While episode 7 of History Channel’s Vikings ended with a bit of a cliffhanger, it seems the official synopsis for episode 8, entitled “Portage,” brings more questions to the table than answers.
SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses episode 7 of season 4 of History Channel’s Vikings. It also discusses upcoming story lines for episode 8. Please proceed with caution if you wish to avoid spoilers.
The very end of episode 7 of Vikings saw Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) talking to a severed head. Fans went nuts as they tried to work out just whose head it was. Now, after the dust has settled, it seems likely Ragnar was just talking to a random head he found when they returned to the decimated viking camp.
So, the next mystery surrounding episode 8 of Vikings is what Ragnar’s next plan of attack is. The official synopsis of episode 8 is as follows.
“Defeat for the Vikings calls Ragnar’s leadership into question as they evacuate their camp and move back down-river. Ragnar himself remains inscrutable until he orders the fleet to beach at a cliff face and unveils an ingenious plan. Rollo and Gisla have news that strengthens Rollo’s position at the French Court whilst Count Odo fails to identify his true enemies, with fatal consequences.”
With the fact Ragnar is not as physically strong as he used to be, or as mentally alert, thanks to Yidu’s betel nuts, it seems unlikely Ragnar will see any success in episode 8 of Vikings. However, several fans pointed out in the comments of the episode 7 recap of Vikings that Ragnar just might have a very ingenious plan.
The plan is given away in the title of episode 8: “Portage.” So what does this word even mean? According to the Oxford Dictionary, “portage” is the carrying of a boat or its cargo between two navigable waters. The example sentence given by Oxford is, “the return journey was made much simpler by portage.” Another applicable meaning is: A place at which portage is necessary. Considering Ragnar and his fellow vikings are now in a place they can’t pass, Paris could certainly be considered a “place at which portage is necessary.”
However, the origin of this word is much newer than the era in which Vikings is set. Once again, according to the Oxford Dictionary, the word portage originates from the 17th century. However, the word did originate from a French word “porter” meaning “to carry.” So it is very interesting that Vikings writer and creator, Michael Hirst, chose this title for an episode that may show a reason to create such a word in a French area such as Paris.
Could Ragnar really come up with such an ingenious plan to get around the defenses his brother, Rollo (Clive Standen), set in place to hold back the vikings? If it were the Ragnar of old, it would certainly seem like something he could achieve. Considering just how much the defeat at Paris in episode 7 of Vikings seemed to affect him, though, it could be a bit of a stretch to suggest Ragnar comes up with this plan all by himself. The synopsis says that Ragnar reveals the plan, implying he certainly did come up with it himself. But could someone close to him perhaps have given him the idea?
Ragnar’s new lover, Yidu (Dianne Doan), is someone who was captured and enslaved when she was on a boat with her family. This implies that she is someone who knows a lot about travelling on water. The fact that she admitted to Ragnar that she was the emperor’s daughter also suggests she knows enough about the struggles that people in high places face, and the constant wars that erupt as a result of this, also suggests she could come up with such a plan that Ragnar could claim as his own.
Although, considering the vikings are just as comfortable on sea as on the land, perhaps Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) — a viking who is renowned for his boat-making skills — could come up with such a plan? Perhaps Ragnar saving his life in episode 7 was just the incentive Floki needed to help his old friend out again?
What do you think will happen in episode 8 of Vikings? Let us know your thoughts and theories by commenting below.
Season 4 of Vikings returns to History Channel with episode 8, entitled “Portage,” on Thursday, April 7, at 10 p.m. ET.
[Image via Bernard Walsh/A&E Network]