What an emotional episode tonight. Showrunner Michael Hirst (“The Tudors”), has created a real dramatic juggernaut with “Vikings” for History, with an average of 4.3 million viewers in the first five episodes of season three, according to Live +3 ratings. Great news was announced today that production for season four will begin this spring in Ireland.
In watching “Athelstan’s Journal” as the after-show, we see the scope of this visceral story in a few short years, and great performances by actors no longer part of the cast like Donal Logue and Gabriel Byrne. Tonight, George Blagden joins their ranks as we say goodbye to Athelstan the monk.
“We are so proud of our immensely talented cast and crew led by Michael Hirst, whose intriguing storylines and pivotal arcs have the perfect balance of scope, smarts and bloodshed to keep our loyal fans watching and wanting more,” said Dirk Hoogstra, executive vice president and general manager of History and H2.
“Born Again” aired Thursday, March 26 at 10 p.m. History has picked up a fourth season of “Vikings,” the network announced Thursday.
Five new episodes remain in the current season, which airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on History, with the season finale slated for April 23.
Official synopsis: Preparations for the Paris raid pick up pace, and Rollo ponders the Seer’s prophecy about his destiny. Kalf arrives in Kattegat to join the raid and the Viking fleet sails up the Seine and catches sight of Paris for the first time. Porunn and Judith both deliver children, and with new life there is also death.
In tonight’s episode, it begins with an optimistic air as Athelstan schools Ragnar on the unique topography of Paris and what he will have to think through in order to successfully raid the city surrounded by the Seine.
Still seething, Floki – who is a fundamentalist Norse god devotee – is beside himself the Christian monk still has the ear and confidence of his lifelong best friend. Meanwhile, new life is arriving as Queen Aslaug and Helga are supervising the birth of Bjorn and Porunn’s new daughter, as Porunn is wailing in pain and cursing the child, Bjorn rejoices and names the child Siggy who saved the “sons of Ragnar.”
RAGNAR AND FLOKI
All of Floki’s fears are realized as we see him bring a straggler farmer from Wessex into Ragnar’s home. Ragnar learns that King Ecbert has betrayed him and slaughtered the Viking camp, and that his son Æthelwulf was complicit in these crimes. Of course, Ragnar is enraged as he comforts the farmer, and Floki sets him off with more Athelstan talk. He dismisses Floki and then quietly ends the life of the witness who has told no one else of the King Ecbert ordered act of war. Ragnar has the sacking of Paris on his brain, and the news would have divided his ranks and blown up the plan. Oh but Ecbert will see Ragnar again, bet on it.
The continued degradation of his marriage is also simmering, as Ragnar watched Aslaug have a nightmare and he presciently knows it is of his sons in peril. He tells her she could have slept with another man in front of his sons for all he cared, as long as he looked after them. Aslaug loses it and her hatred for Ragnar deepens. Nothing but contempt left between these two.
Back in King Ecbert’s manse, Athelstan’s son arrives and Judith is dragged away by her husband Æthelwulf from her baby and taken to the center of town where her fate looks grim. The villagers smell blood and cheer as her sins are recounted and the holy man of the village announces her adultery and her punishment will be that her nose and ears shall be cut off. Ecbert gives her a chance to name the father but she refuses, so an ear is sawed off. She caves and reveals under extreme duress that Athelstan is the baby’s father. Ecbert cunningly stages an intervention and halts her torture, playing is son like a Stradivarius violin, and convinces him this baby is a holy vessel from a godly man and Judith is spared, the child is named Alfred.
Now weird things are afoot in camp Athelstan, who wakes up with a Norwegian rat snuggling his ear. A beam of light from a hole in his tent wall intrigues him and he has some sort of religious epiphany after being knocked back by some invisible force. He has a full religious rebirth and renounces all pagan symbolism. Athelstan rushes to Ragnar’s side agitated and excited, he will be leaving and this of course upsets Ragnar. Athelstan tells Ragnar he worries for his soul.
Now Floki is still on a low boil about Athelstan and the Chrisitan problems, and he shows Bjorn the discarded bracelet that Athelstan hailed to the sea when he had a ritual baptism earlier. Floki heads out and will be consulting the gods, when an ominous blood like flow scares him into action.
The Paris raiding party grows as Kalf arrives with Jarl Borg’s widow and Horik’s useless son. A feast commences to get everyone in the sacking mood, when Lagertha confronts Kalf, and Bjorn is urged by Porunn to sleep with another woman, namely Borg’s widow and now wife of Horik’s son. Athelstan enters the feast and you can hear a pin drop- word travels fast when you shuck gifts from Ragnar.
In the end, Floki can take it no more and construes the blood flow from the wooden god head as a sign, and he kills Athelstan who was praying, at peace and seemed to be waiting on him. Cut to this:
FLOKI’S SHOCKING MOVE
The next morning Ragnar heads out to bury his friend, and he is genuinely distraught at Athelstan’s death. It was a powerful talk he gave his corpse, and to god, for the friendship he treasured and the respect he had for this brave monk who traversed between two worlds.
RAGNAR’S MOVING GOOD BYE MONOLOGUE