Vikings Season 4, Episode 7, The profit and the loss: Recap and discussion

Ragnar needs his dose of Chinese “medicine” and Yidu is totally holding.

This week’s edition of Vikings was a real bummer. For Ragnar, but not Rollo. Fimmel’s acting chops are insanely good this season as he processes loss and betrayal by Lagertha, Rollo and even his own health.

Linus Roache’s King Ecbert however is in fine fiddle and healthy as a horse as he artfully extracts Mercia from Kwenthrith’s (Amy Bailey) control under her nose. His deal with the devil seems to be working.

Vikings sees Ragnar’s war party decimated and shamed in front of Rollo and the French. So many dead, maimed and no gains.

Meanwhile Kattegat is under the grafter spell of Kevin Durand’s sexy Harbard, who is the Tony Robbins of sexual healing and timed his visit in town perfectly.’

Yidu (Dianne Doan) has created an addicted monster with Ragnar, and Lagertha and Bjorn can see up close and personal how degraded and off his game Ragnar is.

Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) and her betrayal with Harbard is seen in a sexual vision by Floki, who despairing over their loss in battle and Helga’s injuries.

He is the one the Seer himself has anointed as the next Seer in Kattegat.  Floki has the gift of premonition and foreshadowed events and portentous signs.

Meanwhile bitter Prince Wicksten hands over the Mercian crown, still covered in human remains, to Ecbert.

Next week is going to be brutal.

Season 4 of Vikings returns to History Channel with episode 8, entitled “Portage” on Thursday, April 7, at 10 p.m. ET.

TV Critics April Neale and Ernie Estrella hash over the episode “The Profit and the Loss.”

Ernie Estrella: So Ragnar’s mouth was bleeding again. You brought this up earlier this season. Something tells me this isn’t some bad case of gingivitis. I don’t know all of the side effects of opium or whatever the hell Yidu is giving him but it seems like he’s going to just fall flat on his face before too long.

Did you see him feening for that “medicine”? He had more ticks than Jesse Eisenberg in Batman V Superman. Forget about a pit of snakes, the buzzards are circling around our ailing king.

April Neale: Yes something bad is on the horizon health-wise with twitchy Ragnar. He’s jacked up on opium, he’s making bad decisions and Lagertha is now openly showing her revulsion for him.

Fimmel is nailing the addict’s tics and behaviors for opiates, paging Cliffside Malibu! He is now waning as Rollo is the newest rising star in France’s hall of great warriors.

EE: I know you’ll ask about this before too long, but Ragnar keeps trying to care for Lagertha, hoping to throw some love her way. She tells him that she will continue on living as a shield maiden even if that means losing the baby and hence, fulfilling the seer’s prophecy.

Do you think she senses Ragnar’s increase drug use? Is she sniffing out something that stinks?

AN: She SEES Ragnar. When you know someone that well, you know what time of day it is. Ragnar reeks of desperation and his drugged out behavior is affecting everyone. She sees his weakness. She is repulsed.

Her “baby” if there is one, from a man she murdered, is the last thing she gives a s**t about in my opinion.

Lagertha is a survivor. She has mourned and moved on the failed marriage to Ragnar, the betrayal of her love. It really messed her up.

EE: Ragnar’s naval fleet played into Rollo’s plans with Count Odo, there was no surprise here. Ragnar hasn’t shown he has the fire on the battle field since his first failed attack on Paris.

Strategically, though, he’s become very predictable and perhaps that’s what the Norwegian Thompson Twins were snickering about after they were licking their wounds. What do you think, April?

AN: Ha! I love that observation. Yes the tatt-faced Thompson Twins aka King Harald (and brother Halfdan) are royal a**holes! Odo is an a**hole. So is Erlendur.  This whole season is a rogue’s gallery of them. Ragnar is done, he has no vitality, he is ailing, he is addicted. Toast!

EE: I really enjoyed the conversation Rollo has with Gisla about all of the fallen women on the battlefield, the bravery of the women vs. the men. Rollo still cared about her enough to show some mercy but to think the great Lagertha could have died in the deep muck of a swamp was maddening.

When Gisla asks if she might meet Lagertha one day, Rollo tells her one day she might. Do we really want to see this meeting? Be careful what you ask for Gisla…

AN: I agree with you, that was a badass scene. The women really did get in there and fight. I think Gisla is acutely aware that Rollo respects and has history with Lagertha. She is obsessed with her lover and nothing bedevils a woman more than any other woman who is held in any esteemed view by her man. I just want to know what eyeliner lasted through all that battle and soggy swamp business!

EE: I kept thinking that Rollo would feel some bit of remorse, some pain or anguish, but for the most part he didn’t flinch. To see Bjorn say that he wanted to kill his uncle and that he hated him, that was tough to watch, plus Ragnar’s yelling at Rollo across the river. There’s no turning back from this, is there? I wonder how far they let this play out and if Michael Hirst allows for history to take over at some point.

AN: Rollo is done! Ragnar is done with him! The schism is real and Rollo moved along nicely, hell, he has had a come-up of epic proportions. He loves his new French life and the important role he plays.

Think about what life was like in Kattegat and compare to France where the food, wine and accommodations are off the hook. Once you go 1000 count you never go back.

EE: [Laughing] You’re killing me, April. Okay, now we enter the part of the conversation about Harbard coming in and becoming the kissing bandit. Little Siggy witnesses Harbard again macking on Aslaug and fit a few other domestic maidens in between. Aslaug must think only the blind were left behind because she doesn’t try to be discreet. Though I must be honest, this is the first time I even noticed Siggy on screen.

AN: Siggy is a little creeper ain’t she? All this time I though Harbard was some sort of vision of Odin and here he is…a total grifter. He waits until he hears the menfolk are off raiding and then its time for the traveling Joel Osteen of love tour! He is a gypsy opportunist who must be really good in the haystack.

EE: Now we have some really deep symbolism at play here too. Floki, sensing the world coming down around the Vikings imagines Aslaug comes to him and makes love to him. Perhaps choosing to be with Harald and Halfdan, made him feel like he was cheating on his friendship with Ragnar. Then in turn, we see Aslaug and Harbard hooking up again, and tell Floki, “Amen”.

Now both Aslaug and Floki fear their Pagan religion is dying off, and is being defeated by Christianity. I think this is why we see this scene, but what do you make of it?

AN: You make a good point. Floki is the new seer in my opinion. His perceptions are rooted in his Norse belief system he defends to the death. Aslaug and that scene I think was a vision of her betrayal of Ragnar,  he is keyed into the emotional life of Kattegat too and he also has guilt for his abandoning Ragnar. I think his crisis of losing his daughter, nearly losing Helga, being plucked out of the river by Ragnar, is all f*cking with his head right now.

EE: I was being selfish watching this play out because I felt bad for Helga, and for once I wanted to see Floki take care of her and show back the love she gives him. Instead he told her to hold onto some runes and it’ll all work out. What the hell? Were you a little surprised how that played out?

AN: I think Floki is, was and always will be selfish. He is self absorbed to a fault. Helga is a saint and I hope she survives but Floki is the worst husband ever. Ever ever.

EE: Finally, we see “W” is really Prince Winston of the royal Mercian army who cuts a deal with King Ecbert to join forces with him and then turn over his kingdom to him, increasing his kingdom greatly and pushing out Kwenthrith out of the way. As seen on the previews for next week, this move is not received well by our crazy-ass queen, but this is a slip-shady move by Ecbert. This guy is always many moves ahead and it’s making me want to dive into the history books to see who he’s based on.

AN: Slip-shady! Ha! We all knew that Ecbert has been managing Kwenthrith from the get-go. How did you like him pulling that ratchety crown out of his dead mother’s remains? That thing needed a gallon of Brasso to shine up. Ick. Mercia has some f**ked up s**tin their history. And you are right Ecbert is worth digging into to see what the real deal was all about.

EE: If anything, this show has grossed me out of the Royal English blood, that’s for sure. Anything else on your mind with this episode or perhaps that recent find that archaeologists may have found more proof of the Vikings’ arrival to North America via satellite, over 500 years earlier than Christopher Columbus?

AN: This episode has me totally salivating for next week’s Portage, where I believe Odo and Kwenthrith’s days are numbered. English Kings and royal history in general-a case study of incest, betrayal and mass murder. Such exciting news about the Vikings, and I love that they were so intrepid.

The hell with Christopher Columbus! The newest Viking site was discovered in North America in over 50 years, so make sure to see Nova’s (PBS) the truth behind the legends of the Vikings and their epic journey to the furthest known point of the entire Viking expansion.

The 2 hour special airs on Nova on Monday, April 4, at 3:30pm ET/2:30pm CT, followed by the premiere, Wednesday, April 6 at 9:00pm ET/8:00pm CT on PBS.

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