Vikings “In The Uncertain Hour Before The Morning”

OK, crazy thought here:  how do we know Aslaug comes from royalty?  We’ve never seen a single, solitary relative of hers, and aside from a couple attendants when she first appeared, we basically have to take her word for it that she’s the daughter of a king and a queen.

Look, she have been conning us all this time is all I am saying.

And I use the past tense because she’s dead by the end of the episode.  Oh, I will so miss her…not really.  She had her vision thing, and then explained the advantages to an angry Lagertha for being allowed to leave alive.  And all Lagertha said was, “I understand.”  Not, “I agree.”  Not, “You can go.”  Just, “I understand.”  THAT IS NOT AN ASSUMED AGREEMENT!  OF COURSE SHE KILLED YOU!

Point is, Aslaug maybe wasn’t very bright.

But the real thing to ask, still, is why does anybody wait as long as they do to do what they want to do for so long?  Lagertha could have taken Aslaug down at any time during Ragnar’s absence but chose not to.

And Ragnar could have gone for vengeance against Ecbert many times over up until that point.  Even Ecbert asks what took him so long.  That’s a damn good question.  My best guess is Ragnar was waiting for his boys to be grown.  Now they are.  Ivar has real promise as the son of Ragnar.  For a guy with no working legs, he’s got some sweet moves.  Ubbe is looking for vengeance against Lagertha, and neither she nor Astrid scares him.  Numbers alone kept Lagertha alive.  Sigurd, though, doesn’t seem as put out since he knows Mama Aslaug preferred Ivar and Harbard to anyone else.  The other son is still a blank slate.

But what is Ragnar’s plan?  He seems to want to die.  He’s been wanting to die, arguably, since the first raid to Paris that almost killed him.  Or maybe when Athelstan died.  What did Ragnar see in him?  Or Ecbert for that matter?  Both adore Alfred at first sight.  Alfred gets off better than Magnus, the kid everyone assumed was Ragnar’s son until Ragnar points out he didn’t sleep with Queen Crazypants.  That gets that kid kicked out of court and on the road to fend for himself.  Good luck there, sunshine.

But after all that time wondering why Vikings was wasting screen time in Wessex, this episode, set mostly in Wessex, makes up for a lot of that.  Ragnar and Ecbert basically spend the night talking.  Athelstan noted way back when Ecbert first appeared that the two men were very similar.  And they could have been friends.  Ecbert takes responsibility for the deaths at the settlement, but his apologies don’t seem overly sincere.  And I think both of them know that.  These are two, tired old men who happen to be kings.  They get drunk and talk like a pair of stoned college freshmen about religion and the afterlife.  They discuss Athelstan, whose death weighs on Ragnar’s conscience.  Interesting that Ecbert figures Athelstan needed neither king, and that was his ultimate appeal.  The monk knew what he wanted.

This is some good, high-quality drama.  As much as the Wessex plots were often dull compared to all the Northmen stuff, Linus Roache has a good screen presence, and he and Travis Fimmel have always played well off each other.  This wasn’t an overly action-packed episode, but it was a good one.

And, ultimately, Ragnar convinced Ecbert that Ragnar had to die.  Ecbert couldn’t bring himself to kill a man who was sort of a friend.  But there’s a way out.  Give Ivar safe passage home, and let King Aelle kill Ragnar.  Aelle is crude and simple compared to the craftier Ecbert.  He’ll gladly kill Ragnar.  Plus, Ragnar can instruct Ivar to blame Aelle for his father’s death, so Aelle will suffer, not Ecbert.  That Ecbert can reluctantly agree to.  A deal is struck.

Now, historically, according to semi-historic/semi-legendary sources, Ivar the Boneless was a great warrior king who avenged his father Ragnar Lothbrok’s death at the hands of King Aelle.  Ivar had help from all of his brothers to do so.

So Ragnar might not be long for this world either.

tomk74

Defender of the faith, contributing writer, debonair man-about-town.

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