Vikings Season 2 Review “Invasion”

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A lot happened in this week’s episode of Vikings. We jumped forward four years and see that Ragnar is living large with his second family. Lagertha and Bjorn are still gone and Aslaug has settled comfortably into Lagertha’s home. She has given Ragnar three more sons (and is pregnant with a fourth).

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The four-year jump worked for me because we needed to advance the story. There have to be periods of time when the Vikings are trudging along with normal life, but those would be boring to watch so better to skip them. It also allowed some of the relationships to simmer down that had boiled up in the first episode. Rollo is an outcast who has been wallowing in self-pity. Floki is recovered and has been busy building Ragnar’s new fleet. King Horik and Jarl Borg still hate each other, but their swords are sheathed. Athelstan has almost gone native.

Ragnar decides that the time has come to go raiding in the west. Interestingly, though, he is less focused on pillaging. His farmer side is coming out and he casually remarks that maybe they should winter in England and explore the land. This is a new development. It’s hard to imagine that Vikings and other people during that time could actually successful raid a land and set up a new home, though we know they sometimes did. Can Ragnar really envision transporting his family across the seas?

Though things seem to be on an upward track, there are still some tensions running through the village. Floki still antagonizes Athelstan, Ragnar seems to challenge Siggy with hostile looks based on her connection with Rollo, and Ragnar and Rollo are still not reconciled.

Siggy decides to take action on this last problem when Ragnar proposes the raids. In a sad scene, she rouses a drunken Rollo and tells him he needs to ask to join the raids. Siggy clearly wants him to stop feeling sorry for himself and take some action. He finally relents to her plan. I like that Siggy is the one who is picking Rollo up off the ground. The men are touted for the strength, but it’s women like Siggy who push them forward when they’re ready to give up.

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The scene between Rollo and Ragnar is sad all around. Ragnar tells Rollo, “You broke my heart,” and Rollo looks like he couldn’t be more miserable.

Unsurprisingly, Aslaug is jealous and suspicious that Ragnar is cheating on her. She instructs a serving girl to pretty much stay away from Ragnar. What, Aslaug? You are somehow less eager for sister wives now that you’ve driven off Lagertha? Not too sympathetic for her plight. It’s interesting, though, to juxtapose the two confrontations that Ragnar has with his wives. With Aslaug, she accuses him of lying and he assures her that he isn’t. When Lagertha confronted Rangar about cheating with Aslaug, it was a completely different conversation. Lagertha was more violent, but also more passionate. Ragnar rushed to assure her that he did not love Aslaug and wouldn’t see her again. You don’t hear Ragnar giving those same protestations of love to Aslaug. In fact, in many of the scenes, Ragnar spends more time talking to Aslaug’s stomach than her.

Before they start off on the raids, King Horik and Jarl Borg arrive to join the party. They had all agreed to jointly raid, but then Horik changes his mind. He tells Ragnar to kick Jarl Borg off the team. Ragnar isn’t happy about this, but acquiesces. Of course, that doesn’t sit well with Jarl Borg. Siggy must see the potential for a rift between Ragnar and Horik, because she approaches Horik and offers to school him in Ragnar’s weaknesses. Evidently, this also involves sleeping with him. Siggy can’t possibly think that Horik is going to help Rollo, which leads to the question of her motivation. Will Siggy be able to stay with Rollo or will she trade up if she has the chance?

Aslaug is also trying to cozy up to Siggy. Aslaug’s only doing this because she’s going to be alone when Ragnar leaves. In one of the most fake friendly conversations, they agree that womenfolk should stick together. What is more interesting about the exchange, though, is Siggy’s comment that women should rule. Is that her true goal?

Ragnar goes to see the Seer to inquire on the fate of his children. He seems jealous that his sons may achieve more fame than him. Ragnar also expressed a similar feeling in his speech to Gida last week. But, I asked Travis Fimmell about this rivalry in an interview recently. He said this suggestion of a rivalry is something that came up early in the season, but doesn’t become a major storyline. Fimmell said that Ragnar wants his son to be successful.

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Before they head west, Ragnar acknowledges Rollo as his brother, but refuses to let him join them on the raid. Ragnar also gets in some fighting practice with Athelstan. The timid monk is long gone. Athelstan is now an ax-wielding warrior. Ragnar offers to take him raiding and Athelstan eagerly agrees. Athelstan has evidently moved on from Ragnar’s betrayal of last season. He now acts like he is part of the family. But, going back to England will have to stir up some emotions.

Finally, the raiders pack up and head west. The traveling scenes are always the most impressive on the show. You can feel how dangerous it was to travel in the Viking boats. When the English cliffs appear before them in the rain and mist it’s easier to appreciate the perils. The fact that so many of their boats are lost at sea is a reminder that many who set out on these journeys never make it to the destination.

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When the raiders arrive in Wessex, they are ambushed by a band of King Ecbert’s men. In a pretty spectacular battle, the Vikings prove why they are a feared bunch.

The biggest moment in the battle is Athelstan’s first kill. He takes Ragnar’s advice and doesn’t hesitate. Seeing Athelstan turn into a killer is understandable, but still sad in a way. He felt like a piece of civilization injected into chaos. Now, he’s just one of them. Kind of a bummer.

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