While the last episode, saw the return of Ragnar Lothbrok and his apology/farewell tour to several main characters as well as establishing the four grown-up children of Ragnar and Aslaug, this week’s episode was about preparation and departure, with several characters leaving Kattegat to follow their own narrative threads. There were some great character moments, but still not action and still no storylines picked up in Wessex (King Ecbert) and Paris (Rollo) in this episode.
The episode still focuses on the events in the kingdom of Kattegat, following Bjorn and Ragnar as they prepare to venture out towards their destinies, but are on two different paths. Bjorn has more men, more ships, and is more beloved by the people as he readies to sail to Rome and the Mediterranean Sea. On the other side of the spectrum, is Ragnar Lothbrok, who is still trying to amass warriors to follow him to England and exact revenge on King Ecbert of Wessex. However, the times have changed (echoing from last episode) and much of the love and respect of his people for him as diminished. This episode also deals with Ragnar in a humble (almost pathetic) way to bribe the people of Kattegat (via gold and other valuable items that he’s collected on his past journeys) to venture with him and Ivar on their quest. Personally, it’s an interesting turn of events as (in the past) the character of Ragnar has always been a titular and beloved figure to his people. Now, however, he’s scrapping the bottom of the barrel to find followers and the name of King Ragnar Lothbrok has been tarnished.
As a side note, this episode sees the return of King Harald (Peter Franzén) and his brother Halfdan (Jasper Pääkkönen), both who have been busy since we last saw them with many raids and overtaken Earls and Kings, and who have come to Kattegat (in this episode) to join Bjorn on his quest to the Mediterranean Sea.
Again, the four children of Ragnar and Aslaug were in the episode but (like the last episode) only the character of Ivar got the most screen time. Like before, Ivar shows his determination to being a strong and capable Viking, despite his limitations of being a cripple. Being taunted his brothers (Sigurd in this episode does that), being treated with “special attention” from his mother (Aslaug), and to prove his worth to his father (Ragnar), Ivar is frustrated and is ready to prove himself as a man as he (with Ragnar) set sail to England. Ivar is a bit of a creepy character, but he’s definitely going to be an interesting one to follow. However, the show ends with a cliffhanger as Ragnar and his men are engulfed in a violent storm at sea and Ivar is plunged into its watery depths (a vision that Aslaug saw in her dreams and warned him about before departing). Hence the name of the episode “The Vision”.
The rest of the brothers (Ubbe, Sigurd, and Hvitserk) are still present in the episode, but don’t get much character development time in front of the camera lens. However, with all of the characters moving into their own individual paths (some sailing away from Kattegat, while others are staying behind, I have a feeling that the three other brothers are going to get their chance to shine in the coming episodes.
Perhaps the two big key sequences of this episode revolves around Queen Aslaug. While only having one scene in the last episode, Aslaug finally gets more screen time. The first one saw the resurfacing tensions between he and Ragnar’s first wife Lagertha. While the two had never seen “eye to eye” (due to the fact Ragnar cheated on Lagertha with Aslaug), the pair have always been pleasant to one another. However, we see these tense feelings rekindled with a passive aggressive conversation to a very threatening vow by Lagertha during a sacred sacrificial ceremony, during which Aslaug can’t speak for a rebuttal. With the departure of Bjorn and Ragnar from Kattegat in this episode, I assumed the two wives of Ragnar were going to “clash” eventually this season, which is going to make some interesting moments to see play out. I wonder who is going to win? I’m betting on Lagertha to come out on top.
The other scene with Aslaug, which was also as poignant as the one with Lagertha, was her scene with Ragnar. Just like last episode, Ragnar atoned for his sins with Aslaug (i.e. his harsh words against her and their eventual distant love, which was caused by her affair with the mysterious Harbard) and praised her for not tarnishing his name in front of their children. It’s easy for many viewers to resent or not like the character of Aslaug (she always seems cold, distant, and always subtly scheming something up in the back of her mind), but it was a nice character moment that her and Ragnar shared together before he departed for England.
All in all, “The Vision” is another character building block episode, which serves as a connecting piece to the larger narrative that will play out in the rest of the season. Like the last episode, there wasn’t much action and still focused on the characters in Kattegat, but saw several “key players” of the show heading out on their separate ways and the start of their individual storylines. Still, it did have some great character conflict moments. With all the pieces finally moving into place, the events for the second half of season 4 are looking to be very promising.
Score 7.5 / 10
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