Vikings Review by John Keegan

Vikings 2.06: Unforgiven

Vikings 2.06: Unforgiven

Written By:
Michael Hirst
Directed By:
Jeff Woolnough


Somehow I missed the fact that Michael Hirst is the sole writer for this series.  That would explain the strong consistency of tone, character development, and world-building.  Hirst is perhaps best known for the critically-acclaimed Elizabeth films, as well as The Tudors, which will always hold a place in my heart for introducing me to Natalie Dormer.  Hirst’s ability to meld fact and fiction is well-established at this point.



 

That consistency is evident in this episode, which focuses a great deal on the challenges faced by our favorite female characters.  Siggy, for example, seems lost amid the constant power shifts taking place in Ragnar’s world.  Her ambition to return to her former glory leads her to scheme with Horik.  When all is said and done, Horik pimps her off to his son to “make a man of him”, and then makes it very clear that he sees her as worthy of little else.  It’s humiliating, to say the least.

 

Lagertha discovers the cost of rushing to Ragnar’s aid and letting Bjorn remain with his father.  Her new husband takes this as a grave insult, and proceeds to have his men beat her down.  It’s to her credit that she fights back just as viciously, but she is overwhelmed.  Her husband then proceeds to further ridicule her the next day.  Unlike Siggy, however, Lagertha has her limits, and the moment that she stabs her husband in the eye is deeply satisfying.  That one of the other men finishes the job, effectively showing loyalty to her as a result, is icing on the cake.



 

A good part of the episode is devoted to Bjorn’s emergence as a man in a far more fitting manner.  He develops a crush on a slave girl, Porunn, but doesn’t treat her like a piece of meat.  Perhaps this is due to his childhood and seeing how Lagertha was treated, but he clearly wants her to see him as a man of honor and kindness.  Granted, he still applies a great deal of pressure to get her attention, rather than accept her rebuffs, but it’s also somewhat evident that she is anticipating either physical coercion or punishment.

 

Back in England, things get strange between Athelstan and King Ecbert.  Ecbert seems to see a kindred spirit in Athelstan, at least in terms of love for knowledge and secrets.  Ecbert’s desire to preserve “pagan” knowledge is in direct contradiction to Christian doctrine of the time, after all.  It doesn’t particularly put Athelstan in the most ideal of situations, despite his appreciation of the opportunity.  It’s just another sort of heresy, and he’s struggling with his faith enough.  It’s perhaps also worth noting that Ecbert’s interest in Athelstan also seems more than strictly academic, so who knows what crisis might visit upon Athelstan in due time?



 

The big moment of the episode, beyond Lagertha’s creative use of cutlery, is Ragnar’s revenge on Jarl Borg.  How this will effect Ragnar’s alliance with Horik is unclear, but that’s for another day.  Ragnar can be overconfident at times, but there is a power to his soft-spoken violence.  Having his young son watch the vengeance unfold adds a creepy touch to the proceedings, but it fits Ragnar’s personality.  With the omen of the eagle about to express itself all too directly for Jarl Borg, things look to remain very bloody in the world of Ragnar Lothbrok.


Our Grade:
A-
The Good:
  • Vengeance is sweet!
  • Lagertha knows how to use cutlery
  • Athelstan’s new direction holds promise
The Bad:
  • Bjorn’s overtures to women are pitiful

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Vikings by - 4/7/2014 7:41 AM458 views

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