Vikings S5E12: Murder Most Foul
I really do remember when I used to love this show.
I remember watching it over the course of a week in my old flat, the one I shared with just my cat and my books and my Walking Dead posters, and just being completely blown away by it. I remember writing this overexcited article about it. I remember showing it to everyone I knew, I remember forcing people to sit down and watch it with me. I remember adoring everything about it, from the direction to the cast to the conflict to the singular writing. Vikings was my precious baby show, and I loved it with my whole heart.
(while I’m being positive, I’d like to take this moment to direct your attention to the fact that my lesbian erotica fantasy romance is free for the next few days – get hold of your copy through the links here, and honestly just read that instead of watching anymore of this show)
Which is why it pains me so much to say that I hate it now. I don’t look forward to watching Vikings anymore. The only reason I really still am is because my partner reviews it as one of his writing jobs (quick plug for his write-ups here) and so it’s just on and I might as well watch the car wreck take place in slow motion across twenty episodes a season. I’m a glutton for punishment, and any selfish joy I took from this show I am repaying in blood as it just sinks into crushing mediocrity.
I don’t even really want to talk about the specifics of what happened this episode, because all of it was so intently dull. Michael Hirst, who is still the sole writer of this show, used to have this pinpoint vision for what Vikings was going to be, and I loved that about him. No other show could claim a showrunner that had such a grasp on every single one of his characters and every single one of his stories. Now, though? We’re desperately in need of some new blood, because it feels as though we’re just retreading old ground.
The conflict between the Pagans and the Christians was a rich one three seasons ago, but at this point, I feel as though we’ve seen every iteration of it that this show has to offer. I’ve even come around to Alfred as a character and as a performance, but we’re just dragging ourselves through retreads of the same stories, the same conflicts, the same characters. And speaking of retreads, how many times am I going to have to watch Bjorn stick his dick in any woman that moves? I really don’t follow Vikings obsession with making Alexander Ludwig and his dope-ass rap hands a sexual dynamo, but every episode he’s dramatically slamming it into someone new, to no real effect.
But, you know, Vikings has had issues of repetition before, but at least they had the interesting characters and, fundamentally, great performances to elevate them. One of my biggest issues with the show these days is that the cast just isn’t up to much. Alexander Ludwig is still Just Doing That all the time, while Alex Hogh as Ivar lacks the weighty depth that he needs to sell the boneless king. Elsewhere, Johnathan Rhys Myers has honestly descended into parodic levels of awfulness – I can barely look at the screen when he’s on it, period-accurate hair gel and all, because I just want to spare us the mutual humiliation. Even the remaining decent performances – like Jennie Jacques as Judith, and Gustaf Skarsgard as Floki – are aggressively neutured in favour of more deeply unsexy dicking down, as the show reaches for those erotic Adult-Only ratings.
I just don’t know what Vikings is trying to achieve right now. It’s a mess of Grown-Up TV Cliches – the sex, the blood spatter, the unengaging politics – but none of it feels like the Vikings I knew and loved. That show was witty, intelligent, exploratory, and felt genuinely new for something so steeped in the past. But, five seasons in, I feel as though I’ve seen it all before. And I don’t much care to continue.
And that’s us for this wreck of an episode. What did you think? Are you confident about this season, or worried about where it’s going to go? Let me know in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter or Tumblr! If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to check in with my other recapping projects – I’m currently covering the first Harry Potter book as well as the current seasons of Doctor Who and Riverdale. If you want to read some of my fiction, please check out the ALPHA FEMALE erotica series (eighteen-plus, obviously), available on Amazon now. As ever, if you want to see more stuff like this, please consider supporting me on Patreon!
(header image courtesy of Forbes)