Vikings 5×03 Review: Homeland

homeland vikings ivar the bonelessDespite the fact that “Homeland”, the third episode of Vikings season 5, jumped around nearly as much as The Departed”, I’m happy to report that at least some of the story lines have already been cleared up and seem to be coming together nicely.

While “Homeland” didn’t feature too much of Bjorn, I did really love Halfdan’s explanation of why he chose to explore with Bjorn rather than remain in England or return home with his brother. I might not have this quote entirely correct, but the general meaning is something I really took to heart. Halfdan explained, “I just want to live…I want to live with the greatest intensity. I want to feel every moment of my life. I want to be more than alive.” And considering they’re already discussing how to handle themselves in the new lands they’re about to explore (namely, taking just a few ships and posing as traders), it sounds like Halfdan is probably going to get his chance to ‘live with the greatest intensity’ pretty soon.

homeland vikings harald finehairMeanwhile, don’t even get me started on Halfdan’s brother Harald. While Halfdan’s choices in the season premiere and his words in “Homeland” made me respect that character far more than I ever expected, pretty much everything Harald does grates on my nerves. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still frustrated with Lagertha and her actions in “The Departed”, but that doesn’t mean I have to be okay with Harald kidnapping Astrid and trying to convince her to marry him. Also, what is his obsession with attaching himself to women who don’t want him?

The thing is, if “Homeland” proved anything, it’s that Harald doesn’t really have it all that bad. The village from which he rules isn’t as nice as Kattegat, but it looks sizeable enough and it appears that his people really love him (for some reason that I can’t really fathom right now). It’s one thing for Harald to have fallen in love with Ellisif at a young age and spent all that time trying to prove himself worthy of her; it’s another for him to choose Astrid – seemingly at random – as his next object of desire. I suppose he could have some complicated plan that is yet to be revealed, but considering he hasn’t really done anything other than stomp around yelling about how he’s going to be King of Norway, it’s easy to understand why I seriously doubt there’s some game afoot.

Meanwhile, Astrid doesn’t seem to be having any of it; she played nice enough in front of his people, which is understandable, but I was happy when she answered his kisses with a punch in the face.

homeland vikings ubbe hvitserkThe majority of “Homeland” actually took place in England and featured, well, a lot of brotherly strife. The Saxons attacked York and were driven back after sustaining heavy losses, though the Vikings lost plenty of men, as well. It wasn’t very difficult to understand Ubbe’s desire to make peace with Aethelwulf, though in the end Ivar was the one who had a better understanding of how to handle the Saxons.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. While Ivar appeared to feel guilty about killing Sigurd, and even to possibly be questioning himself, one chat with a slave girl who spoke like she worshiped him changed all of that. (I’m still not sure if she actually did or if she was just trying to convince him to let her live.) He even went so far as to ride his chariot into battle – not a great idea considering the battle was taking place in the streets of York, not on an open field. He survived through a combination of sheer luck, shock value (him shocking the Saxons with his bloody-faced screaming, that is), and because in the end the other Vikings leapt into the fray and shielded him from harm.

It was easy to assume that the Saxons would want to treat with the Vikings; I was definitely surprised when Bishop Heahmund not only refused to do so but killed all of Ubbe and Hvitserk’s companions and then gave Ubbe a good beating before sending him and Hvitserk back to York on foot. I also didn’t expect the Vikings to bow to Ivar after his mad display during the battle…and the fact that he watched most of it from afar and then had to be protected when he tried to ride out and join the fray. But the majority of the men – including Hvitserk – stood behind him, which means Ivar is officially in charge while Ubbe is sailing back to Kattegat with his tail tucked between his legs.

homeland vikings flokiOh, and if you were wondering what’s going on with Floki, yes, he’s still wandering around his ‘land of the gods’, having what are either fever dreams or actual visions. Whatever they are, he didn’t look like he was doing too well throughout most of “Homeland”, but in the end he was quickly returned to full health. I wish I could say that I was intrigued about where he was going to go from here, but it’s hard to feel that way when he’s still just wandering around the empty landscape, completely alone. Not my idea of a riveting plot. (And yet there has been more than one reality show with a similar premise, go figure.)

Will Ivar prove himself or fall back into his brooding attitude, an attitude that has caused some pretty big problems for him in the past? Will Floki spend the entire season wandering around an empty land, talking to the gods? Will Astrid do more than just punch Harald? (Please, please say yes to that last question). Let us know what you think in the comments!

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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