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Vikings recap: The Reckoning finale pits brothers against each other as England rises up

Ivar has won some battles, but will he win the wars with England?

The Vikings finale has come and gone. As have the kings of this great series thus far: King Aelle of Mercia: Blood eagled. King Ecbert of Wessex: Suicide by bloodletting. Ragnar Lothbrok: Death by poisonous vipers at the hands of Aelle and Ecbert.

We lost Queen Aslaug to the treachery of Lagertha who wanted her home and hearth back. Sigurd Snake-in-the-eye dead, killed by brother Ivar. Helga, killed by abducted child Tanaruz, who then kills herself. The fate of Torvi unknown until the teaser during History’s drama Six, as we see her side-by-side with Lagertha and Astrid.

As Ragnar’s brother, Rollo, sits in France raising future great leaders, and Alfred is sent away with Judith also to be groomed to be a future king…the fate of Bjorn and Ivar and the two remaining brothers Hvitserk and Ubbe are next season’s wildcards.

This season was the turnpike in the entire story as Ragnar was killed, leaving a vacuum of power with too many players who wished to fill the void.

It was also the beginnings of a new threat to viking life as they have won a few battles, but the grand victory of war we know is in England’s favor.

Enter Jonathan Rhys Meyers as warrior bishop Heahmund, who appears to be a lusty resolute sort who won’t have heathens roaming about East Anglia.

Where is the Seer when you need him?

Here TV Critics Ernie Estrella and April Neale discuss the finale and look back at the season that was…

Ernie Estrella: April, there’s no way to ease into this. I suspected we’d get one big death, probably King Ecbert at the very least but to get Helga and probably Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye too, along with Aslaug and Ragnar…this season was a meat grinder.

And I can’t forget about Bishop Edmund, that smug bastard, I actually enjoyed his death (making the sign of the cross).

Let’s break some of these deaths down, beginning with the most significant loss, Ecbert, who was on his last leg but after inspiring Aethelwulf to retreat and regroup, Ecbert basically waited out for the right moment until he made a deal with Bjorn to give him the lands legally to settle.

What did you think of this move? It certainly made a case to get some redemption for what he did to that Viking settlement.

April Neale: This was a brutal reckoning and I knew Ivar was going to get Sigurd, who is indeed dead. Also interesting that Ivar gay-shamed him in front of everyone, I didn’t expect that.

Also, I had a suspicion something bad was going to happen to Helga because of how out-of-control her obsessive touching and hovering was with Tanaruz. She literally drove that child mad.

Ecbert got off easy, dying in his beloved bath. He was spared the blood eagle death. Ecbert set up the vikings one more time — let them think they had the lands legally, then have Anglia and all the warrior bishops and English armies descend on them.

I don’t believe Ecbert ever wanted to cave in and give these Vikings a real gift of land. He wants to see Alfred eventually reign over England.

EE: Those are good points. What do you think about the way he went out, which some may seem cowardly? Certainly, suicide goes against the Christian ways, but this was a quiet death, in that sauna bath of debauchery.

That was as good a way that he could have left the earth given the party that was waiting to string him up like Aelle. This death is a huge contrast to that of Ragnar’s, which while intimate was still a public spectacle.

Ecbert clears the house and talks reason with Bjorn. Ecbert worked it all the way until the end, didn’t he?

Ecbert sends Ragnar to his death with Aelle earlier in the season

AN: Yes, Ecbert was above all else a string puller and mastermind of setting things up. I really think he loved life so much and that showed at the very end, he didn’t want to go!

He lucked out that Bjorn, for now, is the voice of reason with the Great Heathen Army. Not for long. I will miss the dry wit and the perfectly played scenes that Linus Roache gave Ecbert. What a fantastic run he and Travis Fimmel had in this series, so sorry they are no longer part of it.

EE: I agree. To lose both is just devastating. I don’t think either of us figured Sigurd was for the long haul, but I think his death establishes this. Once Bjorn commits to the Mediterranean, Ivar seizes the moment to lay claim to the Saxon Territory and reminds his other brothers that he is the alpha.

He was put in his place by Bjorn throughout the raid on Mercia and Wessex, but no one stands in his way now, especially if he’s willing to kill his own brother.

AN: Well that whole scene laid it out. Meet the new boss, NOT the same as the old boss. Ivar gives no f***s about his brother’s feelings and has big ideas, vision and a cruelty streak none of them have.

Bjorn has some fortitude, he is a survivor and a warrior, but he is not twisted like Ivar. Even Halfdan was like, ‘eff this cold weather, I’m with Bjorn’ wanting to set sail for the warmer water.

Next season will be the battles between Ivar and the English warlords and armies. It’s going to be really good, especially if Lagertha survives and gets her revenge too.

EE: The death that will stir inside me until Season 5 will definitely be Helga’s. Mostly because it was so tragic, though she herself was blinded by her own desires to fill the hold missing from Angrboda, but even though her intentions were good, Tanaruz still saw herself as alone, scared, and a slave far away from home.

My heart is broken for Floki, for sure, especially as he buried Helga, which by the way was a beautiful showing of the rituals and symbolic things Vikings were buried with.

As he sauntered off into the fog, I must hope that we haven’t seen the last of Floki. I hope we see him at the very least taking a ship and discovering Iceland as one of the vikings who explored and settled Iceland was named Floki.

Helga, left, will be missed, as this season saw her and Ragnar die

AN: Tragic Helga lost all sense in the end. Floki is the one I was so sad to see unravel. I too, hope that Hirst sees him set sail on one of his magnificent boats to discover a new place as Ragnar would have wanted him to.

Or perhaps head back to Kattegat and stand by Lagertha. His humor and presence is such an integral part of this series, I am not sure it will be as enjoyable to watch without Floki to be honest.

Gustaf Skarsgård has become a favorite actor of mine based on his rendition of this genius fool, this spiritual warrior who existed between the planes of earth and the gods. I hope he is back in full force next season.

EE: I agree, he’s been a favorite in my household since his introduction and after losing his daughter and wife in sad fashion, I hope Hirst has something to give him — something to lift him up.

Now that dinner scene. Ugh. Why must these guys ruin every meal by talking? That food can’t sit well in your stomach to bicker that much.

Floki has been tested by the gods and his fate is unknown

But seriously, we’re all in for what’s coming next, but the challenge for the audience is how they will be invested in Ivar, Bjorn, and all of the separate camps next season. What will they latch on to?

Something tells me it will be Ivar the Boneless going up against Bishop Heahmund. But there are a few antagonists out there too. Like, King Aethelwulf is still out there, and King Harald too.

AN: Okay so all the moving pieces you named — Harald and his unresolved fate in Kattegat, Aethelwulf and his armies, what Bishop Heahmund will do when faced with Ivar — these are all the major points Hirst has to paint in for next season.

I think Harald peels off (sans Halfdan who is perhaps with Bjorn?) to see how things went in Kattegat and let Ivar face the war. The remaining brothers, I am curious to see if they stay together or split between Ivar and Bjorn.

EE: What’s a storyline stemming from this finale that interests you the most moving forward? For me, I’m still a Bjorn fan and really want to see what he does to build a bigger reputation than Ragnar’s.

I know that we’ll get a healthy dose of Ivar, which I’m excited for, but it’s still Bjorn to me because he is the one pushing the fame of the vikings out past England and Scandinavia. But what struck me was seeing Halfdan stand up to say he will join Bjorn.

Also, is Torvi truly dead? Assuming that Bjorn does not return, Ivar continues to sack Anglo-Saxons, who will support Lagertha? I don’t believe we’ve seen the last of Rollo either.

AN: Man I hope we didn’t lose both Hirst daughters in this season! I think Georgia Hirst’s Torvi survives (the teaser aired during Six shows her alive). Maybe my theory that Floki heads back to Kattegat might come to pass.

But Bjorn is far more likeable and curious like his father. Whereas Ivar’s intentions are bad, not at all the vision of Ragnar. He is almost evil in his glee at dispatching lives.

The psychological makeup of him, unable to have any sexual release, being bullied and made fun of, losing his parents violently, thinking only his mother was the one who loved him, he’s a textbook psycho.

Next season holds the fate for sure of Lagertha and Bjorn, will they ever see each other again? Will Harald get his just rewards? And will any other brothers fall?

EE: Let’s not forget your favorite either, The Seer, who Hirst told us has a special relationship with Ivar…

AN: Yes John Cavanagh’s The Seer is deeply connected to Ivar, and Floki…do not forget. My hope is that Floki, The Seer and Lagertha all make it through next season. Ivar is a prolific warlord. But don’t f*** with Jonathan Rhys Meyers! Did we all see The Tudors? Case closed.

My concern is for Ubbe and Hvitserk, as they each agree that Ivar is insane. I wonder if Bjorn is really off into the sunset next season or he gets word of the Kattegat coup and races back to stand with his mother and dispatch Harald. So many possibilities!


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