[This is a review of 'Vikings' season 2, episode 9. There will be SPOILERS.]
In the penultimate episode of the Vikings thrilling second season, entitled 'The Choice,' blood is spilt and old friends are reunited. With the finale on the horizon, it appears that Ragnar's greatest challenge will come from within his own tribe.
This week featured several memorable scenes from both the people of Scandinavia, as well as those living in Wessex. Creator/executive producer Michael Hirst (The Tudors) continues to expand this fantastic world he has created, by using historical elements mixed in with some myth and legend to add flavor.
Vikings outshines itself yet again, by producing one of the best choreographed battle scenes this reviewer has ever seen on a television series. Sure, HBO giant Game of Thrones possesses the larger budget to have more special effects and extras, but History's Vikings refuses to be intimidated. 'The Choice,' much like the season 2 premiere, keeps its battles intimate even on a large scale. Seeing the tired and battered faces of Ragnar, Lagertha, and Bjorn told you everything you needed to know without uttering a single word. Witnessing Rollo being nearly trampled to death by horses was difficult to endure. How much more suffering must he go through before his debt is paid? Fortunately, Rollo still has some fight in him, but will he be strong enough to help his brother?
Although brief, Ragnar's reunion with Althestan was one of the more touching moments from this week's episode. With so much war and death this season, it's hard to remember that Ragnar, along with many of his men and women started off as farmers. Althelstan's choice to return home with his friend was a welcomed sight; as King Horik and Floki continue to plot behind Ragnar's back, our favorite blue-eyed viking will need all the help he can get.
Back in Wessex, King Ecbert is beginning to be overshadowed by the beautiful Princess Kwentrith. Upon first seeing Ragnar, it appeared as if she wanted to devour him right then and there. Her sexual appetites aside, the lovely princess could potentially be more dangerous than Ecbert, as her ambitions are as far-reaching as the Mercia crown. Not to bore anyone with a short history lesson, but Mercia was the largest of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms between the years 600-900 AD. There was a Viking invasion, but how that will play out on this series, only Mr. Hirst knows for sure. Vikings is based on certain historical events, but it's important to keep in mind that this is still a one-hour drama series, so the final outcome is anyone's guess.
The chess board is set, as King Horik looks for a strategy to end the man who would be king's reign. It's fitting that season 2 should end with a small internal conflict, as opposed to some epic battle we all see coming from a mile away. Like any good soap opera, "who will betray whom" becomes the central question. Siggy will most likely be the wild card in this final endeavor. Will she remain loyal to Rollo and help him protect his brother, or will she look to secure her place in history by aligning herself with Horik and Floki?
It's difficult to deny that Vikings has flourished in its sophomore season, due in large part to the superb writing from the talented Michael Hirst. Only he decides who will survive to see season 3. Stay tuned to find out what will happen next.
Vikings continues with 'The Lord's Prayer' next Thursday @10pm on History.