This week on Vikings, the brutal death of Jarl Borg is but a distant memory. The three leaders of the planned attack on King Ecbert, Ragnar, Lagertha and King Horik are preparing for their journey across the sea. Meanwhile Princess Aslaug goes into labor. Speaking of brutal, one can only imagine what childbirth was like for women in the Viking era.
The History Channel’s Vikings spares no agonizing scream as Princess Aslaug nearly dies in childbirth. She falls to the ground unconscious her screams ceasing and seems to be quietly slipping away. It is Rollo’s philandering wife Siggy who leans in and gently coaxes Princess Aslaug back from the brink, telling her that she must choose between living and dying. Princess Aslaug comes to, and bears a son. The joy of birth soon becomes grief, as Princess Aslaug realizes her prophecy has come true, she bore Rangar a “monster.”
In true Viking fashion, the son’s monstrousness is not revealed until later. Princess Aslaug is a true doting mother. In spite of her son’s condition, she nurses him, cradles him in her arms and looks as blissful as any new mother could be. She gives him a name, Ivar (the Boneless). Ragnar however is distraught and tells his wife that nothing can be done to save his son; that she knows what must be done.
While the princess sleeps, Ragnar lifts the child from his cradle and takes him to the river bank. There he looks listfully at his child and raises a blade to end his life, to put him out of his mysterious misery. After last week’s blood eagle, one almost wondered if Vikings could shock us even more with the sacrifice of a newborn baby. However, Ragnar could not bring himself to take the life of his own flesh and blood, leaving the baby by the riverside for Princess Aslaug to find.
Later, Siggy confronts the Princess, wanting to know what is wrong with the child. Princess Aslaug reveals the child to Siggy who is aghast. Ivar’s leg is severely deformed and Siggy tells the Princess that the baby will never walk and he needs to be put down to avoid a life of suffering. Princess Aslaug thanks her for her advice but refuses.
Lagertha has troubles of her own this week, returning home to Scandinavia to assemble her army, she is met with conflict in the form of the man who decapitated the husband for her. He is under the impression that for his service to Lagertha she should marry him, making him Earl. When she scoffs at him, he tries to rape her saying he will kill her if she denies him the pleasure of having her. Lagertha is unflinching, even with a blade against her throat. She laughs at him, and scorns him telling him he could only kill her husband because she had incapacitated him. A risk to be sure, but her attempted rapist retreats with his tail between his legs.
Bjorn continues to doggedly pursue Porunn and declares his love for her to his mother. He also trains extensively with his uncle Rollo preparing for battle in Wessex. He reveals his fear of dying in battle and Rollo assures him that he will be there to make sure that doesn’t happen.
King Horik is still livid with Ragnar for executing Jarl Borg without the King’s permission. He confides in Lagertha that Ragnar needs to learn that one leader cannot be more equal than another, a statement that Lagertha agrees with. King Horik is deep in pursuit to destroy Ragnar throughout this episode. He woos Floki to come build ships for him. And Floki with his dissatisfaction with Ragnar agrees to sail with King Horik. Floki for his part confides in his pregnant bride Helga that he is crazy, which is evident in his choice of the insecure King Horik over the confident and infinitely more likeable Ragnar.
When the Viking fleet arrives on the coast of Wessex, King Ecbert is prepared. He confides in the conflicted monk Athelstan, that he wishes to reason with Ragnar but is prepared to destroy him if necessary. Athelstan contends that Ragnar is a rational man and is open to reason. Though Athelstan is correct, King Horik has other plans. Ecbert sends and envoy led by his son to invite Ragnar to come speak with King Ecbert. Ragnar agrees, conceding that he, King Horik, and Lagertha will go together to negotiate.
Unbeknownst to Ragnar (and presumably Lagertha), King Horik set up an ambush led by his less than sane son to attack the envoy as they tried to return to King Ecbert’s villa. The only life spared in the ambush was Aethelwulf (King Ecbert’s son). One can only presume this was so he could relay the message that the Northmen were not there to negotiate, but for war. We will see what ensues next week. There are only two episodes left this season and it is all up in the air. Who will survive the battle? Will King Horik achieve his goal and destroy Ragnar or will Ragnar once again triumph in the face of insurmountable odds? Tune in next week to the History Channel, Thursday, April 24th to find out what happens next week!