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‘Vikings’: Episode “The Joke” Recap

Photo by Jonathan Hession

The moment fans have been waiting for is finally here! The better half of this season has shown the remaining sons of Ragnar building their alliances and preparing for the inevitable. The time has finally come for them to face each other and we will see if they can or will fight against their flesh and blood.

Battle Preparations

Photo by Jonathan Hession

Ivar (Alex Høgh Andersen) can’t hide his excitement as they prepare for battle. If it comes down to it, we already know that he can kill his brother. However, he asks Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø) the question that the rest of us are wondering. Can and will Hvitserk kill Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) when push comes to shove?

As Bishop Heahmund (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) arrives at the docks, Ivar cheerily greets him as “Your Grace,” which infuriates him. Unperturbed, he revels Heahmund’s sword. “This sword only works its magic for its owner.”

On the other side of the docks, Queen Astrid (Josefin Asplund) also prepares to board the ship, but King Harald (Peter Franzén) stops her. He demands that she does not go since she is pregnant, but his Queen refuses, after all, she’s a warrior too. Knowing he can’t win this argument, he relents and allows her to board.

Meanwhile, Queen Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) is also preparing her army with her son by her side. Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) also proudly takes his son, Guthrum, to battle for the first time. It seems he will continue to hold his promise to Torvi (Georgia Hirst) about being there for their children. Although the eldest son is not technically his, he doesn’t treat him any different. She watches as Bjorn says goodbye to his new love interest. The hurt she feels is still apparent. She then takes her smaller children to Margrethe (Ida Nielsen) who subsequently watches Ubbe and Torvi walk off together.

Battlefield

Photo by Jonathan Hession

The armies both approach the battlefield and look onto what will surely be a gruesome fight. Queen Lagertha doesn’t feel it is right that the sons of Ragnar are willing to fight each other, so she decides to send emissaries in a last-ditch effort to come to a peaceful agreement.

Bjorn and Halfdan (Jasper Pääkkönen) agree and ride forward. Hvitserk and King Harald meet them in the middle. For this day, they decide to exchange hostages, one brother for another and agree to meet the following day. They each hope to talk some sense into their other half – either stop this battle or join their cause.

Meanwhile, Ivar stares at Queen Lagertha. His thirst for revenge is finally within reach.

Queen Lagertha’s Camp

Ubbe thinks that perhaps Hvitserk regrets turning his back on him and siding with Ivar, but Hvitserk doesn’t regret anything. The possibility that they might have to face each other weighs on Ubbe.

“I do not want to meet you face to face in battle. I do not want to have to kill you. Stay, you are my little brother, stay.”

For some reason, his plea seems to fall on deaf ears, and Hvitserk is still determined to follow Ivar. Even Queen Lagertha does her best to convince Hvitserk to avoid war.

Ivar’s Camp

Halfdan meanwhile talks to King Harald who doesn’t understand why he is fighting for Queen Lagertha. King Harald thinks that family has a more significant claim. He also appeals to his brother to join him, “You are part of my fate as I am apart of yours, stay.”

Day of Battle

Photo by Jonathan Hession

At the meeting the next morning, Bjorn tries his best to talk some sense into his brothers for the sake of the family and their father’s legacy.

“Let’s put aside our differences for the sake of our father. A civil war can only bring tragedy, weaken our family, and set in train a lifetime of revenge obligations for those who manage to survive, is that really what you all want?”

Ubbe also states that he agrees with Bjorn and says if Ivar can forgive him then they can make an accord.

Queen Lagertha, who is fully aware that both King Harald and Ivar are gunning for her throne, declares to everyone that she is the rightful Queen of Kattegat. She explains how they should be joining forces and exploring rather than fighting for a land that is already rightfully hers. Woman to woman (Queen to Queen) she addresses Queen Astrid, hoping that perhaps their relationship can help in these talks. However, it seems that Queen Astrid is siding with her husband. We are still not entirely sure what her game is as it was due to her efforts that Queen Lagertha found out about the attack in the first place. Even Halfdan tries to talk some sense into his brother without success.

Queen Lagertha approaches Ivar and tells him,

“But, win or lose, you lose. You gain victory over the other sons of Ragnar, people will say you are an illegitimate ruler and a usurper and if you lose, they will say it was by the will of the Gods and the will of Ragnar.”

If they can convince Ivar not to fight, then they know that there is no way King Harald can win. In a twist, Ivar says he does not wish to fight today or tomorrow and then renounces his claim to Kattegat saying,

“I renounce my promise to kill Lagertha. She can have Kattegat. I don’t want it.”

He also seemingly looks to make peace with Ubbe and asks for his forgiveness. The shock of Ivar’s statement naturally angers King Harald.

As they are about to toast to what everyone believes is a truce, Ivar throws his drink in Ubbe’s face. He then says he can never forgive Lagertha for killing their mother, how could Ubbe? “You are no longer my brother.” Here’s the Ivar we all know – vicious and deadly. There was no way he was giving in so quickly.

Swords are drawn as each side gears up and walk back to their respective armies. There will be no peace if Ivar has his way. To add to the family drama, King Harald strikes Halfdan and then declares he will kill him.

As Ubbe so aptly stated,“This was all a waste of time.”

Both sides line up for battle and Ivar thinks that Bjorn is planning something. He then decides to pull back some of their armies to watch the ships. It’s a risk, but Ivar is willing to take it. He instructs Hvitserk to take some of the men into the woods to outflank them off to the side. Last minute, King Harald also asks him to take Queen Astrid. There is no way he is letting the mother of his child fight.

The armies collide as each wave is sent in. The field gets bloodier as swords fly in all directions and people and body parts spatter across the battlefield. Meanwhile, Hvitserk runs into some unexpected company in the woods. Remember the Sami people? They turn out to be a sneaky bunch! Without even being seen they attack Hvitserk and his men, forcing them to retreat.

Photo by Jonathan Hession

Soon all hands are on deck with King Harald, Queen Lagertha, and Bjorn all getting in on the fight. Watching the Vikings do what they do best was great because it brought us back to earlier seasons when the Vikings would cut down their enemies swiftly and brutality. It’s a shame that now it is brothers fighting against brothers. Even Heahmund gets to flex his warrior muscles as he slashes down one Vikings at a time. Unfortunately for him, he gets struck and falls.

While Ivar and his group head to the ships, he stops and listens. He can tell that they are losing and when the horn blares for help, Queen Astrid begs to go back, but he says her they are too late.

As King Harald’s army retreats, the view from above shows the devastation this battle has caused. Mounds of the dead are strewn all over the battlefield. When King Harald makes it back to Ivar, he is not pleased. When Ivar asks about his bishop, he merely retorts, “Your Christian is dead.” However, unbeknownst to them, he is alive. Queen Lagertha discovers him as they comb through the dead and instructs them to save him. “Don’t know why maybe the Gods know why.”

Floki and the Colony

While the colony is still in the process of settling down, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) announces that they should build a temple and have Thor as the central God of the temple. The colony doesn’t understand why they need to create a temple. Eyvind (Kris Holden-Ried) is still very much against being there and thinks Kjetill Flatnose (Adam Copeland) is trying to gain Floki’s favor by suggesting they build the temple on his land. Even though Eyvind isn’t happy about this new place, he doesn’t think anyone can go back after deserting Queen Lagertha.

Regardless the people go along with Floki and begin to build the temple, but Kjetill notices that Eyvind and his family are nowhere in sight. Something tells us that this discord between Eyvind, Kjetill, and Floki will not end well.

England (Saxons)

Prince Alfred (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) has returned from his pilgrimage and tells his mother Queen Judith (Jennie Jacques) about what he discovered. He sees that the priest and even his father, King Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford), are too set in the old ways. They don’t realize that they have to change and modernize how they approach the world. He suggests that to survive they build a Navy.

What will Ivar and King Harald do next since they lost the first battle? What will Queen Lagertha do with the Heahmund? Will Floki, Kjetill, and Eyvind ever come to an understanding?

Vikings airs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST on History.

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