When last we left off Lagethera had been defeated by Ivar in a bloody battle that cost the lives of several secondary characters, not only that but Rollo has made his triumphant return to the show and we saw the crowning of Alfred over his older brother. At the time of airing I was not completely against the previous episode, in fact I argued in it’s defense but upon further viewing I do admit that as episodes go it was weaker. The last dozen or so episodes saw a shift in tone for the series and it really has made me wonder, could Vikings truly survive without Ragnar?
Ivar and King Harald celebrate their bittersweet victory only to realize that it came at more of a cost than the blood and steel of battle. Now Ivar and his allies have to sign a very one sided treaty with Rollo, which will lead to increased wealth for his territory (wealth that will help fund the armies of a man known as William the Bastard, now remembered as William The Conqueror, yes Rollo is a distant ancestor of the current British Royal Family). Ivar who though cunning proves he is not his fathers equal by agreeing to more of his uncles ludicrous demands all for the ‘possible’ location of his hated enemy.
Meanwhile Lagertha and her cohorts hide and lick their wounds. Honestly it is rather dull until Rollo finds them. This is where the most over-dramatic yet significant part of the episode happens, Rollo reveals that he has always been in Love with Lagertha and that Bjornn is possibley his son. I am not so keen on this because
Lagertha gave Ragnar a lot of crap for cheating in her, then again she only did this after he suggested having two wives was an option.
It just seems rather soap opera esque in it’s delivery
But on the other hand, it would help explain why Rollo has always competed with his brother and why he was always protective of his extended family. In the end Rollo offers his family protection from their enemies as long as they come with him. Of course all this comes after his explosive confrontation with Bjornn and this finally seems like the show that I once knew and loved, this is what Vikings used to do best, the Lothbrook family dynamic. In the end Rollo bids them farewell, for good, where he heads to France and they head to England. Of course when they get there they are immediately captured but the hope is that King Alfred with his more temperate look on life will see that an alliance with them will give him a much needed edge on the Northmen who threaten his shores.
Back In England Alfred continues to build up his military and uses his brother like a blunt hammer by giving him command over his army. This to me seems tactically unsound as his brother has a strong claim to the throne and could possibly use “bigger army diplomacy” to take it back. All the while Alfred also upsets the church by trying to spread knowledge and refuses to marry, which means no heir. Mix this with a possible alliance with Lagertha’s forces and you could see a revolt against his already unstable rule.
Speaking of unstable Floki continues to struggle on Iceland, though he offers to sacrifice himself to the gods he narrowly survives the vote that would have ended him. It seems that many settlers want to live by the old ways and not Floki’s. Fun fact Iceland did actually become an early semi-democracy and stayed that way for years, so Floki will be successful. Sadly I really think that his plot does not fit with the rest of the series and I do not see a point in it.
This episode was much stronger than previous entries and I really enjoyed it, even if it still uses random time skips, it still had a lot more heart that previous installations of the season 5. I really hope that the writers realize that it is with Bjornn and Lagertha that the best hope for the series sits. Either have Bjornn and Alfred bond like their fathers and become strong leads, where Bjornn is a strong man with weak forces, Alfred is a weak man with Strong forces or have Lagertha return to her earlier badassness and play off Bishop Headmund like a sexier version of Ragnar and Athelstan.
In the end I am left with high hopes for the remainder of this season.