Season 2: Episode 2 “Invasion”
A Scandinavian Fast Forward… Megan Applegate recaps the second episode of Vikings Season 2….
Holy time warps! The writers wasted no time in this week’s episode and splashed a “Four Years Later” before the opening credits were cold in their graves.
This week’s theme seems to be about temptation — the lusty kind, the political kind, and the greedy kind.
Four years — go ahead and marinate on that a moment.
Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) now have two sons with another child due soon.
The village of Kattegat has seemingly grown and repopulated with new faces, including a new serving made that catches Ragnar’s attention (temptation!) and Aslaug’s jealous wrath. Watch it servant girl, that woman’s dangerous.
And admit it, women everywhere were smirking at the jealous woman. It’s hard for some of us not to hold grudges that she’s the reason Lagertha’s not in this week’s episode. We’re still mad at you, Aslaug…
Aslaug admits to Ragnar that she is a volva, a Nordic seeress, and just to spite him because he flirted with the serving girl, tells him that this unborn child with have “the eyes of a serpent.” Whatever that means…
Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) arrives and pushes his way in front of a fire. It’s winter and it’s cold and our man has been busy rebuilding Ragnar’s fleet all these years.
Rollo (Clive Standen) has been busy trying to drink himself to death. Whenever that fails, he passes out in the cold and tries to freeze himself to death much to the embarrassment of Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig).
And he’s fat, too. Fat, out of shape, and a weird shade of grey—a far cry from the indomitable warrior he was last season.
In one touching scene of domestic bliss, Siggy holds a hot knife in her hand and tells the fallen Rollo to make a decision—get it together or put himself (and her) out of his misery and spend “eternity in hell.”
Ragnar waxes poetic in a scene or two about how much he misses his first-born son, Bjorn. That makes me happy because it must mean we’re going to see him (and Lagertha!) soon. Turns out, the preview for next week’s episode confirms it.
Excitement begins to build in the village as both King Horik (Donal Logue) and Jarl Borg (Thorbjornn Harr) arrive and begin to make ready to raid the west once the water thaws. In a surprising twist of unsurprising politics, King Horik lets Ragnar know that he’s no longer interested in letting Borg in on the raiding fun and let’s Ragnar know it’s his job to tell him so.
Rollo arrives to beg forgiveness and look for a seat on one of the boats that will be heading out soon. Ragnar forgives his brother, but tells him he is not welcome to raid. You can see Rollo’s heart break in that scene and despite the fact that he’d basically gored One Eye in the last episode, you feel for him.
Borg does his best to use his silver tongue to rile Rollo into joining him on some sort of revenge against Ragnar and Horik (temptation!) but the straight right Rollo delivers to the Jarl’s nose was answer enough. Rollo’s staying with his family and Borg can row himself home.
The village is in full training mode and we see that our favorite reformed monk, Athelstan (George Blagden) fancies himself a raider now. Ragnar brings him down a notch or two, obviously, but still. That shaking-in-his-leather-boots boy that arrived last season is growing into a grizzled Viking. Ragnar mentions the boats heading west and that Athelstan will be going, too. We couldn’t help but see the glint in his eye when he mentioned his homeland. Might he be considering an escape once he hits Northumbrian shores? (Temptation!)
Before the raiders leave, we watch Siggy talking about how much she knows (the good and the bad) about Ragnar. The camera shot widens and we see she’s talking to King Horik. She offers to let him in on all sorts of information (temptation!) and a later scene shows that by information, Siggy really meant she was going to show Horik all of her hidden, crazy tattoos in naked, deceitful abandon.
What is that woman up to? Is she setting Rollo up to be chief again? Or is she looking to be queen? One can never tell with Siggy…she’s lost so much in the short span of a season that it would be foolish to count her out. Or trust her.
The boats leave and Rollo stands on a cliff, basically chucking sentimental rocks at them as they go. He’s staying behind and it looks like he’s one sad Viking.
Hoist the Sails
The Vikings hit the open sea with their bright red flags and their dragon-faced longships. It’s not an easy trip with near-cliff misses, stormy seas, and the fact that they lost a number of their boats somehow. They finally make landfall and it’s not long before the local military is all over them with flying arrows and rushing men.
It’s a bit of struggle, but the raiders finally submit the soldiers and glean the information they’re looking for. They’ve landed in Wessex, a far cry from the Northumbria they were aiming for.
Wessex is home to King Ecbert, a man Athelstan describes to Ragnar as being “just like you.” For the record, that could mean anything—bad with relationships, a little twitchy, or maybe just ruthless and bloodthirsty.
Recap by Megan Applegate for Flickering Myth
History Channel’s VIKINGS has raided the hearts of many a TV viewer since it’s debut last year, it is a tantalizing blend of historical truths and assumptions with just enough bloody violence thrown in to ice the cake. This second season has been no exception, the body count continues to climb while the years move forward. Spoilers lay ahead. You have been warned, Englishman.
Four long years have passed since our last episode. Ragnar and Aslaug have a brood of children. The Chieftain plans to begin raiding England again now that their ranks have increased after loosing so many to last season’s plague. The goal is to build settlements on the new land, providing land for their young warriors. Aslaug is a jealous bitch, eagle-eyeing him whenever he talks to peasant girls. It’s been 4 years and she is once again pregnant, becoming Ragnar’s personal baby-making machine yet keeping her lithe and delicate frame. Ragnar visits the Seer who tells him his sons will have even more fame than he, especially his boy Bjorn.
Brother Rollo is a drunk and destitute, after Siggie pushing him, he finally approaches Ragnar and asks his brother for forgiveness. Ragnar does forgive Rollo, but forbids him from raiding as his punishment for sedition continues. Ragnar trains the former Monk Athelstan. Allies in arms, Borg and King Horik come to feast and to prepare for the raids, but Horik finally decides that Borg can’t be trusted and pushes the issue with Ragnar. He relents and tells Borg that he can’t raid, Borg isn’t happy but Ragnar is able to make it a peaceful divorce, at least for now. After chastising for mind-cheating, Aslaug informs Ragnar that she is a Seer and has been told by the God’s that her unborn son will bear the mark of her father, Sigurd, who slew the dragon.
Their ships leave, Rollo is sad as only Vikings can be. That means he throws and breaks things. Rough seas await the raiders as they approach England. They finally make landfall in Wessex only to be ambushed by bowmen. The ensuing fight sees the once-monk Athelstan save Ragnar and King Horik’s lives. This is King Eckbert’s land and he’s rumored to be as Ragnar. A short scene with the King proves this isn’t the case. Ragnar lacks the conceit and arrogance of this man of this pompous man.
INVASION is a solid entry into the series, giving us a little of everything Viking along the way; further setting the stage for things to come. What will become of Rollo? Will Borg strike back after being excluded from the raids? What bed will Siggie find herself in as she continues to yearn for power? And finally, what about this King Eckbert? It’s the four year jump in the timeline that baffles me and proposes many more “What Ifs.” Why would the producers install this plot device into the show? Do they intend to revisit this time period again later? Or did they think that gratuitous sex between Ragnar and Aslaug and Floki making boats while Rollo becomes a drunk was boring? The mark of a good TV show creates questions and conjecture, VIKINGS is no different.
The Seer’s prophetic words to Ragnar regarding his sons bring us this week’s History Behind the Show. Claiming to be a progeny of Ragnar Lothbrok is akin in Viking lore to saying you are descendant of Jesus Christ Himself. As established in last week’s review, Ragnar was a legendary figure that may have been more than one person, but that didn’t stop the alleged sons of Ragnar Lothbrok from making their mark on history. Be forewarned, spoilers detailing the eventual death of Ragnar follow:
Bjorn Ironside: On the show he is the eldest son of Ragnar and Lagertha. In history his lineage is questionable at best, some attribute Aslaug to be his mother and he was probably adopted by Ragnar. Regardless of his origins, Bjorn becomes King of Sweden and his dynasty ruled the country for centuries.
Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye: As predicted on this week’s episode, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye has a deformed pupil that resembles a snake. He eventually marries King Aella’s daughter and becomes a King. His family line lasts until his grandson falls to opposing forces.
Ivar the Boneless, Halfdane Ragnarsson & Ubba Ragnarsson: Leaders of the Great Heathen Army, the force gathered to exact revenge after King Aella executes Ragnar in his snake pit. Ivar is the leader of the brothers; he is known for sacking York and possibly ordering the death of St. Edmund. Ubba dies unceremoniously at the hands of Saxons after a botched raid and siege. Halfdane’s existence is questionable. The trio is allegedly responsible for one of history’s earliest documented Blood Eagles, inflicting this upon King Aella as retribution and vengeance for the loss of their father.
Next week we find out what happened to Lagertha and Bjorn over the past 4 years and things already reach a boiling point with King Eckbert.
Recap by This Is Infamous
“Now we are ready and this summer we shall go to England” – Ragnar Lothbrok
This week’s episode begins by telling us that four years have now past since the event’s of last week’s show – Lagertha and Bjorn are still gone, but Ragnar now has a new son while Princess Aslaug is expecting another. Moreover, the ships are finally ready for Ragnar, along with King Horik and Jarl Borg to launch another attack on England.
Much of the first half of this episode is spent with all our Viking leaders gathering at Kattegat where feasts are being held and it seems everyone is uptight and glaring at each other. Watching this episode reminds of me of one of the main criticisms I had of last year’s episodes – too many things are happening to too many characters. For instance, take a look at what Siggy does during this episode – she confronts Rollo and convinces him to seek Ragnar’s forgiveness, secretly meets with King Horik and sleeps with him, and forms an uneasy ‘friendship’ with Aslaug – she is very busy for one of the less-than-main characters of the show.
The episode seems to cram as many as plot points as they can – Ragnar and Rollo get back together (sort of), Ragnar has deal with jealously from Aslaug, Ragnar has to tell Borg he can’t come on the raid because Horik doesn’t like the jarl, and through all that Ragnar has some time to teach Athelstan how to fight and consults the seer about the future of his sons. With all that going on it’s difficult for the characters to have any real development – they just have too much to do.
The second half of the episode has the Vikings reaching England after a terrible storm that scatters about half the ships. The remaining warriors land and soon are get into a decent battle scene with the men of Wessex in the middle of a forest. Afterwards we are introduced to King Ecbert who has a bad-ass look himself. So far the Vikings haven’t had too much difficulties with the Anglo-Saxon natives, so hopefully the King of Wessex might prove a better adversary.
Recap by Medievalists
(Hey, guys. It’s Fowler. I’m filling in for Roth this episode as she’s out of town at a press junket. Rothiness shall resume next week.)
FOUR YEARS LATER?
I know time-jumps and skip-overs have been a part of this show since the very beginning, and are altogether unavoidable when it pertains to long sea travel, but this was the biggest leap to date. “Invasion” indeed picked things up years later, revealing that Ragnar and Aslaug had not only remained together, but produced multiple sons (with another on the way).
The fate of Lagertha and Bjorn are unknown as they weren’t featured on the episode at all, and with the time jump I’m assuming that we’ll see a new actor playing Bjorn if and when we do catch up with the two of them. Making young Nathan O’Toole’s tearful goodbye in last week’s premiere even more meaningful.
With the giant leap forward though, as jarring as it was, came a very focused and compelling episode. Vikings got back to basics in this chapter, with Ragnar planning and leading his third raid west to England – this time landing farther south (and a bit to the east) in Wessex. With King Horik and his two grown sons at his side.
Also now part of the raiding party was Athelstan, and it’s weird now (in a good way) to think how much he and Ragnar have grown as brothers while Lagertha and Bjorn are essentially out of the picture entirely. A funny twist of fate considering Athelstan’s initial role in their household.
If were to actually shift episodes around a bit (if you’ll permit me to thought-vomit), this episode would have made a much more effective premiere than “Brother’s War” – which should have essentially been last season’s finale. Think about it. The two brothers’ bitter conflict wouldn’t have needed to be saved for the premiere (especially since it only lasted about seven minutes before conveniently ending). That was finale material right there. And Lagertha leaving the village would have made for a much more powerful capper.
Anyhow, that was just something that struck me with “Invasion” given that we were being re-introduced to most every character here. Discovering how each person faired in the years between. Which seemed to be good years for most involved too, mind you. Except for Rollo, of course, who’d become a wallowing drunk in fraternal exile.
And I like how it took Siggy to bring him back to life, just how it also took Siggy to turn him against Ragnar in the first place. And all the while she’s still looking for a fast track up in the world by bedding Horik. A trait that Aslaug, of all people, admired.
Ragnar, in the meanwhile, has all the sons he could possibly want. And considering that it was “sons” that caused him to spurn Lagertha and fall into the arms of Aslaug to begin with, it was great to see that his overall relationship with Aslaug was not the stuff of lore and legend. Just a typical married couple, bickering over his flirtatious ways while he tried very hard to charm his way out of trouble.
By the end, after a bloody battle (in which the Northmen actually got taken by surprise), we were introduced to the preening King Ecbert – a man who we’d heard described as being much like Ragnar himself, though his introductory demeanor painted him as a bit of precious noble.
Left behind however, missing out on all the action, was Rollo. Who accepted a half-pardon from Ragnar, who chose to accept him as family but not as someone he’d be willing to take into battle. Plus, there was numerous prophesies made about Ragnar’s boys; Aslaug claiming that their unborn child will have a serpent symbol in his eye while the hooded Seer spoke of marriage and seafaring adventures.
“Invasion,” simply put, served us better as the Season 2 premiere than the actual Season 2 premiere – which itself felt like an epilogue used for tying off dangling threads from Season 1. Ecbert and Borg (who got kicked out of the raiding party) look like they’ll make for fun adversaries down the line while Rollo’s penance already feels more real and vital than his confusing first season betrayals. I do miss Lagertha, and readily resent Aslaug for her mere existence, but there was a such a giant leap forward here that one pretty much just has to accept her as a part of Ragnar’s new life.
Recap by IGN
Inside Look: Ep 202 Invasion
Writer and executive producer Michael Hirst takes an in-depth look at where the Vikings are in the second episode of Season 2, four years after the events of the season premiere. He also discusses the new locale where the Vikings land, and the king who inhabits it.