Season 2: Episode 8 “Boneless”
The ships have sailed back to Wessex and jolly old England as we edge closer to the season finale of History’s VIKINGS. It’s been a wild ride the past 8 episodes, and the stakes have risen after the blood eagle execution of the nefarious Jarl Borg last week. BONELESS brings us a childbirth as the gods continue to play cruel games with our heroes, and Ragnar comes one step closer to reuniting with his favorite manservant, the former monk, Athelstan. Ragnar isn’t the only person asking about him this time around. So batten down the hatches and gather up your axes, it’s time for a spoiler filled romp into the Dark Ages. Fare thee well, traveler, Odin One-Eyed guides you the perilous path ahead…
Aslaug endures a long and painful delivery of a son, Ivar. We learn that the boy has some disfigurement, a result of Aslaug’s prophecy to Ragnar that she would give birth to a monster if he lay with her in the first three days he returned. We eventually see that the child’s legs are deformed and bowed. After attempting to leave the child to the elements and an “honorable” death by exposure, only to have Aslaug retrieve him, Ragnar reluctantly allows the child to live and dubs him Ivar the Boneless (And from this will come our history lesson of the day. #talkaboutthatlater.).
The trio of Viking Lords, Ragnar, King Horik and Lagertha prepare to return to England. Horik wants revenge on King Eckbert. He also wants to cull Ragnar and his growing popularity, which translates into power for the Earl in the social circles of the Northmen. Horik manipulates Floki and Lagertha, but he’s not justified in his arguments until later. Rollo teaches Bjorn how to fight, but Bjorn isn’t getting it. He’s still thinking about his slave girl, Thora. Lagertha and one of her lords have a disagreement over his rewards for helping obtain the Earldom after he peeps on her bathing. Floki is loosing his marbles, falling in with Horik as he continues down a dark path.
In Wessex, King Eckbert negotiates with the Princess of Mercia, Kwenthrith (Amy Baily, playing her up as a pan-sexual hottie with a Viking fetish)who has recently murdered her brother. Eckbert offers his services as an ally and proposes paying the soon to be invading Northmen as mercenaries to assist the Princess in her bid to end her country’s civil war. This woman is a basket case, a vegetarian and sexual dynamo. She hits on Athelstan, but he shoots her down by being, well, atypical indecisive Athelstan, once again. Too bad for him. She instead beds Eckbert that night, leading to a rather humorous love scene that portrays Eckbert in an Al Bundy-esque role, ending with him wishing luck to a trio of his guards as they are left to satisfy Kwenthrith’s carnality.
The trio land in England, and Ragnar immediately pisses off Horik by sending Torstein to alert King Eckbert he is ready to negotiate. Eckbert sends Æthelwulf to talk terms, which Ragnar readily accepts. The important thing here is the revelation to Ragnar that Athelstan lives. Ragnar poorly hides his elation at this discovery. When Æthelwulf leaves, Horik’s son Erlendur and a team of raiders attack the greeting party, leaving Æthelwulf alive, but bloody and terrified.
BONELESS was a moderately paced episode, giving us enough political melodrama, sexual situations, belly laughs and broadswords to set the stage for our final two adventures this season. Next week brings THE CHOICE and judging from the previews, it looks like King Horik finally screws the pooch, at least tactically on the battlefield. What of Ragnar’s quest to reunite with Athelstan? I’m inclined to believe when the moment comes and we get to brass tacks, Athelstan will side with his countrymen, which will certainly have devastating effects on Ragnar and his approach to the Saxons of England.
And what of wee Ivar The Boneless? Culling sick children is a practice that has been carried out by warrior-tribes of people throughout history. The Spartans did it, and so did the Vikings. A person who could not hold their own in battle was a liability. Little is known of Ivar and his actual condition. Some say he was called the Boneless because he was a lithe and feared Berserker, others because he either had an unusually small Johnson or dealt with performance issues in the bed room, as King Eckbert might call it. History Channel and VIKINGS producers have chosen to go the disabled route, indicating he had cartilage for legs. This Ivar was carried about on a shield and was an adept bowman, as well as a renowned Viking warlord. Ivar the Boneless was one of the leaders of the Great Heathen Army that I’ve mentioned in previous articles, the Viking horde that sought revenge upon King Ælla for his execution of Ragnar, their siege of his capital city lasted for 14 years and lead to the birth of the city of York. What is most important here is the genetic problems that many of Ragnar’s later sons seem to have been struck with, especially those that Aslaug gave birth to. First we have Sigurd’s Snake In the Eye’s eye and now we have Ivar the Boneless, two members of the same family that have genetic deformities. Whether this stemmed from Aslaug or Ragnar, I cannot say, but it’s clear that something is rotten in Denmark when it comes to Alsaug’s children.
Recap by This is Infamous
Inside Look: Ep 208 Boneless
Writer and executive producer Michael Hirst reveals the story behind Ragnar’s newest son and how King Ecbert plans to gain the upper-hand in future battles with the Vikings.