Thursday, February 26, 2015

REVIEW: 'Vikings' - Lagertha Receives Gifts from Ecbert While Aslaug, Siggy & Helga Suffer the Same Dream in 'The Wanderer'

History's Vikings - Episode 3.02 "The Wanderer"

Lagertha and Athelstan help to establish the Viking settlement in Wessex. Harbard, a mysterious wanderer, arrives in Kattegat, realizing the forewarned dreams of Aslaug, Siggy and Helga.

"The Wanderer" was a calm episode of Vikings. The English and viking forces were successful in their first battle against Kwenthrith's uncle and brother. The war is far from over. Mercia isn't hers just yet. But the army fighting for her cause doesn't go directly into battle again. The set piece that closed last week's premiere was phenomenal in showcasing the two different sides this battle could take place in. Ragnar chose to attack Kwenthrith's uncle's army and they won rather easily. And now, they are celebrating for the night. They were victorious and are drinking for a good day's battle. The next morning, they sail across the lake for a new battle only for the army of Kwenthrith's brother to retreat through the forrest and up the hills.

Without a big battle scene, the episode instead focuses on the aftermath of battle. Ragnar's army gets to celebrate for a job well done. And yet, some have scars and injuries from this battle. Torstein has always been a trusted secondary face amongst the viking family. Never needing that much focus but a pleasure to have in order to expand the scope of this community of people. He's clearly not himself following this battle. Not hungry and not engaging with the celebration of victory. We don't know the true scope of what ails him, but he determines that all his troubles are coming from his left arm which he orders to be taken off him. That's a horrifying prospect. Floki, Rollo and Bjorn are willing to respect his wishes and they do the procedure as efficiently and effectively as they can. We watch as he screams out in pain as they remove the limb from the rest of his body. It's a very effective sequence - even though it did seem like the arm came off a little too easily.

But Torstein's arm isn't the only thing that has changed because of this battle. Kwenthrith too has changed because she has taken one step closer to becoming the ruler of Mercia. She takes immense pleasure out of seeing her uncle dead. She witnessed firsthand Floki driving the ax into him during the battle. She cried out but it was a cry of empowerment. This man has taken so much away from her over the years. He used her as a sexual object for not only himself but his friends ever since she was 6 years old. She is taking the power back and it feels so good for her. But she also has a lot of rage pent up inside her. She wants his head severed from his body just so she can stab him in the face multiple times as part of an even crueler revenge. It's haunting but it's what she needed from this battle. She is then allowed to become just as drunk as her northmen warriors. She won't let them have their way with her but she's able to relax just a little bit more now.

Elsewhere, Lagertha and Ecbert are having no problem setting up the viking settlement in Wessex. She's naturally inquisitive about who owned this land before them and whether or not they will retaliate against them. Ecbert assures her that as long as he's in charge no harm shall fall upon this settlement. The only real problem the two of them have to deal with is the language barrier. Yes, it's a little confusing figuring out who is speaking English and why. And yet, that doesn't hinder the fact that Ecbert is quite taken with Lagertha. He gives her a gorgeous necklace that looks great on her. The people of England are quite intrigued by the vikings and their ways. Ecbert hasn't met any woman like Lagertha. Like he later says to Princess Judith, a more complicated person is a more interesting person. That doesn't necessary make them a good person to be with in life. But it is a nice, new dynamic to have at the start of this season.

And lastly, back in Kattegat, life is icy and pretty dead around the community. The action of these people is traveling to foreign lands to pillage. But life still goes on for the people left back home. It's nice to see the woman of Ragnar, Floki and Rollo bonding while they are away. But this story also feels like the show simply giving them something to do. They just aren't as interesting as the characters over in England right now. The fact that they are all sharing the same dream is suppose to be mystifying. Aslaug is the only one who has made prophecies before. So it seems odd that now Siggy and Helga are as well. It all ties in to the mysterious stranger who enters the village at hour's end. I like Kevin Durand and am intrigued to see how he fits into this world but I'm also largely not that interested at all in what's happening in Kattegat.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Wanderer" was written by Michael Hirst and directed by Ken Girotti.
  • Kalf is successful in becoming Earl in Hedeby. So, Lagertha better be hoping for a future in England and with Ragnar and Ecbert because she no longer has the type of power she thinks she has.
  • Bjorn asks Porunn to marry him and she says yes. That only comes after he expresses concern again for how she fights during battle. Yeah, I can't see this ending happy for them.
  • Judith is imagining being with Athelstan in bed. How scandalous!
  • Hanging the severed heads of the men they beat so easily the other day upon the boats as they sailed across the river was just chilling. 
  • What does it mean that Athelstan's hands are in the same position as the mysterious stranger in Kattegat at the very end when he's with Lagertha? Or is it something to thematically link the episode's various plots together by hour's end? I'm more inclined to the latter.