Vikings 5×09 Review: A Simple Story
If there’s one thing to be said about “A Simple Story”, it’s that this episode drives the Vikings season 5 plot forward – and does so very, very quickly.
Normally I would say that episodes that move things along the way “A Simple Story” did are great, but I’m still not fond of the time wasted in the first half of “The Joke”. I feel like the back-and-forth between the two armies wasted a lot of time that would have been better spent filling out the plots that we see come to a head in this week’s episode.
For instance, Heahmund not only survived what looked like a pretty bad blow, but he’s already in rare form, and has apparently gone from hating all Vikings to being totally okay with some of them…at least the female some of them, that is. He and Lagertha had a nice chat, and then soon after their first chat he paid her another visit. He claimed he wanted to talk with her about ALL TEH THINGS but there wasn’t much discussion that happened. He pretty much immediately vowed to fight for her, even die for her, and then they hooked up. (I mean, it was offscreen, but I think we can assume that’s what happened.) I kept thinking ‘something’s gotta give’ – that maybe Ivar had contrived to place Heahmund with Lagertha, or that Heahmund would kill her to prove his loyalty to Ivar, but at the end of “A Simple Story” Lagertha was still alive (thankfully) and Heahmund really did offer his sword to her – publicly, at that.
Thankfully my utter confusion about what the heck is up with Bishop Crazy Eyes and his ever-shifting ‘loyalty’ was tempered a bit by hearing Ubbe tell Torvi that he shouldn’t have married Margrethe. I’m on the fence about Ubbe and Torvi having an affair (more because I think she’s probably still sad about Bjorn than because he’s still supposed to be with Margrethe, much as I hate to admit it), but I guess in this case he was right – they’re about to go into battle again and either or both of them could die. I’d actually feel bad for Ubbe if he died with Margrethe as his last experience, and hell, Torvi deserves to find happiness where she can.
Unfortunately, back in Kattegat Margrethe was somehow having visions of Ubbe and Torvi together, at which point she started telling Torvi’s children to forget about their mother because she was dead. I seriously didn’t think Margrethe could get any worse, but obviously I was wrong. At this point the only reason I want her to stay alive and in one piece is because she’s supposed to be taking care of Torvi’s children; as long as Torvi comes back in one piece, as soon as she’s there I really hope someone ::cough cough:: Lagertha ::cough cough:: teaches Margrethe a lesson once and for all.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m super confused about what’s going on with the Ivar/Harald team. Neither one of them seemed too worked up about losing the battle; this is par for the course for Ivar, who almost always seems to be hiding something, but it was definitely odd to me that Harald didn’t seem very bothered at all, either. Granted, Harald has never really been ‘all there’, if you ask me; currently he’s so into Astrid that he can’t tell how NOT into him she is. I feel like he might as well have patted her on the head and said ‘there, there’ when he told her he wanted her to be happy and she said “how can I be happy when we lost the battle and so many died” (that might be paraphrased a bit). Astrid isn’t a child, and Harald is an idiot, and I just really really hope that at some point she actually tells him what’s on her mind.
Oops, I went off the subject a bit there! Back to my confusion: why the heck is Rollo sending a bunch of ships and soldiers to fight with Hvitserk and Ivar against Bjorn, Ubbe, and Lagertha? I know that Hvitserk was with Bjorn when they took Rollo raiding a while back, but it seems pretty out of the blue for Rollo to side with these two younger nephews against Lagertha and BJORN, of all people. Sure, he requested that they spare Bjorn, and I gathered that Hvitserk sent for this help, but did Hvitserk lie to get Rollo to come to their aid? I’m really hoping we get some answers to this next week, because otherwise this seems like a plot hole…or maybe, rather, just the addition of some pretty strong plot armor for Ivar’s army.
Of course, maybe it’s simply that Rollo knows what Bjorn knows – “If Ivar wins, Ragnar’s dreams are lost”. Rollo never was the best brother; he stabbed Ragnar in the back several times, after all. Maybe this is just his one last twist of the knife in the back of Ragnar’s legacy.
More of “A Simple Story” was dedicated to Floki’s Island than I would have liked, but at least things are actually happening now, I guess? Floki understands that that one obnoxious guy is trying to provoke a reaction in hopes of landing a leadership position, which is more insight than I expect from Floki these days, to be honest. The fact that someone (okay, clearly the anti-Floki contingent) burned down the newly-built temple seemed really over the top, though. These are their gods, too, and did they really think no one would suspect them? Did they really think people would just say “oh, right, these guys burned our new temple, they should totally be our leaders”? I’m still very ‘meh’ about this whole story line, but hopefully we’ll get some sort of conclusion next week. (I feel like I’ve been saying that for a while now though…sigh.)
But what conclusion we didn’t get on Floki’s Island, we did get back in England. Aethelwulf gave a rousing speech about banding together to expel the Vikings once and for all…and then promptly died from a bee sting. This seemed a bit too timely, and I even looked up how the real Aethelwulf died – sure enough, there’s nothing about bee stings. Regardless, he died, and Judith then went about orchestrating Alfred being named king instead of his older (legitimate, half-) brother Aethelpup. She was pretty vehement about it, in fact, and I really think she could/should have handled it differently – perhaps she could have made sure that Alfred was crowned without, you know, alienating Aethelpup.
I will say that the ending montage of “A Simple Story” was probably the best one this season. The music was great, and the cuts between Heahmund offering Lagertha his sword (until the next person he pledges fealty to comes along, at least), the temple burning on Floki’s Island, and Alfed being crowned king were well-timed. It was a great end to an otherwise okay episode, and it made me feel like they really are building for a great (mid?) season finale next week.
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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