Vikings Recap, S4E12: The Vision
Are you HUNGRY for RECAPS? No? Ah well, shame, because Vikings has finally made it’s semi-triumphant return, and I am HERE for the next eight episodes. Starting with this week, I’ll be reviewing each episode of the back half of season four- which has already set itself up into an extremely tantalising little run.
This week sees a slightly subdued Vikings setting up a whole host of stories that promise to deliver on many of the fronts that the first half of this season lacked. I enjoyed the first chunk of this season’s run, but it also felt rather…staid? Slow? Lots happened, but it happened in little bursts in between the show apparently desperately trying to figure out how to justify keeping Ragnar around- as I discussed last week.
But this episode sees two separate parties heading off to various parts of the globe- Ragnar, Ivar, and a few of the more gullible Kattegat natives head off to England to confront Ecbert, while Bjorn, Brother Who Might As Well Be Wearing a Literal Red Shirt For All the Effort They’re Putting Into Him, and various raiding crews of yesteryear make sail for the Mediterranean. Next week’s episode promises to capitalise on these plots, but in the meantime, we spend some more time in Kattegat-which is packed with interesting new dynamics as the cast congregates in preparation for their journeys.
Firstly, let’s talking about Asluag and Lagertha. Vikings is always a show that has had a good handle on what to do with it’s women characters, helped along by the fact that they cast a couple of brilliant actresses in the two main female roles, and goodness, is it good to see them together again. My favourite scene in this episode came during a ritual scarifice made to bring good luck to the voyages; Lagertha approaches Aslaug, who has her eyes half-open and is apparently tripping bollocks, and tells her in her diminished state that she has never forgiven her for taking her husband or the kingdom of Kattegat from her. As she walks away, Aslaug’s eyes open then narrow, her fit seemingly faked to get Lagertha’s guard down. The show is really pulling off the feuding women thing while neatly sidestepping it turning into a stupid catfight, and the scenes between the two of them drip with tension and barely-restrained mutual disdain. That’s my favourite KIND of disdain!
I’ve been nobly holding out on it till this point in the review, but can we just TALK about Ivar for a minute? I make this sort of involuntary noise somewhere between horror and delight every time he slithers on screen, and this episode just cemented what a glorious addition to the show Alex Hogh really is. He plays his mother and father to get what he wants, but it’s his brothers who seem to really understand the full extent of his chilling nature. That’s best depicted in a family dinner scene where Sigurd goads Ivar into an argument over his relationship with servant-girl Margret; Ivar clambers across the room towards him, while Sigurd repeatedly pulls furniture out from underneath him so he collapses to the floor. Both of them are bastards, but Ivar’s the kind of bastard who’ll appear in your room in the dead of night and jam his hand around your throat if you mention that he can’t get a hard-on, while Sigurd’s only crime is having quite bad hair and apparently not being too sympathetic to his baby brother and his psychopathic ways.
What of Ragnar in all this? He’s about, trying to redeem himself after the fact that the settlement he left in England was slaughtered brutally at the hands of the English had slipped his mind for several years. He’s great, as ever- his scene with Bjorn towards the start of the episode is glorious, and a nod to the Ragnar we met at the very start of the show’s run, as is his brief moment of decency with Slaugy-but it’s good to see him taking a back seat, letting Vikings remind us that even without him, it has a fantastic ensemble.
And as for that ending- no, Ivar’s not dead. Check out the Next Week On if you don’t believe me. I felt like it was a bit of a cheap cliffhanger, but the build-up to it- the ship’s battered by the waves in some moderately convincing CGI as Ragnar lashes a screaming Ivar to the mast- was pretty much worth it. But I’ll let it slide, because next week sees the return of Rollo and Ecbert, and promises some more of that sweet, sweet Lagertha action that we’ve all been waiting way too long for.