Wednesday, December 5, 2018

REVIEW: 'Vikings' - King Alfred Decides What to Do With the Newly Arrived Vikings in 'Murder Most Foul'

History's Vikings - Episode 5.12 "Murder Most Foul"

Bjorn, Lagertha and Ubbe face an uncertain fate as Heahmund's loyalty is tested. In Iceland, Floki fights to understand the will of the gods. In Kattegat, Ivar may have met his match.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of History's Vikings.

"Murder Most Foul" was written by Michael Hirst and directed by Ciarán Donnelly

The vikings didn't know what to expect upon their return to England. Heahmund argued that he could obtain safe passage for them because of his time together with King Aethelwulf. However, that was never going to go according to plan because Alfred is the king now. This is one of his first major acts with the throne as well. It was an ominous visual when the vikings arrived in cages. It was similar to the time that Ragnar spent in this same place before his death. But a different outcome occurs here. King Alfred doesn't hand the vikings over to be tortured and killed. He has mercy and compassion for them. He welcomes them into his court with the understanding that they will be loyal to him and the interests of England. They will have to earn the land back that Ecbert signed over to them though. They aren't entitled to it. Alfred explains that the deed was a lie. It was the last trick Ecbert made in his life. It didn't matter how much he loved Ragnar. This was still his way of protecting England. Now, that's Alfred's responsibility. His leadership is being questioned because of the decisions he is making too. He appears to be making an enemy out of the church. Those leaders don't care for the changes that he is making to the ways that things have always been done. They can't abide these pagan individuals being allowed the same freedom that they have in this country. It's a rising against Alfred that is bound to get even more dramatic. It may also prove that vikings truly are on his side because they see a leader who is willing to negotiate with them. Sure, it may mean that Ubbe has to renounce his pagan gods just like Ragnar and Rollo have done before him. But that could open the door for better relationships between the two communities. Whatever happens will need to occur quickly though because King Harald plans on returning to England to invade once more. That's his plan for the foreseeable future. There is nothing suspicious about him staying in Kattegat. Sure, there is the fear that he intends to kill Ivar so that he can achieve his dream of becoming king of all of Norway. But he mourns the losses he has suffered as of late. He believes that there is still time to achieve that goal because Ivar can't produce children. Of course, Ivar's new bride-to-be, Freydis, would suggest otherwise by getting pregnant and claiming it to be his. That may be the only way for him to hang onto power over his people too. It shows that the vikings and English aren't that different after all. A ruler needs a clear line of succession in order to eliminate threats against their rule. Margrethe is already teasing Hvitserk with the idea that he could become king if Ivar is killed. He chooses not to listen though. Instead, Margrethe is murdered. However, Ivar still fears that he is vulnerable even if he has a family to protect him. As such, this development isn't bound to change him all that much. It's the same procedure that Alfred is going through as well. Judith has found a woman for him to marry. He is perfectly pleasant with her but distracted with the issues of the land that need attention. As such, she shows more of an interest in Bjorn, who continues to bounce around from woman to woman without really developing strong feelings for any of them. He may be a legendary warrior. But this scandalous action could cause a lot of drama in the English court as well. That could ruin his good standing with the king. However, Alfred may be looking to do business with the next generation instead of trusting Bjorn and Lagertha like he is advised to be by Heahmund. In fact, Heahmund should always be seen with caution because he's a hypocrite who believes he's doing everything in service of god when he just wants to be a soldier who gets his way all of the time. He still succeeds with that though.