Vikings Season 2 Review “Answers in Blood”

Vikings Season 2 Episode 5 Answers in Blood (6)

This week’s Vikings was another example of why this is one of the best shows on television. Each episode is like a mini-movie. We had some long overdue reunions between the Lothbrok family and found out what happened to poor Athelstan. Because the episode was more emotionally than action driven for me, I’m dividing my review up by characters.

Lagertha

The big question after last week was how Lagertha would handle coming back into contact with Ragnar and Aslaug. I found her reactions unsettling and disconcerting. Upon entering the hut, Lagertha is greeted by Rollo, Siggy, and other friends from her village. It’s a sad reunion. Kattegat was her home. These were her friends. When Ragnar was away on his raids and his trip with King Horik, it was Lagertha who stayed behind with these people. She ruled in his stead. Seeing her reunite with them felt incredibly sad.

Of course, the reason that Lagertha left her home is because of Ragnar and Aslaug. When she comes in, Siggy looks nervously to the back of the room where Aslaug is standing with her sons. Lagertha is unfazed and greets Aslaug and her children warmly. She even has Bjorn bow to her. It’s obvious in the moment that Lagertha speaks with Ragnar’s son, that she still feels the sadness of not being able to have more sons. When Lagertha asks to hold Aslaug’s baby, that just about pushed me over the edge. What’s next? Want to offer her a foot rub? I understand that Lagertha has her pride and dignity, but being so nice to the woman who drove her from her husband and home is just too much.

This would a different conversation if Ragnar no longer loved Lagertha. If that were the case, you wouldn’t feel bad if they moved on to healthier relationships. But, Ragnar still wants Lagertha and asks the Seer if he can have both women. The Seer laughs and responds that Ragnar has no say in whether that will happen. Ragnar goes to Lagertha and asks her to stay. We don’t get to see their entire conversation, though, which is frustrating. I don’t blame Lagertha for returning to her husband. How could it possibly work to put her up on the dais next to Aslaug?

Aslaug mentioned earlier in the episode to Ragnar that she was worried about the prophecy. I’m hoping that it has something to do with her dying in childbirth. I’m just saying…it would solve a lot of problems.

Athelstan

Athelstan has suffered some kind of mental break. He’s hallucinating bleeding statues, demons, and the Virgin Mary. Even as he tries to regain his faith, it remains elusive. The most powerful scene for him is when he accepts the host during mass. His mind jumbles together the priest and the Pagan ceremony he attended with the Vikings. I read this scene as Athelstan thinking of these belief systems as fundamentally the same. While the Catholics may imagine themselves to be more civilized because they don’t perform human sacrifices, they do something that is functionally equivalent – they nail people to crosses. The difference between monotheism and polytheism may just be numbers.

It is tragic to see Athelstan so broken. When he talks about there being nothing left for him in Umbria, I got the sense that he knew he had given up the only family and friends he had. He should’ve gone with Ragnar. I worry that he is so desperate, he will accept anyone who shows him any kindness.

I am wondering if there’s going to be a relationship that develops between Athelstan and the woman he helped save. We still haven’t seen Athelstan have a relationship.

Ragnar

Ragnar is overjoyed at the return of Bjorn. He brings him on the grain raid and has him perform the sacrifice. He is empowering Bjorn and trying to make up for lost time. But, Ragnar also recognizes that Bjorn’s education has suffered in his absence. During the battle scene, he harshly tells Bjorn that he has a lot to learn. I interpreted this as Ragnar venting his fear and anger that something almost happened to Bjorn. All throughout the fight, both Lagertha and Ragnar kept looking back to him to see if he as all right.

It was disappointing that Ragnar didn’t fight very hard to keep Lagertha and that we didn’t see any great expression of love for her.

Rollo & Siggy

I loved the scene where Siggy asks Rollo if he is still in love with Lagertha. His response is touching and honest. A part of him loves her, but that part is in the past. I wish he had gone the extra step and expressed more emotion for Siggy, though.

Bjorn

Bjorn is going to have a period of adjustment, but clearly is happy to be back with his family. His reunion with Rollo and Floki is sweet. I am curious to see how he continues to fit in. He’s coming into Ragnar and Aslaug’s family and leaving his mother behind. That has to create some tension.

There were many other great scenes in this episode. There was another fight scene that drew me into the action. When you see them all slamming into each other, you can imagine what that must have been like. I also liked the story that the Seer tells Ragnar. That scene was beautifully shot with the soft lighting around the edges and the deep shadows. It was satisfying to see Jarl Borg get trounced. I’m not sure about the preview for next week, though, where he tries for some kind of alliance with Ragnar. I hope Ragnar doesn’t forget what Jarl Borg did to the people of Kattegat.