Robb Ghag recaps the sixth episode of The History Channel drama Vikings…
This was one of the best episodes of Vikings so far. One battle renews as one comes to a bloody end. After the challenge sent forth by Ragnar in the last episode, my mind went to several other movies and shows set in this time period.
It immediately went to Gladiator where the King cheats and eventually Maximus dies on the sands in the arena. But this is Vikings, and a death for our hero has to be something spectacular, not just a battle with his chieftain … a bitter battle with the King of England is something more likely for Ragnar.
The episode begins with Floki being brought forth to the Earl who reluctantly accepts the challenge from Ragnar. The night before the battle Ragnar and Lagertha have one night of passion as she tries to convince him to flee instead of fighting. Given his serious injuries in the last episodes, she fears for her husband’s survival.
The Earl, restless for the battle ahead, is comforted by his wife Ziggy. She has every confidence that he will defeat Ragnar, whereas the Earl sees himself in Ragnar many moons ago. He respects him, and believes with Ragnar out of the way, he will be free to pillage and plunder England. Later the Earl prays to the old gods for the upcoming battle, and vows the sacrifice of his fallen enemy will be in their name. All he asks for is a sign. He hears nothing.
Each combatant gets two shields; if both are broken there can be no further replacement. Both the Earl and Ragnar throw away their first shields and square off. The Earl is not a weak old man, and still has some skill. Ragnar’s injuries are apparent, slowing him down, and when his sword breaks from the hilt, the two combatants square off again with different weapons, and no shields. The entire crowd looks on as both Ragnar and the Earl retrieve axes and begin battling again. Both men take serious injuries, and for a moment Ragnar wanes and looks as if to be cut down by the Earl. However, in one fluid motion he swerves and cuts the Earl’s back open. The sound and cinematography in this scene is great as everything goes quiet for a moment, except for a raven cawing.
As the Earl clings to life, Ragnar kneels down to tell him that Lord Odin is watching the two of them, waiting to see which one of them will dine in the Hall of the gods. Ragnar quickly slices the Earl’s wrists open and sends him to his death. It was quite surprising to see one of the main characters, especially so brilliantly portrayed by Gabriel Byrne, die.
The Earl’s little henchman starts chanting for the crowd to kill Ragnar, but instead a scarred and beaten Rollo grabs an axe and within an instant plunges it deep into the little mans chest! Queen Ziggy is so shocked she immediately finds the Earl from Sweden who had recently wed her daughter, grabs a blade and murders him, freeing her daughter from having to live with the fat prick! Queen Ziggy then kneels before her husband’s murderer and starts the chants of “Hail Ragnar”.
The battle is over and Ragnar has become the new Earl. This all happens within the first 20 minutes of the show, and it escalates from there.
It’s clear that Earl Ragnar has his sights set on conquest of the West, and the show is heading in that direction. Without giving more of the episode away, I would say this was one of my favourite and the high point of the series thus far.
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.