History‘s Vikings Mercy TV Show Review. Vikings: Season 4, Episode 3: Mercy was a reflective episode that felt a lot like filler, but hey, we got a bear fight for days! Two leaders gained spiritual guidance from a familiar face. We saw a little more of the political play in Frankia and Wessex, but, in Mercy, the most interesting stories were told in Kattegat.
Given how wonderfully expensive this season is, and especially with the longer season to share, I almost wish that Mercy was solely a Kattegat story, because there was so much to explore. Floki’s (Gustaf Skarsgård) torture for one thing, is in itself a living folktale that may be causing irreparable damage to the relationship between Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and Floki. Helga (Maude Hirst) was suffering Floki’s punishment too, trying to keep him sane and comforted, showing incredible endurance as his wife. They only have each other in the early, lonely moments of the first moments of Mercy. Ragnar was obviously being affected by his own cruelty towards his friend, taking out his bitterness on his wife, and not being able to rest peacefully.
The Kattegat household is frayed and Ragnar’s relationship with the new slave is budding. I was frustrated that there was not more interaction amongst the players in Kattegat. So many issues are bubbling underneath and remain unattended.
Meanwhile, Kalf (Ben Robson) is trying to play Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick). I truly fear the outcome, because despite his devious ways, I like Kalf in Lagertha’s world. He is a formidable opponent that forces Lagertha to hone her political savvy. There he was making love and promises to Lagertha attempting to fill her eyes with stars. Lagertha’s silence was answer enough. I understand that Lagertha does not need love or adoration so much as respect. If and when she learns that he has conspired to kill her only son, her only child, …well, we have seen Lagertha bathe in blood before.
Mercy was largely Alexander Ludwig‘s episode. Bjorn moved past survival to seek the danger of hunting a bear who has been stealing his food. His journey this episode was a foot chase and a bloody battle. We saw a Viking version of a bull fight, but, with a bear! Honestly, the whole episode could have been just about Bjorn and I would have been riveted. Ludwig‘s silent performance is resembling the quiet virility of Fimmel‘s performances that have carried the seasons thus far. My eyes were glued. There was even a moment where Ragnar’s heart stopped at the sound of his son’s feral shout that echoed through the woods and reached him. (It was a stunning dramatic moment, and I could almost see the torch being passed here.)
Rollo (Clive Standen) wants to learn the Frankish language. About time! Who could blame him really? His wife insults him. His new people mock him. It is a shame he had not thought to demand a tutor long before now, or at least the moment his translator left. Rollo has always seemed less naturally curious about languages and culture, so it was understandable to see him frustrated with the book learnin’. Still, it was also frustrating to see him oblivious to his full power and potential in that court regardless of his linguistic skills. Since he has committed to this Frankish life, he must learn, first, to open his mind to his own potential.
Everything happening in Wessex between Judith (Jennie Jacques) and Ecbert (Linus Roache) or Queen Kwenthrith (Amy Bailey) and Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford) is just disturbing. Still, I cannot talk about the core of the episode without mentioning that both King Ecbert and King Ragnar were visited by spirits, wearing the same familiar face – Athelstan’s face (George Blagden, we all miss you buddy!). Only Ragnar received words of wisdom from his dear friend. Through him the gods spoke to Ragnar of “mercy, mercy, mercy”. Was it one word three times? Or was it three words for three mandates? To whom must Ragnar show mercy? Did one of those mercies belong to Floki? It was unclear because, almost immediately, Ragnar released his friend, but only addressed Helga, saying that she, not Floki, has suffered enough. Floki’s visage was dark and indiscernible upon his release.
For King Ecbert, Athelstan appeared to him to ease his soul, assuring him that Athelstan was dead. Both Ecbert and Judith longed for Athelstan. Their sordid affair seemed more about mutual grief comforting each other rather than dishonoring the prince. Prince Aethelwulf, however, was (possibly unwittingly?) acting out his father’s plan, which was obvious when he sent the prince to Queen Kwenthrith’s rescue. The prince, poor little pawn that he is, has fallen under Kwenthrith’s freaky spell.
Meanwhile, King Ecbert is busy collecting sons of charmed warriors and priests. The whole Wessex storyline just gives me chills, and these segments are somewhat a drag on the episodes. The only reason that part of the world may be interesting, is for the eventuality when Ragnar returns to seek justice for his slaughtered settlement. Who’s ready for spring?!
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