Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
Vikings headed into its Season 4 endgame (well, “4A” as 10 more will air later this year) with a somewhat jumbled episode that worked to direct Ragnar toward Rollo for one final conflict. Brother vs. Brother: Round 2, all set for next week’s (midpoint) finale. With Ragnar himself even admitting to Bjorn that he didn’t even care about Paris anymore – just revenge against Rollo for his betrayal.
Speaking of revenge, Erlendur decided that now was the perfect time to strike out against Bjorn. Choosing to use Torvi as his weapon of vengeance was a nice touch, as Erlendur is nothing if not skittish and cowardly, but when Torvi turned and used the crossbow on Erlendur it just made me realize how she basically held the answer to all her problems for almost an entire season. Just kill Erlendur. Granted, it was a cool moment, and Bjorn placing the ring on top of the bolt in Erlendur’s chest was a nice touch, but it also highlighted the fact that this problem could have been solved much sooner.
Ragnar’s plot to move all his ships over the mountain worked out great – even garnering him a “Hail, King Ragnar!” chant in the process. Ragnar though, unfortunately, was dealing with a nasty bout of detox. And not one of his choosing. As in, he didn’t decide to get clean in order to properly lead the raid. No, he’s suffering through it because he’s saving his last smidgen of opium in order to be a raving lunatic when he finally faces Rollo. It’s a great set-up for the finale, as it would have felt too clean to have him suddenly kick his habit right when everyone needs him the most. Nope, he’s still a ridiculous mess.
Meanwhile, there were some odds and ends to sort through before the final episode of the season lands. Lagertha lost her child while Gisla announced that she was pregnant. Aslaug sat in a drunken stupor back in Kattegat, humoring cruel young Ivar with games, while Floki continued to have supernatural visions of Aslaug from all the way down in Paris. Also, Charles wound up asking for Roland’s permission to sleep with Terese, but then it was revealed that it was Roland he really wanted. And Roland, the sexually open opportunist, obliged.
We also kept following Ecbert’s journey to power, as he finally ascended to the lofty position of king of both Wessex and Mercia. It’s been strange to follow the overseas goings-on this year, considering how there’s been zero connection to the Norsemen story. Some of it has worked, some of it not so much. I get that it’s setting up next year’s run, and that there will be hell to pay whenever Ragnar returns to Wessex, but there’s been A LOT of Wessex. With no connective tissue except for stuff that happened seasons ago. Ecbert and Judith have been the most interesting parts, but overall its made the season feel less focused.