Vikings Season 2 Review “The Lord’s Prayer”

Horik

The only complaint I have about last night’s season 2 finale of Vikings is that it was just too damn short. We needed at least two hours to fully appreciate the denouement of King Horik’s plans and his subsequently epic takedown. I learned this week, courtesy of a loyal Vikings fan, that the UK viewers get an extended episode because they do not have the same number of commercials. So, at least we have the hope that when season 2 is released on Blu-ray, there will be plenty of extra scenes to fill in the gaps.

There is no doubt that Floki is the center of this episode. Inexplicably, early in the season he developed a weird mix of jealousy and hatred of Ragnar. From the time this first manifested, it felt wrong. We never knew why he was so mad or why Rangar didn’t seem more hurt or upset. The only time we saw Ragnar get at all piqued at Floki was last week when he accused him of being disloyal. By the end of the episode, we know that there is no estrangement between Ragnar and Floki, and that Floki has been manipulating King Horik on Ragnar’s behalf.

We should acknowledge that this long drawn charade makes Floki look like the best actor on the planet. He manages to learn Horik’s attack plan, all while making it appear that he is eager to bring down Ragnar. If you watch the episode a second time, after knowing Floki’s true position, you can see that many of his crazy smiles come at the times when he is being most duplicitous with Horik. For example, when Horik comes to Floki and asks if he knows who he will kill, Floki responds that he does, and flashes a smile when Horik walks away. Floki knows that Horik is the target.

The only person perhaps giving Floki a run for his money in the acting department is Siggy. She meets with Horik and he offers to marry her if she kills Ragnar’s sons. Her expression communicates that she’s very interested in the offer, and she takes the knife. But again, as Horik walks away, Siggy gives a strange smile. For both Siggy and Floki, you can almost believe that they could betray Ragnar. I don’t think Siggy turns on Horik out of loyalty for Ragnar, though. I think she wanted to get back at Horik for humiliating her.

I think everyone can agree that Horik has it coming. He is a bad king. When he forced Ragnar to renege on the agreement to take Jarl Borg with them raiding, Horik revealed his true colors. It wasn’t hard for Horik to work himself up into a jealous frenzy over Ragnar. Horik is a megalomaniac. He is convinced there is a personal vendetta between him and Ecbert, while Ecbert has practically no clue who Horik is. Horik believes that Ragnar is after the thrown, when Ragnar actually would be most content moving to Wessex and farming.

Horik’s scheming is particularly despicable given his behavior towards Ragnar and the people of Kattegat. He lays it on thick at the celebratory dinner for the arrival of his family. He refers to Ragnar as his “friend and ally” and jokes that his daughters will one day marry Ragnar’s sons. Meanwhile, Horik is planning to come in and slaughter Ragnar, his men, and his family. I found myself wondering why Horik cared so much. As King, I’m sure he has a fortress and a pretty sweet set up (like Jarl Borg had). So why does he care about rinky dink Kattegat?

I suspect that Bjorn is going to play an even bigger role in the third season. He is a combination of the best parts of Ragnar and Lagertha. We see his compassion when he lets Horik’s daughters flee and his vulnerability with Porunn. We still have the Seer’s prophecy that he will marry a king’s daughter. I don’t think that bodes well for Porunn. Perhaps he will end up with one of the girls he spared.

As for Porunn, we still don’t know much about her. When she pushes Bjorn away at the beginning of the episode, she comes off as fickle. When she tells him she wants to fight him that just seems ridiculous. At least when Lagertha took a swing at Ragnar in better days, she did it because she was genuinely enraged. Porunn wants to enjoy her freedom, but what does that mean for her exactly? It looks like she also may be going to the Aslaug school of how to snag a husband, so we’ll have to see if a baby Bjorn is running around next season.

With the limitation on the length of the episode, I felt like we sacrificed having more time with Athelstan and Ragnar – not necessarily together. How is Athelstan reintegrating into the Viking life? Is he still having his crazy hallucinations? We had big drama set up for him through most of the season, and it feels like he just scurried back to Ragnar and blended in with the crowd.

By far the highlight for me was Lagertha. She was a complete bad ass. I love the scene when she strolls through the town with her battle gear on, ready to strike at Horik’s wife. Her fight with Gunnhild was great. You can tell that she regrets Horik’s children being killed, but she is a Viking and knows how things work. Horik’s sons have to die.

In the final scene, Ragnar sits in his hall with his face covered in blood from bashing in Horik’s face. It was very similar to the image at the beginning of the season, when blood covered Ragnar faced off with Rollo. At the beginning, their family was falling apart. Brother was against brother. Ragnar lost his wife and child. At the end, everything has turned around and Ragnar’s family has expanded. He knows now that at least at present, he can count on loyalty from Rollo, Siggy, Lagertha, and Floki.

I don’t think that Ragnar is going to find life at the top very comfortable. But, he’s a victim of his own success.

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