Treachery is the third episode of the second season of Vikings and focuses primarily on Ragnar’s 2nd raid of England and King Horik’s first raid. This episode is actually a very important one for this second season with King Ecbert making much more of an appearance this time around while Jarl Borg continues to be grieved because he was left out of the raid last week on King Horik’s request.
Caution: Spoilers in the episode discussion below. Watch the episode before you read this
What was really great about this episode was the reveal of King Ecbert (Linus Roache). While we did get to see a little bit of this King in the last episode “Invasion” we didn’t fully get to know who he was. This episode really positioned the King quite well. I was very impressed. We hear him tell a tale of Emperor Charlemagne and his men during a time when they first encountered the Vikings while Ecbert was in Charlemagne’s court. It positions the King as someone who knows much more about what he is doing compared to the King of Northumbria and introducing him through him telling a story about the Vikings makes him appear to be much more knowledgeable than most of the characters in the show. The tapping sound in the background music also really set up the atmosphere for the King quite well. Honestly I really enjoyed the performance by Linus Roache as King Ecbert in this episode, so much power is portrayed which should be so, as he is the King. Doing that well is difficult and Linus Roache nailed it in this episode perfectly.
In Treachery we see Ragnar and the rest of the Pagan’s assault and take the small town and pretty much massacre the majority of the inhabitants there. What’s interesting about the actions of the Vikings in this early scene is that, really if you look at their actions towards the people they have attacked, they seem to have no morals at all. Characters like Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) or King Horik (Donal Logue) will pretty much kill and slaughter any Christian for being not of their own Norse faith and that is made quite clear here through the torture of the priest. It’s like a religious type of motivation for killing, anyone who does not believe what the Norse believe should be killed and no thoughts against it should be made. These actions place Athelstan in a difficult position as these are his own people that are being killed, I sort of wonder why he has not been broken by all the violence and why he would reveal the place of the Saint and the treasure under the alter. Possibly Athelstan is just pressured and trying to stay alive, but his character seems really conflicted, it was good to see him stand up for himself and his people towards the end though.
It was good to see Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) was still in the show and now with a grown up Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) as well. It seems she is married to a new Earl who is not as nice and not even really that great of a man really. Lagertha is not being treated well by her new husband and it doesn’t look good for her character. I’m glad that Lagertha is still appearing in the show, I think Katheryn Winnick is one of the best actors in there so it’s good they decided to let her keep returning and continue her characters story. So many shows don’t ever show where someone goes when they leave and after she left in the last episode I was unsure if she would be back. I sort of wonder at this point if there is some way they could get rid of her husband and Bjorn could be Earl? That would be interesting, especially if he then goes out to seek Ragnar in later episodes. In speaking about the new Bjorn, some might recognise Alexander Ludwig as Cato from the Hunger Games (2012) and actually I think he has been well cast here. There wasn’t much of the new Bjorn, only really a glimpse in one or two scenes but he seemed good in this episode and well chosen for the role.
I’d also like to chat a bit about King Horik in this episode. We don’t really see much of King Horik in each episode, just a few actions here and there. The first that I’d like to mention is the scene where he is aiming arrows at a priest with Floki. In this scene I felt like he does not value life so much, especially those of his enemies, but as a leader it’s sort weird as we see Ragnar not going around killing those of little threat such as the boy, and also the sparing of Athelstan last season. I don’t know if King Horik is able to see the value in prisoners, or maybe he is just religously focused like Floki and just wanted to kill a christian. The second act he did was with the negotiation with the Bishop and Ragnar. It seemed there was an agreement made between Ragnar and the Bishop, but then Horik goes forward and kills one of the messengers? What’s he trying to say here? I just thought it wasn’t very good for a King to do, Ragnar gave him a bit of a look and didn’t bother with it, I guess because Horik is King. But really, what type of character is this we have here?
The final thing that was interesting about this episode was the revenge taken by Jarl Borg (Thorbjørn Harr) against Ragnar for not letting him come on his raid and breaking the deal they made. Since not many people are still on Ragnar’s land except Rollo (Clive Standen) who was left behind, we get to really see Rollo step up in this episode. Rollo takes lead and muster’s as much men as he can, maybe he is truly great after all? If anything it’s great to at least see him fighting on the right side even though it wasn’t enough to fight off Jarl Borg’s men, I think from this point on Rollo is likely to gain some respect back from other characters, especially those he is currently helping such as Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig).
Overall I actually thought that this episode was a bit of a step above what the previous two episodes were. This episode has a lot of action but also did really well in introducing what seems to be this season’s antagonist, King Ecbert, as this intellectual type of figure. I also think that making the King positioned in this way is also a good match to go up against Ragnar since the two are both smart yes, but Ragnar is not the same type of leader as King Ecbert, yet they are both ambitious people by the look of it. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what happens between the two leaders and witnessing how Ragnar will respond when he hears of Jarl Borg’s actions next week.