[This is a review for season 2, episode 3 of Vikings. There will be SPOILERS.]
For three weeks now, Vikings has proven itself to be in a season of war. In this week’s episode, simply titled ‘Treachery,’ a war is brewing on foreign soil (Wessex), while back in Scandinavia, Rollo has been tasked to keep the women and children safe.
The newly cast Bjorn, played by The Hunger Games star Alexander Ludwig, will most likely be the main focus of many discussions surrounding ‘Treachery;’ however, writer Michael Hirst (The Tudors) seems more interested in contemplating the various moral choices our favorite characters make. In the classical sense, is there a hero, or heroine to be found in Vikings?
The answer depends on your point of view. As the great Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi said, “many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” Like Game of Thrones, Vikings relishes in the idea of being enveloped by the grey abstraction of a moral code. As in the real world, human beings cannot simply be put into a category of good and bad, or evil and righteous. Take Athelstan for instance; a man who was once (or still is) a Christian monk devoted to God. Although he saved the priest from hours of torture, he still didn’t hesitate to kill a defenseless young monk who moved towards him. Althestan wants to prove himself a proper Viking, but at what cost to himself?
Ragnar is yet another man mired in moral dilemmas. He has no problem raiding and pillaging, yet when he sees a frightened child hiding in a corner, he protects the young one, while his fellow countrymen torture, rape, and kill anyone in their path. Is Ragnar the hero we are searching for?
One of the many fascinating aspects of this series is that each character can take on the mantle of hero at any time – and Rollo proved himself a hero above all others this week. With Jarl Borg holds a grudge against King Horik for leaving him out of the raids, Rollo is left to defend his village with only a handful of old men, women and children. The drunken Viking demonstrates his worth as a warrior, and tactician by saving Ragnar’s wife and newborn son from the invading force. One of the more emotional moments of the series was witnessing Rollo’s indecision about whether he should stay and fight, or run to the hills for protection. He’s trying so hard to prove he is a “good man,” to not only his village, but a brother who is across the sea. The kindly old man’s words to Rollo ring loudly as he says, “I will tell the gods what you did.” Will Rollo ever find absolution?
‘Treachery’ continues this season’s excellent run of exciting episodes; however, this review would not be complete without mentioning our lovely heroine, Lagertha and her now enormous son Bjorn. Witnessing Lagertha being slapped across the face by her new husband was difficult to watch. She is a shield-maiden after all, and could have easily beaten this cruel man with little effort. It will be interesting to see what Bjorn will do when he meets his father again. Ragnar is no knight in shinning armor, yet this new man, who is now stepfather to Bjorn is no better. Will there be a chance for Ragnar and Lagertha to be reunited?
Vikings, as always, comes down to a story about two brothers. Ragnar has ambitions of moving his people to the soil rich lands of England, while Rollo only wishes to do the right thing in the eyes of his brother. Can Ragnar defeat this new King Ecbert, and will Rollo be able to keep Ragnar’s family safe while Jarl Borg hunts him down? Only time will tell.
Vikings continues with ‘Eye for an Eye’ next Thursday @10pm on History.