Wednesday, December 19, 2018

REVIEW: 'Vikings' - Ivar Continues to Lead His People Down a Dark and Dangerous Path in 'The Lost Moment'

History's Vikings - Episode 5.14 "The Lost Moment"

As the celebrations for Ivar continue in Kattegat, grief hits Iceland and Floki must now make a fated decision. Harald's army approaches Wessex. A conspiracy grows against King Alfred in court.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. Premieres and finales may feature longer reviews. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of History's Vikings.

"The Lost Moment" was written by Michael Hirst and directed by Steve Saint Leger

The previous episode closed with Ivar making a sacrifice to the gods in a ceremony welcoming him as a deity and the rightful ruler of Kattegat. There was much mystery and suspicion around which famous person would be killed in order to appease Ivar's growing god complex. The episode led the audience to believe that it was either The Seer or Hvitserk. But now, neither are revealed to be the person underneath the hood. Instead, it's an imposter Lagertha to make Ivar believe that he has killed the woman who killed his mother while also stopping the rising rebellion against him. It's absolutely insane though because no one should believe anything that Ivar is saying at the moment. He's an incredibly terrifying presence with the power to kill as many people as he pleases. However, he saw the importance of this ceremony. But he had no problem making it into one big symbol instead of something of actual merit for his community. That's lame and lackluster. The show has built up audience expectations to the point where we understand that any character can die at any moment. Michael Hirst isn't following a strict understanding of history. But it still feels lame to deflect in this moment that received all of this build up. It makes it seem like such a whimper too. It proves that Ivar is not as bright or beloved as he believes himself to be. In fact, the citizens of Kattegat mostly despise him and ridicule the idea that he is a god. They don't see him that way. Only Ivar and Freydis believe that to be true. That's still enough to do significant damage. As such, those who are left behind in this community must be doing so for a reason. There has to be a reason why Hvitserk has stayed with his brother no matter how delusional and crazy he has become. That reason isn't immediately apparent though. The Seer isn't able to provide any clarity in that regard either. He just claims that Hvitserk will accomplish things that his brothers failed to do. That's certainly intriguing and ominous. However, this is the last time the Seer will offer these gravelly proclamations of the future. Ivar sees him as well. The Seer does end up dead by the conclusion of this hour. He too mostly seems senile and focused solely on the pending darkness. That's much more about himself though instead of the people who seek his counsel. He's dying and knows it. The vikings probably know that as well. And yet, they still listen to his words and respect what he has to say. At least until Ivar doesn't like being told that he's a dark individual who will only continue leading his people down that destructive path. That's when the Seer finally dies. It's a moment that is belittled just a small amount simply because the Seer has never been a multi-dimensional character despite John Kavanagh being a series regular.

Elsewhere, it just doesn't seem like the show is going anywhere. Yes, there is the looming conflict in England with King Harald leading his troops down to Wessex for an invasion. That will force everyone to make major choices about where they stand amongst the vikings. However, it's still mostly just the plot going around in circles because it can't feature that climatic moment just yet. Harald has only hit the staging ground for this attack. He feels the need to kill Lagertha because she killed Astrid. And yet, the audience knows that's the fate Astrid wanted because Harald was such a despicable man. As such, it's becoming increasingly more clear that the vikings are the truly enemies of the world who will plague whatever community they raid. Of course, that's the lifestyle that Magnus wants for himself. He introduced himself to Bjorn and was accepted immediately. He confirms everything that Bjorn is feeling about England and King Alfred. The other vikings in Wessex are more skeptical. They don't want to believe that Ragnar had an English son. Moreover, they trust Alfred and Heahmund at their words. They are willing to fight for them. They are willing to hand over their support in order to defeat the viking forces that are once again led by Harald. This could lead to an even more stark divide amongst the vikings with Bjorn going on to do his own thing in the world. It also just consumes a lot of time in this hour which also has to devote attention to the failed coup against Alfred and the looming destruction of the Iceland settlement. Alfred was always going to remain king of England because the parallels between his rule and Ivar's have already been a pronounced quality of the show. And so, there is less intensity and pressure on the decision that Aethelred has to make. He seemingly only makes it because he has a heart-to-heart conversation with his brother before the war counsel meets to discuss the strategy for the pending attack. Meanwhile, Floki makes a big decision in choosing to banish Eyvind and his entire family after Thorunn is killed. The depression has really sunk in with this community. They don't know if they'll be able to survive. That's dark. And yet, this story still needs to pick up the pace in saying whether or not there is a different way for the vikings to live.