Some monumental plot development this week on the History Channel’s Vikings. Ragnar’s home is attacked by Earl Haraldson. What begins as a quiet morning, with Athelstan gutting fish and the people of the village doing their daily chores, turns into a massacre. Ragnar, who left to hide in the woods, missed the initial attack, leaving his family to fend in their homes. I liked that no one really tried to be a hero here. Lagertha protected her family and waited for Ragnar’s return. Ragnar, after hearing the screams, stealthily made his way back to his home. Despite the bloodshed occurring around him, his main goal was to save his family, nothing else. Before making it through the door one of the lackey’s of the earl managed to get an arrow through his shoulder and another one managed to cut his arm and back. Riddled in wounds, he managed to make it into his home and sneak his family away before confronting the earl.

You have to be impressed with Ragnar’s quick thinking, either that or he’s had this contingency plan in his mind for a while. On his knees, he begs the earl for a last word with his god, only using that moment as a distraction before jumping up and using his last amount of energy to jumping up and stealing a horse. He manages escape, but only barely, facing a steep rock face looking down at the water at the end of the chase. Meanwhile, Lagertha, Athelstan, and the children have made it safely away by hiding in a boat. They look up now to see Ragnar standing above them at the bluff and lose consciousness as he falls into the water.

Grabbing him out of the water, Athelstan and Lagertha row the boat onto a different shore. The location of Floki’s home. Bjorn remembers the way that his father taught him and manages to run in just in time to call him down for help. Thank god Floki actually has some first aid knowledge with cauterizing and salves. We meet his wife for the first time, or I assume his wife? Helga, who manages to be a help to Floki and a fellow Ragnar supporter (who I actually have no idea what his name is, so for post purposes we’ll call him Beardy). Without a home, without any food, the family is forced to stay at Floki’s, though he does not seem burdened by it. Beardy comes and tells them that he found them because Rollo had told him if there was anywhere Ragnar would hide it would be there. He comes in and basically acts as a messenger of sorts. He also has an eye for Helga, and he and she and Floki do what Lagertha, Ragnar, and Athelstan didn’t.

While healing Ragnar, the family stays and dines at Floki’s where they tell stories of their gods to Athelstan who listens in awe. There’s a very interesting dynamic going on with the religions. When they are trying to save Ragnar the family prays to the goddess while Athelstan prays to Mary. Comments about their gods and the Christian god are made often, and as Ragnar points out, the religions seem to have some similarities. What once seemed so different seems similar now. This experience also furthers the fact that Athelstan is not seen so much as a slave, but his role has not been defined yet. It is clear Ragnar enjoys his presence and the others do as well, so we’ll see how this ends up playing out.

Back in the main town area, the Earl’s daughter Thyri gets a surprise. Instead of getting to marry the young and powerful warrior Rollo, she marries a Swede Earl who is over twice her age and is basically told this by her father when the man arrives and gives her the ring. Well there’s one thing about the show that’s definitely not forward minded. Threatened by Ragnar, the earl believes that this relationship will help bring more gold into his rule. This seems to be the last straw for Siggy, who is repelled by the idea that her last child and only daughter is now condemned to marry a man she is disgusted by.

Meanwhile, Rollo arrives at the party. Unable to visit Floki because of the men that are tailing him searching for signs of Ragnar, he resolves to attend the wedding. Trying to lie to the earl and claim that Ragnar is dead, he says that he wishes to join the earl. Haraldson agrees, but later that day Rollo is met in secret by Siggy who warns that he must escape because it is all a trick. Unable to escape in time, Rollo is captured by the earl’s men and locked up. It’s interesting to see Siggy’s attentions shift to Rollo. We can’t be sure if they are actually there or if she’s part of some elaborate scheme to getting Ragnar into custody. But her expression of fear as she watches the earl torture Rollo seems real enough.

Beardy soon hears from Siggy as well, and brings the knowledge back to Ragnar. Ragnar’s face pales when he hears that his brother has been captured and tortured and it’s clear that the earl is baiting him. Instead he hatches a plan, he tells Floki to go to the earl and force a challenge that will bring them in to a duel. The episode ends with everyone’s nerves high and Rollo’s fate left unknown.

And exciting and fast moving episode, I’m excited to see what will happen next week when Ragnar faces the Earl face to face. I’m also wondering how bad Rollo’s torture was, because in some of the promo shots he seems fine? But more importantly, it’s clear that something is developing between Siggy and Rollo, and I’m questioning it’s legitimacy and also it’s longevity.

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