History‘s Vikings Kill the Queen TV Show Review. Vikings: Season 4, Episode 2: Kill the Queen was a loaded episode with heavy symbolism in deeds and dialogue. It was about freedom, what it costs, and what people will trade for independence. Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) trudged through snow and ice to seek a meditative solitude, while Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) struggled with loss of loyalty.
Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) escaped…for a moment. Ragnar did not seem phased by the news because he knew that Helga (Maude Hirst, daughter of series creator & scribe, Michael Hirst) would help her husband eventually. What was most interesting about the exchange between Helga and her king was the shock on Helga’s face when Ragnar ackowledged her attempt to free Floki and instead of punishing her too, he gave her food. Clearly, Ragnar respected her loyalty, but it was also clear that he felt Floki did not deserve her loyalty. In his mind, Floki “only loves himself.” Floki is quite possibly bipolar, he is smart, and he is scary. Yet, they both love him so much it hurts.
Ragnar’s son, Ubbe, played by the impressive Luke Shanahan, led the hunt for Floki. It fell upon Ubbe to represent the royal family in the search given Ragnar’s injury and Bjorn’s absence, and he performed admirably. Ubbe showed leadership innate to his bloodline and tracking skills like a wolf as he and his little brother led a group of warriors over rocky hills and rivers to hunt Ragnar’s childhood friend. He spotted Floki deep in running waters and that was the end of Floki’s flight.
Floki’s punishment is horribly spectacular. He is made to endure a torture “borrowed from the gods,” which resembles the punishment of Loki who was bound in a cave with serpent’s venom dripping on his head. Here, Floki was made to endure the same position only with water torture. Meanwhile, Ragnar, who has formed an attachment to Helga in Floki’s absence, learned that Floki’s daughter died, likely from exposure to what looks like the coldest winter ever. As he helped Helga bury her daughter, it came to mind that Ragnar also lost his daughter when he was not around. Now, Ragnar has caused Floki the same pain. It looks like Ragnar may show mercy after this. (Oh wait, the next episode is called Mercy!)
Bjorn sought his autonomy through isolation. In the literal cold opening of this episode, Bjorn trekked far off on his own over frozen land in a bitter blizzard to a cabin in the woods, all to test his own resolve. One scene where he scrambled with frozen hands to recover his catch from ice-fishing then ate by a lonely fire while wolves howled in the distance was a beautiful scene. It made me feel for Bjorn a little, but also made me proud. His father has caused him to doubt his own capabilities. History tells us that Bjorn’s story of course is just beginning, and it began here with self-exile in a harsh winter – the same thing we saw Ragnar do in Season 1 before he rose to become Earl.
Now, insert the comedy stylings of Rollo in Frankia. In an attempt to shed his old self and embrace his new position in life as a duke, Rollo cut his hair and upgraded his threads for silly silks that fit him poorly. The whole scene underscored his desire for wealth given to him, not conquered as in the way of the viking. All he needed to do was marry a spoiled brat, Princess Gisla (Morgane Polanski), with a powerful father and he would be surrounded by riches. On top of that, Rollo suggested defenses that would thwart his brother’s raids in the spring, further solidifying his break from Viking loyalties as if the cold slaughter he ordered in A Good Treason was simply a stepping stone. I really love to hate Rollo. I understand his need for carving his own destiny, but it still hurts to watch him do it.
Actually, both brothers are committing irredeemable acts in some ways. Rollo literally cutting his ties to his people for the approval of the French elite. Ragnar hit his queen Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) angry because he knows about her infidelity. I am not a huge supporter of Aslaug, but it is hard to love Ragnar after that scene, which was the height of hypocrisy given the origin of their relationship. Plus, he would never have raised a hand to Lagertha, she would cut it off. Both Ragnar and Rollo are adrift.
The political intrigue in Frankia’s court heated up. Count Odo (Owen Roe) talks too much to his paramour Therese (Karen Hassan). It was revealed that Therese is a spy. She endures Odo’s sadism only to mine for information that could be used to discredit Odo at the behest of her husband Roland (Huw Parmenter). Honestly, how does Odo think Therese could hide bloody welts from her own husband? Hubris makes so many so dumb.
The episode was called Kill the Queen for a reason, but so many other interesting things happened in the episode that Queen Kwenthrith’s (Amy Bailey) issues seemed small. King Ecbert (Linus Roache) sent his son Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford) to intervene in Mercia’s civil war. Continuing with the theme of freedom, two women in Wessex and Mercia sought their own. Rebels had Kwenthrith and her son captive in a rather sad looking tower from which Athelwulf needed to free her before the guards had a chance to “kill the queen!!!” The queen did not seem to need too much help though, because Crazy Kwenthrith can fight. She was a mad dog in a girlfight against her guards. She’s scrappy and a ferocious mother. I like her.
Meanwhile, Judith (Jennie Jacques) sought her freedom through education. Ecbert obviously wants to woo her back into his bed by giving Judith whatever she wants, including access to illumination, an art of religious study forbidden to women. Judith used his desire to gain access to education and possibly to get closer to her own spiritual connection with Athelstan. It seems Judith, Therese, Aslaug and, even Kwenthrith (who’s son is that by the way?), harbor lies and personal desires in the pursuit of their own power. In the end, Kill the Queen left nearly every man on an island and every woman a mystery. Season 4 of Vikings is off to a good start. What did you think?
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