Vikings is easily one of the best shows on TV at the moment — and here we look back at the most recent episode before discussing in detail what happened.
Vikings Season 4 Episode 2 summary
This week on Vikings Season 4 Episode 2 saw Bjorn’s (Alexander Ludwig) adventure continuing in the wilderness after last week’s telling scene with The Seer (John Kavanagh) who told Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) that it will be a woman who will one day rule Kattegat.
Will it be Lagertha or Aslaug? Certainly not any of Ragnar’s boys, yet history tells us Ivar was a fierce ruler.
Floki is now in the clutches of Ragnar and we see how his fate is meted out this episode. We feel for Helga (Maude Hirst).
A favorite character is King Ecbert (Linus Roache), and his son Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford) who are hot on the save Queen Kwenthrith (Amy Bailey) trail.
If you remember she bore a son Magnus who allegedly (you never can tell with Kwenthrith) is Ragnar’s kid. The two are imprisoned in Mercia in the classic tall stone tower trope, where errant women always seemed to be stored for safekeeping. That is about to change and that scene inspires the title of this episode.
The scouts to Mercia return to Ecbert, and they looked like outtakes from ‘8 Heads In A Duffel bag’ which sets off Aethelwulf to rescue the randy Queen. Judith (Jennie Jacques) and Ecbert do a verbal tango until Ecbert lures her to his bed again.
The shared obsession with Aethelstan is the juice that Ecbert needs to get Judith in the sack. Ecbert essentially thumbs the status quo the church has towards women reading the scriptures and doing anything that aids in their literacy.
The story of Rollo continues in France, as our large Norseman is getting used to soft beds, gilded knick-knacks and fabulous food and wine.
Count Odo is the kinky Iago of the court and is trying to keep things calm for the King who is upset that Princess Gisla (Morgane Polanski) is not having Rollo (his gussied up makeover flops) at all and wants an annulment.
The episode sees Aethelwulf and his men arrive in Mercia, as the guards there yell, “Kill The Queen” as a bloody rampage ensues. But the best fighting is saved for Kwenthrith who has a total lethal girl-fight with her female guards. It is not to be missed!
This episode wraps with tragedy as Ragnar helps Helga who he spies digging in the frozen soil. Floki and Helga’s little girl is dead and Ragnar sees they have suffered enough.
This episode was fantastic and next week’s is even better.
Vikings Season 4 Episode 2 discussion
Here TV critics Ernie Estrella and April Neale hash over the details of the latest episode.
Ernie Estrella: Before we dive into “Kill the Queen,” let’s touch on our favorite Duke. Last week we were left with Rollo betraying his tribe by wiping out the Viking camp by sneak attack.
I was very conflicted seeing this as Rollo has been, to me, a more sympathetic and relatable of the Lothbrok brothers. They’re trying to make me choose a side here but I’ve always found Rollo’s desires and persistence to achieve those to be one of his most endearing qualities.
Ragnar has never done wrong but there’s a life’s trial and error appeal to Rollo. You knew why he was staying behind to be in France but you hate to see brothers at odds.
April Neale: That slaughter scene was bothersome. Rollo is undoubtedly a compartmentalizer, and without any moral compass.
He is a creature of ego, lust, pride and some other deadly sins for sure. He is the lesser of the two brothers. always was. Not as intelligent and far less emotionally astute and able to see beyond his nose.
Rollo appears to be a pawn yet he is desperately trying to stay there and carve some importance for himself to serve his needs. It appears he has no grand vision for the Vikings or has any offspring to guide.
EE: That’s harsh, but hard to disagree. May the gods bless Clive Standen because that Frankish makeover was a hilarious moment and even though he’s portrayed as this giant oaf, I love watching him struggle with the language barrier and yet find a way to communicate with the French.
I think it’s understated though that of all the Vikings that is tasked to bridge the cultural gap and go on to do great things it is… Rollo and that’s got to count for something. Princess Gisla isn’t winning over any Vikings fans, though.
AN: Rollo is vexing, he is likable and capable of such cruelty. That “oaf” side of him going to be his saving grace, as he tries…and eventually, a bear gets the honey. Gisla is a dogmatic daddy’s girl, a PRINCESS for real. Who would like her? She’s insufferable. Why some would say she needs–
EE: To be ravaged perhaps? Well, considering the times, the Princess can’t tame the beast for long. Rollo does remind me of those nature videos of the big grizzly bear who finds a beehive and gets stung twenty times but withstands the pain to eventually scare off the bees.
At the end of the day, he is passed out with his snout drenched in honey but his tongue will be swollen and stung. I will add that the historical Rollo is a person of interest.
Obviously, if people don’t want to be spoiled, they shouldn’t, but this series has me so engrossed in all of the players that I’ve gone on to seek more information at the risk of being spoiled–and the historical Rollo has a great legacy and lineage.
AN: Rollo and his quest for Frankish acceptance definitely add a great deal of interest this season, and his moments are a nice break from cold Kattegat.
EE: We have to get serious for a moment, April.
AN: Ugh. I know what you’re alluding to.
EE: There’s a heartbreaking scene to end the episode, where Ragnar stumbles on Helga as she tries to bury her daughter who passed, Angrboda, desperately trying to break through the frozen ground.
I think this is one of the most poignant scenes of the series as Ragnar is rushed with emotions, one of which I’m sure is when he wasn’t there to see his daughter in her final moments when she died while he was off raiding England. Helga has had to face so many things on her own that losing Angrboda puts her more on an island.
AN: The series does poignant moments like this so well. Heartbreaking and Ragnar truly feels for Helga. After all, Ragnar lost his daughter too.
EE: For those that don’t know, that scene was no joke. The wind and blustering snow were really falling–it was that freaking cold during the shoot.
AN: The actors are troopers, doing all these scenes in such cold. It might be a Nordic thing, but you get use to the cold and it’s not such a big deal. The body adjusts, just like living in the tropics, you get used to the extremes. But still, doing that kind of work in that weather, there should be a special award category.
EE: By the way, I am amused by people who ice fish to pass time and for sport but Bjorn was doing it to survive. That did not look like it was fun, acting in that frigid environment but much respect, I believe he can be what he sets out to be. So many productions are afraid to shoot on location and in inclement weather, but not Vikings. What else amused you in this episode?
AN: His hands must have ached in those scenes. I am no sportsman so fishing and hunting, a big pass. The closest I ever came was clam digging. What else? Rollo’s French makeover was fun to watch, and Gisela’s reaction, I was waiting for Rollo to react, but he was restrained.
EE: There is this wonderful moment that is captured earlier in this episode, where Helga is confronted by Ragnar about freeing Floki. They know what it’s like to feel both the love and frustration with Floki. They are bonded by this madman who they can’t get rid of.
They love him and loathe him equally but they both know that he is a problem. As a fundamentalist, Floki may not have played nice with Athelstan, but he’s like that old childhood friend who now in your adult life realize how much you wouldn’t be friends if you didn’t have that childhood.
AN: Yes, the shared burden of Floki! He’s obviously grappling with bipolar disease or something, but our Floki has an intense mysticism aura, and Aslaug sees and respects it. I think we may even have a fan of Floki with the Seer…
EE: Floki is an asset, though, he’s an inventor, carpenter and builds Ragnar his armada. Floki represents probably the majority of the Vikings who would rather raid for riches and keep life simple to conquering lands. One couldn’t fault Floki for that, but very few had the foresight that Ragnar had.
AN: Ragnar’s mind is open and up for the adventure, and Floki is restless and inventive. Their minds intersect then diverge over spiritual matters versus worldly curiosity. Floki IS nature, Ragnar is comfortable within nature, but sees bigger shinier things on the horizon. The runner theory of last week applies here.
EE: I love that there’s this range amongst the different Vikings. Now, Aslaug took a fall, literally, after sticking up for Floki and his lack of loyalty. Ragnar pimp-slapped her down and all but told her that he knows she’s been unfaithful. Little does she know that he too has been unfaithful, and there’s a little boy in Mercia who might be proof of that.
AN: All men could get away with that. In those times wives are viewed as the holy receptacle to their man, they were property! So infidelity is much more onerous for a female always. And domestic violence was commonplace.
EE: However what I find interesting amongst viewers, is that there are many Lagertha fans who probably cheered that moment. The hate for Aslaug has always been high for being a “home wrecker” even though the Viking culture was quite different to our modern-day moralities. Shippers want to see Ragnar to be back with Lagertha, but if I can play Seer, that doesn’t look like it’s in the cards.
AN: I know. Lagertha and Ragnar have a deep passion for each other, but her pride and his unwillingness to be faithful to her is the dealbreaker. She really broke with him over the Aslaug business, and it was understandable. One of the hardest things to do as a woman is stand up for yourself and move along and not look back when there is another woman in the picture. Lagertha chose a much harder path for her life, she will not be supplicant to any other woman.
EE: The beauty of Ireland on display and some of it’s topographic glory as that Floki manhunt was stunning. Ultimately, it didn’t last that long but what was surprising was seeing Ubbe leading the way. I am thrilled to see Ragnar’s kids slowly taking over with Bjorn valuing a map over treasure and becoming a man and the sons getting old enough to take on responsibilities that their father is unfit to carry out.
AN: I adore the green, the rocks and how the glacier-scraped the countryside. Can you tell I live in parched Southern California? History channel…why haven’t you sent us to the set there yet? I love when the kids do chores like hunting down the King’s parry and keeping some order while I nap, ha! Bjorn is also a dad lest we forget, to a baby girl who MAY be the future leader…
EE: Yes, we haven’t mentioned anything about Porunn being a deadbeat mother. April, what did you think of that battle sequence at the end, as Prince Aethelwulf rescues Queen Kwenthrith. I hate the character of Aethelwulf but I was on the edge of my seat. The Queen showed she’s quite the cheeky one. Aethelwulf barely made it up there in time, but my goodness, what a design flaw in all those steps. We really underestimate the luxury of elevators.
AN: No joke, you had to have some cardio endurance in those days with all the weight of gear and garments.
Everyone hates Aethelwulf. He’s the Ted Cruz of the Vikings. Even his own wife Judith cosigns this sentiment. Kwenthrith, of course, is back to her naughty ways, coming onto Ecbert’s odious son. Judith is probably grateful for the diversion.
EE: Speaking of Judith, what do you make of her being “freed” by King Ecbert to become cultured and educated? Again, we have another interesting storyline for a woman on this show. On a micro level, she is brought closer to her memories of Athelstan, who she still believes is alive.
But on a macro level, it goes to show how the Christians tried to suppress women so much more than Pagans. I love that about Michael Hirst shows, that religion is often challenged by the acts of those who paraded around as their biggest spokesmen. We’ve seen how it affected France and England, and that’s why Ragnar’s way is such a contrast.
AN: That’s the history of all faiths isn’t it? People challenging the laws. Pushing the boundaries, reinterpreting the scripture. Christianity, like Judaism and Islam, are all awful when it comes to issues of women.
Always have been, and even today in fundamentalist strains of each. I’m certainly no fan. Judith was fortunate in that Ecbert is truly not a religious King like Charles in France, that he is an intellect who admired the knowledge and wisdom Athelstan possessed.
Hey, Ecbert’s a good time! He likes those nice pool-baths, he looks like he’s good in the sack…
EE: That was an awesome episode, and this was fun, April. A lot happened and I do mean a lot and yet there wasn’t anything shown in camp Lagertha. As we said last week, her role should (and better) be deepened once the season settles in.
Next week we’ll talk about Floki being tortured, Berserkers, and how the British alliance is starting to resemble a swingers convention.