In the second episode of season four of Vikings, “Kill the Queen,” a lot of other things happened–but all I can think about is Rollo’s haircut.
Poor Rollo. A blowout won’t make Princess Gisla love you. But it did make her laugh, and people tend to like partners who can do that. I predicted I’d probably enjoy the shenanigans that would come from their romance moving forward–and so far, I really am. As much as it delights me, I do hope they won’t drag out the “will they, won’t they” for too long this season–it seems clear to me that they will, so making the audience wait much longer for that conclusion might get grating. Between Rollo’s strategizing and Gisla’s inspiring nature, I want to see what these two can cook up together as a cohesive unit. Also, they’re both really pretty and I would like to see them smooch.
Speaking of smooching, Count Odo and his mistress Therese were doing, um, a variation on that next door to Gisla and Rollo. I’m torn, because on the one hand, (sexualized) violence against women is overused in today’s media landscape in general and specifically in pseudo-medieval settings–but on the other, Odo actually asked her if she was okay with it? Acquiring active consent in a BDSM scenario is really nice to see? And while we did see the welts left over in a subsequent scene, the violence itself was left for offscreen. I have to wonder again if this was a subtle dig at Game of Thrones, a show which relishes in showing brutality onscreen whenever possible, especially when aimed at attractive women.
That’s hardly to say Vikings shies away from violence when they want to show it. The battle scene to rescue Kwenthrith was thrilling, and an example of one of the great strengths of the show. The focus narrows and widens and twists and turns throughout the skirmish, lending a tangible sense of the duality of panic and military organization. King Ecbert’s ominous instructions to “save the son… save Magnus” if Aethelwulf was forced to choose between the mother and the baby heightened the tension during Kwenthrith’s struggles with the guards in her tower prison. I wonder if this all serves as a bit of foreshadowing that she and Aethelwulf might have some sort of tryst moving forward… they have such opposite ideas and ideals, such a pairing is ripe with dramatic potential.
There are two things I always think about while watching episodes of Vikings: Travis Fimmel’s eyes are amazingly blue, and I miss Athelstan. I guess the writers of the show did too, because we have a literal Athelstan double hanging around in Wessex now. I feel about him like I do about Colin Hanks: he’s fine, but I’d rather the Real Deal. And maybe that’s the point? Because Judith must feel like that too, and I’m glad she’s getting to learn how to paint the sacred texts or whatever, girl power. Her ear ain’t any less chopped off.
Like, I get the feeling from the two episodes so far Vikings is going to try and do better for the plots of their female characters this season. But Lagertha is still partly usurped by Bland (er, I mean Kalf), and Aslaug is getting slapped around by Ragnar, and Gisla is in a forced marriage to a man she currently hates, and Helga lost her whole family, and Kwenthrith has started this season needing to be rescued, and Pojunn was impregnated and sliced up and then shoved aside so that Bjorn could deal with his manpain alone with the bears. I don’t like feeling like I should be grateful for semi-decent gender representation (of exclusively white women, no less) when my other options are erasure or worse representation.
Anyway. I love that “Annoyed Ragnar” has been a thing both episodes so far during season four. “I’m still coming back from the dead and you are making me scheme every moment of the day and it is making me crazy!” he emotes behind his blue, blue eyes. Travis Fimmel is beautiful enough to look good in a ridiculous Lothbrook hair cut, so sometimes I miss what a damned good actor he can be. I hope the upcoming Warcraft movie allows for career-expanding exposure for him.
Floki escapes, is recaptured, then has his punishment decided on and implemented over the course of “Kill the Queen.” I liked the scenes where Ragnar’s eldest Aslaug-born son was tracking him, especially when Floki looks up through the water at him–like he is a god, or at least a minor Norse demon. Interspersed with the heartrending scene of Ragnar helping Helga to dig her daughter’s grave, these scenes were the emotional highlight of this episode for me. The final image of the episode is Floki trussed up in the cave, water dripping tortuously onto his upturned face, invoking a delectable hybrid of Tartarus/Christ imagery. It seems all too appropriate for the Christian-hating self-professed voice of the gods.
What did you think of this episode? Let me know in the comments!
Author: K-K Bracken
K-K Bracken grew up overseas and in the Washington, DC area, went to the Ohio State University to get her BA in English, and has been in Columbus, Ohio ever since. She is currently querying her first novel ORCHESTRATION under the name Bracken Beveridge. She is the founder and organizer for the first Steven Universe exclusive fan convention, Beach City Con.
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