Robb Ghag recaps the third episode of The History Channel drama Vikings….
In this third episode of Vikings we return to Ragnar and crew leaving England ecstatic with their spoils. The monks all tied to one another are prisoners of the ravaging Vikings. Back at Ragnar’s farm, the Earl’s right hand man visits, interrogating Bjorn and Lagertha on the whereabouts of Ragnar. Lagertha lies to protect her family and says Ragnar has gone fishing. The Earls henchman takes a random child from the farm as surety in the event that Lagertha is lying (which he already knows is true).
Ragnar speaks to the priest whose life he spared; his name is Athelstan, a servant of god. Asking questions of the monastery they just sacked, the priest confesses all of the events which have transpired were foretold in their holy scriptures. They arrive back at the main port to cheers and adulation. Ragnar runs into Knut, the Earl’s half-brother (and the man who missed the boat) who tells Ragnar the Earl wishes to see him as he is aware of their disobedience at travelling west.
In the throne room of the Earl all the plunder of gold and slaves is presented, to much amazement. Ragnar explains how easily the monastery was sacked in England (akin to taking candy from a baby). The Earl inquires as to how Ragnar was able to sail the open seas to the Wes, to which Ragnar replies they had Thor on their side, which guided their travels. Unimpressed, The Earl dispossesses Ragnar and crew of all of their plunder – by right all the possessions from the raid are his. Ragnar makes the plea that he and Floki paid for the boat, and surely his crew is entitled to some reward? The Earl feeling magnanimous allows the crew one piece of treasure each to the clear dismay of all. Ragnar takes the Priest as his slave, to the jeers and laughter of the Queen and the crowd.
Rollo confronts Ragnar outside, furious at the fact that they didn’t argue the point that all the treasure should be theirs. There is a method to the mind of Ragnar as he explains to Rollo that if they had argued the point, the Earl would have had them killed right there in the throne room. Ragnar comforts Rollo by telling him that this is not the end of their journey, as Rollo confesses to Ragnar that he was not content with just one item in their treasure chest, and has stolen several items of gold for his own personal reward. A furious Ragnar tells him that if the Earl finds out he has stolen from him he will be killed.
In the Earl’s bedchamber the Queen adorns him in all of his new treasure, gold crosses and necklaces. The golden hoard is proof that the Earl has more power in his words then in his actions. He has complete authority over Ragnar and his kingdom. As the two embrace it seems the Earl is still unhappy, and troubled by the ghosts of his past.
Back at Ragnar’s farm he introduces his family to their newly acquired slave. Having never seen an Englishman or a Priest, the family is clearly full of questions. Lagertha has other needs as she immediately takes Ragnar to the bedroom. Later in the evening while Ragnar and his wife are enjoying being back together, the Priest in another room reads the bible and prays. Ragnar and his wife invite the Priest into their bed for a threesome. The Priest, clearly tempted, advises of his vows to God of celibacy. Ragnar is puzzled by this, goes back to bed with his wife, and tells the Priest to sleep with his God then. In the morning Athelstan is clearly tortured by his situation.
Somewhere deep in the forest we catch up with the Earl, his henchmen and the boy they stole from Ragnar’s village. They are digging in the dirt and burying all of the Earl’s newly gained treasure, as Odin decrees that a man in Valhalla will have everything he possessed in the mortal world. But the treasure needs protecting, and the Earl’s henchman chokes the life out of the young boy and buries him with the bounty. Gabriel Byrne is fantastic in this scene. He has clearly cemented himself as the evil ruler of the North, and when he says “You’ve already seen enough of this life boy” you get chills down your spine at how ruthless and cold hearted the Earl can be.
Ragnar and the Priest stay up feasting and drinking as he inquires more about the mysterious land of England. The Priest explains there are four kingdoms in England, ruled by four different Kings. Ragnar had landed in the kingdom of Northumbria, ruled by the King Ælle. This is where the insight and the strategy of Ragnar are seen as he learns all about England’s gods, customs and language. Devising strategies and planning his next course of action.
Back at the Earl’s chamber Ragnar returns with the Priest and requests that he be allowed to sail west again. Manipulating the Earl by convincing him the situation is “win win” for him. Ragnar is clearly expendable, the boat can sail, and if Ragnar is successful again, the Earl will gain even more riches. The Earl allows this, but insists Knut accompany him. Knowing that Ragnar has a new way to navigate the open sea he wishes to learn the secret for himself.
Ragnar returns home where he tells Lagertha they have been granted permission to sail west once again, and to her surprise he asks her to accompany them on the journey. As the crew set sail, Rollo grabs Knut by the throat and almost chokes him to death testing his loyalty. Knut says he fears Odin’s judgment of him and proclaims his loyalty to the warband heading west.
Back on the shores of England, Ragnar and the crew are met with a slightly different welcoming then they received when they sacked the Monastery. Knights in armor and on horseback approach the warband. Their captain asks them who they are in the English tongue (this last scene is all subtitled, as we assume that Ragnar has learnt the English language). Trying to convince the knights that the Northerners are traders and willing to meet the King, Rollo and Eric disagree with Ragnar and their Viking bloodlust takes over. The English stand little chance as the Vikings decimate the group, all save for one who escapes on his horse. The closing scene shows the shoreline and the beach covered in bodies and blood.
Vikings got off to a slow start but now in episode 3 – and clearly in the previews of episode 4 – Ragnar has to deal with dissent among his crew, Rollo especially. With the slaughter on the beach, it is obvious King Ælle will not take this affront lightly.
As the Vikings continue to journey west, history is clear: war is imminent.
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.