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Vikings Season 2 Episode 2 Review


by James Chantrill

Warning!  Spoilers Ahead!


Vikings came out swinging like a heavyweight contender in this week’s episode, “Invasion.”  The stakes have risen to towering heights, loyalties are being put to the ultimate test and alliances are being put on thin ice.  

In true Vikings style, we are thrown four years into the future from last week’s episode and are shown the final preparations for this summer’s raid to the West.  With almost a half-decade passing, there is ample room for a whole gambit of development and progression to ponder as the time-tested questions are asked: who, what and why?

In the four years that have passed, Aslaug has given birth to Ragnar’s first son and is pregnant with the second (the prophecy that Ragnar would have many sons is apparently becoming a reality).  It’s not presumptuous to assume this is Ragnar’s way of attempting fill the void that his now long-gone family left him with. Only time will tell what happens with Ragnar's second family — there seems to be some problems between Ragnar and Aslaug. If (well it’s really more of a when) Bjorn and Lagertha make another appearance, I’m putting my money on a Hatfield-McCoy family feud down the line.

To me, the character with the most notable transformation at this point would have to be Athelstan.  In the previous season we saw him kidnapped by Ragnar and put into slavery, but it is clear he has indeed become fully assimilated to the Viking way of life.  Athelstan has not only adopted the Viking culture as his own, but it looks like he is now considered an equal (at one point, he even insults Floki in the Viking language and is accepted for that.  Later in this episode we see Ragnar training Athelstan in combat for the upcoming raid).

Then we get to see the character widely considered to be the most tragic of the show: Rollo.  For the past four years he has been considered an outcast — shunned for his betrayal of Ragnar and pretty much anyone that respected or considered him a friend.  With that happening to him the only thing that he could do to ease that pain was to hit the bottle, but in doing so he has gone from fearless warrior to the village drunkard.  Rubbing salt in the wounds was Ragnar by telling Rollo that he will accept him as his brother again, but he will not be allowed to go on the summer raid with the rest of the Vikings.  I can see the seeds of disdain being replanted into Rollo’s psyche.  Will he succumb this time around is the real question to be answered.

With everything that happened in this week, the only quarrel I have with “Invasion” is that we didn’t see what Lagertha and Bjorn had been up to for the past four years.  One could only imagine the resentment that Bjorn must have for his father, Ragnar, for essentially abandoning him for his new family.  If Jarl Borg or Rollo were to “infect” Bjorn with some dissonance towards Ragnar could we see some sort of battle that pits father against his brother and first born son?  If something like this were to happen, the resulting episodes would be something spectacular to witness. 

While Floki recovered from his wounds inflicted by Rollo four years ago, he spent the remainder of that time building a fleet of ships for Ragnar and his alliance with Jarl Borg and King Horik.  Some say that, “Time heals all,” but that’s not the case between Jarl Borg and King Horik as there is still a good amount of animosity between the two, which makes their alliance non-existent at this point.

What can happen for this betrayal of sorts between these three leaders is an actual full-scale war to break out between them that would make the battle in previous episode look like a mere skirmish. Then throw that into the mix with Rollo’s hate for his brother, Ragnar and his familiarity with Jarl Borg; I could see some sort of subterfuge happening in the shadows while Ragnar and King Horik are on the raid.

The scenes in the ocean felt really authentic.  Recreating the incredible dangers in navigating the ocean with limited resources and primitive technology makes for a visually stunning spectacle.   Part of Ragnar’s fleet was nearly wiped out due to the harsh mistress that is the sea and what sailors had to face in the pre-modern world.  With the storm scuttling the ships, they were blown off course and landed in a different part of England where a new arena is introduced.

We are treated to a new character, King Ecbert (and the kingdom of Wessex). Historically, not much is known about the king, which means there is a lot of creative freedom in how he will be portrayed.  There is still a lot of story to tell when it comes to the Northmen and the raids in the West (and history isn’t creating many confines to restrict storytelling).  It will be interesting to see how the Vikings deal with a different enemy in a different place.  Could King Ecbert’s army possibly be a formidable opponent?  They appeared to be more of a challenge than King Aelle’s and his military forces.

This was by far the most titillating episode that Vikings has aired yet.  It was colossal with years passing by in a single showing and the gargantuan change in the story structure.  The huge directional changes that happened in “Invasion” were even more monstrously effectual than the earth-shattering season premiere, which I feel, will steer Vikings into a drama-filled frenzy of a season.  

Keywords: Vikings, Vikings history channel, Ragnar, Rollo, Vikings Season 2
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