Vikings Season 4, Episode 5 ‘Promised’: Recap and discussion

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Never, ever, ever f*** with Lagertha. Her wedding present to Kalf was a shiv to the gut


Vikings on History is one of the best shows on television at the moment – by far. Here we give a quick recap of Season 4 Episode 5, titled Promised, which aired Thursday March 18, while TV critics April Neale and Ernie Estrella discuss the episode in depth.

Vikings Season 4, Episode 5 recap

Did we think Lagertha (Kathryn Winnick) had gone soft in the head from all that good sex she was having with Kalf? No way.

On the heels of the Jonathan Rhys Meyers news, History’s Vikings ratcheted up the action with major drama in the English court, French court and Kattegat as Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) is quietly assessing his new threat, Harald of the tattooed face Viking hordes.

Aslaug is aiding and abetting Ivar in a hatchet job (literally) as Floki tutors him and cozies up to Harald and his also tattooed-face brother Halfdan.

King Ecbert (Linus Roache) is bringing (appeasing actually) a more demanding Judith (Jennie Jacques) over to his side of the castle, giving her a ring from his long dead wife as her hubby Aethelwulf is resigned his dad is now his wife’s lover.

France is awash in dirty deeds as Odo is found out by Emperor Charles (Lothaire Bluteau) to be a total traitor as Gisla (Morgane Polanski) and Rollo (Clive Standen) also plan for his demise and the coming Viking hordes.

The big twist in Thursday’s episode saw our shieldmaiden, pregnant Lagertha, stab Kalf (Ben Robson) on their wedding day in Hedeby for stealing her earldom and perhaps she is wise that he was complicit with Erlendur in the Bjorn/Berserker affair.

Meanwhile, Ragnar’s dalliances with Yidu (Dianne Doan) are now sexual and he discusses faraway China and their customs while sorting out the Harald (Peter Franzen) conundrum.

Ragnar works out some guilt he feels for the settlers he left behind in England. The ones that Rollo slaughtered in his bid to prove to Gisla he was Team France.  It’s hard to pine for Kattegat when those sheets are so soft!

King Ecbert promises his support to Queen Kwenthrith and Aelle for reclaiming Mercia. And Floki is singled out by Harald who prods him on why he fell out with Ragnar. Floki quips he killed Ragnar’s pet Christian.

Another eye-popper was Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) who faces off with Harald and then has one of those annoying relationship talks with Torvi who recognizes the ring he took off the Berserker as Erlendur’s ring. She tells him and now his wheels are turning big time.

All hail Earl Ingstad, and note that lovely silk dress Lagertha is wearing is a total trasher as Kalf’s blood likely won’t wash out.

Vikings Season 4, Episode 5 in-depth discussion

Now that we’re all caught up, TV critics April Neale and Ernie Estrella discuss Promised and how Ragnar is feeling his age these days.

April Neale: Ernie, Ragnar finally admits he’s getting too old for this shit! How about that scene where Bjorn calls him out about fatherhood. Bjorn accuses him of having left him, to which Ragnar says: “If you remember, your mother left me. You left me.” Ragnar then adds: “It is not easy being a father. It is even harder being a husband. Maybe I have failed at both. No — I have definitely failed at being a husband.” Did he really expect Lagertha to stay with Aslaug in the wings as wife #1?

Ernie Estrella: The last things parents want to see is their children make mistakes, especially when raising their own children. He likely regrets the time he missed with Bjorn, who is angry at Porunn, but [baby] Siggy shouldn’t be the one to suffer.

When it comes to Lagertha, he knows he did her wrong, but he felt he owed the mother of his children some honor and wanted to have both women at his side no matter how awkward that would have been.

I think it was good for both men to air their grievances. It’s good to know that Ragnar is still bitter that Bjorn left to be by Lagertha’s side. It was honest. I gasped at that scene too but walked away thinking ‘there are no kings like this today’.

Who admits when they’re wrong? What king exposes some of his emotions and then turns the anger on himself?

AN: President Trump will be quick to admit mistakes [side eyes]… Yes, the hurt feelings of mistakes from the past. There’s never any going back so you must make peace or be eaten up alive, all of us need to heed that advice. I believe Bjorn has really separated emotionally from them both yet cares for Ragnar a wee bit more.

EE: My favorite part of that conversation though was Ragnar scoffing back at Bjorn who was justifiably suspicious of Harald. “(Sighs)You heard he is a king. From Tamdrup, wherever that is.” For once we see father and son shed all of the tension and titles, they just spoke as honest men. This show can be so serious and I think the levity between father and son was welcomed.

AN: I agree, they are equal after Bjorn’s bear and Berserker beatdown. Bjorn has a whole manly swagger about him now. What in the ancient Chinese secret hell made Ragnar’s lips and teeth stained red?

EE: Something that is missing its head. Too much paprika? The mind can wander about some other ideas…

AN: Ha! The tattoos all over Harald and Halfdan, what’s your take on these two? Do you think Aslaug will want them to kill Ragnar?

EE: I was fixated too on these guys. I mean these days if someone gets some face ink, that gets themselves fitted for a straight jacket. Fair or unfair. Ragnar too, has ink on his head for about two seasons now and you do qualify Ragnar as a little crazy, but these two jokers might be on another level.

They’ve led with their ambitions and to accomplish that, Ragnar needs to be eliminated. Right now, I think Aslaug is seeing if Yidu distracts him enough to let his guard down. It’s working, but I still haven’t seen Aslaug make the leap to assassinate her own husband. Besides, she has other things to worry about. Her daycare options are not working out for Ivar, or are they?

AN: Aslaug is a multitasker, I mean multiSCHEMER. I really think she has some surprise – maybe just wishful thinking- but she has those snake eyes and Ivar is a terror in disguise! Floki as a tutor is bound to leave a mark…

EE: Sorry to distract us from our conversation but I still have that image stuck in my head and how they break the news to that kid’s family. There were plenty of witnesses, and we know the angry streak in Ivar will play out later. Also has a lot of damage control ahead of her.

AN: In that unfortunate Vikings playground incident, allow me to quote Mel Brooks and say…”it’s good to be the King [Queen]” and in Queeen Aslaug’s case! No lawsuits or po-po in Kattegat! I think she wants Ivar to own his brutal actions and repressed nature.

EE: As for the brothers Grimm, they are not winning any support here, nor should they in Kattegat. I don’t necessarily like the alliance being formed with Floki, who had the best line of the night, “I killed Ragnar’s pet Christian.” I truly fear for Helga to be associated with this group but what choice does she have? Now speaking of Harald and Christians, you found an interesting thing in the news yesterday.

AN: Yes, a Viking crucifix was discovered and dated by experts! It was estimated at being from 900 – 950AD and historians are saying it indicated Viking Danes embraced Christianity earlier than thought. King Harald Bluetooth had led the charge to convert Vikings in that part of Scandinavia ahead of what is recorded in books.

EE: People may like to dismiss the religious conversation of the series but it is so very important to the bigger story and the conversion of Paganism to Christianity.

AN: The transition of their core spiritual belief systems – as in most societies – is a bloody affair. Going back a bit, your opinion please: Michael Hirst’s daughters play Helga and Torvi. How are they doing?

EE: I knew Maude plays Helga but I was unaware Torvi was a Hirst daughter too, but now that you mention it, the likeness is uncanny. Personally, I am fascinated by Maude’s performance because she wears this intense sadness or exhaustion on her face and body, which I really need to see with Floki.

He does the speaking but she is really doing the substantial work in the marriage. In a different way, there’s power in her performance but it’s just not as showy as some of the other cast members. I also think she looks great with that heavy eyeliner and she does so much with he glances and stares.

Georgia is just starting to get some room to spread her wings and I feel bad that Torvi has been reduced to a trophy so far, but I trust in her father that this is build up for who she’ll become or what she’ll get to do. She’s had some great one-liners though but she needs to time her revelations better. Talk about a sexual buzzkill. What do you think?

AN:  I agree. Hirst’s daughters may have had an easier casting audition but they are really talented. Helga rips my heart out and her ongoing suffering with Floki, her daughter’s death and now she’s sort of a shadow in Kattegat…

EE: Now we can’t get through this discussion without talking about Lagertha, who we’ve been patiently waiting for more development on her side of the story. She’s easily had the two most memorable moments from these first five episodes but not much else. She announces her pregnancy to Kalf, only to kill him later.

Do you think she’s really pregnant or did she set him up to catch him when he least expected it? It was everything that Kalf asked for, so I don’t think she’s pregnant at all. Aslaug doesn’t know it but if Lagertha gets momentum in Hedeby, she’ll be seen as more of a ruler than her.

AN: I think she may have invented to the pregnancy to hasten her red wedding scene. Lagertha is so going to kick Aslaug’s butt if she get’s in her way or positions her sons over Bjorn, which we know she is! I love that Lagertha is reenergized in this ongoing story!

What’s the over-under on how long Erlendur’s around?

EE: I’m convinced that he’s going to be the next one sacrificed in public. No one tries to assassinate one of the Lothrbroks. Plus, admitting he’d kill Torvi’s child if he didn’t get intel, just sealed his fate. But they did throw him a bone. He modified the crossbow. Lagertha has no reason yet to suspect him, but Bjorn is on the warpath this season.

AN: Ragnar tells Yidu he has no passion or drive to go back to Paris. We know from the previews he is going back. Is this something you think he will somehow subconsciously sabotage or undermine or conveniently kill Harald and his brother?

EE: He has to go back if just to get these two brothers out of his life. They’re cramping his style and they’re unsettling. Halfdan especially looks as trustworthy as a clown driving an ice cream truck. If we’re building towards Ragnar’s downfall or retirement, he has to go out eliminating the competition. Perhaps that’s why he is so reluctant to go to Paris, all of that ambition is exhausting.

AN: Speaking of the Franks, how about that bombshell from Therese who is apparently Roland’s sister? Didn’t they have some half-naked bed scenes? Did I miss something?

EE: No you didn’t miss a thing. I think we all assumed that their relationship was anything but being siblings. I felt dirty after finding that out, I need a long shower. Also, what’s up with Gisla telling Rollo that it’s okay to stab a man in the back. This show is doing nothing for French tourism. And that worthless emperor of theirs–

AN: Haha! She chides him on his Viking ways then busts out the shady French ways of battle.  She cloaks her vicious streak with Catholicism quite well. She scares me more than Odo!

EE: Not to be outdone, the situation in England is getting more complicated.

Ecbert LOVES being King, he’s even sup with the devil…

AN: How perfect was the moment we had with an unflinching pragmatist Linus Roach as Ecbert, whose God speech was pretty frank. “I would sup with the devil if he would help me achieve my earthly goals.”?

EE: We can’t overlook Roach’s performance here. I still see him as a man conflicted with having much faith, yet understands how he has to use religion to his advantage. Athelstan seemed to set Ecbert at ease, opened up the rigidity of the Christian faith and I think he’s feeling boxed in, but he has no one to blame but himself.

AN: What do we know about Wessex’s Wigston? Kwenthrith says, “No one should ever trust Wigston!”?

EE: Not enough, unless I missed something. Kwenthrith is feeling isolated from her peers Ecbert and Aella. She has been offered little to no support in her plight. Magnus is the only thing keeping her alive, but her relationship with Ecbert has to be on thin ice, now that Aethenwulf and she are a thing.

AN: Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Season five. Discuss.

EE: First, congrats to History and the Vikings cast and crew. This news came out yesterday and should come to no one’s surprise. I believe if History wants to allow the entire Viking Age to be explored, they will give Hirst, at least, seven to eight seasons.

This series is in a transitional period where the focus of the series will shift to Bjorn and his step-brothers and away from Ragnar. Rhys Meyers was a pleasant thrill and this reunites Hirst with his Tudors’ star.

Who will he play, though? A Viking? A Brit? Someone else? With over 13 episodes still left it’s hard to say where the series will be by then, so I will pleasantly sit back and see and hope he has a long run.

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