Vikings 1.02: Wrath of the Northmen

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Vikings airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on The History Channel

PREVIOUSLY, ON VIKINGS: We learned that if you must attend a wrongful beheading, wear cute-ass headbands; don’t interrupt Earl Haraldson’s dinner with your “ideas” and “questions”; if you see crows and old dudes in hats everywhere it’s not something to worry about; you can probably get a crazy dude to build a rad boat for you for like, really cheap; if you try to rape a Viking, she will make your face look like the insurance photos of an industrial mishap; and don’t trust your brother.

AWESOME CREDITS. We begin at a viking called Herrik’s house, where he has gathered a bunch of totally trustworthy men for a meeting at Ragnar’s request. There’s candles everywhere, a lot of nice mood lighting, and Herrik explains that all of the men have sworn on their rings to keep the meeting secret. Except…the rings mark them as Haraldson’s men…and swearing on Haraldson’s ring to keep a secret from him seems…like a bad way to prove your loyalty.

ANYWAY, Ragnar pulls some Dale Carnegie shit and says that the only reason anyone is there is because they have nowhere else to be, and also they are pathetic losers who have never known battle or exploration or what a girl’s titty feels like under a bra, and if they don’t go west, to England, they are giant pansies. He seems to win them over pretty quickly, however, due to his charm and enthusiasm and hotness. He takes a special interest in this big gingerbeard babe named–well, it’s pronounced like Knut the polar bear (RIP)’s name was, so we’ll just call him Knut–even going so far as to kiss him on the head when he agrees to tag along. It’s adorable. And sexy?

One of Haraldson’s lackeys tells Haraldson about the meeting. Haraldson says the best course of action is to watch and wait. There’s some weird tension in the room with Siggy. It comes to a head when Haraldson’s like “HAVE YOU FUCKED MY WIFE? DO YOU WANT TO? BECAUSE IF SHE’S UP FOR IT, THAT’S COOL WITH ME.” I imagine it’s difficult to make a graceful exit with a raging terrorboner.

Ragnar returns home to help Lagertha with the laundry. She asks him when they’re leaving, and Ragnar’s like “We? Somebody has to stay with the kids, and I called explorer dibs.” But the beautiful thing about these actors and this show (and maybe Viking society in general?) is that he’s not like LOL UR VAGINA BETTER 4 KIDS. I mean, I’m sure it was super sexist and horrible in real life, but this whole conversation has them on very equal footing, somehow. Probably because they’re both doing the laundry together. When Lagertha gets angry, she flicks water in his face, and he calmly flicks water back into hers when he asks “What if we both died? Who would take care of the kids? Rollo?” I’m with you, buddy. Rollo shouldn’t have custody of his own dick.

Ragnar watches Lagertha trying to decide whether she should cry or set something on fire or both and says, “All right. All right. You go. You go, and I shall stay here and look after the children.” He makes a hilarious crazy smiley face. Everything’s so fucking cute.

Haraldson’s lackey goes back to his room and finds Siggy hanging out in his bed. I know that’s supposed to be sexy in movies and stuff, but if I came home and found some hottie in my bed, I’d be like “Ugh wait when was the last time I changed my pillowcases.” And nothing kills a boner like home invasion, anyway.

The lackey immediately takes his boots off and gets in bed with her. They start making out, and then she PUNCHES HIM IN THE FACE LIKE 9 TIMES. “What do you take me for? Do you really suppose that a worm like you could sleep with a woman like me? I’m an earl’s wife.”

Haraldson comes in like “LOL JK now I know who I can’t trust.” and has the lackey taken out back and killed real hard.

Back at the Lothbroks’, a domestic disturbance is a-brewin’. Lagertha smashes Ragnar in the face with a shield and when he tries to “My love” her (after spitting blood into the fire), she’s like “SHUT UP. DEFEND YOURSELF.” They have a makeout fight that is, all told, pretty adorable. I mean, they’re obviously not trying to actually hurt each other. Bjorn breaks it up before anything really bad happens, and is like “I am so ashamed of you embarrassments. USE YOUR WORDS.”

Ragnar sends Bjorn back to bed and sits down to take a breather. “It’s a fine thing when the little pig teaches a boar a lesson.” he says. Lagertha didn’t learn the lesson, because she smacks him in the head before stomping off.

Over at the Haraldsons’, Haraldson laments that he had to kill the lackey. Siggy says she didn’t expect him to be so untrustworthy. It’s worth noting that she’s cleaning blood off her hand as she talks, because that is amazing. I’m hoping they get into her character more, because Jessalyn Gilsig is a national treasure. There seems to be some foreshadowing that Haraldson might not trust her, but it could just be a weird combination of music and acting. She reassures him that their enemies cannot prevail.

SCENERY PORN. LIKE 20 MINUTES OF SCENERY PORN. Floki’s boat is loaded with supplies and two caged ravens. Ragnar slithers up behind him, puts a knife to his throat, and asks where the shit his anchor is. Floki takes it in stride, telling Ragnar that he threatened the blacksmith with daughter-murder if Haraldson found out. He’s holding a lock of blond hair, so the threat was probably pretty solid. Ragnar puts the knife away and looks around, mentioning that Knut isn’t there, and that worries him. Travis Fimmel’s facial acting is really awesomely animalistic here. Floki assures him that he should be worried, but not so much about the anchor, because it has arrived. He returns the lock of hair to the blacksmith and takes the anchor.

Floki’s slave fills a shallow basin with water and brings it to the men. They all wash their hair and faces and blow snot rockets into the water, which is disgusting, but sometimes when I was a kid I would straight up take baths in pondwater. PERKS OF BEING A HILLBILLY.

The men finish loading the boat, except for Rollo, who not only doesn’t help but also rapes Floki’s slave. I can’t wait for him to die. CAN’T WAIT. FUCK YOU ROLLO.

Knut reports back to Haraldson that Ragnar has set sail. NO, BABY, YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE TRUSTWORTHY. YOUR BEARD MADE ME THINK YOU WERE TRUSTWORTHY. When Haraldson pronounces them most likely dead, Knut’s like “But what if you’re wrong and they find some cool shit?” Haraldson’s like I’M NEVER WRONG GO AWAY and I feel like somewhere, Siggy is rolling her eyes and scheming.

Out on the ship, it’s noontime. Ragnar puts the little sundial compass in the bucket and pronounces it a success, and I think people might argue with him, except he giggles adorably when it works (or “works”) so they can’t bring themselves to do it. At the Lothbroks’, Lagertha tells Bjorn and Girl Child the story of Jormungandr, the serpent that wraps around the world and holds the sea in place. One day, that scamp Thor goes fishing for Jormungandr with a boar’s head (remember, Ragnar compared himself to a boar earlier), and the ensuing struggle caused the waves to break loose, until Jormungandr settled back down. Before you go like “All that for a boar’s head?” I would like to invite you to try pork cheek sometime. It’s magical.

The ship itself is caught in a tempest. Floki and Ragnar yell that the sail needs to go down and they need to row, and whatever happened during the ADR of their lines made them both sound EXACTLY like Swedish Chef.

Also stormy: the outside of the Lindisfarne Monastery in England. All the monks inside are illuminating manuscripts (“SO AMAZING”) and looking nervous about the thunder. One of the younger monks, totally gorg despite that monkeybuttish religious bob-with-baldspot hairdo, is painting a serpent that looks like the ship. He is Athelstan, played by George Blagden, who was apparently in Les Miserables as one of the sad dirty people who sing. I don’t know which one. I didn’t see it because I’m not a nerd. (I saw Bullet to the Head instead.) So anyway, I hope all of those people who watched Les Miserables are watching Vikings because George Blagden is adorable.

On the ship, Ragnar asks Floki if he’s afraid. Floki snits he’s afraid for his ship. Rollo, totally helpful, is all “Thor is striking his anvil. He’s angry with us. He wants to sink us.” NO ROLLO HE WANTS TO SINK YOU.

"duuuuuhhhh" --rollo

“duuuuuhhhh” –rollo

Floki has the realization that Thor is striking his anvil, but not because he’s angry. He’s just trying to party with them! Floki runs out to the prow, yelling about how the gods love his boat and are just trying to show everybody that they can’t sink it. Ragnar laughs fondly (DUDE WHY AREN’T YOU ROWING), and yells for Floki to get down because he can’t swim.

Lindisfarne. The monks are all freaking out about the storm, which is actually just a pleasant afternoon in my part of Florida, and are speaking Olde Englishe or whatever. It sounds infuriatingly aaallllmost like normal English, like that video of what English sounds like to a non-English speaker. Athelstan sees clouds in the shape of the serpent/Viking ship. I wonder if his hallucinations and Ragnar’s hallucinations are going to complement each other.

Athelstan goes to the boss monk, and suddenly they’re speaking modern English. Athelstan tries to warn the boss monk that the world’s ending, but the boss monk is like SHUT UP GO PRAY.

Haraldson and his remaining lackeys go the the blacksmith and demand to know if he made an anchor for Ragnar. The blacksmith lies until they threaten his daughter. Haraldson goes all Trelawney when he sees the blacksmith’s fireplace, and is like “The sages say we can see the future in the flames. What do you see?” The blacksmith’s all “Literally being murdered by fire, you incredible dick.” And so the blacksmith has his head shoved into the fire. Ick.

Back on the ship, this happens:

i was like "it's like watching a kitten sleep!" and then i ran out into traffic

i was like “it’s like watching a kitten sleep!” and then i ran out into traffic

Ragnar tries to find some light for the sunstone, but the fog above them is too dense. One of the rowers is fed up with the whole situation, and freaks out on Ragnar, even accusing him of being Loki. Ragnar puts a knife straight into his carotid and/or jugular, which seems like a pretty Loki thing to do, now that I think about it. The dude dies on the floor of the boat, and that might be a health hazard, so maybe dump him overboard? Ragnar says to release the ravens, explaining that if the birds don’t come back, there’s land. If not, everyone is going to die. Maybe you should have just released one of them?

Later, Ragnar hears wings and looks like he might cry, but the birds are seagulls! Hilarious stock footage of seagulls! The men all start shrieking like dads at a Springsteen concert. Lindisfarne comes into sight. The monks all sing until the one lone monk walking the beach warns them about the vikings, and the warning bells start ringing. I know my first instinct when someone scary comes around is to start making as much noise as possible and remain aggressively unarmed.

Ragnar tells the men not to take unnecessary risks, “Not even to impress the gods.” I admit that I don’t really understand this–I thought Ragnar wanted to travel the world and learn about shit, not do normal Viking stuff? Maybe he’s just that secret nerd on the football team who can’t admit he likes reading? Anyway, they intimidate the FUCK out of some sheep on the beach:

"JESUS CHRIST MARGARET GET THE KIDS WE HAVE TO RUN. THOSE MEN HAVE NOT SEEN A WOMAN IN SO LONG." --these sheep, probably

“JESUS CHRIST MARGARET GET THE KIDS WE HAVE TO RUN. THOSE MEN HAVE NOT SEEN A WOMAN IN SO LONG.” –these sheep, probably

and bust their way into the monastery. The monks are pretty pitiful, but the vikings slaughter them all anyway. Rollo kills one he finds crying inside a toilet, but I mean, who hasn’t? He scowls and throws his axe down like DANG I GOT POOP ON THIS NOW IT IS RUINED. He stomps the guy to death, because apparently poop on your boots is okay.

Ragnar, Herrik, and a Viking with a cool beard named Leif find the monks’ treasure, and once it’s established that no magic protects it and it’s just been left out, they do a little exposition about Norse beliefs (the gods are alive and involved in the world, as opposed to Jesus Christ, who is dead). They hear a creaking, and Ragnar drags Athelstan out from behind the altar.

Athelstan says something in…I guess Norse? Ragnar demands to know how he speaks their language, and Athelstan says he’s done missionary work up north. THEN HOW IS IT THAT THE VIKINGS KNEW ABOUT ENGLAND AND FREAKING MONKS COULD GET TO SCANDINAVIA BUT EVERYONE WAS SOOOOO SURE THERE WERE NO LANDS TO THE WEST? Athelstan asks Ragnar not to kill him. He is maintaining a lot of dignity, which I appreciate in a man who is begging for his life.

Ragnar frowns a little, then smiles a little. There’s a brief shot of the surviving monks being tied up outside. Ragnar asks what Athelstan is holding, and he explains that it’s the Gospel of Saint John, and he wanted to save it. Ragnar shakes it around, and when nothing awesome falls out, he asks “Of all the treasures lying around, you chose to save this. Why?” Athelstan waits until Ragnar jacks him up against the altar to be like “BECAUSE GOD IS IMPORTANT TO ME, OKAY?”

Rollo oozes his way in, lamenting the lack of women. He offers to kill Athelstan, but Ragnar’s all “No, I’m gonna…sell him as a slave. Yes. Totally.” Shit, if I had the chance to kidnap somebody cute to force them to have deep and somewhat sexually-charged philosophical debates with me, I might. Ragnar tells Rollo that he forbids the murder of his new boyfriend, and Rollo’s like “But you said we were equal.” SOME VIKINGS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS and Rollo you are a fucking sheep in this situation.

Maybe also literally fucking sheep.

Somebody please check on those sheep.

Rollo smashes up the crucifix and makes Athelstan cry because he is terrible in all ways.

Wonderful in all ways is Floki, who wanders around by himself and finds the writing chamber. I spend like .05 seconds thinking he’s going to start reading or something, but instead he delightedly lights the entire monastery on fire. HAHA.

The vikings take treasure and slaves back to the boat (which was crowded on the way there. I bet it smells like musk and hatred now). Ragnar rows and smiles at Athelstan, who just kisses his crucifix and pulls his hood up against the ocean air.

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8 Responses to Vikings 1.02: Wrath of the Northmen

  1. SAM I WAS PREPARED TO BE SO ANGRY IF THAT LINK FOR LINDISFARNE DID NOT GO TO HARK A VAGRANT SO YOU REALLY DODGED A BULLET THERE I TELL YOU WHAT

    also there are no hills in florida only swamps and snakes and meth

  2. As someone who drifted from the Les Mis fandom to Vikings because of George Blagden (he played one of the angry singing possibly gay revolutionaries, but the one who just wanted to be gay and drunk and stare lovingly at Aaron Tveit) I can assure that THE ENTIRE FANDOM is camping out in Viking territory because of him, and it’s awesome.

  3. “JESUS CHRIST MARGARET GET THE KIDS WE HAVE TO RUN. THOSE MEN HAVE NOT SEEN A WOMAN IN SO LONG.” –these sheep, probably”

    You are funny (you know this) and I’m loving your recaps. I just watched all five available eps online today (day off, yay) and very much enjoyed the show. Looking forward to reading more from you! Even gotcha bookmarked :)

    Oh, also, please say more stuff about Florida? I’m fixin’ to move there, from Colorado, and I’m scared the bugs are going to carry my cats off in the night…

    • THANK YOU!

      OH MAN IF YOU LET ME TALK ABOUT FLORIDA I WILL NOT STOP. The bugs mostly don’t want to carry off cats, but palmetto bugs are cockroaches that come in your house and walk on your stuff and have no fear of humans or light and can fly and are enormous. Prepare to be doing a lot of shrieking when they dive-bomb your head. BECAUSE THEY DO THAT.

      • Eek. No fear of humans OR light?

        Eek. EEEEEK!!! (practicing ;-))

        And you’re welcome! I’m catching up on the show and looking forward to reading more of your recaps!

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