Hail Ragnar! Season four of Vikings has begun and this season, we’re recapping it. So please note this recap contains heavy spoilers to Vikings past and present! We’ve been officially warned. Join us after you’re all caught up. Don’t worry, we’ll save you a seat in Valhalla!
Alright, let’s hit episode one like an axe to Athelstan! (Too soon?)
Last season, Vikings left our main characters off in some sticky situations—pretty much the only ones having a good time at the end there were the Norse Gods. After a bit of a time hop since season three, Queen Aslaug was once again seeking out the lurking local Oracle, asking about the burning question on everyone’s mind: succession. Woman or man, who will take over Kattegat if King Ragnar dies (especially if it’s sooner rather than later)? The Seer provided yet another murky prophecy on the matter, along with this warning: “The Gods are here. They’re watching.” I’m definitely hoping this has significant meaning for the season ahead.
Meanwhile, oh my Odin, Ragnar finally made it to the golden gates of Valhalla! Except not. They slowly slammed the door on him, excluding Ragnar from all the riches and glory awaiting within. Better luck next time, my dude. It feels important to keep that rapid-sequence vision Ragnar experiences in mind though—some of those scenes held within it have yet to occur.
Back over in Queen Aslaug’s neck of the woods, she’s taking Ragnar’s near-death situation fairly well, lounging around and coddling her horde of growing sons, like Little Ivar the Boneless and Ubbe. (But don’t forget that Ragnar also has a young son, Magnus, with Princess Kwenthrith in Mercia.) In the midst of so much rivalry, though, it was nice to see Bjorn getting along with his step-brothers so well.
All and all, things seem alright in Kattegat sans Ragnar. But taking charge of the village in his father’s name, Bjorn immediately decided to test his leadership by arresting Floki for killing Ragnar’s loyal friend, the born-again Christian, Athelstan. Does this make Floki or Bjorn the traitor? Or is it possibly both? Floki reminded Bjorn of their past distrust of Althelstan, but it looks like Bjorn has chosen to stay on his father’s good side on this matter.
But it didn’t last long, because shortly thereafter, Ragnar rose from his near-Valhalla coma, and—joy!—it’s up to him to execute punishment. Ragnar, it turns out, wasn’t in favor of Bjorn’s forceful and public action against Floki, but something had to be done. After some public humiliation and a depressing visit from his adorable daughter Angrboða and wife Helga, Ragnar and Floki exchange words, but nothing can redeem Floki at this point. Retribution is a major theme in Norse mythology, so expect this season to be filled with many versions of punishment.
Moving along, Bjorn lost his love, Thorunn, but gained a daughter in whom he had no interest. (Oh well, more kids for Aslaug to coddle, I guess.) A map from Paris arouses his exploration interest—probably because he loves anything he can chalk up to being a part of his destiny. He later got the bright idea to test himself by trying to survive one winter in the brutal wilderness away from civilization. No surprise, Ragnar thought it to be just another foolish decision, but after saying good-bye to Bjorn, we got a glimpse of Ragnar’s more paternal, emotional side. Looks like he’d definitely defend Bjorn over Aslaug at this point.
And what of Lagertha and Kalf? Are they a match made in Valhalla? After their newly formed relationship from the Paris raids, these two have come to respect one another, at least in the physical sense. They agreed, before the village, to not marry but instead rule Hedeby together as equals. Good old handlebars Einar isn’t having any of that, though, but this time his treachery didn’t get too far because Kalf already planned on publicly killing all of Lagertha’s rivals.
It’s so satisfying to see her exacting revenge like a badass.
And then there was the saga of Rollo the barbarian noble. After an awkward wedding to the highly disgusted and stubborn Princess Gisla,, Rollo had barely any cultural context and little assistance inside the French gilded court of Emperor Charles the Third. As the episode title suggests, Rollo found himself a traitor in the worse possible way: by his betrayal against his own Viking brethren in France strengthening his loyalty to the Emperor. But once news of this treason reaches Ragnar, Viking vengeance will surely be swift—remember news travels slowly, so it might take a few episodes to get to that point.
But lest you feel as though you have enough characters to care about, there’s also a new supporting cast member introduced in this episode: Yidu (Dianne Doan), a mysterious Asian slave Aslaug bought from French traders. Based on all the preview videos and images, Yidu does find her way to Ragnar’s side later on, which will certainly put Aslaug on the defense. But more on Yidu later!
So what did you think of season 4’s first episode? What prophecies can you provide for certain characters? Are you excited for the epic Bjorn versus the bear scene in episodes to come?
Let us know below and come back for the recap to episode two, “Kill the Queen,” next Thursday!
Image Credit: Jonathan Hession/The History Channel