EW – Vikings recap: ‘Crossings’
Season 4, Ep. 16 | Aired Jan 4
Words travel slowly from the lonely ground in Northumbria, where the great, legendary, cursed Ragnar Lothbrok lies buried beneath earth and snakes and ambition. In Kattegat, his first wife Lagertha cannot believe he is dead. But her responsibility is clear. She must pick up the burden of rule, no matter the cost. “Ragnar hated it,” she tells her lover Astrid. “It weighed him down, perhaps it even killed him.” But she cannot disappoint her women: Not Astrid, not Torvi, not the shieldmaidens who fought and died for her. And she thinks Ragnar is watching her.
In Wessex, Ecbert mourns his friend, while his son Aethelwulf fears the worst. Ecbert had an agreement with Ragnar, a promise the Viking’s sons would seek vengeance only against Aelle. “Ragnar and I were alike in many ways,” says Ecbert, suddenly looking like an old man, or like a man who has begun to outlive his own time. He agrees Aethelwulf should raise an army; he will stay right where he is, at the seat of his power, teaching young Alfred the ways of this cruel world.
Lagertha assumes her own seat of power, sitting in the high throne at the center of Kattegat. She sat up there once before, next to Ragnar — and, briefly, next to Aslaug, Ragnar’s second wife. Lagertha, in charge, has some new ideas. Kattegat has become large, “the largest, richest trading center in Norway.” Others will be envious; the time has come to fortify, to dig ditches, to turn this small overgrown village into a true defended city.
EW – Vikings recap: ‘All His Angels’
Season 4, Ep. 15 | Aired Dec 28
Little Ivar and Little Alfred play chess. They don’t speak each other’s language, but they speak the universal language: Call it gameplay or call it war. Someday history will know these two boys as men — one Boneless, one Great — but for now, they sit in the shadows and wait patiently for old men to finish playing their own games.
One game moves toward an inevitable conclusion. Ragnar asks Ecbert if he can speak to his son. He knows this will be their final moment together. He tells his son Ivar, “It is you who I believe is the most important to the future of our people.” He tells him anger is a gift and he is unpredictable. “Use your anger intelligently,” says Ragnar. “And I promise you, my son, one day the whole world will know and fear Ivar the Boneless.”
“I wish I wasn’t so angry all the time,” says Ivar.
“Then you would be nothing,” says his father.