television -> Vikings Episode 7 Review and Recap

Vikings Episode 7 Review and Recap

A King's Ransom

by James Chantrill

In this episode, we got to see the first encounter between Ragnar Lothbrok and King Aelle (and it was a very bloody affair).  Although this may have been a bloody encounter, this will certainly not be our last chance to satisfy our bloodlust this new rivalry.

In the opening scene, we are shown how versatile the Viking long ships were as they are able to traverse not only open ocean, but also had the ability to go up the river towards the kingdom of Northumbia. 

As Ragnar and the Vikings make their way to the shore to set up a defensive encampment to await the English troops, we are shown what the English are planning.  Just like the Vikings are preparing their camp, the English are fortifying their keep and bringing the surrounding villagers inside the walls for protection.  As the villagers continue to pour into the keep, we see the King Aelle’s brother, Lord Edgar, come to lend his support.

With Ragnar away on the raids, this leaves Lagertha back at home to oversee the laws and disputes of the townspeople to maintain order.  Lagertha’s leadership is tested when a man brings his wife and what he says is an illegitimate child in to receive judgment.  The man says that a younger Viking stayed at their house for three days, and nine months later, his wife gave birth to a child (after the couple had went years without conceiving).  Lagertha asks what the man’s name was and Lagertha responds that it’s another name for the God, Hemdale.  She then tells the man that he should consider himself blessed that the God chose them.  Lagertha warns the man that if any harm is to come to the child or his wife, he will have to answer to her. 

From there, the king’s brother, Lord Edgar, is given control of the army. He starts off by taking a look at the Viking encampment and decides to wait for the Vikings to make the first move.  Lord Edgar decides to make camp close by which ultimately lends itself to his downfall.  As night comes, the Vikings sneak into the English camp and lead a bloody attack that ends with Floki capturing Lord Edgar (Lord Edgar sure took his time praying.  By the time he was done, the Vikings had virtually wiped out the opposition).

When told the news of his brother’s defeat, King Aelle holds a consul with the other lords and his advisors.  Some of his advisors claim that God has sent them as punishment, while others claim that it was the devil that sent the Vikings.  With those ludicrous notions, there happens to be a lord that is more logical. He claims that the Vikings are just savage men and that they should pay them off to get them to leave. 

Ragnar decides to make a move by bringing Lord Edgar to the king’s keep where the Lord that had the logical idea to pay off Ragnar meets him.  The lord asks whether or not Ragnar will meet with the king to discuss the options for the release of his brother.  Ragnar responds with giving the “cold shoulder” and leaving without a word.  With their departure, Ragnar and his few selected Vikings head down the road a little bit away from the keep. This is where Rollo asks why the king would care about his brother and strongly suggest that they should just attack while the English are weak.  Ragnar responds to Rollo with, “Don’t I care for my brother?” and this leaves Rollo silent.  With that, Ragnar and his few men head back to the keep for a sit-down with the king.

At this meeting between Ragnar and King Aelle, we are shown the contempt and disgust each of these two cultures have for each other as they feast and discuss the options of the release of Lord Edgar (I really enjoyed the contrast between the two cultures.  It was definitely worlds apart).  While the Vikings talk to each other at the table, the subtitles help show how they are people that the English have had little, if any contact with, but also showed the remarkable differences that lead to their contempt.  It is here that Ragnar makes the demand of 2,000 lbs. of gold and silver for the safe release of his brother (Lord Edgar).  After a little misunderstanding by the English lords and King Aelle, the king finally agrees for the sum to be paid on two conditions: that the Vikings return to their camp and not raid (and also that one of the Vikings agrees to become baptized in Christianity).  As Ragnar tells the other Vikings of the king’s offer, only Rollo agrees to be baptized. 

During the baptism, it was amusing to watch this Rollo have no clue as to what was happening. The look that Floki had on his face was one full of disgust coupled with anger and contempt.  When Ragnar and the Vikings arrive back at camp, Rollo acts like it was nothing but a joke. This is where Floki lets his thoughts of that mockery to their Gods out.  Floki tells Rollo that he has angered the Gods and asks how he will ever get back in the good grace of Odin.  With those spiteful words let out by Floki (Floki is clearly a man of conviction), it looks like Rollo is about ready to attack Floki only to be interrupted by the arrival of the payoff of the English. 

With the payoff left at the outside of the Viking’s camp, Ragnar sends three Vikings out to retrieve it.  The three Vikings find out at the expense of their lives that it was just a ploy by the king when a troop of soldiers arrives.  The battle was epic enough to be suitable for a blockbuster film.  After the Vikings won the battle, Rollo was fueled by the anger that Floki put in him by saying that he angered Odin (it looked like Floki got to him).  Ragnar decides to send a message to the king by sending his brother back dead on a sled attached to a horse. With that message, the king agrees to pay the ransom of 2,000 lbs. in gold and silver.  As the Vikings sail away from their kingdom, the king watches on a hillside and vows to attain vengeance on the men from the North.

This episode was a lot of fun to watch as it was full of action, but we also saw a form of Viking diplomacy from both Ragnar and Lagertha in war and civil matters.  The most promising part of the episode was the setup of King Aelle as the next villain/antagonist (we were left with an empty roster spot with the death of Earl Haraldson).  Vikings continues to bring quality episodes that stand alone amongst the many new shows competing for a piece of the pie.  As always, I can’t wait to see where they take this compelling story next week.

Keywords: Vikings, History Channel Vikings review, A King's Ransom
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