Season 2: Episode 3 “Treachery”
“Hide the good silver, the Northmen are coming”
When we last left Ragnar and his merry men, they’d had gone a-Viking and landed a little off the mark—in Wessex and in the kingdom of a rather menacing Ecbert.
“Treachery” opens with our band of Vikings walking upon a church while the bells sound and people scurry this way and that. We’ve spent so much time as viewers watching the personal struggle of Ragnar and his family that we (or me, specifically) forgot what Vikings do when Vikings make landfall. This episode was pretty rife with violent axe hacking and pillaging in search of treasure.
It doesn’t sit well with poor Athelstan who spent a brief few moments fondly remembering transcribing the Bible but who instinctively killed a young monk who took him by surprise. The church’s priest sees poor Athelstan as nothing more than a savage and not the Saxon he used to be.
Floki seems to be testing our young Athelstan more and more and one can’t help but wonder why. Has he always disliked the young priest? Does he see treachery ahead like he saw with Rollo? Or is his heavy kohl liner running into his eyes, obscuring his view? I’m not sure, but Floki looks more and more hostile with each episode.
Meanwhile in his crowded Roman-style bath house, King Ecbert and a host of naked, uncomfortable looking men discuss the recent events. While speaking to the Bishop, Ecbert makes it clear his more than willing to provide his holy men the chance for martyrdom if it means using them as bait against the raiders.
Speaking of hostile, King Horik proved himself blood thirsty by hacking to pieces the Bishop of Wessex’s escort when the man of the cloth arrived to speak to the Vikings about their terms.
In the chaos of all the hacking and killing, Ragnar distances himself a little—first by concealing a hiding child from his band of marauders and then again by showing a distinct interest in the church’s grain supply. He’s a farmer who was born the son of a farmer. He sees potential in the new land—a place where men like him could plant their own food and not suffer through harsh winters and starvation. An idea has taken seed in Ragnar, pardon the pun. You see it in his eyes that English soil may prove more valuable to him than English gold in the near future.
“The scene in which Bjorn grows by about four feet”
We finally catch up with Lagertha who has remarried a rich Jarl of her own. Except he’s kind of a nasty piece of work and when gives him a little lip, he bloodies hers with a wicked backhand. Its obvious Bjorn hates his stepfather and the feeling’s obviously mutual when the Lagertha’s husband insults both her and her son at dinner, refusing to let Bjorn go off in search of adventure on his own. This new husband drops Ragnar’s name a time or two, so it’s obvious he’s a bit jealous of the enormous shadow Bjorn’s father casts. It seems imminent that Lagertha, Bjorn, and Ragnar will be in the same orbit again. Thank goodness.
“Meet my son, the one with the snake eye”
Back in Kattegat, Aslaug has finally provided Ragnar with his fourth son, named Sigurd after her father. And for the strange snake shape in one of his irises. The show offered no other hints as to what the feature meant, other than solidifying the fact that Aslaug was, in fact, the seeress she claimed to be.
“Borg’s Boats Knockin’ at the Fjord”
Jarl Borg celebrated his second wedding with a toast—and a promise to take revenge on Ragnar and Rollo both, especially now that it was common knowledge that Ragnar sailed west with all the best warriors Kattegat had.
Borg’s ship arrive and Rollo does his best with the gnarled old men, women, and children he can muster. Siggy even earned a few points when she came running to the water front brandishing a shield and a sword four sizes too big for her. She’s no Lagertha and both she and Rollo know it—but at least she tried. For someone so concerned with saving her skin in the past, it was actually a redeeming moment. Naturally, Rollo sends her away to the mountains with Aslaug and the children.
It wasn’t much of a fight and before long, Rollo is convinced to follow Siggy and Aslaug to take care of Ragnar’s family and the rest of the town is mowed down by Borg’s men. No one is spared and in the final scene, Borg is walking around Ragnar’s great hall with a smug, satisfied grin on his face.
Next week’s teaser shows the bad news makes it all the way to Ragnar. Here’s hoping those longboats have a rocket booster hidden in them somewhere.
Recap by Megan Applegate at Flickering Myth
Our third episode of season two of History’s VIKINGS, Treachery, finds Ragnar Lothbrok and company hip deep in battles, negotiations, betrayals and vendettas. As Saint Patrick’s Day edges closer (and I’ll explain the relevance of this statement later), I am finding it difficult to restrain myself from cheering out loud for our protagonists when they find themselves in battle or in precarious situations. It’s a symptom of how the show has captured and enthralled TV audiences on Thursday nights. Primarily you can attribute this to the well written and portrayed charismatic characters, coupled with the producers’ ability to make events from over a thousand years ago relevant to modern viewers, that has contributed to its success.
Ragnar and Horik move further into Wessex, discovering the city of Winchester and its church, rich in gold; which they promptly raid and kill it’s inhabitants to a man. Athelstan has a brief moment of reflection on his former life as monk in the church. He encounters the bishop, whom Horik tortures before Athelstan can slit his throat in mercy.
We finally get a good feel for King Eckbert, we learn he was a vassal of Charlemagne and he truly is similar to Ragnar in demeanor. He is intelligent and resourceful, willing to bargain with the Northmen while raising an army to defend against them should things go sour. His disdain for the priesthood is noticeable by his treatment of clergy. His bishop is charged with negotiating with Ragnar and is shocked to learn they may wish to live here peacefully and in harmony with the Saxons.
Lagertha and her new husband, Jarl Sigard, have a discussion about Bjorn that turns domestically violent. Bjorn, now played by Alexander Ludwig, has become a proud, tall young man and is certainly Ragnar’s son. He detests Sigard for abusing his mother and vows to kill him should he touch her again. When questioned about his solemn demeanor, he says wishes to live in the mountains alone to prove himself to the gods, but Sigard forbids it.
Borg is still pissed about Ragnar and Horik booting him from the raiding party. He gathers his troops, loads up the boats and attacks Ragnar’s village of Kattegat. Rollo successfully rallies the villagers into a defense while Siggie safely escorts Aslaug and Ragnar’s sons away. Rollo joins them later, after the village Warlock tells him it is not dishonorable to flee to live and fight another day in these circumstances. He certainly tells the gods how brave Rollo is shortly after when he and the remaining villagers sacrifice themselves so he can escape.
Rollo is a beast in battle, cheering for him while you watch VIKINGS is almost a prerequisite. His defense of Kattegat is rousing and makes you throw your fists in the air. One of the many layers of the story this season is Rollo’s redemption and I am enjoying watching him become more than the man he was in Season one. I’m also intrigued at where Athelstan’s path may lead him, after a tense encounter with Floki this week, where the craftsman calls him on his Christian bullshit.
Ragnar’s proposition to settle in the lands around Wessex allows us a perfect opportunity to talk about how all of us have a little bit of Viking in us, especially those of W.A.S.P. ancestry. Their travels took them as far east as Baghdad and as far west as the Americas and all the lands in between. The word Viking in itself means river, as the first Vikings traded and raided up the Volga River in Russia and through fjords of the north. The Northmen didn’t simply sack and go back home to the cold of Scandinavia. They stuck around and assimilated into the local societies, eventually becoming as indigenous as the natives; land was as valuable to a Viking as gold and silver.
Because of this, many modern cities in Europe and the British Isles were originally Viking settlements, and I’m about to make your St. Patrick’s Day even better by adding Vikings to it. How so you ask? Dublin, the famed capital of Ireland, grew from a Viking settlement in the 9th century, and was under their control for 300 years. This trait is also shared by the cities of Limerick and Waterford. Much “Celtic” iconography is influenced by Viking art and culture, especially The Book of Kells knot and runic imagery that is common place during St. Patrick’s day celebrations and in the homes of Irish descendants. So, when you are out and about celebrating the man behind Ireland’s exodus of snakes, raise your green beer in a drinking horn this year and toast the Viking fathers of today’s Ireland!
Next week’s episode is called Eye For An Eye. From the previews it looks like Borg has an ass kicking coming, and a potential new ally with a mutual hatred for Ragnar.
Recap by This is Infamous
Inside Look: Ep 203 Treachery
Writer and executive producer Michael Hirst takes a close look at the new actor playing Bjorn, Lagertha’s new marriage and Jarl Borg’s invasion of Kattegat.