[This is a review of Vikings season 3, episode 7. There will be SPOILERS.]
After last week's devastating episode, Vikings provided a more subdued outing this week, simply titled 'Paris'. Storming the gates of this walled city takes careful preparation - and with each passing year, Ragnar's patience grows.
The opening scene with King Ragnar carefully studying his long time friend Floki gives one the impression that the famed viking knows something is amiss. Could he really know who killed Athelstan? Either way, Floki will not approve of that large gold cross his king wears effortlessly around his neck.
Motivations are always a tricky endeavor to figure out on this show, since many of its players mask their emotions so well. Just look into Travis Fimmel's mischievous blue eyes and attempt to extract one shred of what he may be contemplating. His decision to put Floki in charge of the assault was a perplexing maneuver. On one hand, Floki is an excellent warrior and craftsmen. His mobile (sea-worthy) siege weapons were beautifully crafted in a short amount of time. Also, this is a walled city, so some kind of deception and trickery will be required to infiltrate this Parisian fortress.
Ragnar always has this tactic of watching from afar. When he's back in Scandinavia at a party or dinner, he usually hides behind a curtain, or some other object where he can watch what everyone else is doing. His curious nature is always wanting to learn something new. So, with Floki, who we assume Ragnar suspects is the one who killed Athelstan, do you think Ragnar is playing one of his games? He needed Floki to design a device to get them over the walls, but what next? Will Ragnar not come to his old friend's aid if he is in trouble on the battlefield? It would be a surprise if Floki survived to see the show's fourth season.
Inside the high walls of Paris, we are introduced to a lovely new princess named Gisla. The actress portraying this brunette beauty is non other than Morgane Polanski, daughter of famed director Roman Polanski (The Pianist). Her father, Emperor Charles (Lothaire Bluteau) seems to be under her daughter's influence, as she tells him everything he needs to do in order to keep this city safe. Could she be the princess Bjorn is destined to marry? Let's not forget the seer's foretelling of how happy Rollo will become too. Something incredible is about to happen on the shores of Paris, but sadly will we have to wait for the final three episodes before those prophecies are fulfilled.
Across the sea, King Ecbert continues to use his son Aethelwulf as a pawn in his never ending quest to rule over all of England. As Ecbert looks to conquer the neighboring land of Northumbria, his desire for his son's bride increases. Ecbert is a man who does something only for his own elevation, so his seducing of Judith is nothing more than a power play to win influence. Surely he doesn't believe that Athelstan's son is destined for great things (even though the history books tell us that he is). We'll just have to wait and see.
Vikings was all set-up this week for what will surely be a thrilling final three episodes. Showrunner Michael Hirst has done a superb job of making us care about all these characters spread out around the world, and continues to introduce new and interesting ones like Charles and Princess Gisla in Paris. What are you looking forward to seeing when the battle commences next week?
Vikings continues with 'To The Gates' next Thursday @10/9c on History.