Ever since The Tudors I have always liked historical drama. I faithfully watched The Borgias which came up flat for me, and to this day I still watch Vikings, even though I am not sure why. The show is mediocre at best and oftentimes misses the mark entirely. It showed signs of improving with a good second series and then slipped a bit in Series 3 but was still entertaining. However, this premiere does not fill me with hope. I personally found it to be uninspired and just wrapping up from the previous series rather than starting anew. I don’t have any criticism or specific moments where the episode fell flat, but it personally did not work for me. That is not to say that there was nothing good, certainly a few good moments but not enough to save this episode.
Vikings has always treated us to some pretty intense scenes of battle and does not shy away from blood and gore. This episode was no different. We were, in fact, treated to not one, but two massacres. The first one, where Kalf massacred Einar’s men and all those who were against him in Hedeby, was an interesting moment. I don’t quite understand what motivates Kalf. He starts off as an ally to Lagertha, then betrays her, then supports her? Did he just want to be Earl or did he love Lagertha? I don’t understand why he betrayed her, he could have easily won her over and made decisions with her. She is hardly the type of person who makes decisions on her own. Also, I am really confused as to why there was this much hatred of her in Hedeby, she was the Earl there for a while. The massacre looked good and it cemented Kalf as a schemer. I also really liked the massacre of the Vikings in Paris by Rollo. As a character he has always been untrustworthy and willing to forge his own path. The fact that he was willing to kill all his countrymen to show his support for his new Frankish friends was very consistent with his character and demonstrates that he is, for better or worse, now fully committed to fighting for Frankia. Whether that will hold up when he fights Ragnar will be interesting, especially since last time he could not bring himself to fight his brother. I do wonder though, given how easy the massacre was, why the Franks did not do this earlier.
I also really liked the scene where Floki was arrested. Bjorn clearly felt he was doing the right thing by locking him up and making him pay for the murder of Athelstan, and he did it in a masterful way, by making the crowd support Ragnar and by portraying the death of Athelstan as a betrayal. Floki has always been a loyal friend to Ragnar and now he has done something that is almost unforgiveable and Bjorn agreed he needed to pay the price. Furthermore, watching Helga try to protect Floki and Angarboda feed him shows that he has people who care about him in this world. I don’t understand why Ragnar is upset that Bjorn ordered the arrest of Floki, what was his plan if not to do the same? Either way this was one of the few scenes that set up some plot for the rest of the series.
Finally, going back to the massacre of Einar’s men, I really enjoyed that Lagertha personally moved to end him in the most emasculating way possible (literally). Einar was someone who clearly loved Lagertha, even killing his own uncle for her, and when she refused him, he became bitter and tried to destroy her. Having her castrate him was great as it showed that she had no care for him and never wanted him in the first place. She wished to destroy and humiliate him before he died and in the world of Vikings that was a clear symbol that those who mess with Lagertha end up being dead.