EW – Vikings recap: ‘In the Uncertain Hour Before the Morning’
Season 4, Ep. 14 | Aired Dec 21
Queen Aslaug is queen no more. She knows this, she has no escape plan; she walks into the town square knowing her time has come to an end. There is a freedom to knowing you will never be free again. The Queen looks amused by her invader. “How strange, Lagertha, that you should play the usurper. One woman against another.” Aslaug knows Lagertha values herself as a powerful woman in this world of powerful men — knows that, at this moment of triumph, it will darken Lagertha’s soul just a little bit, the implication she has broken her own rule.
“I was never the usurper,” says Lagertha. “Always the usurped.” Aslaug took Lagertha’s husband, her world, her happiness. “You’re a witch,” Lagertha says. “You bewitched him.” Perhaps she believes that; perhaps it is an easy justification, a way to establish herself as the force of moral right. Aslaug smiles. She did not bewitch Ragnar, but she knows he is dead. “In my dream, his boats were sunk in a storm,” says Aslaug.
She will not fight. She knows she would not win. Aslaug has never been a warrior. Yet, she has raised warriors. “I have fulfilled my destiny,” she says. “The gods foretold Ragnar would have many sons. I have given him those sons. I am as much a part of his saga, Lagertha, as you are.” It is another gambit, a way of snatching some greater victories from the jaws of this mortal defeat. Lagertha may defeat Aslaug. But they will be history soon, are already history; the legends have already formed about Ragnar and Aslaug and Lagertha and their ilk. Aslaug asks only for safe passage. She promises Lagertha will have Kattegat and she promises she will not demand her sons seek vengeance. It will be a peaceful transition of power.
“I understand,” says Lagertha. What does that mean? What message is she receiving from Aslaug? Does she know that, in some strange way, this great day of victory has not been wholly victorious? Does she sense this woman whom she always doubted — this usurper, this alleged witch, this poor excuse for a monarch — has hidden depths to her personality? Does she suddenly recognize, in Aslaug, a warrior?
Aslaug turns her back and prepares to leave her life behind. And then her life is taken and a smile crosses her face. An arrow in the back and a great funeral pyre for the woman who made warriors, for she who never gave up the old faith. She is in the saga forever now, even if her time in this story has come to an end. What future has she cursed Lagertha, too?
EW – Vikings recap: ‘Two Journeys’
War on both coasts
Season 4, Ep. 13 | Aired Dec 14
Ragnar Lothbrok’s great army of revenge feeds the fish at the bottom of the sea. His boats sink into darkness, never to be seen again by human eyes. Yet Ragnar and Ivar endure. Father and son wash ashore. Some of his men survive, too: A motley crew, not the great warriors of yesteryear, some few desperate Vikings. They know the locals will arrive soon. They must move — but Ivar, little Ivar, cannot walk with his father. “I’m not going to stand around all watching you try to be normal,” says the King. “You never will be. Once you realize that, that is when greatness will happen. Now crawl.”
Ragnar’s first son, Bjorn, isn’t normal, either. Alone among his brothers, he remembers a time when his father was a farmer. Alone among his brothers, he remembers the brighter days of Uncle Rollo, the familiar friend, not the eternal traitor. Bjorn sails southward on his journey to the Mediterranean. The ships pass the Normandy coast, which will host unimaginable bloodshed centuries hence when all the dreams of the Vikings are dust and memory.
Looks like a big night for our queen! #TeamLagertha
Vikings recap: ‘The Vision’
Ragnar sets sail for Wessex
EW – Season 4, Ep. 12 | Aired Dec 07
Ragnar’s story began with England, or a dream of England: That land across the water, a single ship carrying Ragnar and a group of young men to glory in the land of the Christ-God. Now, to England will Ragnar return. “I’m looking for brave warriors,” he announces in the town square. “Like you! Like you!” The response is muted. A man tells Ragnar his brother’s family went to England to found the Viking colony. “We never did find out what happened to them,” the man says. “But it seems you knew all along, and didn’t tell us.” He spits on King Ragnar the once-great, who once sailed with ships beyond number.
Now, Ragnar must beg his son Bjorn for ships. Bjorn will grant them — but he has his own plans. He will travel down the coast to Frankia, where it is said his Uncle Rollo has a new kingdom on the coast. Bjorn’s plan, bold and perhaps mad: He will send messengers to Rollo. Can family bonds, once broken, be fixed?
The sons of Ragnar are bonded yet with their mother. Aslaug wants them to settle down: “You should already be married,” she tells her three older sons. “You don’t have to love the woman,” she explains. “You need one to breed with.” Did Aslaug ever love Ragnar? Her sons have their own legends about their parents. One son says Aslaug bewitched their father; another recalls the wanderer Harbard, who Aslaug so loved, who so betrayed her trust. “She has always loved me,” says Ivar. Sigurd disagrees. “She feels pity for you,” he says. “We all feel pity for you. But sometimes, we wish that she’d left you to the wolves.” Ivar tries to attack him, slithering across the floor like a snake.
Also, let me post the Season 4 catch up for Lagertha. It hasn’t been posted on YouTube yet so I didn’t see it until now.
Vikings recap: ‘The Outsider’
Ragnar returns and no one’s happy
EW – Season 4, Ep. 11 | Aired Nov 30
See Ragnar Lothbrok, the great King and the wandering ghost. Once he was a young Earl, and he sat on the shores of Kattegat, and spoke words of sorrow to his dead daughter. Now he is an old man — old in experience, old in beard length, old in the measure of friends still alive against friends long dead — and he stands on the water’s edge.
What awaits him, this revenant soul, returned now after long years spent away? His sons do not kill him; that counts as a blessing, I suppose. “I came back because I wanted to see what has become of my sons,” he tells them, the fruit of his loins. One thing that has happened: “It would appear you have another son.” Across the sea in Wessex, there is a boy named Magnus, the product of a coupling with Queen Kwenthrith. Magnus is in Wessex, and surely Ragnar’s destiny lies there, also.