Wednesday, December 12, 2018

REVIEW: 'Vikings' - Ivar and Alfred Continue Making Complicated Decisions as Leaders in 'A New God'

History's Vikings - Episode 5.13 "A New God"

Heahmund must try to convince King Alfred that his actions are in defense of the Crown. Ubbe and Torvi strengthen the position of the vikings but not all in the viking camp support their strategy. Another settler disappears in Iceland.

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.

"A New God" was written by Michael Hirst and directed by Ciarán Donnelly

This show is asking interesting questions about leadership at the moment. Ivar and Alfred were always destined to become the next leaders of their respective communities. They met when they were younger. And now, they stand on opposite ends of the spectrum as leaders. They are in similar positions though. They have assumed leadership without having the full support of their people. Alfred was pushed into the position because it's what Judith demanded the line of succession to be. Meanwhile, Ivar pushed the current leaders of Kattegat into hiding. Now, Bjorn and Lagertha are essentially refugees in England. Their fates are completely up to whatever Alfred decides. He continues to be more than welcoming to them as well because he sees them as potential allies who can help him hold onto his throne. Of course, that's a double edged sword as well. He welcomes the vikings and Heahmund into Wessex once more because they will protect him against any threat. However, him welcoming pagans into the land is seen by the noblemen and religious leaders as the proof that he isn't the leader they need during this turbulent time. As such, the show continues to be moving all of the pieces around to suggest that things will be coming to epic blows shortly. Alfred and Elsewith get married. Bjorn meets Magnus, who has returned to Wessex for the first time since being cast out as a potential threat as an English son of Ragnar. Ubbe and Torvi agree to be baptized. And Heahmund is re-instated as the bishop. Moreover, Harald returns to York and continues to plot out his next moves. He plans on invading Wessex and returning home to Kattegat with even more riches. This hour also makes it clear just how strong the viking presence continues to be in England. Lagertha and her forces are small and at the mercy of the king. However, the settlement in York is still quite strong. As such, Harald may not be doomed with his plan to invade Wessex and then overthrow Ivar as king of Kattegat. He still has grand ambitions in this world. That means that it may not be that long before there is another epic battle this season that will pit vikings against vikings. The different ideologies have forced many different fractions to pop up as well. It will remain interesting to see which emerge victorious - especially in the communities that are not currently at war. The settlement in Iceland is thrown into turmoil once more with the disappearance of the pregnant viking. Meanwhile, Ivar continues to become more and more delusional. He now sees himself as a god. He feels blessed because he has emerged as king of the vikings. He believes that his word is law. He feels entitled to so much simply because he is the son of Ragnar. No one can diminish the accomplishments of Ragnar and all that he did for his people. However, it's also clear that Ivar is a viking who is obsessed with power and making sure that the people fear him. He believes it's a celebration for the gods when he presents himself as joining their ranks. He believes this is a ceremony that he has deserved. And yet, the citizens of Kattegat are absolutely terrified of him. Hvitserk understands that he is a killer who will condemn anyone who stands in his way. However, it's frustrating how all of this ends on a massive cliffhanger where it's unclear if the prominent viking that Ivar is sacrificing to the gods is Hvitserk or the Seer. When Ivar first brought it up, it seemed like he was suggesting Hvitserk for the position. He was no where to be seen during the ceremony. But when the hooded sacrifice was dragged out, it was undercut with the Seer being troubled by something. As such, it's not going to be until the next episode that the audience will understand whether or not this works in Ivar's favor.