Wow! I’m shocked and saddened at the same time by tonight’s episode of Vikings, which was titled “All His Angels”. Now for the big shocker of the episode….so SPOILER ALERT, if you don’t want to know what happens.
Still with me then? Then here it is….Ragnar Lothbrok is dead!
Yes, I’ve been a fan of Vikings since the show started and I for one am deeply saddened to see such a great character (Ragnar), and actor Travis Fimmel, leave the show. It’s kind of like that feeling of watching Ned Stark (Sean Bean) killed off in HBO’s Game of Thrones (spoiler warning in case you haven’t watched that show yet…sorry!).
Although, I am hurt that Ragnar was killed off (and a bit surprised that they actually did it), you can’t say that you didn’t see it coming. Ever since the mid-season premiere of Season 4, we’ve seeing Ragnar reconcile and bid his final goodbyes to several of the show’s other main characters in a sort of way to atone for his past sins and to prepare for his final judgement.
With the exception of the last five minutes of the episode, most of “All His Angels” is focused on Ragnar and his final days before being killed off. (i.e. no Bjorn or Lagertha narrative thread in this episode). One of the big reveals in the episode (before Ragnar is handed off to King Aelle) is his ultimate end game of revenge. Speaking to his son Ivar one final time, Ragnar reveals his plan to him, saying that he (Ivar) is going to be sent back to Kattegat, but says to avenge his death on King Ecbert instead of King Aelle, which he said he would last episode. This little “twist” will surely bring some new and exciting events in the coming episode as Ecbert and the whole kingdom of Wessex are surely going to get a “big surprise” from Ragnar’s sons. In conjunction with this tactic, Ragnar, while speaking to Ivar, explains the importance of his son’s cleverness and trickery, a maneuver that Ragnar himself has used many times and empowers Ivar to use to achieve power and victory.
From this point, the episode shows Ragnar being transported (under heavy guard) to be taken into King Aelle’s control. Once in Aelle’s hands, Ragnar is tortured and put through the ringer of pain, being jabbed, punch, choked, branded, scared through a series of hellish treatment. Its a bit brutal to watch and (as I said) a bit sad to see such a powerful character like Ragnar take such a beating, with no intention of retaliation. Of course, King Aelle is enjoying this moment, seeing the once and mighty Viking ruler being tortured and humiliated, but, despite all of this, Ragnar remains steadfast and doesn’t break his decision. However, the final “deathblow” comes in the form of a snake pit as Ragnar is plunged into its depth as we (the viewer) are shown Ragnar being covered (and bitten) by several hands as death slowly comes to Viking. In short, this major death in the show isn’t treated lightly (it’s a bit brutal for a non-premium TV channel show), but its an poignant and emotional one.
The episode also showed King Ecbert still morally conflicted about what he must do in handing Ragnar over to King Aelle. Of course, he hands him over, but it’s not without self-doubt of betraying a friend, regardless of the fact that Ragnar must die. We see Ecbert (in secret) garb himself in simple monk / priest robes and make his walk of attrition (being barefoot) to witness Ragnar’s end. This, of course, goes back to Ragnar’s and Ecbert’s ambiguous “frenemies” relationship as the two rulers, despite their warring nations and different beliefs and ideologies, share a special connection, a somewhat “mutual understanding” of like minds. In the end, however, Ecbert (in his disguise) can only watch (in heartbreak) as Ragnar meets his demise in the snake pit as Ecbert himself says that had to “destroy someone truly great”. It was a genuine and touching moment for Ecbert to show some compassion towards his so-called friend / enemy.
The last five minutes of the episode concludes with Ivar returning home to Kattegat as he shares the news of Ragnar’s decision and ultimate deathly outcome with Ubbe and Sigurd. There reactions are well-met in shock, but are cut short as they both tell Ivar about the death of their mother (Queen Aslaug) and how Lagertha killed her and how she’s now Queen of Kattegat. As to be expected, Ivar is super pissed and angered by this news and (presumably) will try to exact his revenge against Lagertha in someway. Will this affect the plan of avenging Ragnar? We’ll just have to wait and see…
“All His Angels” was a very sad and emotional sendoff to one of the show’s chief characters. It was brutal and harsh way to kill off a character, but it was powerful and defining exit for the Viking Ragnar Lothbrok. Where the rest of the season 4 goes from here (and for the rest of the series) remains unclear. However, while I do hope the show stays strong, it will be forever diminished slightly by the absent presence of Travis Fimmel. Cheers to Ragnar Lothbrok! May he be welcomed into Valhalla with open arms as proud and noble Viking warrior-king.
Score: 9.0 / 10
If interested, check out my movie blog @ Jason’s Movie Blog for my reviews of current movies.