Amazon UK TV review: Vikings Season 3, Episode 2
Arrival of mysterious stranger8
Ivan Radford | On 28, Feb 2015
What do you do after having your uncle slaughtered at the hand of violent Norse warriors? Princess Kwenthrith’s orgasmic scream of… whatever it was gives way to an equally disturbing bloodlust in Episode 2 of Vikings Season 3, as she demands her brother be taken out as well.
That seems to be the driving force of Michael Hirst’s third season: the union between the cool cats of Kattegat and the purring lions of Wessex. Ragnar acquiesces in the name of teamwork and they sail off to find the sibling, accompanied by trophies of their last foes – even if Travis Fimmel doesn’t get to do much here, the sight of him standing beneath severed heads and (yes) smirking is a treat.
After last week’s testosterone-driven affair, though, this week finds less interest in the blokes and more with their other halves. Amy Bailey continues to go all-out in her attempt to make Kwenthrith as unhinged as possible – although one key speech reveals the disturbing motivations behind her actions. Floki gives her a run for the money in the crazed stakes, while one wince-inducing moment with Torstein sticks in the memory and Rollo reminds as just how violent he can be, but the most intriguing stuff is happening away from the battlefield.
That means more time for Lagertha, which is always welcome. One of the strongest characters in the show, accompanied by one of the others – Athelstan – we see her wooed by King Ecbert. Divulging her dream of peace and a bit of farm to plough, she’s a calm, imperious presence; one that Linus Roache’s slimy king can’t get enough. Where this could lead to all kinds of clumsy, cheesy dialogue, though, Hirst’s decision to relay their conversations through George Blagden’s monk give everything a fascinating edge.
In the actor’s ever-sympathetic hands, Athelstan’s wavering between two religions has formed a bridge linking the cultures. He brings this couple together, but only because they both trust and respect him. He prays to the Christian God in one scene, only to be accosted in the confession box by Judith, who is attracted to his seemingly wild ways. He turns to Lagertha mid-dinner exchange. “What did you say?” she asks him. “I love Odin and I love Jesus Christ,” he answers, plainly. “What else can I say?”
That audible distance separating the King and the Earl also reminds us that each have their own agenda; neither have reached this point by being honest and falling in love with anyone who says nice things to them. The continuing rise of a challenger back home to Lagertha’s leadership promises more stern justice in the future – although the threat is hard to take seriously, given that her rebellious rival is called “Earl Kalf”. It’s hard to think of a more unthreatening name. He might as well be called King Duckling.
Shaky alliances have always been central to Vikings, giving the show a political complexity that quietly competes with those more high-profile series, such as Game of Thrones. After two seasons, though, the prospect of another season of House of Wessex Cards is not entirely thrilling – although we will, at some point, set our ships’ course for Paris. Thank goodness, then, for the other women in the show – Aslaug, Siggy, and Helga – who, while sitting at home waiting for their menfolk to return, at least get a bit of plot exposition to move things along. That comes in the form of shared dream, which promises the arrival of a new, supernatural figure, who lends the show’s future a chilling sense of mystery. What do you do after having your uncle slaughtered at the hand of violent Norse warriors? With Kevin Durand’s Wanderer on the cards, we look forward to finding out happens next.
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