Vikings “What Might Have Been” Review (Season 4 Episode 6)

Vikings  Yol

After a long winter, the Vikings decide its time to return to Paris. This group includes Ragnar and his warriors, as well as Lagertha and her shieldmaidens. But things aren’t going to go smoothly now that Rollo has changed sides.

Before the departure, the struggle continues between Aslaug and Ragnar. He wants to start making men of his boys, but she continues to resist. She’s especially angry when he says he’s going to take their two older boys to Paris. This is actually an excellent decision by Ragnar, because Aslaug has kind of lost it. After the departure, she still has two sons to take care of and that includes breast-feeding the way too old Ivar. That kid is going to end up a total monster and it will be entirely her fault. It’s not too surprising that once Ragnar is gone again, Harbard reappears. He offers to put an end to Aslaug’s suffering. How exactly is he going to do that?

In England, King Ecbert decides to send Alfred to Rome on a pilgrimage. He makes the shocking decision, though, to send Aethelwulf with him. This is all kinds of awkward because it forces Aethelwulf to leave Queen Kwenthrith and it makes him the guardian of Athelstan’s bastard son. Little Alfred isn’t excited to be going on his trip, which I can’t say I blame him considering how much walking it involves. In part, this must be a ruse to keep Alfred out of harm’s way and to keep Aethelwulf from meddling as the King plans to conquer Mercia. It’s messed up that he only sends Alfred and not his brother. Michael Hirst described in the after show that the primary purpose of the trip is to get a papal blessing for Alfred so that he can one day be king. That means Aethelwulf has an uncertain future….

Ragnar is starting to seem like a ghost of his former self. Yidu’s “medicine” has turned him into a drug addict. She uses it to manipulate him, including by demanding that he take her with him to Paris. The shot of her towering over him as he is on the floor is a fantastic representation of their relationship. From the look on her face as she stands on the boat, I’m guessing she is going to try and escape once they get to Paris. If she somehow betrays Ragnar to Rollo, we’re going to have a problem. I don’t like her influence over Ragnar, so I wouldn’t be too sad if she did make a break for it.

Before they leave for Paris, Ragnar goes to the Seer and asks when he will die. “You will die on the day that the blind man sees you,” the Seer tells him. It feels like Ragnar has given up. After the vision of being shut out of Valhalla and the way in which he seems to be sleep walking through things, it seems like he wants to die. Even as he sits in the boat, he looks miserable.

I always love the scenes in the boat. It’s impossible to imagine what it must have been like to travel those distances so exposed, especially when the storms came. These are also incredibly beautiful shots cinematically. You can see how people would’ve been terrified to look out on the horizon and see a fleet of Vikings approaching.

The Vikings lose some ships on their way to Paris. They get a bit of luck when they finally land and find the soldiers parting instead of guarding the mouth of the river. We get an interesting moment between Lagertha and Ragnar. He actually wants to chastise her for coming on the trip and not keeping her baby safe. She shuts him down immediately by reminding him that she’s not his wife. While I can appreciate Lagertha standing up to his meddling, it is still sad that a rapprochement between the two seems impossible.

The most touching scene of the episode is Ragnar’s vision of what his life could have been. He sees baby Bjorn, Gida, Lagertha, and Athelstan standing on the shore beckoning to him to come home. It’s heartbreaking. This is what Ragnar could have had if there were other circumstances. Instead, he’s strapped with a kingdom he doesn’t want and a wife who is a complete hag. He ruined everything and he knows it.

Next week, it’s the big showdown between brothers. From the previews, it doesn’t look like Ragnar has the stomach for it. But he’s surprised us before. As low as he gets, you can never count Ragnar out.