television -> Vikings Episode 5 Review and Recap

Vikings Episode 5 Review and Recap


by James Chantrill

In this week’s episode, we see what happens when those that have power are afraid of losing their power.  Possessed by the thought of losing his power, Earl Haraldson makes a desperate move against Ragnar, exposing his true intentions.

In the opening scene, we are shown the daily activities of the Viking culture including the Earl giving his blessings to a newborn child, fishing for dinner and random acts of toiling.  While these things may have been the backbone of the Viking society, it doesn’t make for a very entertaining start to an episode.  It doesn’t take long for things to pick up, as this was just the calm before the storm.

While the villagers were toiling around the Lothbrok farmstead, the Earl had been busy preparing his thugs to attack.  As life at the farm seemed normal, Ragnar decides to do some hunting in the forest.  While Ragnar tracks a deer, the quietness of farm life is tore apart by the sudden rainstorm of arrows.  The Earl, fearing the rising popularity of Ragnar and the possibility of losing his throne, executes a pre-emptive strike to show that Ragnar is but a man (and not something divine).  With the Earl’s men slaughtering the villagers, I couldn’t help but think of a future uprising that could be caused by the killing of innocent villagers. It seems as though fear has clouded the judgment of the Earl who only is looking for a quick solution while ignoring the long-term ramifications of his attack. 

Soon the screams reach Ragnar in the forest and he takes his first steps toward warpath.  This scene really reminded me of cliché moment of classic cinema where a protagonist becomes one-man army looking for vengeance.  Even with all of that vehemence, Ragnar is still a man. He gets slashed across his leg and has to hobble back to his farm in search of his family.  As soon as Ragnar gets to the threshold of his house, the Earl’s right-hand man shoots an arrow through Ragnar’s shoulder.  Ragnar, now seriously wounded, soldiers on and finds his family hiding with the priest inside.  Ragnar, only fearing for his family, sends them through a passage in the house to get to the boat at the shore while he stays behind to distract the Earl and his men.

Ragnar goes to face the Earl outside his house and has to know that he faces certain doom.  As Ragnar hobbles toward the Earl, he falls to his knees.  The Earl labels him a criminal and asks him if he confesses to being such a person.  Ragnar asks if he can speak to his God; the Earl looks to oblige him and takes a few steps away from Ragnar.  Ragnar prays to Odin, the God of Gods in Val Halla for strength (and at one point calls Odin his father).   Could this be the God that the Oracle in the last episode said that Ragnar claimed a kinship?  With that short prayer to Odin, Ragnar seems to have found some sort of inner strength and manages to escape on horseback after taking out a few of the Earl’s men.  While on his escape route Ragnar, comes to the cliff in last week’s episode where he prepared himself for the coming events.  While sitting atop the edge of the cliff, he falls into the body of water below to escape two of the Earl’s thugs.

As Ragnar’s body falls from the cliff, his family and Brother Athelstan are nearby in a boat to watch.  They rush over to where Ragnar entered the water and wait for him to re-emerge, but due to the wounds he suffered he is unable stay conscious.  Fearing the worst, Brother Athelstan dives in after Ragnar and manages to save him.  With nowhere else to turn, Lagertha takes Ragnar and the rest of the crew to Floki’s house where they can heal Ragnar and lay low as winter settles in.  Throughout the episode, we come back to Floki’s where a crew- member of Ragnar’s comes to see if he is alive (and also passes on information on what the Earl has done with Ragnar’s brother, Rollo).  While at Floki’s, we get to learn more about the Norse Gods and where the live as they teach Brother Athelstan their ways. 

Back at the Earl’s mead hall, an older Swede comes for a visit, but it turns out to be so much more as the Earl has given away his daughter’s hand in marriage.  This is done with more for monetary gain and future alliances than the thought of his daughter’s happiness.  With the ability to label Ragnar as a criminal, that allows the Earl to take away all of his property including the ship that Floki built.

Soon after the marriage to the Earl’s daughter takes place, Rollo crashes the wedding (he could quite possibly be the first wedding crasher in history).  Rollo wants to talk to the Earl about the possibility of being able to continue to raid and says that is the whole reason for his existence.  The Earl agrees to let Rollo raid if he can prove his loyalty during the winter, but as we find out later, Earl Haraldson never had a plan to let Rollo raid for him. 

Fearing for Rollo’s safety, the Earl’s wife meets with Rollo in secret to let him know he is in danger and needs to run.  In my opinion, this makes it seem like these two have had a secret relationship in the past.  As Rollo walks through the town, he encounters some of the Earl’s thugs. The beat Rollo to a pulp and take him to the Earl where he is chained to a table.  The Earl comes in to ask Rollo where Ragnar is and when Rollo doesn’t answer, the Earl tortures him by cutting a mark into his face.  I’m not sure if this will leave Rollo labeled as a traitor or a criminal with this scar, since other ancient societies used to mark the face of criminals to label them as such.

This week’s episode ends back at Floki’s house where Ragnar finds out about the Earl’s treachery in regards to the fate of Rollo.  With Ragnar clearly upset that Rollo was tortured, he asks Floki for a favor.  Ragnar wants Floki to go to the Earl and challenge him to personal combat.  It is right in line with the cliffhanger-at-the-end style Vikings has been employing in its first season.  My guess is that Ragnar has a master plan in mind like we’ve seen in the past.

This episode showed us more of what we have come to expect from Vikings, but I’m not sure if that was such a good thing.  With the week off, I personally expected something much more.  Although this episode delved deeper into the Viking culture, their mythology and their way of life, I still felt it was lacking.  The show had great action with the attack on the farm, but the rest of the show just went through the paces until it ended.  Although this was not the episode I had hoped to see, it was still an episode of a show that I still enjoy watching (and I’m sure will continue to enjoy). With the slower pacing of this week, I’m expecting next week’s episode to take it up a few more notches.

Keywords: Vikings, History Channel Vikings review, Raid
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