‘Vikings’ Find Meaning in Death

Published 1 year ago by

vikings season 2 episode 7 king ecbert Vikings Find Meaning in Death

[This is a review of Vikings season 2, episode 7. There will be SPOILERS.]


There is something momentous to be said about the way History’s Vikings handles the topic of death. Behind the blood and gore exists a kind of honor and purpose; even when a body is mutilated. No one is simply killed for random reasons. When a life is taken, a greater meaning lingers in the shadows.

This week’s episode, entitled ‘Blood Eagle,’ featured one of the most gruesome executions in recent memory. Sure, it’s difficult to deny that Game of Thrones wears the crown when it comes to spectacular deaths; however, Vikings is not willing to play second fiddle. Jarl Borg’s bodily mutilation at the end of the episode mimics our own, contemporary culture more than we would like to admit.

Creator/writer Michael Hirst deserves praise for his unflinching portrayal of the barbarism that existed within Viking culture. This is not meant to say that our Scandinavian brothers and sisters are any more blood thirsty than our modern society; if anything, they have a greater sense of purpose behind their sacrifices. Before continuing, if this review seems more “personal” than previous entries, it is due to the final scene’s grotesque nature and its justifications surrounding the act. Being far removed from witnessing death on a regular basis, how does one watch something like that and not leave unscathed?

vikings season 2 episode 7 bjorn Vikings Find Meaning in Death

As season 2 moves ever closer to the finale, our heroes are diminishing with each new episode. Even young Bjorn was mortified at his father’s description of what Jarl Borg would have to endure. Bjron has proven himself on the battlefield, but perhaps he has a kinder heart than his father? King Horik’s plea for Ragnar to spare Borg’s life may have been the better option. Lagertha’s allegiance brings with it some warriors and a few ships, but they are nothing compared to what Borg could have offered, had Ragnar not given into his pride. By ‘Blood Eagle’s’ end, Jarl Borg became the sympathetic hero, as he refused to cry out when his blood began to pour over his dead wife’s skull.

There was little happiness to be found this week, yet Floki always finds a way to put a smile on our faces. Floki as a father may be a scary thought, but seeing him jump for joy during his wedding to Helga (Maude Hirst), brought some light to an overly somber episode. Back in Wessex, the ambitious King Ecbert has now joined forces with Northumbria. King Alle (Ivan Kaye) seems wary of the charismatic king, but a marriage between his daughter and Ecbert’s son soothed his troubled mind. This alliance will make matters interesting when Ragnar returns to England in search of Athelstan.

vikings season 2 episode 7 rollo Vikings Find Meaning in Death

‘Blood Eagle’ gave us a new perspective on Ragnar. At times, the handsome Earl appears gentle and kind, yet when his family is in danger, that mischievous smile quickly turns to wrath. What makes Ragnar so captivating as a character, is that even in his anger, he is not without forgiveness. As he hauntingly tells Bjorn what Jarl Borg will go through, Ragnar finishes his story by saying that there is still a chance to enter Valhalla if Borg refuses to cry out. As stated earlier, even vengeful deaths have substance and meaning. Perhaps that is why Borg’s transformation into a bloodied eagle is so frightening. In the end, what is all this death for?

There are only three episodes remaining until the end of season 2 with much to wrap up. Will Ragnar and Horik be able to defeat this new alliance between Ecbert and Alle? Also, share your thoughts on Jarl Borg’s death. Did any of you see purpose behind the act, or was this simply Ragnar’s revenge for past transgressions? Keep watching to see how it all ends.


Vikings continues with ‘Boneless’ next Thursday @10pm on History. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below:



Follow David Griffin on Twitter @griffinde
TAGS: Vikings
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  1. Excellent episode. So glad this season has been turning out great. The way things are going this series is starting to become my top series on TV right now with GOT slightly behind. The Jarl Borg scene was just outstanding.

  2. oK…He dies from Ragnor carving an eagle into his back ? Is this correct ?

    • Ragnar opened his back with a knife, then hacked his rib cage away from his spine with an axe, then removed his lungs and placed them on his shoulders. Basically he hollowed out his chest cavity from the rear while he was conscious.

      • SICK !!! Thanks for the clarification. Basically a reverse autopsy. SICK !!!

        • I know, right. Sitting there I kept waiting for them to stear away from all of it but they never did. Loved it

        • And if he didn’t scream once and suffered it in silence he was allowed to enter Vahalla

          • I was curious about that. I read on another site that he cried out and thus was denied entry. I assumed the eagle represented the valkries and that he made it into Valhalla. It’s seems like a better end.

  3. Awesome episode this week. The execution at the end was the most gruesome one I’ve ever seen depicted on television without the director actually showing anything particularly gory. It’s a testament to the awesome writing and direction this show receives. Normally I just read the review for each weekly show, since the episodes are handled so deftly, I feel no need to comment, but this week is something else.

    Unlike TWD, this show has not disappointed me this season, and has continually surpassed my expectations.

    • I agree. TWD wasn’t really a disappointment to me but then again I never considered it up to the calibre of Vikings. So far GOT last season disappointed me. The episodes leading up to the red wedding felt like they could have done so in 3-4 episodes. It felt filtered at times. So far Vikings hasn’t disappointed me. Every episode since day one has felt like there was a purpose for it and it didn’t take a whole season for it to execute that purpose. GOT is still great but I consider Vikings a step above that show now.

  4. More people need to be watching this show.

    • I agree. I’ve been getting more friends to check out the show. A couple of them(huge GOT fans) now consider this as the best show on TV

      • I can’t watch because season 1 is only just about to air here next month but I don’t have the Documentary package any more on my digital TV thing (meaning no History, H2, Nat Geo, etc) and I don’t subscribe to a Netflix, Amazon Prime or whatever the other one is thing either.

        Can’t find it on the sites I use to watch shows a day after they air in the US either, none seem to carry Vikings for whatever reason.

        I guess the sole consolation is that at least we’re getting Boss season 2 in a few weeks and starting season 9 of The Office after season 8′s finale a few days ago.

        • There are sites showing it in the UK, failing that you can always use a vpn to get an American IP to watch it on American sights.

  5. i love Vikings but too put it with GoT is idiotic. that blood eagle scene was tame at best too what GoT offers. jarl borg was a throw in character, Game of Thrones off’s main characters. its the 6th episode of a 10 episode season. im betting it’s not that important to off borg!

  6. You know, I tried to watch a bit of this show, and for some reason it just did not do it for me. Could be because I came in in the middle (around the time the two main brother-characters were fighting a battle with their men with each other). Could be I needed to watch a bit more of it. But I was surprised, because I like history, I like Vikings, I thought this might be right down my alley (I’m part Danish, after all). But it just did not strike the right chords. I know it is very popular with many, though.

    • You need to start from the beginning and give it a few episodes to build. You will be hooked by ep 4.

  7. Blood eagle scene was a dream sequence. Calling it now.

  8. Comment….I was thinking the same thing while we were watching it, but who had this vision? But then after last cut away realized this was real. This is a great show!

  9. First off let me warn you that if you haven’t seen this episode…..Don’t watch it just before going to bed like I did….I don’t think I slept too well that night.

    I think that Jarl Borg pretty much hit the nail on the head when he told the king that Ragnar wanted to be king, I think he has felt that the king isn’t a good king ever since landing in England, Where Ragnar can see a future for the people in farming instead of just killing and stealing the king basically just wants to keep things the way they are. I think he knows that he has to demostrate how far he will go even if it’s against the king’s wishes, He wants Horik to know that he wont be his puppet, and I think Horik is more than a little concerned at this point.

    I don’t think the king will be along for the ride because if there’s a challenge code as with the earl, then I think Ragnar will challenge and become king. I don’t know the history, but I’m guessing that is the point of him being the primary focus of this history series. I also think that the deal Ragnar struck with King Ecbert will still be honored once he returns because I think he understands what a powerful ally he would be, I think his attack on Horik was probably a result of raids or other actions his people were doing. I don’t think Ecbert saw any need to allow Horik to stick around once Ragnar was gone so wwhy not drive the pest away. On the other hand because Horik didn’t go back when Ragnar needed him and his men the most he arrived very short handed….So who needs Horik….Right?

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  11. I thought that when Bjron gave Jarl Borg the bread that he had drugged him to ease the pain so he wouldnt cry out and that is why it was filmed with a slow dreamlike quality.

    • I don’t think so….The way Ragnar spoke it would seem that taking all the pain would be required to get into Valhalla. Besides…..I don’t think they had anything strong enough back then to do much for the pain anyway. I think the dream like sequence was basically a way slightly lesson the over all brutality of the act….Especially since didn’t cry out. Without it we’d see all the slicing and dicing with people looking on in wonder and disgust, but just regular sounds. I think that would have been a bit too much reality for a lot of people to take for long…..By the way….If it were me…..I’d lost my ticket into Valhalla mid way through the first slice. I don’t care how tough they were…I have a difficult time excepting anyone could withstand that much pain without crying out…