Vikings season 3 is almost over… and episode 9 was one of the best episodes in the season so far.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
It seems Ragnar is done punishing Floki for having killed Athelstan, but the price he paid may have been too high. He’s wounded from the failed attack, and might be dying. Amid feverish hallucinations, Ragnar sees both Odin and also Athelstan, who is holding out his hand to him from the afterlife. Ragnar is obviously torn between his Viking faith, which happens to be bloody and brutal, and his desire to reunite with his friend… and also, perhaps, the lure of a more peaceful afterlife with him?
But we’ll get to that in a second.
The Vikings start off their second attack on the city with Lagertha and a team of shield-maidens undertaking a stealth mission. I have to admit this was one of my favorite scenes from the episode. Is there no end to Lagertha’s awesomeness? I admit I am infatuated with her, but so are others of thousands of fans. Her character might just be popular enough to carry the show once Ragnar is out of the picture. And anybody who has done their research knows that Ragnar will eventually be out of the picture.
Back to the episode… Lagertha and the sheild-maidens breach the gates and the rest of the Vikings pour in, only to be driven out by the Franks again. But not before Rollo shows his strength as a warrior… the strength, almost, of a bear.
This reminds me of when the Seer said earlier on in this season that a bear would marry a princess. Could this be Rollo and Gisla he was talking about? If it is, it will sure make for interesting story-telling in season 4.
Funniest moment in the episode was when Siegfried tricked the Franks in a gruesome yet hilarious set-up moments before his execution. Too much? No… Considering Siegfried was the one being executed, it seems only right that he should have a little viking fun before he kicks the bucket.
Back in the Viking camp, Bjorn seems to finally be growing into his shoes as the King’s son, and Ragnar is noticing.
Back in Kattegat, we see Queen Aslaug in all her glory. I have always been pro-Aslaug… even though this is not a popular opinion, I have always admired her class and her poise. This is on full display in this episode as she rapidly takes control of a situation to prevent social chaos from brewing in town by daring a Christian missionary to put his money where his mouth is. Nice move, Queen of the Vikings.
Now… coming back to what really matters.
Guys… this is huge.
I am sure Lagertha, Rollo, Floki and the rest of the Vikings will see this as a betrayal. Some viewers might even argue that Ragnar made the wrong decision, that as a ruler he should stand by his people and their beliefs. And maybe he should have.
But this wasn’t a decision made overnight. Ragnar has always been curious about the christian faith, and considering Athelstan was the only person he really trusted, it doesn’t seem unlikely that he desires to reunite with him after death. What is disconcerting is that Ragnar effectively renounced the Viking gods, and also renounced the possibility of reuniting with the rest of his kin in Valhalla after his death… or at least, that’s how everyone is going to view it.
We’ve always known Ragnar was the progressive type. He desires knowledge above everything else… and even though he is a strong warrior, like any true Viking, he is not really the blood-thirsty type. We have seen he prefers negotiating over fighting, and that what he really desires for his people is land for them to prosper and thrive in. These are all peaceful ideals. Is it so crazy to assume that Ragnar has been influenced by these principles to the point that he is willing to forego his ancestry and culture and embrace a new way to die?
Whatever this means, we know that whatever comes after this, is not going to be easy for him. And that’s a good thing.