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Season 2: Episode 10 “The Lord’s Prayer”

 

Kill someone who matters.

 

When Ragnar decides to personally slay the man who thought to wipe his life, progeny, and memory from the face of the earth, man he kills the hell out of him. I must confess: It was those final moments, and Ragnar’s uninhibited barbarism, that elevated this episode from good to great for me. It was entirely, and viscerally, satisfying to behold someone who’d been as devious and serpent-like as Horik get that particular skull-cracking, Vikings brand of justice. The sequence also served to perfectly encapsulate the nature of Ragnar’s character.

 

As Siggy revealed to Horik, there’s nothing that Ragnar loves more than his children. He is driven by a near all-consuming, obsessive desire to expand what is quickly becoming his dynasty. Horik already threatened what Ragnar was working to achieve by attacking King Ecgbert, but to plot to annihilate his entire family was enough to unleash a depth of rage that would only be satisfied by unrestrained violence – and man, Ragnar does violence well. Raw and stunning in its honesty, his hate was so pure that it verged on beautiful.

 

In truth, Ragnar had far more vision than Horik did. He had a long-term plan for his people and understood when to attack and when to negotiate. By the close of the episode, Ragnar sat quite literally on top of the world with Horik’s sword of Kings, and we can only assume that he’d taken his place of leadership, as is tradition. It was interesting that those final moments found him alone and isolated from all he fought to protect, though. One has to wonder if that points to a theme for next season – the cost of leadership. Perhaps part of that price is connection to the very people whose lives Ragnar is working to improve. We shall see.

 

When Ragnar decides to personally slay the man who thought to wipe his life, progeny, and memory from the face of the earth, man he kills the hell out of him. I must confess: It was those final moments, and Ragnar’s uninhibited barbarism, that elevated this episode from good to great for me. It was entirely, and viscerally, satisfying to behold someone who’d been as devious and serpent-like as Horik get that particular skull-cracking, Vikings brand of justice. The sequence also served to perfectly encapsulate the nature of Ragnar’s character.

 

As Siggy revealed to Horik, there’s nothing that Ragnar loves more than his children. He is driven by a near all-consuming, obsessive desire to expand what is quickly becoming his dynasty. Horik already threatened what Ragnar was working to achieve by attacking King Ecgbert, but to plot to annihilate his entire family was enough to unleash a depth of rage that would only be satisfied by unrestrained violence – and man, Ragnar does violence well. Raw and stunning in its honesty, his hate was so pure that it verged on beautiful.

 

In truth, Ragnar had far more vision than Horik did. He had a long-term plan for his people and understood when to attack and when to negotiate. By the close of the episode, Ragnar sat quite literally on top of the world with Horik’s sword of Kings, and we can only assume that he’d taken his place of leadership, as is tradition. It was interesting that those final moments found him alone and isolated from all he fought to protect, though. One has to wonder if that points to a theme for next season – the cost of leadership. Perhaps part of that price is connection to the very people whose lives Ragnar is working to improve. We shall see.

 

This season came full-circle with the finale, as Vikings both opened and closed with a focus on treachery. We’ve seen those close to Ragnar be tempted to the edge of betrayal – or in Rollo’s case, well past the edge – only to return to the fold before. Trust and loyalty are tested again and again on this series, as they would be when the stakes are as high as the right to rule and create a legacy. What worked here was the clear distinction that Ragnar makes between those he loves and those he does not. Rollo was forgiven and afforded an opportunity to regain his brother’s affection. Borg and Horik – who admittedly crossed far harsher lines than Rollo had – faced grim and bloody vengeance.

 

The episode didn’t necessarily offer shocking twists, as few fans truly believed that Floki would turn fully against Ragnar. We saw Ragnar go toe-to-toe with a more powerful man – Gabriel Byrne’s Yarl Haraldson – and come out victorious in Season 1. There was little doubt that he would prevail again here. In fact, as wonderful as Donal Logue is, one of the weaknesses of this season was that Horik never really emerged as a true threat to Ragnar. We didn’t feel the weight of his leadership, nor the threat of his menace. The only central character that it genuinely seemed we may lose was Rollo.

 

However, what this entry, and this season, did capture was the harsh beauty of the Viking culture. Bjorn and Poruun even used warplay as foreplay, which highlighted how valued battle was in that world and how quickly play can become all too real. When it came time for Ragnar to turn the tables on Horik, he did so, entirely. Several citizens of Kattegat were sacrificed as Horik and his men were lured further and further in to meet their doom. Perhaps the one true shock was that Ragnar Lothbrok dealt the King’s daughters their death, just as Horik planned to do with his sons.

 

That surprised me, as I expected Lagertha to put a stop to that infanticide, the child slaughter. The show did well to fully embrace the horror and Ragnar’s sense of justice, though. Horik’s line became a weed; one he decided must be pulled from the earth permanently. My only question is: What became of Horik’s eldest son, who by my estimation should have been the first to go?

The Verdict

 

Vikings Season 2 closed on a solid, if somewhat familiar note. This season, like the last, was ultimately about trust, betrayal, power plays, and the drive to leave one’s imprint on history. What Vikings does so well is to immerse the viewer in an unfamiliar, brutal, and yet strangely appealing world. It is the strength of Ragnar’s will that serves as the backbone of this series, and he’s never displayed it quite as clearly as he did in those final, gloriously ruthless moments.

 

Source: IGN


 

The season finale of History’s VIKINGS, THE LORDS’S PRAYER was the most exciting hour of the cable channel’s first scripted hour long drama since its debut in 2013. It delivered action, intrigue and suspense; all while it played out a major plot twist with the deftness of a skilled magician.   The culmination of a series of story arcs with the themes of betrayal and revenge at their core, THE LORD’S PRAYER offered a satisfactory conclusion to the story as the gods play a game of chess, waging a regional Ragnarok in Kattegat. On one side we have Earl Ragnar Lothbrok and on the other, the duplicitous King Horik.

 

Barring the presence of Athelstan, nary a Saxon or otherwise Englishman is to be found ahead, perhaps fear of the trolls that may devour their Christian souls has kept them away from the spoilers loom in the darkness. Tread on if you dare, and are a Christian of English decent, I cannot vouch for your safety. Shall we say a prayer before we venture on? “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name…”

 

THE LORD’S PRAYER Synopsis:

 

Helga arrives by longboat, baring her child, a daughter. She finds Floki and he is thrilled with seeing his child for the first time, so thrilled he decides to name her after the trickster god Loki’s first wife, the Giantess that gave birth to, among other nasty beasties, the goddess Hel, the Fenris wolf and the Mid-Gard Serpent. Shortly thereafter King Horik’s wife, Brunhild, arrives with his little horde of daughters. At a banquet, Horik proposes marrying his daughters to Ragnar’s sons in sign of peace and friendship as he now sees Ragnar as an (bull-cough-shit)equal.   And of course while this is going on, he’s playing mind games with Floki over his loyalty to him. Brunhild and Lagertha have a chat, flexing their she-bitch muscles with carefully chosen words and setting up their eventual showdown in the final act of the episode. Thora shoots Bjorn down in flames. He can’t get hurt in battle, but then again he can’t talk to girls, either.   Horik tells Floki that if he kills someone important, then he will prove his loyalty to the king. Now, the writers skillfully mix in the narrative Floki interacting with the principal people that are important to Ragnar at this point, all of which would be targets that would make King Horik happy; the likes of Torstein and Athelstan. Even Siggy makes an appearance and King Horik shuts her out.   Probably a bad move. The next day Floki is all chummy with his cronies in Ragnar’s band of misfits, much to Horik’s dismay. He questions Floki about his plans, and the boat-builder tells him he’s picked his target. As Horik walks away, Floki glares at him…

 

Floki is in the wilderness picking mushrooms. Mushrooms are bad, hmm kay? They kill people, kay?

 

Ragnar, Horik, Lagertha and their sons discuss the plans for the next invasion to England. Lagertha suggests they go to other places, setting up what should be the excursions to France and the sacking of Paris next season.

 

Floki visits Siggie and Rollo, he urges her to get some rest, he’ll tend to Rollo. She reluctantly goes, and as soon as Floki is alone with Rollo he’s reminding him of how Rollo put him in a bed. Then he stuffs the mushrooms down his throat and washes it down with wine. Rollo eats them willingly? Why?   Does Rollo want to die? Does he know Floki is poisoning him? Now we cut to another banquet. Floki sends a young serving boy to deliver some mushrooms to Torstein. He makes the boy swear he will keep a secret and tells a nice story about Loki being chained in a cave with poison dripping on him to insure his silence. Torstein eagerly eats down the ‘shrooms and even toasts Floki.   Then we find Torstein dead and Bjorn swearing revenge on his murderer. Floki immediately joins Bjorn in lamenting and cursing the murderer.   Horik comes to Floki and tells him he can finally trust him. He’s going to wipe Ragnar’s family out, tomorrow. Floki says he will take care of Bjorn. Dirty bastard! A storm rages. Aslaug and Lagertha sense the gods coming to Kattegat. So what does Bjorn decide to do? Try it again with Thora and she challenges him to a fight. They go to a glen and have a grand fist fight. All while Floki lurks in the bushes.

 

Rollo is not dead.   What? He’s pissing and moaning and getting his ass kicked by a crutch, but he’s alive. Didn’t Floki give him the same mushrooms he gave Torstein? Now Horik and Siggie are outside, he asks her to divulge Ragnar’s secret weakness, his children. He gives her a dagger to kill Ragnar’s children. If she does so, he will marry her and make her a queen. Horik goes on to tell his son what they are doing, he reveals the Sword of Kings to him, tells him of its legacy as they leave to exterminate Ragnar’s legacy. Brunhild even suits up.

 

Now Ragnar and Athelstan are on a cliff top talking, Ragnar asks about Athelstan’s God, what he would say to him. So naturally Athelstan leads him the Lord’s Prayer. It’s obvious something is up, as the series has show they generally don’t pray unless they are going into battle.

 

Athelstan and Ragnar reciting The Lord’s Prayer is the soundtrack as Horik’s men land on the beach.   Aslaug gives an eye to Siggie who then tends to the children. But Siggie doesn’t give the normal sneaky-Siggie look or facial expressions as she leads the kiddies away. IN fact, it’s more the look of no-bullshit-Siggie.

 

The prayer ends.   Amen. Horik and his men start working their way into Kattegat. They mow down anyone they see without prejudice.   The slaughter is gruesome and merciless. Horik’s men go after Rollo.   He dispatches them with ease, crushed leg and all. Athelstan steps out, he’s been waiting in the shadows with an axe and a prayer, he strikes at Horik’s men. Something is assuredly up here. Lagertha is suited up with her shield maidens, ready for battle, marching through   the streets with conviction. She bursts down the door to Brunhild’s hall and they commence to fighting. The fight is savage and short with Lagertha coming out on top after a slice to Brunhild’s belly. She runs the Queen through.   Ragnar’s men tell Lagertha to leave, they have orders from Ragnar and they surely involve killing Horik’s daughters, something Lagertha doesn’t wish to witness but must be done. Bjorn is walking in the shadows when two men come up behind him, but one strikes the other. It’s Floki. Bjorn asks where he’s been. Floki replies, “Looking after you… like I promised your father.”   Floki is not a traitor? What’s going on here?

 

Horik and his men enter Ragnar’s Hall. There is a single cloaked figure with his back to them standing in the center of the Hall. But it is not Raganr. It is Torstein, his reveal makes him look like the classic vision of the Vanir god Freyr and is one of the many visuals in this episode that will burn in your mind for days after watching.   Lagertha’s men arrive from behind, striking at Horik’s men as they are eliminated by arrows and axes until only the King stands with his son. Floki enters the hall, Horik accuses him of betraying the gods. But Floki tells him he only betrayed Horik. His loyalty has always been with Ragnar. Ragnar comes in, then Aslaug and Siggie. A defeated King Horik begs Ragnar to spare his son’s life. He drops his weapon and steps forward to accept his death. Those closest to Ragnar violently strike at him with their weapons for his trickery and deceit. By the time he reaches Ragnar, he’s in rough shape. How bad is it for King Horik when Ragnar finally gets his hands on him? In a season that saw this Ragnar’s home sacked, his Hall usurped, his friends killed; in a season where he implemented a blood eagle execution on a rival warlord, we finally see the most brutal side of Ragnar Lothbrok since the series began. To say he beats the living hell out of Horik does it a disservice.   And Horik takes it like a man, never once crying in pain or anguish as his life is beaten from him by head-butts and fists and axe. It appears that when he’s finally done, that he’s caved the man’s head in from beating on it. As this happens, Bjorn retrieves the Sword of Kings. The camera spins about Ragnar as he sits, hunched over. The background becomes gray as we focus on Ragnar’s gore covered face. Then the scene changes. A fur cloaked Ragnar is sitting on the ledge of a fjord cliff, cradling the Sword of Kings in his grasp. The camera pulls back and we know we now see King Ragnar.   All Hail King of the Danes.

 

Not only was the pacing of the episode excellent; the music, scored by Trevor Morris, added to the tension and suspense. I also liked the metaphoric use of the Lord’s Prayer in the episode, furthering the religious conflict that the Vikings faced. Imagery was also utilized in the storytelling, feeding our minds with iconic visuals that added a mystical element to the episode, especially the last scene, an homage to the closing scene of CONAN THE BARBARIAN and the iconic King Conan pose that has been copied before (can you say HHH in wrestling?) but never done in a manner such as this. It is fitting, since Ragnar was an inspiration of Robert E Howard’s when he created Conan.

 

My history lesson to you this week, our last VIKINGS piece until next year (or when important news comes up regarding season 3) is short and sweet. King Horik in history was actually murdered by one of his nephews, though the Ragnar of yore did indeed become King of the Danes, or so legend tells us. The raids of France and Paris that have been teased by the show’s producers for next season took place a full 10 years before Horik’s death. It will be exciting to see 100 Viking long-ships on the TV next year, that’s for sure, if nothing else.

 

Recap by This is Infamous

 

Inside Look: Ep 210 The Lord’s Prayer

Writer and executive producer Michael Hirst discusses the Vikings Season 2 finale.

Our Gallery of Screencaps and Stills for Episode 2×10

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