Vikings: Brother’s War (2×01)
Synopsis: The battle begins between Ragnar and King Horik’s forces against Jarl Borg. Borg is joined by Rollo, and this Viking clash pits brother against brother. There can only be one victor. Meanwhile, Princess Aslaug makes her way to Kattegat and brings with her a surprise that leaves Ragnar in a difficult predicament.
So, to say that this episode ripped me to pieces, would be pretty accurate. (Partly the reason why I have struggled to post this recap)
Let’s start from the beginning. Jarl Borg and King Horik have gone to war and Ragnar and Rollo have picked their sides. But when it finally came down to the bloody battle, Rollo could not kill Ragnar and ended up conceding to him. Ultimately the truce that Ragnar negotiates is weak, but he takes Rollo and the troops make their way back to Kattegat.
On one hand, I’m inclined to have sympathy for Rollo, because he’s misguided and the scene in which he talks to Ragnar after being freed is quite sad. Rollo has always wanted to be better than he is, but the reality of the situation is that Ragnar’s life isn’t that great to begin with, and Rollo has to realize this. But at the same time. Rollo also mortally injured Floki (who thankfully survived), and raped like two women last season, so… I’m torn.
But it seems like both Rollo and Ragnar can’t deny the family bond they still have, because Ragnar bribed the lawmaker to let Rollo go free despite his treachery. Rollo seems to be on a path of redemption in this season, thought with Siggy playing Lady MacBeth at his side, we’ll see how far that goes.
Now, let’s talk about Ragnar. Before we get to the obvious problems, there is his heartbreaking farewell to Gyda, which I transcripted below. It is undeniable that Ragnar has made some pretty foolish moves, but his speech to Gyda was painful to say the least. It left me in tears and I am still not over how heartbreaking it was.
“Gyda, I have come to say goodbye to you, properly. I’ve been thinking about you, about when you were small. You were so lively you could run as swiftly as the wind. You were like a quick-silver. But then, before I knew it, you stopped running here and there and everywhere, and you became still. At 12 years old you had the stillness and the calm of a fine woman. What children you would have produced! What joy that would have brought to all of us!
Dear child, Gyda, you are not gone because you are always in my heart. They say that a man must love his sons more, but a man can be jealous of his sons and his daughter can always be the light in his life.
I know very well that you are with the Gods. But I will wait here, a while, and if you wanna come and talk to me, then come and talk., and I will gently stroke your long and beautiful hair once again with my peasant hands.”
Ok, now, real talk.
Yeah, we’re talking about Aslaug. Don’t worry, I’m not just blaming Aslaug. This whole situation isn’t all her fault, and she isn’t wrong to want Ragnar to support this child. But my god, I was irritated with her all episode. Maybe it’s the fact that Ragnar is basically forcing Lagertha into a polygamist marriage, or maybe it’s the fact that Bjorn warned his father all of the finale about Aslaug. But she comes, and Ragnar is reduced to a frail image of the warrior he is around these two women.
The idea of Ragnar touting about his mistress ends up being just one more thing that Lagertha has to tolerate, and in the end it is too much for her. Ragnar’s own desire to keep his son by Aslaug close eclipses any consideration he could have had for Lagertha. Humiliated and disrespected by Ragnar, she packs her bags and leaves. In a poignant scene, she gives Bjorn the choice between staying with Ragnar or leaving with Lagertha, and initially Bjorn is swayed by the men watching to stay with Ragnar.
As Lagertha leaves, Ragnar finds out about her departure and chases after her. Stopping her as she leaves Kattegat. He tries to persuade her back, but is not only rebuffed but dealt another blow as Bjorn runs after his mother and changes his decision last minute to leave with her instead. Left on the road, Ragnar is forced to watch as Lagertha and Bjorn leave him.
Honestly, Travis Fimmel had some pretty heartbreaking expressions in this episode, and I think everyone did a great job. But man, was it satisfying to see Lagertha take her own life into her hands and not tolerate Ragnar’s bullshit. However, we are about to see just how hard it is for a single mother to survive on her own in the coming season. We also get a look at an older Bjorn in the preview played by Alexander Ludwig (The Hunger Games’ Cato) as well as George Blagden playing, the Christian Monk, Athelstan taking on a much more violent role this season.
Time will tell how the story unfolds for the vikings.