The season 4 premiere of Vikings started with a catch up on season 3 as well as a cool new opening credits sequence and the same stunningly breathtaking cinematography fans have grown to love. Here’s what went down in episode 1, entitled “A Good Treason”.
SPOILER ALERT: This article contains information about the first episode of season 4 of History Channel’s Vikings. Please proceed with caution if you have not yet viewed this episode and wish to avoid spoilers.
The season 4 premiere of Vikings set the scene for Ragnar Lothbrok’s (Travis Fimmel) story arc with a dream sequence; the threat of a viking not entering Valhalla after a lifetime of epic battles. Of course Athelstan (George Blagden) is also remembered in this dream and with it the reminder that life is more complicated than any one religion. Ragnar, while having slept the sleep of the ill for quite some time, awakes in this episode, leading to all sorts of headaches for some characters.
Besides the set up for Ragnar’s story, this episode deals with a broad overview that includes a catch up on story lines from season 3 of Vikings as well as the set up for continuing story lines.
The main theme in episode 1 of Vikings was the set up for the continued theme of “betrayal.” To say the entire show has been based around this theme is an understatement, but it is a theme that never seems to grow old on Vikings, and season 4 sees the ante being well and truly upped. Included in the multiple betrayal story lines on Vikings are the following:
- Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) visiting the Seer (John Kavanagh) and asking if a woman — or more importantly; herself — will ever rule Kattegat. The Seer is his usual self and speaks with a shadowed tongue. As well as this Aslaug also seems determined to undermine Ragnar at every step in season 4 of Vikings and their relationship is as icy as the winter they are living through. Aslaug also purchases an Asian slave from the traders that should be interesting enough to captivate Ragnar — it seems she is so sick of her husband, she will stoop to any level to keep him out of her hair.
- Floki’s (Gustaf Skarsgard) betrayal to Ragnar in season 3 of Vikings is explored in this episode. Floki seems determined to amend things between himself and his old friend, Ragnar, while he sleeps, leaving runes as an offering. But when Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) arrives back from Paris, he calls Floki out for his betrayal and has him arrested.
Floki is chained up and spends the rest of episode 1 being fearful of the fact Ragnar has finally woken up and will have to deal with him one way or another (although, Floki assumes the worst) and trying to convince Helga to help him escape from his shackles. When Ragnar finally confronts Floki, they argue over just who is right, with Ragnar insisting Floki killed Athelstan out of jealousy. Floki, of course, is still maintaining his right as a viking to kill a Christian.
- Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) and Kalf (Ben Robson) return home from Paris also. While Kalf is determined to see Lagertha rule equally with him, there are others there who are not so happy; namely Erlendur (Edvin Endre) and Einar (Steve Wall). Both have their reasons for not liking Lagertha and it seems they are determined not to have her rule in Hedeby. Of course — as is the usual case in Vikings — not all is as it seems. When Kalf brings the people of Hedeby together and asks them to vote yay or nay for Lagertha to rule alongside him, Einar, predictably, casts the first vote. What is surprising though, is the fact that Erlendur sides with Lagertha. He does this by killing those who have objected to Lagertha’s joint rule. However, thanks to an impressively placed bolt, Lagertha gets the final say in killing Einar. She does this by removing his manhood first. Yes, it is Vikings being viking.
- Finally, my favorite betrayal part of the season 4 premiere of Vikings: Rollo (Clive Standen). Usually I am not a great fan of this character, as I explained in my early review of season 4. However, this season of Vikings seems to be Rollo’s year. His story line is developing around the fact he has stayed behind in Paris to marry into royalty. But life is not as idyllic as he might have envisioned. His bride-to-be, Princess Gisla (Morgane Polanski) is as opinionated and stubborn as usual and is making it difficult for the viking to even marry her when she resists the traditions surrounding the marriage ceremony. Her father has no qualms about making her buck to tradition though as he knows having a viking on his side is his only defense against the rest of them when they next attack.
The humor involving Rollo and Gisla are hilarious and Standen is excellent at using nothing more than his body and facial expressions to convey what he means in a situation where he doesn’t even speak the language. Just when you thought the wedding ceremony would be the biggest battle, it is time for the wedding night and Gisla is just as defiant. Rollo responds by throwing everyone out of their chamber and going to sleep rather than offend his new bride any more. She is so thankful she pulls a knife on him, something Rollo finds greatly amusing. Her threat is so insignificant to him, he continues trying to sleep until Gisla gives up on her limp murder attempt. Of course, Rollo marrying into royalty, effectively betraying not only his brother but his whole nation, is not the end of his story in episode 1 of Vikings. Instead, he proves to his new bride and father in-law just how serious he is about his new role as a Frankish citizen. That proof comes with Rollo agreeing to a meeting with the vikings who have remained in Paris and then slaughtering them with the help of the Frankish army.
As well as the threads of betrayal being woven in episode 1 of Vikings, the search for personal identity, the big “why am I here?” question is also dominant. Therefore, Bjorn’s road to leadership is explored more deeply. When he returns from Paris and arrests Floki on his father’s behalf, Ragnar points out that now he is forced to deal with his old friend. Bjorn still seems to have no clue when it comes to leadership. And, considering Entertainment Weekly have already disclosed the fact Bjorn will place himself in self-inflicted exile to prove his worth to his parents, we know where this story is headed. When Bjorn announces to his father that he will be leaving, it is no great revelation that he knows Ragnar thinks his son will not survive such an exile.
Speaking of Ragnar’s sons, his next eldest, Ubbe (Luke Shanahan), is starting on his path to viking adulthood in season 4 of Vikings and spends his time in this episode hanging around with his father and defending everything he says.
What did you think of the season 4 premiere of Vikings? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.
Vikings returns to History Channel with episode 2, entitled “Kill the Queen” on Thursday, February 25, at 10 p.m. ET.
[Image via A&E Network]