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VIKINGS Recap: Revenge (Season 4, Episode 18)

VIKINGS Recap: Revenge (Season 4, Episode 18)

With a great army comes great Vikings spoilers. Are you prepared for the war ahead?

Ah, the best of times and worst of times were presented before us in “Revenge.” First up, is there a throuple in our midst? Newlyweds Ubbe, Margrethe, and puppy-love brother Hvitserk celebrated the throes of Viking love… together. Let’s not act like this is something new, though–remember the almost union of Ragnar, Lagertha, and Athelstan in season one?

Alas, even such a festive event could not keep the Lothbrok brothers from each others throats. Björn is throwing his older, experienced sibling card all over the place. Does he not realize that pride was one of Ragnar’s biggest faults throughout his time as a leader? He’s officially off the rails. Surprisingly, Ivar is acting most like the cunning leader Ragnar had built himself up to be during season 2. Seeing him ride into battle with his war chariot seemed much more heroic than Björn’s sorry excuse of a war huddle.

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It’s always a high point when Vikings reminds us of the IRL traditions of the past on screen too. Sacrifice isn’t for the faint of heart–but each time one is carried out, it’s been in a tasteful and traditional manner, albeit heavily theatrical too. This one had to be my favorite sacrifice scene so far. (Also, I had a sneaky feeling that eager young lad from last episode had a temporary role to play.) Oh, and a shiny comet made an fleeting appearance just before everything went down–hello, omen from the gods! (If anyone can give some scientific context for possible known comets that appear around 800 CE, leave a comment below!)

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Peak Lagertha–adorned with a crown of twigs in her tawny hair, golden paint smudged on her lips, and her owl familiar protecting her shoulder–showed Kattegat and it’s visitors who’s boss. She’s the very image of a poised, powerful ruler. (Yeah, I’m throwing shade at Aslaug like she’s still around.) It’s going to be a tough battle to call once Harold Finehair and Halfdan the Black get their coup in motion.

This grand sacrifice to aid the great army’s quest for revenge came with a interesting juxtaposition as well–the last gasps of life from the sacrificed man was cut between the gasps of pleasure from two characters sacrificing the trust of their queen. That’s right, the secret couple I loathe–Astrid and Björn–shared yet another agonizing moment. Nothing good can come from this… And sadly this appears to be the downfall of Lagertha’s greatest shieldmaiden and lover.

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But, oh the sweet taste of revenge–we get it full force in the second half of this episode. Cue the words of our departed King Ragnar: “How the little piggies will grunt, when they hear how the old boar suffered.” Aelle definitely gets his, but not before Floki sharpens his revenge feels by hammering Aelle’s hands to wood in a similar crucifixion manner. Maybe now Floki will start feeling more himself after taking part in this cold dish of Norse revenge.

Behold! The blood eagle made its glorious return as King Aelle met his fate at the hands of Björn and to Ivar’s keen enjoyment. Let’s dive a bit into the the blood eagle though. In season two we saw the first use of this fabled KO as Ragnar torn open Jarl Borg’s back and plunged his ax into his exposed lungs. The blood eagle isn’t exactly confirmed a IRL Norse execution, rather it’s been mentioned in Skaldic poetry. The Sagas of the Norse briefly refer to the very same King Aelle and his death by blood eagle at the hands of Ivar. Real or legend, we can all agree that the horror and impact of such a death would have made all enemies tremble before the Vikings. Their revenge tour has just begun.

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The first-contact battle of the Great Heathen Army was all hype and little filler. They cut to the resulting torture of King Aelle instead of showing the anticipated battle–but let’s be real here. They can’t show every battle full out on screen, and we’ve already had a handful in just the second half of season 4. War is an expensive endeavor for TV, and a well-crafted and convincing war scenes are even harder to pull off. (Case in point, Game of Thrones‘ “The Battle of the Bastards.”)

So this cut battle was okay IMO, so long as the show continues in its grand trajectory with the last two episodes of this season. Next time we prepare for the end with the episode 19 recap, “On The Eve.” Leave your Vikings prophecies below.

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