Things are coming to ahead in season 4’s penultimate episode “On the Eve”. This was more of a contained episode (not the multitude of narrative threads as it has been in the past couple of episodes), so this review might be a bit shorter than my normal ones. Nevertheless, this episode was pretty good as it had plenty of action, a few shocking moments, and a build up to the battle in Wessex.
For the most part, tonight’s episode mainly focused on the action and the battles that were waged in Wessex and in Kattegat. First, in Kattegat, Lagertha had to fend off a raid against Egil the Bastard (Charlie Kelly), the proxy Viking for King Harald. Unfortunately, tonight’s episode saw the death of Torvi (Georgia Hirst). Besides that loss, Lagertha and her army of Shieldmaidens effectively worked together and made quick work of the invasion, using some pretty interesting tactics to protect the Great Hall. Plus, she did manage to get Harold’s name out of Egil by roasting him like a lamb (pretty cool).
Meanwhile, in Wessex, the battle against the Saxons and the Great Heathen Army (I kind of like that name for their army) is about to begin as we see the innocent villagers flee into the forest and trying to escape the coming army of the Viking invaders. We also got a few small personal scenes with Aethelwulf before heading off to battle, still butting heads with his father, King Ecbert in a somewhat tender scene with his adopted son Alfred, the natural son between his wife Judith and the now deceased monk Athelstan.
Another character dynamic in tonight’s episode involved the squabbling of Ragnar’s sons, finding Ivar once again butting heads (due to his arrogance) with his brothers, Ubbe, Sigurd, Hvitserk, and Bjorn. However, Bjorn takes heed of Ivar’s cunning tactics to utilize as a battle plan, which, of course, helps them to overcome Aethelwulf’s army. This was the first time that we saw Ivar becoming more of a tactician, more so than his brothers (in terms of military battle aspects).
This, of course, brings us to the battle between the two armies or rather their outmaneuvering of each other, with Ivar’s scheme of repeatedly sneaking up and almost taunting Aethelwulf’s army, causing Aethelwulf to get angry and try to outmaneuver Ivar by fleeing to the river to where the Vikings boats were at (in attempt to burn them and win the upper hand). Unfortunately, for Aethelwulf this is exactly what Ivar expected as I’m sure he had part of his army waiting there and ready to attack when Aethelwulf and his forces arrived.
This episode had a small scene that involved Tanaruz (Sinead Gormally), the slave girl that Floki and Helga (Maude Hirst), running away. Of course, Floki finds her and brings her back to Helga. It’s unclear where this storyline is heading. Helga wants to care for Tanaruz (to treat as her own daughter), but it seems like this story thread isn’t developing as much as it should. Maybe it will become important next season (I assume).
As for other side character moments, King Harald Finehair, still perplexed and angered over being somewhat dismissed by Princess Ellisif (Sophie Vavasseur), the woman he professed his undying love to, got somewhat of a closure and a bit of satisfying justice when he killed her husband Vik (Gary Buckley) with an axe to the face. Perhaps more interesting was that Princess Ellisif then tried to exact revenge on Harald by trying to kill him, luring him with the temptation of sex. In truth, she would’ve succeeded in her act, if not for Harald’s brother, Halfdan (Jasper Pääkkönen) stabbing her in the back (mid cotius with Harald). Oh, woe unto Princess Ellisif, we already knew thee, effectively, closing up that small storyline.
Perhaps my only complaint with this episode was the fact that it ended so abruptly. At the point, things were getting good and was hoping for more, but then it just ended. However, as a whole, “On the Eve” succeeded and was an entertaining episode. Lagertha defended Kattegat, King Harald found a cruel closure to his love life, and the sons of Ragnar are now on the cusp of achieving victory against the Saxons in Wessex. What will happen after that? How will season 4 end? And will anyone die? All good questions and which will hopefully be answered in the finale entitled “The Reckoning”.
Score: 8.5 / 10
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