Vikings “A Good Treason” Review (Season 4 Episode 1)

Vikings A Good Treason

Vikings returned this week for its fourth season and judging by this first episode, the season is going to be jam-packed with action and drama.

I love the opening sequence of Ragnar riding towards the entry to Valhalla. He looks happier than we’ve seen him in a long time as his fellow Vikings celebrate just on the other side of the doors. But before he can reach them, the doors shut. There are flashes of all the unresolved issues in his life, including his relationship with Aslaug, the death of Athelstan at Floki’s hand, and Rollo’s betrayal. Ragnar has earned his peace, and the time will come when his character departs the show. But we’re not ready quite yet.

Aslaug goes to the Seer to find out if a woman will accede to the throne of Kattegat. A woman will one day rule in Kattegat, but the Seer refuses to tell her who it is. Aslaug is becoming more ambitious, which may be fueled by her unhappiness with Ragnar. Whatever the reason, I never want to see Aslaug ruling Kattegat. If anyone has earned that right, it’s Lagertha.

That’s not to say that Aslaug isn’t correct in being fed up with the Viking men. Bjorn is upset to arrive home and learn that Porunn is gone, but his reaction upon seeing his daughter is disappointing. Ragnar is a family man before all other things, and would be undoubtedly disappointed to see his son turn away from the little girl.

Bjorn is trying to step out of his father’s shadow by taking more of a leadership role. With Ragnar still recovering, Bjorn decides it’s time for Floki’s reckoning. He correctly points out that the only reason the Vikings were able to plunder Paris is because Athelstan told them about the city. This makes Athelstan’s murder seem even worse. Floki is arrested and chained to a pole in the center of the village, where children pelt him with mud. Floki deserves to be punished, so it’s hard to feel sorry for him. Helga is a different story. Watching her chase the tormenting children is sad and symbolic: as hard as she tries, she can’t protect Floki.

Lagertha and Kalf return to Hedeby, where Kalf announces that he wants to rule alongside Lagertha as equals. This is pretty amazing considering his previous betrayal of her. It’s also far more recognition of her worth than she ever received from Ragnar. This makes the idea of a union between Kalf and Lagertha infinitely more palatable – they will be equals.

Meanwhile, Aslaug purchases a new slave, Yidu. The woman stands out from the crowd as she is Asian. In that way, she’s almost as much of a novelty as Athelstan was. Aslaug has an interesting smile on her face when she makes her choice. It’s almost like she thinks she’ll be able to entice Ragnar with the girl. What the ultimate end is, however, remains unclear. Then again, maybe Aslaug has some other plan, she didn’t exactly seem to expect that Ragnar would ever awaken.

When Floki hears that Ragnar is awake, he selfishly begs Helga to help him escape. The way Floki treats Helga is infuriating. All he ever does is take from her. It’s especially tragic considering how much she has to go through to support him and take care of their daughter.

The relationship between Ragnar and Aslaug has definitely deteriorated, but that’s the least of the King’s problems. Ragnar is furious that Bjorn had Floki arrested. He’s also angry that Rollo was left behind in Paris. As to Floki, it’s probably better for Ragnar that he has to deal with the situation instead of ruminating all the time about it. As for Rollo, Ragnar is correct – it was insane to leave Rollo behind. As we’ve seen many times, Rollo is far too susceptible to the influences of others and aspirations of grandeur.

Rollo is aiming high. He marries Princess Gisla in what can only be described as one of the worst weddings of all time. I love how Clive Standen played Rollo in this scene. His physicality expressed what a brute Rollo is, while his face expressed Rollo’s conflicting feelings about marrying a woman who wants nothing to do with him. Even better, though, is the wedding night. The Rollo of season 1 would have just raped Gisla, and it looks like the thought briefly crosses his mind. But he leaves her alone. Gisla is completely shocked and angry about it, which is strangely funny.

Meanwhile, it looks like things may not work out for Lagertha when a group of her opponents votes to banish her. But Kalf is having none of that. He slaughters those men and leaves the ringleader for Lagertha’s punishment. I loved the smiles that she and Kalf exchange. She’s such a badass. I had to laugh as she kicks a body out of the way before going over and castrating the guy. Sometimes, though, I worry that perhaps she goes too far and may have to face her own reckoning one-day.

Rollo learns that the Viking men left behind with him are unhappy about his marriage to the princess. The men don’t want to fight for the Franks and don’t want to go against Ragnar. Rollo rides out to meet with the men, but he’s not alone. He brings the Frankish army with him and slaughters all of the Viking men, women and children. At the end of the day, there is no redemption for Rollo. He has done so many bad things and just when you think he’s changed, he reveals that he hasn’t. Rollo needs to die, and I hope it’s at the hands of his brother.

Ragnar’s other children feature more prominently this season, which could be
forecasting things to come. Bjorn is trying to find his way. He tells his father that he wants to go spend time in the wilderness. Ragnar warns that he is making another foolish decision, but it feels more like Ragnar approves and is just goading Bjorn into striking out on his own.

As always, the production value on Vikings is stunning. The blues and browns of the wintery Kattegat make the village feel bleak and dingy. Even in France, there is mud everywhere. It makes you really appreciate not having to live in the Dark Ages.