Vikings Season 1 Episode 9 Finale
With the title for this episode being “All Changes,” we were already let on to the secret that this is going to be an episode full of twists and turns, even with it being the end of the first season of “Vikings.” So with this episode, we saw major life changes for many of the characters in the “Vikings” world. So, without further adieu, let’s dive into it.
We get a sweeping view of Ragnar and his crew traveling on horseback to Jarl Borg’s land in Gotland, Sweden. Ragnar’s group consists of One-Eye, Rollo, Floki, and Ragnar’s son (Bjorn). The reason for their visit to Jarl Borg is to take care of the favor that King Horik asked of Ragnar in the last episode. For those that don’t remember, the favor was over a dispute concerning land ownership that both Jarl Borg and King Horik claim (King Horik wants Ragnar to smooth things out with the jarl). As we find out later in the episode, this land is not merely a place to farm, but is full of valuable minerals. While Jarl Borg explains this, you start to sympathize with him, as it seems that the king is trying to use his influence and power to steal land from its rightful owner.
While Ragnar tells Jarl Borg that he isn’t here to negotiate for the king. He tells Borg that he is only to pass on the message. The jarl thinks this over for a while and comes up with two choices, he will either lease the land back to King Horik or they can both split the minerals evenly. Since Ragnar isn’t there to negotiate, the Jarl says that Ragnar should send a man back and let the king hear the offer. The Jarl then suggests that while Ragnar waits, he should make the three-day journey to the Ash Tree that is believed to be the great ash tree Yggdrasil that holds up the sky. While on the trip, Jarl Borg asks that a man be left behind for good faith and Ragnar chooses his brother, Rollo, to leave behind. With Rollo left behind, Ragnar sends Floki back to give the king the message and then sets out with the rest of the crew to see the Ash Tree.
Back at the home front, we see everyone eating at the table with Lagertha being the only person not eating. Gyda (Lagertha’s daughter) makes the observation that Lagertha has hardly eaten anything for the last few days and it would only make sense with how stressed out Lagertha has been (especially in the last episode with what she had prayed). This scene also gave us a great line from Lagertha (and probably my favorite line) that she has said all season when Ziggy (Earl Harladson’s ex-wife) suggests that she to go see the oracle. Lagertha says that, “It’s better to not know one’s fate,” but as we see later, she refuses to take her own advice and goes to the oracle.
When Lagertha goes to the oracle, she talks about her dreams. After analyzing her dreams, the Oracle draws a conclusion, but doesn’t want to say what. Lagertha says that she fears for Ragnar’s safety, but the oracle says he is not in danger of losing his life. Instead, Ragnar is in danger from the magical world. When Lagertha tries to push the oracle into giving out more information about what that means; he says that he was already unwilling to speak and that he will say no more. This is a part I found creepy since it looks like the way you seal the deal with the oracle is by licking his out stretched palm (way to go Michael Hirst for making him even creepier).
Back at the earldom of Jarl Borg, we see him talking to his guest, Rollo, and his first question is the relationship between the both of them. Rollo tells the Jarl Borg that they get along fine and asks why they wouldn’t. Jarl counters with a story of terrible betrayal from his own brother (the story ends with a heartwarming blinding and burning to death). Rollo tells the Jarl that Ragnar would never do such a thing to him. The Jarl says that Ragnar wouldn’t do that because he’s a great man and a great warrior. This awakens the jealousy in Rollo. The Jarl sees this and begins to get in Rollo’s head.
Now it’s time to cut back to Ragnar and his trip to the Ash Tree (and also the funniest line of the episode). Their guide that Jarl Borg sent with tells Ragnar that they should stop and fish since this is a good spot. With that, One-Eye volunteers to go fishing, but another Viking is quick-witted and says that he will go along as well because, “Three eyes are better than one”. On their little fishing expedition, One-Eye and the other Viking stumble across a woman bathing in the river (and they seize the opportunity to spy on her like some olden-day peeping toms), but are soon discovered by this woman’s shield-maidens. When the woman gets dressed, she asks the Vikings who sent them. When she is told Ragnar Lothbrok she demands that she receive the apology from him directly. When One-Eye and the other Viking return and tell Ragnar about the woman and how she wants the apology from him, Ragnar can’t help himself from poking fun at them.
We cut back to Lagertha and the town’s people where a deadly strain of pox is wreaking havoc throughout the town. This culminates with the tragic death of Ragna and Lagertha’s child. Not only that, but Athelstan almost died as well and one of the last things that Lagertha’s child wanted was her to pray for Athelstan’s life. With the dead piling up faster each day, the only choice that they have is to burn the bodies to stop the spread of the disease.
This makes a possibly good dramatic twist to what is happening between Ragnar and Lagertha, but I wasn’t vested in either of those characters so I’m intrigued as to how this will translate in season two.
As we go back to Ragnar, we see him meet the woman that One-Eye spied on and almost instantly, there is an attraction between the two of them. After a discussion, she tells Ragnar that she is the Princess Aslaug and her mother was the famous shield-maiden, Broomhilda. Ragnar asks her if she would like to travel with him to the Ash Tree and later that night, we see Bjorn wake and find them in bed together. The next day, Bjorn confronts Ragnar and says that he will tell Lagertha about it unless Ragnar promises that it won’t happen again. Ragnar consents to this promise and later that night, he has to tell Aslaug to stop much to his dismay (Ragnar keeping his word to his son must really mean a lot to him). Aslaug tells Ragnar the next morning that she is carrying his son.
Near the end of the episode we see Ragnar and his crew back at the Jarl Borg’s mead hall and Floki returns with the message of the king. Floki tells the Jarl that he will make no compromise on the land and that the Jarl needs to set the price. This angers Jarl Borg who then asks if Ragnar will repute his allegiance to King Horik and swear a new allegiance to him. Ragnar refuses to do so and he is told that he has to leave in the morning. While everyone is asleep, Jarl Borg takes the chance to talk to Rollo about what has happened and asks if he will swear allegiance to him. The Jarl manipulates Rollo by promising the fame he is so desperately seeking. Rollo, finally after the whole of the season, agrees to betray Ragnar.
With this being the end of the first season of Vikings, we saw new locations and characters that have helped set up the next season. With Aslaug pregnant with Ragnar’s next child, what will happen to Lagertha or with Rollo finally being manipulated enough to betray Ragnar there is a whole host of possible outcomes? On top of those betrayals from Ragnar and Rollo, the upcoming war between Jarl Borg and King Horik could be labeled a war between brothers. Also, with the death of Gyda (Lagertha’s daughter) how will this actually play into the next season, as she was a character that probably said less than twenty words? With everything that was shoved into this episode to set up the next season, Michael Hirst wrote it well enough that it didn’t seem cluttered and it has left me eager to see what becomes of all the characters I’ve liked to watch over the last couple of months.