Season 4B picks up right where the last episode left off, with Ragnar waltzing back into Kattegatt after 6 years. Mystery swirls around where Ragnar has spent his hiatus, but judging from the first 3 minutes of his return I think it is safe to rule out the following options:
- The Bloody Norseman Yoga and Mindfulness Ashram
- Dr. Spock’s Good Fathering Institute
- Hipster Sven’s Beard Grooming and Maintenance Spa
Seriously, his reappearance is marked by some serious anger-management issues, borderline child abuse and a tangle of facial brambles that, when held up to the light, reveals a treasure trove of contents, including, but not limited to: a candy corn from last Halloween, a locket containing Athelstan’s hair, 3 pounds of moose gristle and a lost set of keys from a 1977 Honda Civic.
Ragnar, once the golden king of the Norse world, has returned as the ultimate outsider. But he’s not the only one, and this week Ragnar starts to claw his way back to the top with the help of a few of his favorite [and most deadly] outsiders.
When good beards go bad
Yes, Ragnar is back, but the people of Kattegatt aren’t exactly strewing rose petals at his feet. His children are estranged, and Ragnar is feeling some guilt for abandoning them and his kingdom. He deals with his emotions in the traditional Norse way: by inciting his children to violence, darng them to kill him. I have to admit, at this point I’m ready to jump on in there and end him myself, but then Travis gives us this moment of a million emotions playing across Ragnar’s face while he waits for his sons to betray him:
It’s all there: sadness, hope, worry, resignation. Ugh Ragnar! I hate you! I love you! I’m so confused I’m gonna need a Bachelor in Paradise gif to express the depths of my emotions:
What Ashley said
So on the plus side, his kids didn’t kill him, but on the minus side, none of them will join him on his redemptive quest to England to avenge his slaughtered colony. Bjorn pretty much sums up the Kattegatt zeitgeist surrounding Ragnar when he laments to Torvi that “everything was always for him. Those days are gone.” And while Bjorn is planning his own
Club Med vacay raid, he still supports his dad, even when he goes to consult with the Seer, who is like “Are you sure about that?”
But Bjorn is like “No biggie. What’s a calamity or two?” Clearly Bjorn is not getting the message, so the Seer doubles down:
He goes on to say some things about the gods weeping, dogs and cats living together and so forth, but, still, Bjorn refuses to turn against Ragnar. Hey Bjorn:
Is it just me, or was Ragnar making some serious googly-eyes at Helga in this episode?
Uh-oh, I think Ragnar might be having one of his “bad idea” moments. I hope Floki doesn’t live to rue this touching moment:
Colder than a valkyrie’s tit
Not finding any purchase with his sons, Ragnar sets off to Hedeby to use his masculine wiles to charm Lagertha into joining him. Lagertha is facing her own struggle as an outsider in her home town and rightful kingdom of Kattegatt. We know from the trailer that trouble is brewing between Lagertha and Queen Aslaug, but Lagertha is not sure she is ready for that fight. With her doubts and her lady-love Astrid’s total Ragnar fangirling, it seems like Lagertha’s cooperation should be in the bag!
Wrong. Like Bjorn, Lags has had it with Ragnar’s brand of narcisstic, authoritarian, dreamy-blue-eyed charm. Instead of falling in behind his plans, she schools him on kingly duty, and his lack thereof, before lowering the hammer – ex-wife style:
BURNNNNNNN! Way to hit him in the soft parts! To his credit, Ragnar is very aware of his failings, which leads to a sweet scene of contrition and some kissy face.
I miss them so much!
Does this mean there is a possibility that Ragertha may have an encore? According to a recent interview, Katheryn Winnick crushed our hopes for a happy ending:
They have been through so much, they had made children together and to see him now after so many years, especially after the time jump and still have love for him but she realizes she is in a different place, but yet they will always be together if not in this world, maybe in Valhalla in the future.”
Sooooooo, I guess another round of this is out? Maybe just once for old times sake?
Ragnar leaves dispirited, unsure of his ability to achieve Valhalla. His pity party of one almost ends in suicide on his way out of Hedeby, but Odin is like “Dude! There is one person you haven’t grovelled to yet.” So he sends his ravens (most likely Huggin and Munnin) to thwart the attempt. Which brings us to . . .
Ivar the “bone”less
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Ivar has been creeping like a super creeper, watching his bros get it on with one of Aslaug’s slaves. Without going full super-nova feminist on the ‘passing the servant around’ trope, I’m going to leave it at this: for a show that is fueled by terrific portrayals of women, this feels gross – especially in the current political/cultural climate. I get it, it was the 9th century and this kind of shit happened, but still; gross.
And by “Thor” I mean me
Anyhoo, after Ivar nearly murders her as revenge for his impotence, the slave woman turns into the proverbial “hooker with a heart of gold” (gag), and convinces Ivar that his greatness is to be found in his heroic excursions, not in his ability to please the ladies. Filled with dreams of grandeur, Ivar is ripe for the raid-picking, but he pushes back when Ragnar tries to “not ask” him to go:
I will admit that I have not warmed up to the Aslaug sons because mullets and Aslaug, but I think the Ragnar/Ivar dynamic is shaping up to be pretty awesome! I’m totally looking forward to watching more of them together!
The second half of this season looks like it is going to be awesome as new power stuggles and alliances form in the Ragnar-shaped vacuum of the Vikings world. Join us next week, when we hope to answer the following questions:
Will Ragnar find a raiding crew? Will Aslaug finally get what’s coming to her? Will Bjorn find his fame? What the hell is Ecbert up to? Will the lost ark be discovered in Ragnar’s beard? Will Rollo finally show up, because I NEEEEEEEEED him?!
All Vikings images courtesy of the History Channel