him and tells him he did it as a joke, Floki asks him how he will make it up to Odin. Before Rollo can answer a shipment of gold from the King arrives, but it turns out it is just a trap and the King’s men attack.

We get another great battle scene this week, and this scene is so well shot I enjoyed every second of it, down to the very last moments as the King’s men have been dispatched with and Rollo slides through the mud killing the inured. He shouts to Floki asking how many Christians has he killed, and it’s clear that whether or not Rollo was joking, Floki’s words really got to him.

In the aftermath of the battle Ragnar decides to kill the King’s brother in return for his betrayal, which prompts King Aelle to pay him to gold he had initially promised. As Ragnar and his crew sail away, the King watches from the shore, vowing eternal war on these pagans from the North.

And finally in this episode we have a tragic scene in which Lagertha has a miscarriage and loses the baby. During this episode she hires Siggy to be her servant, and we get a truly heart breaking moment of the two in an embrace after it happens, putting aside political differences and connecting a truly emotional level, as women and mothers. It’s a poignant scene and I’m sure the aftermath that comes from this development will be equally significant.

What Worked? 

 - Like I said earlier, some standout performances this week, in particular that of Clive Standen and Travis Fimmel. Rollo’s attempt to appease these Christian’s by his baptism and subsequent struggle for how to reconcile this with this own Gods was a little heartbreaking to watch, and I appreciated the amount of emotion Standen poured into this performance. And Ragnar’s every glance and carefully worded statement was a joy to watch, not to mention he is absolutely fearsome in battle.

 - I like the see Lagertha in charge, and I like to see her using her wits as well. We’ve already seen that she is a fierce warrior and I love that about her, but I enjoy when the shoe offers the character a chance to show some of her other qualities as well.

 - The show is doing a good job of using the score and the cinematography to convey how fierce and uncivilized the Anglo Saxons may have thought the Vikings to be. It’s refreshing to see all these different elements being used together to convey this to the audience.

 - There was an element of comedy to this week’s episode as well. Not laugh out loud moments, this is still a drama, but little moments here and there that were quite amusing. And the show balanced this with the dramatic moments quite nicely. This clash of cultures as it were, featured in tonight’s episode does have potential for comedy, and I’m pleased the show went there, without taking away form the seriousness of the situation.

 What Didn’t Work? 

- Overall I was pretty pleased with this episode. It was a solid episode and there aren’t any major complaints this week. And in talking to others I’ve found the general consensus to be about the same. So for this week will say that there is nothing that stands out as not working, but what’s your opinion? Would you disagree?

All in all, I greatly enjoyed this week’s episode, and I’m excited to see where the last two episodes take us. What did you folks think? As we reach the end of the season is there anything you hope to see as we go forward?

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