Vikings “To The Gates” Review (Season 3 Episode 8)

Vikings To The Gates Season 3 Episode 8 01

This week, the Vikings make their assault on Paris and it doesn’t go well. Faced with the nearly impregnable walls surrounding the city, the Vikings are easily picked off by the Franks, who outmatch them in skill and weaponry. That doesn’t mean that Ragnar has given up, though.

The battle occupies nearly the entire episode and serves as a reminder that war at this time was brutal. It wouldn’t have made sense to have the Vikings triumph in their first attempt. These types of wars were long and bloody. It’s hard to imagine that some sieges could last for years before a city would fall. It would have been completely unrealistic if the Vikings conquered the walls of Paris in one day.

Part of the problem could have been the lack of leadership. While everyone else charges forward, Ragnar lingers in the background. We don’t see him commanding any of his people or devising a strategy. He just stares at everything. Maybe this is what happens when you make a farmer a king. By contrast, Lagertha takes charge of her contingent. She paces before the line like a lioness. I’m not sure how she came to be in charge, but I like it.

Floki is happy to be back in the business of war. He’s also crazier than ever, running around screaming that the gods are with them. He realizes he may be mistaken once the Franks gain the advantage. This is a different Floki than we’ve seen before. In all the prior battles he’s been out in front with his ax. He cowers now within one of the towers and feels sorry for himself. Even now he is still obsessed with Athelstan. If this is Floki’s character going forward, I say it’s time to put him down. Even Helga is fed up. For the first time, she refuses to support and console him.

Rollo is reinvigorated with a sense of purpose. It looks like getting him out of Kattegat and onto a battlefield is the solution to all of his problems. I’m not complaining, but I don’t know why he decided to fight without a shirt. Even after things go south, Rollo wants to try again. During the battle, he has an odd connection to Princess Gisla. This must have something to do with the Seer’s prophesy.

Then there’s Ragnar. After sitting back for most of the battle, Ragnar finally springs into action to help Bjorn. I’m glad he found some motivation, but I seriously question his leadership skills. Maybe it would be better if Ragnar weren’t king. He doesn’t seem to enjoy or even want the job. Unfortunately, Bjorn and Ragnar suffer serious injuries. Bjorn takes two arrows in the back, while Ragnar has some internal injury that’s causing him to urinate and cough up blood. If I lived in those times, I’d prefer to have Bjorn’s wound because at least it’s obvious and treatable.

When Lagertha hears about Bjorn, she rushes to him and asks what happened. Ragnar responds that Bjorn was being a leader, something you don’t need a title for. This is a clear dig at Lagertha’s displeasure at losing her earldom. Ragnar has no right to scold her when all through the battle, he lingered in the background while she was on the frontline. After this past season, I’m over the idea of a Ragnar and Lagertha relationship. He’s been a complete jerk to her for a long time now. Even setting aside the cheating, all he’s done is be condescending and unsupportive of her. I think it’s time to move on. This isn’t going to be a love story between Lagertha and Ragnar—and at this point, I don’t want it to be.

That’s not to say I’m super eager to see a Lagertha/Kalf relationship. He goes to her tent after the battle and starts to sponge bathe her. Let’s be honest, not many women would be able to resist Kalf’s hotness and professions of desire. While I was completely against anything physical between them as recently as last week, now I’m thinking it may not be so bad. I didn’t like the idea that Lagertha would lose control and lose her dignity by taking up with the man who took her earldom. But, that fear dissipated when she told Kalf, “One day, I will kill you. If you accept that condition, then let us be together.” I have no doubt that she will keep that promise.

Back in Kattegat, we see that Porunn has abandoned her child because she still feels sorry for herself. This clears the way for Bjorn to move on with another woman. Gisla perhaps? I wondered how Aslaug felt about being left behind. Torvi, Helga, and Lagertha all headed to battle. Aslaug must be pregnant with Harbard’s baby, so maybe that’s a reason for her to stay.

It’s indisputable that this episode is cinematically stunning. The scenes of the Vikings approaching the walled city and the ships pulling out of the harbor were incredibly realistic. You can imagine what it must have felt like for the Franks to have the barbarians at the gates. I also really liked the long shot of the city surrounded by the river and boats.

It’s sad that Athelstan isn’t present for the battle, but at least he is in spirit. Even in death, he continues to torment Floki. I liked Ragnar’s speech about being patient in seeking his revenge. I hope he’s not too patient and we see Floki get what’s coming to him before the end of the season.