Wednesday, December 4, 2019

REVIEW: 'Vikings' - Bjorn Weighs His Options While Ivar Witnesses Oleg's Brutality Towards His Family in 'The Prophet'

History's Vikings - Episode 6.02 "The Prophet"

Messengers arrive in Kattegat with news that presents Bjorn with a dilemma. As Bjorn attempts to do the right thing as ruler of Kattegat, Prince Oleg of Kiev seems untroubled by his conscience. Even Ivar is shocked by Oleg's vicious character as he wrestles for control over the young heir to the throne of the Rus Empire. Lagertha has settled into her new, peaceful life, but danger lurks nearby.

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. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of History's Vikings.

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

Bjorn and his family have such a complicated history with King Harald. They all have conflicting feelings about whether or not they should support him now. Bjorn feels the urgency in the situation because it's likely that Harald could be dead soon if he doesn't act quickly. However, it could jeopardize his own kingdom in Kattegat. He aspired to lead in a new way. He wants to command the vikings as trading partners instead of warriors. He wants to build Kattegat up as a trading post and join the rest of the world. He wants to be part of a global community. One that no longer needs to live in fear of the Northern invaders. Sure, battles and wars may always be a way of life at this particular moment in time. And yet, it says something when civilizations make promises and honor their obligations. Bjorn doesn't know if he has that responsibility to Harald. Lagertha stands opposed to the idea because he abducted and abused Astrid which eventually led to her death. That was a huge trauma for her. That was unforgivable. Bjorn's actions may also create a new adversary to the North. One that may be just as lethal and complicated. There is already concern brewing with the lingering threat of Ivar. Hvitserk lets thoughts of his crippled brother consume him. He almost presents as a ghost who can't move past the unfinished business left behind on Earth. He no longer has the respect and honor of his brothers. Now, he's simply someone they have to put up with in pursuit of their own goals. He can't be trusted with any major responsibilities. That can come at a great cost to their own ambitions. Ubbe wishes to sail west just like his father did many years ago. He hears tales of a land beyond Iceland that is vast and undiscovered. He yearns to be the first viking to land there and witness its glory. However, he may have to delay his travels to best serve his king. Bjorn understands the importance of this to his half-brother. He has a great deal of respect for Ubbe because of his willingness to raise his children with Torvi. Bjorn has been an absent father who doesn't really care enough to be engaged. He has long had a wandering eye even though that stopped being an interesting detail a long time ago. That may prove just how unfaithful he is to the various deals he makes. And yet, he may have more reverence for his duties as king. He knows that his actions reverberate throughout his kingdom. He has to prove to the world that he honors his commitments. That's why he eventually decides to go. He wrestles with this decision and asks everyone for their advice. He even uses it as an opportunity to better understand why Flatnose is back in Kattegat. He understands that something may have happened to Floki in Iceland but that remains a mystery at this point. The audience knows that that settlement proved disastrous because of how unwilling the settlers were to embrace change. Bjorn may have better luck in that pursuit now that he is leading from a position of strength. He has taken over Kattegat without a proclamation of a new form of life but a return to what has always made vikings so strong. Their society has these rules that they all must respect. It shows just how strong their bonds amongst each other truly are. That stands in contrast to everything Ivar did as king. King Oleg also stands in opposition to all of that. He is more than willing to kill his brother in order to get what he wants. He is just as reckless as Ivar. The son of Ragnar likes that. In fact, he enjoys this new environment. It allows him to have a sense of fun again. But again, that can be so dangerous because the consequences are so lethal. Oleg will kill anyone in order to win. He sees an opportunity with Ivar. That may be all that there is to this relationship. Either one of them could betray the other at any moment. That may be thrilling. But it also highlights how they are holding onto these rigid ideas of how leadership and authority works. They succeed through superstition and intimidation. Meanwhile, Bjorn is cautious about presenting the right image even though he continues to be tempted by beautiful women.