Wednesday, December 11, 2019

REVIEW: 'Vikings' - Lagertha May Be Pulled Back Into Battle to Protect Her New Home in 'Ghosts, Gods, and Running Dogs'

History's Vikings - Episode 6.03 "Ghosts, Gods, and Running Dogs"

Lagertha is visited by women from the nearby villages and they feast together happily but the community is shattered by shocking events that follows and Lagertha is forced to take action. In Kiev, although Oleg continues to be friendly, Ivar is aware of the threat which Oleg poses, not only to himself, but to the vulnerable young heir to the throne. Bjorn has answered the call and come to the aid of an old enemy, but all is not as it seems and disaster looms for Bjorn's forces.

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.

"Ghosts, Gods, and Running Dogs" was written by Michael Hirst and directed by Steve Saint Leger

An efficient and evocative action sequence can certainly liven up even the most dull show out there. This episode finishes with a stellar one that hasn't been utilized previously in this particular show. It showcases the growing pains Bjorn continues to have as king of Kattegat. He has these big ambitions for how to build his city up and join the rest of the world. He wants his city to become a trading community that has established relationships with the other countries and civilizations. However, the action still primarily revolves around the power plays happening in the various courts while battles are being fought elsewhere. Previously, Bjorn was agonizing over whether or not to come to King Harald's rescue. He didn't know if he should honor their prior agreement. He could potentially be going against another ally who helped him claim Kattegat away from Ivar. King Olaf may present as nothing more than a rambling mad man trying to find clarity over any particular action. And yet, he is a stellar tactician as well. He lures Bjorn and his forces into a trap. Bjorn believed his warriors had the element of surprise on their side. However, the show had already established that Olaf's forces were aware Bjorn's army was there. As such, it was only inevitable that all of this would end in failure for Bjorn. That may prove that violence may not be the best first option when it comes to diplomacy. He may have to try another tactic if he hopes to save Harald's life. King Olaf seems temperamental and indecisive about what should happen to Harald as well. He is mostly toying with him. The show largely just keeps these stories spinning for the moment though. That's disappointing. It doesn't seem like there is a whole lot of agency to the proceedings. Yes, that final moment is incredibly intense and thrilling. Bjorn's forces are trapped by walls of fire. They are picked off one by one by the archers above. Leading up to that moment though is Bjorn once again being tempted by his new servant even though his new wife is pregnant. Being a father has never really been a priority for him. Lagertha and Torvi have always picked up the slack. That motivates Torvi to never be left behind again. She will journey into the unknown with Ubbe. That's where her fate is taking her. However, that mission is delayed until Bjorn returns to once again rule over Kattegat. A son of Ragnar always has to remain in charge to make it seem as if there is steady leadership over this community. Hvitserk can't handle that responsibility because he is going through a full blown psychosis. That too offers some evocative and eerie imagery. His eyes are almost completely bloodshot. He hallucinates the horrors of his past. That's what's haunting him at the moment and preventing him from being of service to anyone. But again, it mostly feels like padding to assure the audience that threats are forever present even if they aren't always active. It's once again chilling to watch as Prince Oleg sends his force to capture and then torture his brother. Even Igor is willing to laugh at what becomes of Prince Dir here. That's horrifying. It's just odd having it all play from Ivar's perspective where he may feel uncomfortable with such vicious actions. That's strange given all that he has done across the show so far. And finally, Lagertha's new home is already under attacked. Is it really satisfying to tease that she could potentially be killed by exiled vikings who remain loyal to Ivar though? That too may become an action that comes back to haunt Bjorn as king. However, that would make the moment more about him instead of honoring what has always been the best character in the series. Lagertha deserves a fitting conclusion in this story. It may be one that ends in death. This hour just proves that she is already breaking her promise to drop her sword for good. That was inevitable the moment this threat first emerged from the woods. That's just lackluster because it makes it seem like the actions decided in one episode won't stick in the following episode. Lagertha retiring to a peaceful life is hopeful. It's just proven difficult to achieve right away with the added pressure of also looking after her grandchildren.