[This is a review of Vikings season 2, episode 8. There will be SPOILERS.]
After last week's visceral execution of Jarl Borg, one might think that Vikings would step on the breaks and give its viewers time to catch their collective breath; however, 'Boneless' proves that creator Michael Hirst is not so kind. Like our Scandinavian brothers and sisters that inhabit this harsh land, we (the audience) must endure.
Princess Aslaug, while not always loved by fans of this series, proves yet again why Ragnar should heed her prophecies. She appears at times to be a mythical creature, with her piercing gaze that actress Alyssa Sutherland pulls off so well. While Ivar is certainly not a "child-monster" as she predicted, he is born with a deformity. Sadly, in this culture, it is better to be dead than to be born a cripple.
The beautiful princess surely won some supporters to her side this week, as she fights against Viking societal norms and decides to keep her child. Ragnar too, though not at first has also accepted Ivar as his own, referring to him now as "Ivar The Boneless." Ragnar holding the new-born by the river, contemplating whether or not to end its life was a beautifully haunting scene. Ragnar, though ambitious, is not some crude beast. There is no denying his execution of Borg was overly excessive, but we've seen Rangar protect children in the past; even those not from his own tribe. Unlike the former Jarl, baby Ivar has done him no wrong, so why let him die? Do you think Ragnar would have come back for the child if the Princess had not saved him?
On a happier note, it was nice to see Rollo and his nephew (Bjorn) spending some quality time together. The son of Earl Ragnar has his father's wisdom and warrior spirit. Bjorn's acknowledgement and acceptance of Rollo's continued love for his mother was unexpected. For now, Rollo is stuck with the power-hungry Siggy, but since Lagertha is single, could a romance ensue? Rollo has paid his dues for betraying Ragnar, hopefully he can now find some semblance of peace and happiness.
Leaving the Scandinavian lands behind and travelling across the sea to Wessex, we are introduced to another ambitious player in this never-ending quest for power, named Princess Kwentrith. The lovely Amy Bailey does not have an impressive acting resume, yet she proves herself more than capable of standing toe-to-toe with the rest of the talented ensemble. Kwentrith may be even more dangerous than King Ecbert. Her insatiable appetite for pleasure exhausted Ecbert to the point of him having to retire for the evening. Athelstan appears to be ensnared by her beauty and charms as well, but will he act of them? Disturbing visions of blood, death and sex still plague our troubled priest.
Ragnar's alliance with King Horik and Lagertha is on shaky ground, as the attack on Ecbert's son and his men towards the end of the episode will undoubtedly cause a war between England and the Northmen. The question now is, who will survive the coming slaughter? Assuming Ragnar is reunited with Athelstan, will his friend want to leave Wessex, or has his loyalty shifted? Also, how do you think Princess Kwentrith will play into all of this chaos?
Vikings continues to stand out amongst its competition and fortunately, has been renewed for a third season. Our journey into the world of ancient warriors, priests, and kings is far from over. Stay tuned to see what happens next.
Vikings continues with 'The Choice' next Thursday @10pm on History. Watch a preview of next week's episode below: