Robb Ghag recaps the second episode of The History Channel’s new drama Vikings…
“All things begin with a story…”
The show opens as Ragnar and Rollo enter a secret meeting in the home of Eric. Ragnar discusses his plans to sail west towards a mythical place, filled with riches, a place called England. The group gathered have sworn on their family rings to keep this meeting secret. Met with skepticism Ragnar explains they have the vessel to travel West, and the means to guarantee their course. He is met with some objection, but the promise of bounty and a new land to pillage is too hard for the group to resist. Even though they face Death if Earl Haralson finds out about their disobedience, the crew agrees to join Ragnar on his journey.
At the dinner table of Earl Haralson, the spy enters to report of the secret meeting. The chieftain tells his spy to continue and watch, and report back. For me this is where the story took a weird turn as Earl Haralson approaches the spy and asks “Were you staring at my wife?”. The spy emphatically says no, with the wife giggling in the background. The chieftain explains, “If you want to sleep with my wife, and she you, then it can be arranged.” At this point all I could think of was that maybe this was a test of the spy’s loyalty, or maybe in the Viking era this would have been considered payment, or a great honour? I would have thought that the chieftain would be enraged and threaten the spy, but perhaps this was just foreshadowing.
Ragnar arrives home to Lagertha, and as they are doing laundry Ragnar tells her she cannot accompany them on the journey west. Lagertha is angry as she knows this would be the most exciting journey of their lives. But Ragnar knows if the Earl finds out of their betrayal the farm, and their children’s lives will be in danger. Who will look after the children if both of them are dead? Ragnar sarcastically suggests Rollo and immediately Lagertha says “You have no right to say that”. This little exchange means that Ragnar is aware of the history between Lagertha and Rollo, which hasn’t really been shown yet, but obviously there is a past relationship there.
Back in the Earl’s bedchamber the spy enters to find the Earl’s wife in bed. He undresses immediately and jumps into bed with the Earl’s wife. She gets on top of him, and begins to furiously punch him the face. As thought, it was a set to test the loyalty of who he could trust. The Earl enters the room with some of his henchman. The spy is taken away and stabbed through the heart. As his body slumps to the floor, the henchmen all raise their weapons and begin chopping up the corpse.
Ragnar is home drinking away, when Lagertha shows her displeasure in his decision to leave her at home with the children. They begin to fight and she smashes Ragnar a few times with her shield. During their ruckus she yells “I saved your life!” again giving a brief window into their back-story. The fight becomes so enraged that Bjorn is woken out of bed and has to come and stop them. Lagertha gets the final word in as she slaps Ragnar across the face exclaiming “I’m so mad at you!”
In the Earl’s bedchamber, the Earl and his wife comfort each other as they realize they are surrounded by people they cannot trust. The Earl’s wife states plain of fact “Our enemies cannot prevail”
Preparations for the journey west continue as the crew gather supplies and see Floki the boatmaker once again. Ragnar playfully puts a knife to his throat and asks “Where’s my anchor?” Recalling from last episode that Ragnar had given Floki the last of his gold to purchase it, Floki promises it should arrive today. Ragnar notices that one of the promised crewman isn’t there, which troubles him as he suspects he would go to the Earl to betray them. Moments later the Blacksmith arrives with the anchor, as promised.
The men and the boat are prepared, and as a wash maiden provides them with water for them to collectively wash their faces, they ask for the god’s blessings for a safe and bountiful journey. Rollo then follows the wash maiden and forces himself upon her. The look in his eyes is deadening.
At the home of Ragnar Lagertha tells the children a bedtime story. This scene is beautifully captured as she tells a story of Thor and his battle with the eternal serpent. As she speaks we cut to Ragnar at night on his journey, and Lagertha waiting on the shores.
Rain and thunder on the open sea, as a storm hits the boat. Ragnar captains the crew as they make preparations for surviving the storm.
Our first glimpse west, as we see a group of Monks at the Lindisfarne Monastery, in the Kingdom of Northumbria, England, as the monks pause for a moment still in silence, hearing the storm outside of their shores.
The crew continue to row throughout the storm and Rollo explains that Thor is angry with them for making the journey west. He hammers on his anvil which causes the thunder! Floki interrupts and says the storm is Thor’s hammer, but he is not angry with them. He is celebrating! The lightening is the sparks off of Thor’s hammer as he wants all the gods to know that their boat is unsinkable!
Back at the village Earl Haralson confronts the blacksmith, asking him if he forged the anchor for Ragnar. Upon fear of any harm coming to this daughter the blacksmith reluctantly tells the Earl of the anchor. The Earl stares into the open flame at the blacksmith’s shop. He says our futures can be within the flames. The Earls henchmen grab the blacksmith and ask him, what future does he see within the flames? The blacksmith says “I see my own death”. As the henchman plunge his face into the flame, his daughter screams in the background.
Meanwhile, back on the boat, the crew grows restless as the storm subsides and they continue to row aimlessly. A crew member becomes mutinous as he curses Ragnar and screams their journey has been cursed by Loki; the God of mischief. He goes crazy claiming Ragnar is Loki in disguise, and curses the day he joined the voyage. Ragnar quickly quells the mutiny by stabbing the man in the throat. They release two Ravens into the sky. If the birds do not return, then they are close to land. If not, then they are indeed lost at sea.
The crew hear the screeches of Seagulls in the air meaning they are close to land, and they celebrate! Through the mist the shadow of land is seen.
The Monks are chanting within the Monastery as one walks the shoreline. He sees the vessel emerge from the mist and rushes back to warn of the impeding ‘devils’ arriving.
The Vikings arrive on land and prepare for battle, ready to fight. The Bells ring throughout the Monastery. As they begin to break through the doors, the monks locked inside begin praying in Latin.
The Vikings begin the slaughter of the holy men and spread themselves throughout the Monastery. Ragnar and his men find gold crosses and chalices and a bountiful reward, puzzled at the fact their treasures weren’t guarded claiming the Monks must believe themselves protected by their God. Hidden among their treasures they find a Monk who speaks the Norse language. He explains the Monks are told to travel to spread the word of God which is how he learnt their language. Ragnar decides he is worth more alive than dead, and a standoff occurs when Rollo disagrees. Enraged Rollo takes his battle Axe and smashes the Cross on the wall, claiming this is what Vikings think of their God.
Floki begins to read the parchments in the Monastery and seems amazed when he can ignite them on fire. The Vikings return to their ship, with many prisoners and a cascade of gold. As they sail away the Monastery burns and smokes in the background. Clearly the path of riches and rewards is westward.
Robb Ghag works for an Arts & Entertainment Brokerage in Toronto Canada. An Animation and Film school graduate, he specializes in Risk Management of Animation and VFX studios throughout North America.