The Vikings – Episode 8: Sacrifice
Welcome back my beautiful Norsemen and Shield Maidens to another edition of the The Vikings! At the conclusion of last week’s episode, we saw Ragnar and his men take on a king of England and return victorious with riches and spoils. Last week’s battle heavy episode was a stark contrast to this week’s which was more of an emotional ride rather than a violent one. Not in a bad way whatsoever, but just relatively different than what we are used to. However, we were introduced to a new character who could possibly be a doorway to next season and some very explosive excitement. Let’s take a look shall we?
We learned and experienced Lagertha have a miscarriage last week, and since that day Ragnar has not been the same man. Embittered and cold, Ragnar does not seem to be able to shake off the feeling that he has been robbed of something he wanted so desperately: another son, and drowns his sorrows in drink while Lagertha tends to the day to day duties. We learn that Ragnar intends to go to Upsallah with some of his band and decides to take his kids with him and Lagertha. Upsallah is a place high in the mountains that serves as a setting where mortals can meet with the gods and offer them sacrifices, pray for their guidance, and reaffirm themselves to their gods. It is a place of beauty and reverence, and everyone takes the trip very seriously. Ragnar asks Athalstan if he is going to join them on their quest/pilgrimage to which he replies with a solid yes, with Ragnar jokingly stating how he would’ve taken him anyway. It’s really funny to see how their relationship has grown from simply being a slave to being a trusted friend with Ragnar and Athalstan. Althalstan even now looking more Norse as the days go by: growing a beard and integrating himself in Viking culture, this was a pretty Athalstan heavy episode.We even see the former priest locate his Bible, which in the time he has been away has crumbled to dust and fallen apart in a possible foreshadowing of his faith breaking.This episode seems to be all about that, showing us that sometimes, time makes fools of us all and can utterly destroy your foundations. It is just the way the world looks. You do see a sort of strained look in Ragnar’s face when he speaks with him though…as if something is amiss…
Making their way to Upsallah, our crew of Vikings and maidens make it to the grand building ruled over by King Horik, played wonderfully by Donal Logue, who I love. I was surprised to see his name in the opening credits and thought I had missed him as a character, but this was not so as he is our new player in the saga of the Vikings. Not an antagonist at all, he welcomes Ragnar with open arms and tells stories of Ragnar’s exploits and adventures with a sort of glee a child musters. It was actually rather nice to see someone not want to kill Ragnar for once, which I am sure made him rather happy as well. Everyone enters the hall and pays tribute to the gods. Standing before their idols and whispering words of prayer, all of them request something different, but entirely the same. Lagertha wants Frey to grant her his seed so she can produce more sons for Ragnar, and Ragnar requests that he understand the will fo the gods and why his child was taken from him. He asks to be shown how and possibly who will bear his sons, pointing to some possible tension between him and Lagertha. Athalstan proceeds to walk around the grounds and is met by multiple Vikings and they all speak with him as he wanders around taking in the sights. He notices a group of pigs, goats and a few other animals, all in corrals and 9 of each. He deduces that they will be sacrificed to the gods and speaks with Ragnar on the matter. He also notices there is an empty pen, to which Ragnar responds that is the pen for humans who will be sacrificed, and in the process gives Athalstan a very pained and serious look….signaling we may see out favorite priest fed to the gods. Athalstan is not an idiot, but knows there is almost nothing he can do about it. So he does what any normal person would do when faced with this situation, and on the suggestion from Rollo, takes a handful of mushrooms and proceeds to trip fucking balls….hard…all over the place. He walks around and winds up getting a pretty serious glare from Ragnar, right in the middle of a serious trip, and winds up getting washed by a half naked woman. They do not show him having sex, but I am assuming he did as he gets up the next morning looking far more chipper than he should be.
Ragnar has a meeting with King Horik, and I can’t get enough of Donal Logue. He even pronounces the letters and words the way a true Norseman would, and it makes me ecstatic. I love it. Ragnar, in a surprise move, tells King Horik that he will pledge his allegiance to him, in exchange for a few things of his own, to the tune of more men for farther and larger raids. Horik, pretty much idolizes Ragnar at this point, agrees wholeheartedly and a new partnership is bjorn (haha get it?). In the meantime, Rollo has a slight argument with Siggy, stating how he is who he is and will sleep with as many women as he wants, even though he says he is with Siggy. Might I also state how much of a slight bitch Rollo has been becoming lately? I am going to. Ever since Ragnar took over, Rollo has been acting like a 2 year old, and is going to have a hard day coming to him. I am upset at this because I genuinely like Rollo, but his whining and complaining has been very irritating lately. I have a feeling he is going to challenge Ragnar soon, even though Ragnar has given Rollo everything, it seems like it will never be enough for him until he is in power. Oh the woes of sibling rivalries and the quest for power. Siggy even goes so far as to say that she will help him get what he needs, and my earlier prediction of them going up against Ragnar is starting to seem more accurate by the day.
After all is said and done with Horik and Ragnar, it comes time for the sacrifices. Athalstan, wanting to know what he faces, goes into the pagan temple and speaks with one of the “priests” in there concerning his fate. He is asked if he has fully renounced his faith three times, to which he thrice replies “yes.” The “priest” attempts to affirm that Athalstan has renounced his Christianity, to which he notices Athalstan holding onto his crucifix. This is not good as he is going to be a poor sacrifice, and he lets everyone know that another will need to take his place. He asks for someone to volunteer, and many people attempt to rise, but are all silenced by a hulking man who has been part of Ragnar’s band since the beginning. I am saddened to say I could not catch his name, but he volunteers to be sacrificed, and everyone is content, although saddened. Ragnar remarks to Athalstan that his god has saved him again, but says it not with contempt, but more of a “lucky” attitude to it. The sacrifices take place, and we all hope that the gods are pleased. In a very touching, yet somewhat horrific scene, the episode ends with all of the sacrificed people and animals being hung upside down and presented to the gods like so many presents.
This episode was very different than any of the other ones we have seen so far, mainly because this one gave us a look into the inner workings of most of our characters. It gave us insight as to why Ragnar is upset, why Rollo has been acting like a bitch, and shows us the further slipping of Athalstan from his faith. It just goes to show how not all battles are fought with sword and shield. Sometimes the mind is the bloodiest of all battlefields, and needs to be given special attention. We can all grab a handle and drown our woes in blood, but that may never fix them properly. With the season finale next week, we may be in store for some serious fucking Viking appreciation. Whether it be with swords or with words, I am really looking forward to what direction this show will take us in. For Ragnar! For Odin! And for Asgard!!
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