Season 3: Episode 7 “Born Again”
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode follow…
Vikings fast-forwarded things along this week in “Paris,” as we came upon Ragnar and his grim-yet-excited band of raiders already at the doorstep of Paris, set to invade.
And with Paris came new characters. King Charles (The Tudors’ Lothaire Bluteau), Princess Gisla (Morgane Polanski), and Count Odo – all setting the stage for the famed Siege of Paris. Which will happen…next week. Yes, this chapter was mostly set-up, I’m afraid. Ragnar preparing things for battle, Rollo scouting the cityscape, Floki assuming the role of raid commander and constructing a dozen or so massive towers to help the Norsemen scale the massive walls. All while Ragnar remained quite cryptic and mysterious around Floki.
We don’t know what Ragnar knows here. He spoke to Floki about Athelstan in a coy, knowing manner. As if he perhaps knew Floki murdered his friend. But then again, that’s Ragnar’s usual way of speaking. So until Floki, in a moment of fervent pride, confessed to Helga that he’d killed Athelstan for the gods, I wasn’t sure what everyone knew or didn’t know about the big event last week. One of the unfortunate side effects of these giant skip-aheads that Vikings does for the sake of primitive travel time.
How did Ragnar find Athelstan’s body? It was obviously a murder, so who did he think did it? Did he not try to search for the killer? Here we are weeks (or even months later) and all we now is that he misses him. His farewell words to Athelstan, along with him donning the crucifix, made for a great, poignant ending last week. But we’ve now gotten back to skipping over things again. Immediate, emotional follow up that we, as viewers, need. Instead, buffers and barriers are created when the story hops around like an uneven record.
So I’m now assuming that Helga will blow up Floki’s spot. Her discovering that Floki killed Athelstan was treated like a big deal. She even ran from him when she found out. So how will Ragnar react? Especially when it already seemed like he suspected Floki and had possibly even made him the raid commander as a way of sabotaging him. Floki took it as a great honor, naturally, while Ragnar seemed more tickled. Like he was punishing him.
Still, I’m more forgiving of the time jumps when they happen in between episodes than when they happen in the middle of them. Even though we miss story (conversations, conflict, fallout, etc), the space between chapters more naturally allows for it. Here though, in “Paris,” we not only jumped ahead at the start, but all throughout as well.
While Porunn suffered from postpartum depression back in Kattegat, Ecbert made a move of Judith. Oh, Ecbert’s not done scheming yet. Not by a long shot. Not only does he look to overthrow King Aelle in Northumbria, Judith’s father, but he’s sent his hot-headed, devout son off to “reason” with mad Queen Kwenthrith, who’s gone totally rogue – as we all knew she would. And of course, within 30 seconds of Aethelwulf arriving at her aviary/sex parlor, she’s put the moves on him.
The saddest thing about this mission is that Aethelwulf totally expects that he’s been sent there to die. So that Ecbert might find cause to invade Mercia and take full control. And he’s sort of okay with that. Part of his own martyr-complex. So right now Ecbert is poised to take over all of England and become “King of Kings.” And if things keep rushing forward in time we might see that happen in one or two more episodes.
Now. Do we believe Kwenthrith slept with Ragnar? They certainly seemed to be on the brink of something when we last saw them together. And I’d totally buy Ragnar giving into her crazed lust. I guess we’d have to wonder why she’d lie about such a thing if it didn’t happen. And produce a child, Magnus, who wasn’t Ragnar’s. I mean, from the sound of it, Kwenthrith also bedded Ecbert. So she was on quite the tear.
A solid set-up episode this week with “Paris.” Everyone was maneuvered around into key positions for next week’s big siege episode. Still, things needed clearing up with regards to Athelstan’s murder and the time jump not only didn’t allow for it, but it didn’t allow us to know what it was that Ragnar thought had ultimately happened to his friend.