Vikings, Season 3, Episode 9

Bittersweet.

The battle for Paris continues with some great action, but the greatest Viking of them all, King Ragnar, is dying.

Lagertha leads a Rambo style commando raid on the bridge to Paris, and manages to burn the gates down.  Which allows the main force, waiting outside to enter.

I’m not sure who is leading the Vikings at this point.  I guess it’s still Floki.  But just when the battle seems lost because the Franks from the safety of the end of the bridge nearest the city are using a big wheel with spikes to run down the Vikings and prevent them from entering the city, it’s Rollo to the rescue.  When the Franks are pulling the wheel back for another death roll, Rollo singlehandedly traps the big wheel using the big spears they had used to open the gates.  And then leads the fight against the Franks, as the wanderer later describes him, like a crazy bear.

It looks like the Vikings are about to break into the city.  But Count Odo pulls him men from the walls and is able to drive the Vikings back.

Count Sigfried is captured during the retreat and Princess Gisla wants his head cut off.  Siegfried says he doesn’t mind dying as long as someone holds his hair out of the way when his head is on the chopping block.  But that Sigfried has quite the sense of humor, and as the blade descends pulls his head back causing the hands holding his hair to be chopped off.  Sigfried finds this quite funny.

But this episode is just as much about the battle Ragnar is waging with death and the battle in his mind between Athelstan and his Christian faith and the Norse gods.  We are left with the impression that the Norse gods prevail, until the very end of the episode.

Count Odo is able to convince the feckless and useless Emperor to negotiate because some disease is killing the people (malaria, perhaps) and the provisions are running low.  Ragnar after leading Lagertha, Rollo, Kalf and Bjorn to believe they will go en masse to negotiate takes the wanderer and goes alone to meet Odo.

Ragnar demands to be baptized in addition to the gold and silver offered by Odo, explaining that he knows he is dying and wants to be able to see Athelstan after he dies.  (Note: it was common in the Roman Empire to delay baptism until near death because baptism washed away all sins, allowing the newly baptized to go to heaven.)

Odo looks to the Bishop who tells Ragnar he will go to hell, and Ragnar approaches the Bishop and tells him that it’s not his decision whether he goes to heaven or hell.  Ragnar obviously was paying attention when he discussed theology with Athelstan.

Lagertha, Floki, Ragnar, Bjorn and Kalf get there just as the Bishop finishes the baptism.  Floki looks like he is about to lose it, while Lagertha and Rollo are dumbfounded.

I could have done without the scenes in Kattegat.  Yeah Aslaug killing the Christian missionary while Ragnar embraces the religion was a valid juxtaposition.  But I would have rather seen a longer battle scene.

In Wessex, Judith jumps in the sack with her father-in-law in order to assure his protection from Aethelwulf.  And we learn that Aethelwulf isn’t as dumb as we thought he was, or at least as I thought he was.  He understands that Ecbert was hoping that Kwenthrith would kill him to give Ecbert a pretext to invade Mercia, and lets Dad know he knows.  But did Aethelwulf really buy Ecbert’s claim that he wanted to pass his kingdom down to him?  He obviously intends no such thing and wants Alfred to inherit.

So now on to the finale.  Who will rule after Ragnar dies?  I suspect that we will have to wait for Season 4 to find out, but I am still really looking forward to Episode 10.  Although it will be very hard to say goodbye to Ragnar.

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