Vikings: Midseason Finale Review


Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

Vikings took us out of its 10-episode half season (the follow-up 10 to air later this year) with a hugely satisfying Ragnar vs. Rollo river battle – and an ending that featured a curious multi-year time jump in which all of Ragnar’s sons had grown up into young men.

So, I’ll address this huge time skip first. It’s nothing out of the ordinary for Vikings. After all, this is how Bjorn grew up into a man himself. I do think it odd, however, when this time of leap is done mid-episode. That will never feel quite right to me. Although I did like the sail away shot of all the vikings leaving Paris, defeated and – to be honest – f***ed up. Physically and mentally. They’d given it their all and still couldn’t topple Rollo. So that scene did feel like a nice fade out point. But, still, not one that easily ushers us into a decade-long (give or take) time jump.

The battle itself was really well plotted out and paced. And very brutal. The show’s gotten even better at these big action sequences (which are now bloodier than before, even) and I especially liked how this one, and the one a few episodes back, was river/water-based. It’s a huge undertaking to pull off. The Norsemen gave their all and Rollo – bless him – managed to even fire up his own men in order to get them to give their all so that victory could be achieved. Vikings see honor in death on the battlefield. Rollo’s new army? Not so much. So he actually had to light a ferocious fire under their asses with a speech. It was awesome.

And I loved that Rollo lived. You know, it might have seemed, due to his tendency for betrayal, that Rollo was due a comeuppance. A death. Plus, the news of Clive Standen being cast as the lead on NBC’s new Taken prequel series also led many to believe that Rollo would die. And that’s not to say this wasn’t the characters actual show exit. He could very well still be leaving the show – just in triumph. And you know what? I dug it. Rollo now had the title, the (hard fought) respect, and woman he’s always so desperately wanted. The Seer’s words had come true.

The Seer, by the way, sure had quite a lot of twisting, writhing feelings during this clash. To say the least. He was either really enjoying himself or agonizing over the horror of it all. Or just being a total all-seeing weirdo.

The actual physical showdown between Ragnar and Rollo was very exciting. With both Floki and Lagertha being wounded nearby, the two brothers brawled like beasts. And when Ragnar attempted one more charge at his brother, his own countrymen had to hold him back and throw him on a retreating ship. Again, I’m happy Rollo stood his ground. Ragnar’s the “hero” of this show, technically, but all of his motives this half-season had been murky and malicious.

I’m not sure I understood fully why Charles had Roland and Therese killed, but all in all it only helped Rollo land a more solid Number Two position, with no one else around to split the glory. I guess I didn’t feel the scene was all that impactful since the show never went to great lengths to establish the two incestuous siblings as anything other than shallow schemers.

The time jump was – whoa. We discovered that Ragnar had basically shuffled off in shame after losing to Rollo and Aslaug continued to rule Kattegat on her own. Now we’re to enter the next batch of episodes with Bjorn and Floki heading out to explore the Mediterranean, Ragnar returning from years of self-exile, and FOUR NEW ADULT CHARACTERS in the form of “all growns-up” Ubbe, Hvitserk, Sigurd, and Ivar. Ivar, who stands out from the rest due to his condition (naturally) and his whole “being a creep.”

So the final ten minutes definitely let us know what the upcoming back half of Season 4 will be about, but – still – at the cost of a more fluid-feel/completeness to the episode.

The Verdict

“The Last Ship” gave us a lengthy, meaningful war set piece featuring a very heated, intense Ragnar/Rollo showdown. One that Rollo won by simply holding his ground and not getting killed. So for the most part, this was a solid, focused entry. The huge time jump that closed out the episode, and gave us the entire back third, unfortunately could only feel like a chop block.

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