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As any of you who follow my recaps know, I have a long and illustrious history of being completely wrong about the fate of our beloved Vikings characters. Examples of my wrongness include, but are not limited to, the following:
Figuring that this week’s episode would be the point where my fortunes turned, I made some sweeping predictions about how everything would shake out. Let’s see how I did:
Last week Ragnar turned himself in to Ecbert, then manipulated him into turning him over to King Aelle for execution. It wasn’t looking so good for Ragnar, but we’ve been here before, right? He’s cheated death by King Horrick, death by Lagertha almost cutting his balls off, death by fever, death by Rollo (twice) and so on. There’s no way he’ll die now – he still needs to attain a hero’s redemption!
Not only did Ragnar die, but he died after a series of increasingly gruesome tortures. I would share with you what I consider to be the most barf-able moment, but I can’t control my gag reflex long enough to gif King Aelle cutting a cross into Ragnar’s forehead.
Ugh, and the snakes! I thought this was some weird Indiana Jones homage (which would make total sense. #moron), but, as you can see from the old-timey pic, this was actually how he met his end.
Pro-Tip: when planning a dramatic death of a major, beloved character show runners should always check the Master Death Calendar to ensure the date doesn’t conflict with 1 or 2 (or 10) other high-visibility deaths. This week had me so “Oh God, not George Michael! Ugh, and Carrie Fisher! Debbie Reynolds too – WTF?!,” that even when I was sure Ragnar was going to die I didn’t think it could possible affect me.
Having to suffer through the magnificent Ragnar’s demoralizing torture, Ragnar’s lifetime highlights montage, and a defiant speech in which Ragnar painted a joyous picture of his life in Valhalla robbed me of all my defenses. The moment Ragnar’s eyes went glassy I started to bawl like a giant, bald, 25o lb wrestler.
Like the cross carved into Ragnar’s head, it was UGLY.
Having wanted to off Ragnar’s mopey ass myself several times this season, I completely understand that it was his time to go, and to make way for a new generation of butchering Norseman. But the Vikings world is creation of Ragnar’s passion, curiosity and thirst for vengeance, and witnessing his life end when he has fallen so short of his dreams was a killer.
This was kind of a random takeaway for me in reflecting on the season. I held onto the hope that, regardless of what happened in their separate lives, Ragnar and Lagertha were spiritually bound to one another. But this season put an end to that because it highlighted their fundamentally different life goals. Ragnar’s focus was always on the future – the next raid, the next revenge, the next glory, the next life. Lagertha is bound to the now – she doesn’t just want to just amass power, she actually wants to rule. Ragnar lit up most when he was locked in deep philosophical conversations about the nature of god and the afterlife with Athelstan or Ecbert, while Lagertha shines when she is fulfilling her role as the moral center of the show and raining down justice. They were never fated to be the OTP, and it seems fitting that this ship died for me along with Ragnar.
*Cue cheesy gif of them riding off into the sunset*
Okay, so I got it all wrong on this episode, but I’m going to make a few predictions about post-Ragnar Vikings and this time I guarantee that they will totally be right on:
How do you move forward when the heart of a show has been torn out? Sure he has his sons to carry on his legacy, but it feels a little like that moment when Melissa Gilbert was no longer cute and Little House on the Prairie shipped in all of those fake kids – it was just never the same.
The genius of Ragnar was how his bloody vengeance was tempered by his giddy enthusiasm in discovering the world, and vice versa. Who can step into the void to become a compelling point-of-view character?
All bets are on Ivar to step into his dad’s shoes. He’s a complicated, wounded asshole with a temper, but there was a real magnetism in his interactions with Ragnar. I am also heavily invested in shipping Ivar and a future strapping Alfred when he returns to Wessex.
Like fathers, like sons
I hope to see Lagertha defending her throne like a badass from all comers, like that creepy-ass burned-out eye guy (who the eff was that?). And the adventures of Bjorn and Rollo might be fantastic, but I can’t tell BECAUSE ROLLO HAS ONLY BEEN ON THE SHOW FOR ABOUT 4 MINUTES SO FAR THIS SEASON. Not that I’m counting or anything.
In conclusion, rest in peace Ragnar. We will miss your crazy-eyes, your passion, your spectacularly poor judgement, and, most of all, your unparalleled gif-ability. Wherever you are, be it Valhalla, heaven or Disneyland, we can only hope that you are doing this right now:
How hard did you cry when Ragnar kicked it? What tortures will Ragnar’s sons devise for King Aelle? Is Judith basically double-married to Aethelwulf and Ecbert? How much did you love it when the Seer was like “maybe I’m wrong about stuff”? Can Vikings can survive without Ragnar?
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