Season 2: Episode 6 “Unforgiven”
Episode 6: UNFORGIVEN Synopsis:
King Horik returns to Kattegat, beaten and bruised and without Ragnar’s prize possession, Athelstan. “What about Athelstan?” he asks, again. Nobody knows where Athelstan is, Ragnar, sorry, but what they do know is this: they are both severely depleted in men, boats and resources and this will prevent them from colonizing in the England. King Horik proposes they re-forge their alliance with Jarl Borg as he has the man power and the boats. Ragnar considers it, Aslaug tells him not to listen to Horik but he sends Rollo off to offer the deal to the man that turned him against his brother. Siggy, in the meantime, finds herself trying to reclaim her past glories. She goes to the Seer to ask if she can ever be the woman she once was. He tells her the gods help those who help themselves. She attempts to get soft on King Horik, but he whores her out to his virgin son. Oops, that didn’t quite work out as planned.
In Wessex, Athelstan, as it turns out, has become a trusted advisor to King Eckbert. We learn much about Eckbert this week. I am finding him more and more to be an intelligent, ambitious man who understands the ignorance of the church. He also understands the value of history, including pagan and Roman art. I also detect a little homo-erotic tension between the two, generally instigated by the King. Eckbert obviously is comfortable with whatever sexuality he may actually have. Athelstan has another stigmatic vision during this time, freaking him the hell out. Though I’m not going into any historical debate this week, I’m starting to wonder if Athelstan’s visions are caused by bad grain. In the dark ages, molds and bacteria could poison grain and cause hallucinations, among other ailments. Athelstan could also have a gluten allergy, another ailment with similar symptoms. Or, he could just be crazy from living in the Dark Ages, another likely possibility.
Lagertha has made it home to Hedeby and Jarl Sigvard, only to be abused by her husband once more. Sigvard has her raped by a trio of thugs that get more than they bargained for, despite their eventual overpowering of the Shield Maiden. At dinner he once again attempts to humiliate her, so she stabs him in the eye and another warrior decapitates her former husband.
Bjorn tries to court the slave girl Thora and bumbles a bit. We finally see how insane Jarl Borg is. In a scene straight out of HAMLET, he consults with the skull of his first wife before agreeing to Rollo’s terms and Ragnar’s apparent forgiveness of Borg’s former transgressions in favor of the “bigger picture.” Alas, poor Jarl Borg, I knew him, well, Ragnar did. Borg humbly arrives in Kattegat and is received by Ragnar in a gracious manner, even putting Borg’s men up in the stables. The party ends and the participants go their ways. Ragnar decides it would be nice to do some falconry with his Golden Eagle, as witnessed by King Horik. Jarl Borg is awoken by a vision of the Seer’s prophecy in Episode 4 and finally an Eagle. Rollo and his pals burn Jarl Borg’s men alive in the stables then turn their attention to the Jarl himself, beating him to within an inch of his life before dragging him to Ragnar. Horik is pissed, but Ragnar cares not. Borg disgraced him and for that he must pay. With a Blood Eagle.
I was hesitant to watch VIKINGS tonight after seeing CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER tonight. The movie is such a game changer and has some of the best action sequences ever put on screen, and I didn’t want my elation from seeing that to bias my opinion of the TV show. To my elation I had nothing to worry about from this A grade affair. Next week we finally get to see how brutal a Viking could be with a Blood Eagle on TV. BLOOD EAGLE also happens to be the name of the episode. You do not want to miss this execution on a TV screen if you are a fan of gore torture-porn ala SAW.
Recap by This if Infamous
Will the gods ever smile on me again? ~ Siggy
For an episode that took place mostly in feasting halls, Vikings was making sure they had a lot of action and dramatic moments – Siggy sleeps with Horik’s son, while the King watches; Lagertha is brutally beaten but gets revenge on her husband; and Ragnar ultimately betrays Jarl Borg, captures him and prepares a grisly execution.
As I watched the episode I was reminded of the Red Wedding scene from Game of Thrones – I had guessed that Ragnar would not let Jarl Borg get away with his attack on Kattegat, and that he would take revenge. However, you can see how Vikings does not take the same risks that Game of Thrones does. For example, the actual capture of Jarl Borg is rather anti-climactic: basically Rollo and a couple other men just barge in on his room, beat him for a while and drag him back to Ragnar. It seemed to me a missed opportunity to do something more creative.
At the same time, they don’t harm Borg’s wife, and the deaths of the Jarl’s men are largely off-screen. Both of these choices by the TV show were probably done to downplay what is an evil betrayal by Ragnar and his men. I had this same problem with the show Borgias – while the show wants to portray their lead characters as blurring the lines between good and evil, they are unwilling to show them act like villains.
There were a lot of little details from this episode not to like – Jarl Borg, who previously gets portrayed as a sensible leader, is now carrying around and talking to skull of his first dead wife, making him look crazy and silly; Ecbert gives Athelstan the writings of the ancient Romans but doesn’t want him to share it with others because of their pagan origins – while grossly inaccurate historically, it also doesn’t make sense from what we already know about the Anglo-Saxons and Athelstan’s own education; Siggy visits with the Seer, who instead of providing her with some weird prophecy just basically gives her advise to be more brave; Lagertha’s husband being upset that Bjorn stayed with Ragnar – he finds it to be a humiliation but never actually explains why this would be a bad thing for him.
The scenes between Bjorn and the servant girl, which included the stupidest line so far spoken in the series (“Do you have a boyfriend?”) was probably the weakest plot line of the series. Bjorn is smitten with this young woman, but she does not seem interested in him – it feels more like a case of a boss sexually harassing his employee than a possible romance.
The only bright spot in this episode were the scenes of Lagertha and Earl Sigvard. While I am perplexed on why he is actually angry with his wife, Sigvard plays the abusive husband very well, and I’m sure most of the audience was very happy to see Lagertha stab him in the eye!
Recap by Medievalists
Inside Look: Ep 206 Unforgiven
Writer and executive producer Michael Hirst takes an in-depth look at Lagertha’s relationship with her husband and Ragnar’s revenge against Jarl Borg.