‘Vikings’ Season 5 Episodes 5 & 6: “The Prisoner” and “The Message”

Perhaps to be expected, the final two episodes of “Vikings” of the year, “The Prisoner” and “The Message,” were of the transitional variety. Over the course of the two episodes, there was a lot of traveling from Point A to Point B- or, in the case of Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård), from Point A to B and back again- as well as a lot of shifting alliances, whether by choice or by circumstance. In addition, a lot of our antiheroes saw themselves quite literally on the chopping block, forced to do or die.

In “The Prisoner,” the titular person was none other than relative newcomer to the series, Bishop Heahmund (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who had the misfortune- or fortune, depending on how one looks at it- to catch the eye of everyone’s favorite loose cannon, Ivar (Alex Høgh), who opted to capture rather than kill the Bishop, after observing him in battle.

As to be expected, the seeming abandonment of York by Vikings forces was a mere ruse, as they were hiding out underground, waiting for the right moment to attack the sitting ducks that were the invading Saxons. Many are killed, forcing the King, Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford) to retreat once again, this time without his most valued warrior, Heahmund.

Ultimately, Ivar gives Heahmund a choice- fight alongside them, or die. Mind you, he doesn’t expect Heahmund to kill his own, but rather to join in the impending battle against the forces of Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), who Ivar knows has joined up with Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) to fight him, as well as King Harald (Peter Franzén), who is plotting his own attack against her soon. Heahmund agrees, not that he has much of a choice.

Meanwhile, in Africa, Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) and Halfdan (Jasper Pääkkönen) travel across the desert to meet with Emir Ziyadat Allah (Kal Naga), accompanied by Euphemius (Albano Jerónimo) and Kassia (Karima McAdams). You’ll recall that Euphemius was hesitant to go, but ultimately was browbeaten into making the journey by Kassia, with the allowance that his new Viking acquaintances be allowed to join them as both bodyguards and potential traders to the Emir.

Shortly after their arrival, Euphemius disappears and we see that he had good reason to hesitate, as the Emir has him killed for defecting to support the Emperor. Even worse, the Emir has him cooked and served to all concerned, including our hapless Vikings, who realize they may be next, though the Emir claims to be open to trading with them, and even provides them with prostitutes for the night- though Halfdan’s turns out to be a man in drag! (He doesn’t seem THAT broken up about it, it should be mentioned.)

Turns out they had good reason to be wary, as the two, along with Sinric (Frankie McCafferty), are taken captive and threatened with execution. Not sure why the Emir felt compelled to get them laid first, but okay. Hey, if they had been killed, at least they could say they went out with a sumptuous feast and a hot date, I guess. Granted, the feast was partially made up of their companion and one of the “girls” was a guy- or perhaps a hermaphrodite, they weren’t too specific about it- but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

Finally, Floki returned to Kattegat, where he regales everyone with tales of the new land he found, and attempts to recruit others to join him in settling the land, much to Lagertha’s consternation, who forbids him from taking her people, just when she might need some of them the most, including, notably, Kjetill Flatnose (Adam Copeland, aka the wrestler formerly known as “The Edge”).

In “The Message,” we see Bjorn, Halfdan and Sinric’s fate, as they get lucky when a sandstorm arrives and they are able to take advantage of it and escape, killing or wounding several guards and getting away via camels. They head back to Kattegat, in a case of good timing, as Floki has successfully managed to recruit quite a bit of people to his cause, despite Lagertha’s warnings.

Ultimately, she allows Floki’s recruits to leave, reasoning that it is better to let those who are not fully committed to her cause to go than for them to stay and not be in it to win it. This, as ever, does not go over too well with Margrethe (Ida Nielsen), which does not go unnoticed by Lagertha, who contrary to what we might have thought, is well aware of Margrethe’s machinations against her behind her back. Lagertha warns Margrethe that such insubordination will not be tolerated anymore- one more strike and she’s out, as it were.

Given that Ubbe seemed wary of her plotting against Lagertha, it’s entirely possible that he was the one who ratted her out, which may come back to haunt him if she finds out. However, it’s just as likely that it was Torvi (Georgia Hirst), who seems to have remained loyal to the Queen thus far. Either way, there’s some cause for concern on Lagertha’s end, what with so many people turning against her.

Also remaining true, despite her recent moves seemingly to the contrary, is the newly-minted Queen Astrid (Josefin Asplund), who, in her frantic plot to let Lagertha know that King Harald will be attacking her soon, with the aid of Ivar and Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø) and all of their combined forces, picks the wrong person to confide in, in Hakon (Laurence O’Fuarain). Finding him about to ship out, she asks him to deliver a message to Lagertha, offering him gold and jewels and the like, and agreeing to bring more for his family, who are sailing with him.

He accepts, but only on one condition- that she have sex with him. Unfortunately, he doesn’t just mean him, but his entire family as well, who savagely hold her down and rape her. Be that as it may, Hakon is true to his word and delivers said message, while leaving out the whole rape thing, knowing good and well that Astrid was Lagertha’s former lover. Naturally, Lagertha rewards him for this, adding to his benefits. Ugh. Men. (And I say that as one, mind you.)

Contrary to my concerns otherwise, Floki and his newly-recruited troop of settlers do manage to find their way back to the “Land of the Gods” he raved about that I suspect is Iceland, but when they arrive, all concerned are a bit dubious about what they see. Floki admits that it will not be easy, and they will likely rue the day they followed him at times, but that the reward will be great for those who hang in there. Hopefully, they will change their tune when they see the side of the area that made a believer out of Floki.

I think that about covers it, aside from King Aethelwulf’s decision to withdraw from fighting with the Vikings altogether for the time being, realizing that they have been outfoxed at every turn and will need to rethink their strategy moving forward. Ironically, this decision comes just as Ivar and his brothers have all abandoned the area to join forces with King Harald to battle Lagertha, leaving York somewhat vulnerable in their absence. Of course, Aethelwulf doesn’t know that, mind you.

Also, Ivar makes a deal with Harald that even he has no intentions to honor, and likely neither does Harald, for that matter, in order to defeat Lagertha. The enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that, I guess. I don’t foresee any of this ending well for all concerned, save maybe Lagertha, who has a habit of worming out of seemingly impossible situations at the last minute, but we’ll see. She might end up having to abandon ship herself, perhaps joining Floki in his new territory. We shall see.

That about does it for this part of the season of “Vikings” for the year. New episodes, of course, arrive with the new year, so keep an eye out for them. Thanks for reading, and be sure and let me know what you thought of the episodes down below in the comment section, as well as any predictions you might have for the future!