Boneless is the eighth episode second season of Vikings and is situated around the birth of Ivar The Boneless who is a new son for Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel). It is also an episode where tensions between Ragnar and King Horik (Donal Logue) start to become apparent and increasingly tense as the episode progresses. We also get to meet a brand new character, Princess Kwenthrith of Mercia (Amy Bailey).
Warning Spoilers From This Point
This is actually one of the slower episodes for season 2 which spent a large amount of time building up the characters before they leave for the raid on Wessex near the end of the episode. First of all though the episode focuses on Princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) giving birth to Ivar who is later named “The Boneless”. This child is actually an important historical figure in history as one of the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok. Unfortuantely at this time I don’t know everything about his achievements but I do know his position having played through Crusader Kings 2: The Old Gods in which he appears. Nevertheless he is born. But he’s not born healthy and Ragnar wants nothing more than to discard him. It was not uncommon for ancient people to discard children who are not born to survive properly in the world, and actually it was not until recently that survival rates for newborn children went up. It was quite common for children not to survive their first few years, hence the reason for discarding. As Ragnar puts it “He will die anyway, what is the point of pretending? If we were wolves or even pigs, this poor weak runt would be discarded” which Ragnar does do but in the end it was Princess Aslaug who saves poor Ivar from death.
This episode is a big episode in season 2 culturally for the series, however I don’t really know if it was a Viking custom to discard of the children in this way if they were looking like they would not survive. I will need to look into it if it’s actually historically accurate. But I do know it was common in societies like Spartan society in the ancient years. It’s also an episode that shows a lot of the preparation that goes into preparing for a raid as well before everybody says goodbye. But we have seen that before, I guess it’s sort of what contributed to making a lot of the first part of this episode a bit slow.
Characters start scheming a lot more in this episode as well. King Horik in particular seems to be trying to get Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) on his side so she can help in standing against Ragnar. With Jarl Borg gone in the last episode Horik has lost his ability to play two people against each other. I guess he does look to see what he can do with Lagertha but I have a feeling he will find some difficulty in exploiting her the way he did with Jarl Borg. Yet he does get her to see herself as an equal partner which adds to some tension once the raid gets under way.
Scheming wise it is also a big episode for Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) who decides in the end of the episode to travel with King Horik. I don’t know what has made Floki so mad with Ragnar but it seems that his conversations with King Horik are drawing him to the side of the King. King Horik consistently presses him saying that a boat builder is worth “10 Earl’s”. Horik is trying to get Floki to turn against Ragnar and it seems to be starting to work. It will be interesting to see in future episodes what this does to the friendship between Ragnar and Floki who have been together since season 1 and it was only recently since Blood Eagle that Floki has been voicing his anger.
In this episode we also get introduced to a new character on the side of the Saxons who is Princess Kwenthrith (Amy Bailey) of Mercia. She comes to visit Wessex to speak with King Ecbert (Linus Roache) about gaining support for her chance to rule in Mercia. There is some interesting political talk in these scenes but it’s mostly lighter than the rest of the episode. There are a few jokes here and there about Ecbert’s sexual prowess and also Princess Kwenthrith’s appetite. There were a few funny moments here and there which was good as it lightened to the episode when it was needed. Otherwise this episode would have been a bit slow and sad. I did think that Amy Bailey did well with her role as the Princess and was very entertaining to watch on screen. I’m hoping to see more of this character in the future as things start to develop in England between the Kingdoms.
Ragnar himself had an interesting end to this episode. He learns from Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford) that his friend Athelstan is alive and well and is waiting to meet him. Ragnar is incredibly pleased about the news and so to is Lagertha. Ragnar is very attached to Athelstan and I don’t really know why, he must consider him to be one of his own, or even close to being family. But he does seem to have this strange obsession with the man.
All will be messed up in the next episode though with King Horik attacking the meeting party and wounding Aethelwulf towards the end. It was quite a good scene towards the end with the attack and the meeting. It was all filmed very well and it caught me by surprise when it happened. I also quite like the Aethewulf character who gets a bit more scenes in this episode as well. We don’t really get to know much about him but I imagine maybe there will be more either in the next episodes or in the next season.
Overall this episode was another good one for the season but possibly a bit slower and with less developments compared to others that have passed. I suppose this episode was needed to align characters and their positions for the final two episodes where things look to be getting increasingly tense. Not just between Ragnar and Horik as they undermine each other but also between the Vikings and the Saxons. I can’t wait to see what happens in the final two episodes for this season.