Vikings Season 2 Review “The Choice”

Vikings Season 2 Episode 9 The Choice (4)

The only problem I have with HISTORY’s Vikings is that the season is too short. There is one episode remaining and a lot of unresolved issues. Last night’s episode moved the story forward at a quick pace that meant the sacrifice of intimate moments with the characters.

Vikings Season 2 Episode 9 The Choice (8)

This is not a problem with the writing; it’s a problem from not having enough episodes to fully explore the richness of this world. One possible solution would be to develop a comic book tie-in series (more than the one-off from last summer) that fills in the “in-between” time periods that we miss seeing. I can even imagine novels that could explore different adventures in the Viking world with the different characters. How great would it be to have a Lagertha novel that talked about when she first left Ragnar behind and how she ended up with her new husband?

Vikings Season 2 Episode 9 The Choice (3)

Last night, the raiding Vikings faced the consequences of King Horik’s decision to attack King Ecbert’s men. The English were able to quickly dispatch the smaller Viking army and send them running. The fight itself was exquisitely choreographed and gave equal time to Ragnar, Bjorn, Rollo, and Lagertha. One of the things I actually like about these scenes is that even the heroes never walk away completely unscathed. I would have liked to see Ragnar care more about Lagertha and talk with her after the battle. This is the type of interaction that I think gets sacrificed by the time constraints.

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Rollo did not fare as well and ends up severely injured. He’s taken beatings before, but this was particularly brutal as he was also trampled by a horse. He is lucky that Athelstan finds him before Ecbert’s men run him through. When Rollo comes to and sees Athelstan, he instantly assumes that Athelstan is a traitor. It’s unfortunate that Rollo doesn’t trust the priest as much as Ragnar does. I hope that in the final episode, Rollo learns that he owes his life to Athelstan and will start to see him in a different light.

Ecbert - Vikings Season 2 "The Choice"

Ecbert seems to understand that the Vikings are relentless and offers a truce. He will give them some land and treasure if they stop attacking and if some of the men agree to be mercenaries for Mercia. Ragnar instantly accepts, as does Lagertha. Horik must agree as the deal is made, but he clearly has had enough of Ragnar. As we saw with Jarl Borg, Horik doesn’t like anyone who can challenge his authority. It looks as though he’s realized that he won’t be able to manipulate Lagertha into going against Ragnar, so Horik focuses his efforts on Floki.

Horik - Vikings Season 2 "The Choice"

I still have a tough time with Floki turning against Ragnar. Horik is like Grima Wormtongue, pouring poison into Floki’s ear. Floki seems easily manipulated, which is surprising. Ragnar addresses the issue for the first time by suggesting Floki is untrustworthy. I want to believe that Floki is actually playing Horik and secretly reporting to Ragnar. This wouldn’t make sense, though, in light of Floki’s insistence that Ragnar not be included in his wedding. Even when Floki and Horik discuss Bjorn, there is something in Floki’s manner that is hostile. This is a stark contrast from the warm greeting he gave Bjorn when Lagertha brought him back. Of course, we know just how much Floki hates Athelstan and resents the priest’s relationship with Ragnar. This situation is only worsened when Athelstan reappears in his Christian monk attire.

Athelstan - Vikings Season 2 "The Choice"

Athelstan’s return to the Vikings is the most important part of this episode. Despite his closeness with Ecbert and enjoyment of his work, Athelstan is willing to leave his native country behind to return with Ragnar. I would have liked to see more of the process of Athelstan making this decision. Leaving the cross behind was an unequivocal statement that his former life is to remain in his past. Athelstan’s reunion with Ragnar was touching. I don’t think I’ve seen Ragnar display as much emotion all season. He was almost giddy to see his friend again. It feels right for Athelstan to return with them. Because his return is a choice, he should be afforded respect within the village and treated fully as one of the community.

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Back in Kattegat, we see Porunn training to fight. She tells Aslaug that she wants to be like Lagertha, which piques the princess a tad. But then Aslaug does something incredibly kind – she sets Porunn free. I still want Ragnar with Lagertha, but I suppose I can stop wishing death upon Aslaug. I may even be starting to like her. A little.

Vikings Season 2 Episode 9 The Choice (2)

In the preview for next week, we see that Horik is finally making a move against Ragnar. He tells Siggy to kill Ragnar’s young sons. We know Siggy. There is no way that she’s going to do that – even if she is ambitious. Rollo would never forgive her, and she lost her own sons and knows how that would be. The tease is that a betrayal is coming, but we don’t know who is on either end of this. I hope that it’s not Floki betraying Ragnar, but that’s always a possibility. I think it’s time that Ragnar solved his Horik problem once and for all. King Ragnar?

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