The last episode of History’s Vikings saw King Harald returning to Kattegat where he was taken captive by Queen Lagertha.
She chooses not to kill him, despite his previous attempts to gain power, and instead has him tied up. She questions him on his motives and seems at least partly taken in by his tale that he no longer seeks to be King of all Norway and that his ambitions were fuelled by love.
However, she is scornful of his offer of marriage and protection and tells him: “I should be grateful for you, that you’d offer to come to my bed in all your glory. ”
In a controversial scene Lagertha then pulls out a knife and looks like she is about to perhaps do some damage to Harald’s private parts. Instead, she proceeds to have sex with the helpless king.
The scene has left some viewers shocked, especially as Lagertha herself has almost been raped several times in previous seasons.
Fans on Reddit and elsewhere have been discussing whether or not her actions amount to a rape. One user, going by the handle Wallace Waffles, said: “If their genders were reversed no one would be asking if it was rape.”
Others agreed and pointed out that you can be a powerful woman without having to use sex or rape as a method of asserting that power.
Somewhat against the flow of comments, one contributor posted: “Can’t wait to see how the feminists ignore it while they screamed to the skies when Sansa got raped,” referring to Sansa Stark’s rape on HBO Game of Thrones.
That was a scene that caused a lot of backlash and even saw Sophie Turner, the actress who plays her, become involved in a charity that helps women who’ve been sexually abused.
The humiliation of Harald seems to be what most fans think was behind Lagertha’s actions. Reddit user Jack 1715 suggested that in Norse culture at that time, being raped by a woman would be seen as very very humiliating, especially for a king.
Vikings airs on Wednesdays at 9/8c on History.