Press: Midseason Finale Recap and Review
TV WEB – The Vikings grand spectacle event is finally here, with the mid-season finale, Moments of Vision! With Ragnar Lothbrok gone the allegiances between his sons have broken apart and they come to meet on the battlefield for what could be the last time for some of them. Coming from a show where their enemies have often been foreigners from overseas who were seeking revenge for the Vikings attacking their lands, this time the fight has come home. The characters on Vikings have always had a strong bond of family and when Rollo (Clive Standen) left to join the French it really pained me to see him go against Ragnar and all those that he used to consider his countrymen. Now it’s gone one step further to where it seems blood and loyalty have been replaced by power and vengeance.
This time around Showrunner Michael Hirst decided to do things a little bit differently. Instead of doing a linear story of everyone preparing to do battle he opted more to mix it up with a lot of flashbacks and time jumps to the actual battle itself. He focused more on the struggle for each individual character and how what’s going into this battle meant for them. Considering we just got the standard way of shooting a scene between two armies a couple of episodes ago it was refreshing to see a different more artistic style for this one. The initial sweeping shots showing the large gathering of warriors on both sides set to the voices of brothers Halfdan (Jasper Paakkonen) and King Harald (Peter Franzen) singing a traditional song across the field.
My biggest concern for this battle was Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) meeting her demise. One of the main story arcs so far has been Ivar (Alex Hogh) and his relentless pursuit to see her pay for murdering his mother. She has a moment with Bishop Heahmund (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) where she confesses “I think I might die this day.” Heahmund, on the other hand, knows that he will not perish because he is not ready yet. Lagertha questions him on how he thinks he has a choice but it just shows the difference in their religious beliefs. She asks him to kiss her one last time before they leave and it shows us that their conversation last week involved more than just talking in the end. There is a subtle intensity to these two and after even this small moment they share I am not ready to see them be separated.
We move on to Hvitserk (Marco Ilso) who is speaking with Ivar and he says how the only regrets he has in life is how he doesn’t have any children yet. When he tries to insinuate that he and Ivar are in the same situation, Ivar proclaims that he will have many children. This makes Hvitserk laugh out loud which Ivar takes as an insult and puts a knife at his throat. Only when Hvitserk gives him a look of fear does he realize his action and puts it away. He blames it on being anxious for battle but I continue to think the guy has more than one screw loose in his head. Not only has he already killed one of his brothers he has repeatedly shown disrespect to Hvitserk even though he left Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith). At the end of this, Ivar would tell him that he feels Hvitserk regrets jumping out of that ship and joining him citing that he has never truly loved him. Ivar does this thing where he puts on such a front of bravery and confidence but then there will be these isolated times when we see cracks in his armor and he really is acting out from not feeling loved.
After this, we see quickly jump forward to Hvitserk fighting in battle but he gets bested at one point and falls to the ground. In that moment he steps outside of himself and sees when he jumped out of Ubbe’s ship. He again recalls Ivar’s words saying he regretted this action and I think there’s no doubt that he has but things have come too far now to go back. After he gets his head back he rises to battle and ends up being face to face with Ubbe. They stare each other down for what seems like a lifetime with Ubbe choosing to make the first move and he swings his blade but stops right before connecting with Hvitserk’s neck. He just can’t take his little brother’s life. The part that is most interesting is how Hvitserk does not raise his weapon to stop Ubbe and could’ve been struck down. He raises his head and stares at Ubbe and I just can’t tell for sure if he wanted to be struck down because he feels he has betrayed his brother. He makes no attempt to fight back even when Ubbe raises his sword to attack again but the action of the battle around separates them.
Maybe the only thing good to come out of this civil war is Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) meeting his new lady Snaefrid (Dagny Backer Johnsen) of the Sami people. They have the most tender of moments kissing each other goodbye before we are thrust forward to the Sami’s engaging the enemy fighting in the woods. But this time they would not dominate in the same way as first her father is killed and then Snaefrid would meet her end from an ax blade. My condolences to you Bjorn.
One of the biggest conflicts in this whole scenario has been Halfdan vs. his brother King Harald. As much as there wasn’t really a direct betrayal, Halfdan could not go against Bjorn after he saved his life in Morocco. He would tell Bjorn that he has shown him there is more to life than land and glory and that if he dies in battle he is “ready for Valhalla.” Their friendship has been something really special as you have two men who while warriors are just two spirits who have peaceful hearts beating inside. On the battlefield, Halfdan would really lose his way at one point and his mind would take him back to the serenity of standing alone in the desert. I know Hirst is trying to be creative here but the guy is in the middle of an intense fray here! When he regains his senses he would see Harald fighting and walk over to confront him. When he sees his brother before him Harald would tell him that he “didn’t” want to kill him like he already knew the outcome. As it would happen, Harald would slice him with his sword and he would fall. Halfdan would go back again to the peace of the earth falling through his fingers as his life left his body. “I will see you in Valhalla,” Harald told him. Similar to Hvitserk, Halfdan didn’t even raise his sword to fight like he would rather die than fight his brother. The body count is getting grim and depressing at this point.
Unfortunately, we’re not done yet as we go back again with Harald but this time he’s talking to his wife Astrid (Josefin Asplund). He can tell that her heart weighs heavy and he asks her “tell me your sorrow,” but as we all know she cannot. Later on, Lagertha and Astrid would find each other amidst the fighting and this is the first time they’ve had a chance to talk since her kidnapping. Astrid pleads with Lagertha to kill her first because “otherwise we will kill you.” Lagertha knows that Astrid was taken AND tried to help her. She can’t do what her former lover is asking her even when Astrid reveals “I cannot have this child!” As Lagertha gets distracted from the chaos around them, Astrid takes the opportunity to lunge at her and forced to defend herself Lagertha stabs her, killing Astrid. As she lies her body down on the grass, Lagertha is brought to tears from the painful decision she just made. Astrid was a prisoner of war being with King Halfdan and she saw no other way out.
Taking a break from the civil war for a minute we check in on Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) and the aftermath of the death of Eyvind’s (Kris Holden-Ried) son. In an effort to try and fix the hostility on his island, Floki offers Eyvind the position of law-giver providing that he doesn’t retaliate in the name of his son. But apparently his desire for revenge would be too strong and later on, they would find Thorgrim’s (Rob Malone) body in one of the natural springs. Eyvind doesn’t announce his crime but it’s a safe assumption he was behind it. Out of ideas or maybe feeling the guilt of these deaths, Floki says to his followers that they need to make a sacrifice to the gods to make things right. He calls himself “the builder” of their settlement so he offers himself up as the sacrifice. Maybe this whole subplot has been just about giving Floki his send-off from the show? I have a hard time seeing how else his group can come together otherwise unless that dick Eyvind goes back to Kattegat.
Meanwhile back on the battlefield, Ivar is amping his soldiers up to be the second wave to go fight against Lagertha. But at the same time, he watches from a hill he sees Heahmund alive and killing his soldiers. Heahmund catches his gaze and acknowledges Ivar almost like he’s taunting him.
As the battle continues to rage on, we find Bjorn in the middle of taking out several foes but he accidentally falls at one point and discovers Guthrum (Ben Roe) dead right beside him. He quickly pays his respects by saying “Soon you will get to live in Valhalla with your great father Jarl Borg,” and then returns to the action. But it would be too late for any hope of victory for his side as Ivar would send in his French reinforcements and recognizing they were outmanned, Bjorn would call for his men to retreat.
At Kattegat, the deceitful Margrethe (Ida Marie Nielsen) would visit the Seer (John Kavanagh) to ask if Ubbe was destined to be king. He would tell her he will never be king of Kattegat but insinuated that he might be somewhere else. He tells her that he thinks she is mad and that “perhaps the mad will inherit the earth.” Please don’t tell me this bitch will actually find any success in life.
As Bjorn and his people make their way back home, he would find Snaefrid’s fallen body and mourn his lost love. When they return to Kattegat he would tell Ubbe that they need to gather up their things and evacuate the village because Ivar will be there soon. He would also find Lagertha, sitting against a wall, her hair now turned pure white. The trauma of this battle has weighed heavy on her as she just sits catatonic by herself.
We are taken outside and shown the open water as several boats waving the French flag are briskly sailing. Inside one of them is a man we haven’t seen in some time, Rollo. He sits deep in thought, draped in his royal robes. With him on the way can only spell even worse news for Lagertha.
And with that, we say goodbye to the Northmen on the History Channel for now. Really tough and emotional episode to watch as we lost some great characters. But what is going to happen to Kattegat now? Will Ivar finally get his revenge on Lagertha? Is Rollo going to somehow rule over all? The transformation of this show post-Ragnar hasn’t lost any of its excitement!