This is the final episode of the second season of Vikings and represents the final showdown between Ragnar (Travis Fimmel)and King Horik (Donal Logue) that has been building up for the last few episodes. This is a high risk episode for Ragnar and he must rely on those he can trust the most if he is to get through this episode alive. But who will prevail and is everyone as loyal to Ragnar as he thinks? What about Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård)? Will Floki betray someone in this episode and if so, who will it be?
Spoilers in the episode discussion ahead
For fans of the series this is probably the episode with the biggest surprises, I myself didn’t really see what happened in the end between Horik and Ragnar coming and I certainly didn’t pick which side Floki was supposed to be on. For Floki this was quite likely his biggest episode of the season and the one with the most scenes of importance. Other than in the first episode of the season where he was struck down by Rollo (Clive Standen), we’ve only seen bits of his motivations, his wedding and watching him distance himself from Ragnar.
In the The Choice we also saw Ragnar question Floki’s loyalty right in front of King Horik, but looking at this episode we find out that actually it was Floki who was loyal to Ragnar all along. Still though, Horik is not convinced and Floki must prove that he is loyal to him by killing someone important, which turns out to be Torstein (Jafferson Hall) who is one of Bjorn’s (Alexander Ludwig’s) friends. I’ve watched the episode a few times now and it’s interesting to watch the Torstein death scene. The first time I saw it I was shocked at what Floki did and like Horik I would have believed Floki was now loyal to him and was quite likely going to kill Bjorn as well. When watching it for a second time knowing how the episode plays out, it’s actually sort of funny to watch when you know that it’s all an act and almost everyone is in on it, except Horik.
I think that the main problem Horik had with Ragnar was that he underestimated Ragnar’s scheming abilities. It seems from watching this episode that not only was Floki as spy, but also Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig) as well as we see her hand Ragnar the knife Horik gave her with the promise of becoming the Queen. Thinking back across the series we see in the Blood Eagle episode that Floki first mentions his discontent with Ragnar and it’s actually the start of the Floki/Horik friendship with Horik coming to the wedding and not Ragnar. We also do see in that same scene in Blood Eagle that Ragnar is observing what is going on from behind some bars and is watching Siggy’s movements. I wonder now if it was at this time that Ragnar actually started plotting against Horik.
Ragnar of course has a most interesting episode for his character. In this episode we see Ragnar praying with Athelstan (George Blagden) and taking a lot of interest in Christianity. To my knowledge it’s not actually historically correct that Ragnar was like this, but as a part of the show I like the element of religion being added in. I find both the Norse and the Christian parts very interesting in the show and it adds a lot to the feel of Vikings when you watch it each week. It’s also interesting because Ragnar chose to go to Athelstan rather than the Seer (John Kavanagh) for his crisis with Horik and I wonder if this will cause issues with characters like Floki in season 3. Although I’ve never seen Floki visit the Seer either, so I don’t know what is up with that.
For the most part though, Ragnar’s character is quiet in the episode. While you know he is there and he’s revealed in the end as having orchestrated the events the entire time, we don’t get that much from him. Not many lines either. But the final scene where he bashes Horik’s skull in with his head and then the part where we see Ragnar with the sword of Kings on top of the Mountain was great. Actually the entire sequence of Horik’s demise and the reveal of Torstein was all excellent, it was also interesting to see Floki reveal his true intentions and interesting that he does not stab or wound Horik like everyone else (Siggy doesn’t either). I sort of wonder if they feel sorry for him that they had his trust and betrayed him or if they just didn’t like him all along.
Some of the scenes in this episode and the way it was put together really made things very dramatic. I’ve already mentioned the reveal of Torstein and the final sequence, but others were good to. The scene where Floki receives his request from Horik with the lightning effects was great and the scene where Horik is staring at everyone while they all play a coin toss game really showed how jealous he was of Ragnar. In the end it was a very well put together episode. The only scene I did not like was the fight scene between Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) and Horik’s wife which when it ended looked a bit awkward from the angle Lagertha got her final blow, not sure if it was the best part of the episode.
Overall for the series this was a great episode to finish off season 2 and I can’t believe we all have to wait a whole year until we can watch the next episode of Vikings, but I can’t wait to see what happens in Season 3. The actors all did a great job this season and it was joy to watch all their performances each episode. The look and style of the show for its second season really came together and this season was a lot more polished and well put together when looking back and comparing it to season 1. I just can’t wait to see the adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok in Season 3.