REVIEW - Vikings - S01E07

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In the latest episode of the History Channel's first original TV show 'Vikings', Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) sails to the Kingdom of Northumbria for a third time with a larger company of wariors to raid and pillage. This time though, with memories of the attack that ended their last raid, they get to work setting up camp along the riverbank, not even stopping when they spot spies.

Much like Ragnar has learnt from his past two raids in England, King Aelle (Ivan Kaye) is expecting the viking raiders and sends out his brother, Lord Eadric, to fight them. The king's brother makes the wrong move, waiting and watching instead of attacking them straight away as they made camp. Ragnar takes advantage of the English hesitancy and ambushes them in the dead of night and takes Lord Eadric and his men captive.

On the advice of his lords, King Aelle invites the viking raiders to his castle in the hopes of making a deal with them to get his brother back. When Ragnar arrives in the English castle, the slow motion effect and muffled music attempts to convey Ragnar's unfamiliarity with his surroundings and the strangeness he must feel comparing his culture to theirs. Yet, the end result is somewhat more confusing. The camera focuses too much on the floor and Ragnar's feet to make too much sense. Although the juxtaposition between the English nobility and the vikings was able to achieve was the slow motion effect could not.

The feasting scene was one of the highlights of the episode, aside from Rollo's baptism which'll be discussed below. Admittedly, I got quite a bit of second hand embarrassment during this scene but that didn't take away from the humour of the two cultures colliding. There is one particular instance where Floki smashes a plate against his head, breaking it and you can't help but wonder why plates specifically are so strange. Did they not have plates in Ancient Scandinavia? The vikings reaction to having music played during the feast is just as hilarious, describing a choir of men as a “terrible noise”.

Eager to discuss terms of the captive lord, Ragnar demands 2000 pounds in gold and silver for the return of the king's brother which King Aelle agrees to, with the added conditions that Ragnar and his men can't leave their camp and raid the surrounding countryside, and the one of the group must be baptised into the Christian faith. The vikings laugh at the idea of becoming Christian and it seems as if the compromise may come to a stalemate, until surpising Rollo volunteers. While the vikings all laugh at Rollo's baptism (what is this oil you are trying to put on my head, priest?) Floki surprisingly reacts in anger, convinced that Rollo's actions have angered their gods for denouncing them.

Ragnar's men keep their promise and the gold arrives as the King said it would. Although something seems fishy the moment it is carted into the camp. The messengers are quick to leave, and don't bring the chests to the vikings but instead dump it halfway up a hill. This can obviously be explained as the men being nervous of the viking invaders and scared for their lives, except that as the vikings soon discover when they check the chests, it's a trap. The chests are empty and they are ambushed by a cavalry of the King's men.

Their work earlier in the episode pays off and the army charges right into Ragnar's booby trap. Soon the vikings are fighting, and the English dispite having many advantages are defeated. Particularly noteworthy though is the way the camera emphasises the presence of females in the viking group fighitng amongst the men since, as Lagertha proved, there were shieldmaidens in the Viking culture and many were able to fight not just defend their lands. Rollo battle rage is terryfing and even long after the fighting has ended he falls from still dying Englishman to Englishman driving his axe and finishing them off, crying out to Floki “how many Christians did I kill?”

Ragnar is unhappy that their deal was broken and Lord Eadric, still held captive tries to offer to negotiate with his brother on the vikings behalf, but its soon evident that Ragnar has other plans and a horse carrying a body is scene riding into the castle of King Aelle. Ragnar gets his 2000 pounds of gold and silver and leaves as promised with his viking raiders but in return gets the eternal hatred of King Aelle.

Meanwhile in Kattegat, a heavily pregnant Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) is in charge of ruling the people in Ragnar's absence and it's great to see the sort of ruler she is. She's presented with a case where a man is accuses his wife of adultery and that her son is not his. She surpasses the previous rulers easily just by asking the woman her side of the events. Then when it seemed like the woman was indeed guilty, and obviously being aware of what would be in store for her if her husband left her, relates the story of one of their gods who was known to come to Midguard in disguise thereby giving the husband no choice but to not cast out the wife or child.

She's also visited by Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig), the widow of Earl Haraldson, who has come asking Lagertha to be in her service. It's an interesting change of events and I can't help but wonder if Siggy has a secret motive since in previous episodes she looked to enjoy her high class status and seemed ambitious enough to keep it. However, we've yet to see Siggy in the service of Lagertha, except in the final unfortunate scene in which Lagertha loses her baby.

Vikings is proving to be very entertaining, although surprisingly historically inaccurate considering the channel it airs on. And rather frustrating in the constant time jumps so that the audience is left confused at how long it's been since the series began (at least a year, I've estimated).

However, despite these issues it was a good episode, not the best that we've seen so far this season but it does set up for the legendary emnity between Ragnar Lothbrok and King Aelle.

Review by Sofie Kiriakidis


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