Vikings Episode 2 Review and Recap
The Wrath of the Northmen
Last week, Michael Hirst gave us the first look at Vikings and with this week’s episode; we get to leave the Viking shores. Ragnar, along with Rollo and Floki recruit a defiant band of Vikings to put the new ship to the test of raiding to the west. While on their adventure to the west, we get to see Earl Haraldson do some light “cleaning” back at the township.
“Wrath of the Northmen” opens with a meeting called by Ragnar and like-minded Vikings who seek greater glory than the usual raiding in the east. I believe that Ragnar says it best for why they came to the meeting, “All you lot live idle and wasteful lives, and that is why you are here.” Ragnar seems to know how to push his viking brothers into agreeing with the raid west more to prove Ragnar wrong and to make sure that they have their honor. With Ragnar’s challenge to their honor the Vikings agree to the Ragnar’s plan to go west towards England. The thing that struck me the most was how Rollo acted at the meeting by sitting away from everyone else, it seems like he harbors resentment to Ragnar and that was partly shown with how Rollo has a crush on Ragnar’s wife. So, one can easily see where this is heading with a possible, “Et tu, Brute?”
While Ragnar’s quest to the west angers the Earl Haraldson, Ragnar also angers his wife, Lagertha. Lagertha, as we found out in the first episode is a well-known shield maiden (equivalent of a female warrior) who also dreams of heading to the west to raid. This creates some drama at Ragnar’s farm as he has to tell his wife to stay home with the kids. Lagertha on the other hand reminds Ragnar that she saved his life in the past, but even this doesn’t change Ragnar’s mind. So with what would be considered domestic abuse in today’s society, Lagertha decides to bash Ragnar in the face with a shield to get her frustration across to Ragnar.
While Ragnar has his plate full sailing to the west where he encounters a storm and a paranoid Viking, Earl Haraldson seeks to end traitors back at town. By using his own wife, Earl Haraldson figures out that one of his trusted advisors can no longer be trusted and has him killed for lusting after the Earl’s wife. The treachery doesn’t stop there as the Earl hunts down the blacksmith that made Ragnar’s anchor. When the Earl talks with the blacksmith, he talks about how they (Vikings) are told that if they stare into the fire that they can see their future. The Earl asks what the blacksmith can see and the smith responds with, “My death,” and with that the Earl’s guards kill the smith by plunging his face into the fire. This shows the brutality of Vikings but I also found myself questioning the intelligence of killing the blacksmith. How many blacksmiths can possibly be in that town where the Earl can just have him killed without thinking about the ramifications of killing possibly the only smith?
The mythology of the Vikings comes back into play in this episode with Lagertha telling her son a story of Thor and a serpent. While on the boat heading to England, Ragnar has to deal with a storm where the Vikings call on for help from the Gods. Also during the storm, the paranoid Viking becomes frightened and accuses Ragnar of being Loki, the God of trickery. Ragnar knows that he has to quell this man before others start to think of mutiny, so Ragnar does the only thing that he can do and that involves a knife and a quick thrust to the neck of said Viking.
When Ragnar and his group finally arrive in England, they discover a monastery where they come across a group of priests that pose no threat but are brutally murdered more for sport than any threat that could be potentially posed. We are shown what the Vikings think of other religions when they see Christ on a crucifix; they believe that the priest’s God is dead and that the Viking gods are better since they believe their gods to be alive. During this raid Ragnar saves a priest from being killed only because he happens to speak the Viking language, which in turn angers Rollo. As I Mentioned before, their relationship isn’t heading to a good place. It is plainly obvious that something terrible is building between them.
While this episode builds upon the first by giving us the chance to see Ragnar’s plan in action and also what the Earl is doing to minimize the eventual rebellion, it seems like Hirst is rushing the threat of Rollo. While I still have high hopes for this show, I can’t get past how Hirst is rushing the drama. With this episode, you can already tell that Rollo is going to betray Ragnar by working with the Earl to most likely have him killed. This seems to take a lot of the suspense away from the show but other than that, the rest of the show’s characters had great development especially from Lagertha. I give this week’s episode a very lenient four stars, simply because I’m still intrigued enough to see where it goes from here.