[This is a review of Vikings season 2, episode 5. There will be SPOILERS]
Vikings season 2 continues to be blanketed in a dark cloud of war, yet even when this series is at its bloodiest, family always comes first. 'Answers in Blood' marks the half-way point in what has been an ambitious sophomore season from creator/executive producer Michael Hirst.
With Ragnar's forces joining Lagertha's, they are now on equal footing with the usurper Jarl Borg. The fight choreographers deserve high praise this week for delivering one of the better battle sequences this reviewer has seen in recent memory. Lacking the budget of a show like Game of Thrones, History has done a superb job at pulling off the spectacular. Ragnar's menacing gaze across the field of battle to Borg added just the right amount of tension any slaughter needs.
As with the season premiere, Vikings makes each action filled moment intimate. Borg and Ragnar do not share the same connection as Rollo does with his brother, but there is no denying that this conflict has become personal. 'Answers in Blood' is made even more personal, as Bjorn joins Ragnar in combat for the first time. Putting aside the insensate swinging of axes and gore, it was nice to see father and son reunited. Alexander Ludwig (The Huger Games) give a stellar performance, which almost makes you forget that he's not the Bjorn we came to know in season 1 (well, except for the fact that he's taller than everyone else on screen). Rollo's jape at Bjorn for still not being able to grow a beard was a touching and comedic moment in an episode filled with bloodshed.
Back in Wessex, poor Athelstan is now a jest for King Ecbert's amusement. The King's son (Aethelwulf) appears to care for the former monk's soul, but it is still unclear what his true intentions are. In the season 1 premiere, it was Ragnar who was gifted with visions of Odin walking across the battlefield and Valkyries taking up the fallen warriors to Valhalla; however, Althestan is now the one who is seeing into the spiritual realm. What are we to make of these strange visions of the Virgin Mary and monsters underneath beds? Is the apostate hallucinating, or is Vikings venturing deeper into the fantastical? Either way, this has been one exciting adventure to be a part of.
Traversing the globe once again back to Ragnar's clan, it was sad to see Lagertha going back to her abusive husband. Ragnar may be a cheat and a fool, but his love for the blonde shield-maiden cannot be denied. Hopefully, our beautiful heroine will return to her family after settling old scores. Ragnar has his son back, but his family is still incomplete.
With news of Athelstan missing across the sea, will Ragnar undertake a quest to retrieve his lost friend? Let's not forget Jarl Borg and his army. He lost a battle, but will he decide to take on Ragnar and his people again? Keep journeying with History's Vikings to find out.
Vikings continues with 'Unforgiven' next Thursday @10pm on History.