Let us begin with a warning to those who have not yet watched this episode. As with all recaps, there are going to be some significant spoilers. However, since this is a mid-season finale, we suggest that you read no further if you have not yet watched the episode!
The episode opens with an ominous song sung by Halfdan the Black and his brother King Harald Finehair. The melody is haunting as members of each army silently listen while preparing for battle.
The mid-season finale alternates between past, present, and adds a touch of hallucination. We will recap each of the characters’ story individually.
Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø)
Flashback: We start Hvitserk’s and Ivar talking about when Hvitserk stepped off the boat and joined Ivar. Ivar doesn’t believe him when he tells him that he does not regret leaving Ubbe. After being pressed enough, he finally admits that it is true.
Present: The archers let out their first arrows, and the battle begins. Hvitserk is covered in blood as he plunges into the mob of fighters. He is knocked out and, in a flash, he sees himself back when he made the critical decision to get off Ubbe’s (Jordan Patrick Smith) boat and join Ivar. When he comes to, he finds himself face-to-face with Ubbe. As Ubbe swings his sword, Hvitserk does not raise his. Ubbe thankfully stops short of his neck. Ubbe couldn’t possibly kill his younger brother, but in these times, you never know!
Queen Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick)
Present: Can we all just take a moment to note how badass Queen Lagertha looks in her warrior paint? The scene starts with her standing in line with her army, ready to strike.
Flashback: Bishop Heahmund (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) approaches Queen Lagertha. She believes this might be the last time they see each other, whereas, he does not. She makes one last request.
“Kiss me a last time.”
They share a passionate kiss before she declares, “Now I can die.”
Present: We next see her back on the battlefield cutting her enemy down one by one. In the midst of combat, she experiences a vision of her younger self with her dad on their farm and the necklace that he gave her. All of the sudden she finds herself on the empty battlefield and Queen Astrid (Josefin Asplund) approaches. Queen Astrid begs her to kill her and reveals that she is carrying a child. Queen Lagertha refuses. Desperate and determined, Queen Astrid lunges towards Queen Lagertha, and she has no choice but to defend herself.
The death of Queen Astrid might have broken her.
Bjorn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig)
Present: We see Bjorn valiantly fights like a true Viking warrior on the battlefield. He has little time to mourn the death of this stepson with Trovi (Georgia Hirst). He knows in his heart that his son fought well and is in Valhalla.
Flashback: Bjorn and his new love, Princess Snaefrid (Dagny Backer Johnsen), share a tender moment before taking their positions in separate locations. She remains in the woods, while he goes out into the open field. Although the Sami people were successful in the first battle round, they were not this time. Her father ends up perishing in the fight, and so does she. We were a little shocked at how short-lived her character lasted!
Present: Since Ivar’s army was reinforced with King Rollo’s French army, Bjorn and the rest of his side had no choice but to retreat. On his way back to their camp and Kattegat, he finds Princess Snaefrid’s lifeless body.
Halfdan the Black (Jasper Pääkkönen)
Flashback: In a conversation with Bjorn, he tells him that he has come to terms with dying on this day because he is ready for Valhalla.
“At least life has taught me something. You have taught me something.”
Present: As he fights he has a vision where he is back in the desert. He runs his hands through the sand. When he comes back to reality, he confronts his brother. Unlike Hvitserk and Ubbe, King Harald does not hesitate one bit and his sword slices right through Halfdan’s side. As he lays bleeding, he kisses his ax while staring at his brother.
“This is life, and this is death, brother.”
King Harald embraces him and tells him, “I will see you in Valhalla.”
Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen)
Present: Ivar watches the battle from higher ground. He then mobilizes his army.
“Are we afraid of death? No! We do not intend to die in our beds as old men. Victory is all the better when it is hard won. Valhalla awaits us! Forward, my brothers! Forward!”
He spots his priest, Bishop Heahmund, who is fighting for Queen Lagertha. They briefly acknowledge each other. There is venom in Ivar’s eyes as he stares down at him.
Flashback: Before the chaos begins, Ivar sits by himself.
“I don’t want to forget why I’m really going into battle this day.”
He does not plan to hold back. With the support of his uncle’s army, he can taste victory.
Margrethe (Ida Nielsen) seems to have lost her marbles. (That is if she ever really had it in the first place.) She walks into the water and sees a vision of a dead body. She pulls out a piece of dead wood and drops it at the foot of Torvi’s kids as she starts to ramble nonsense about everyone dying.
“This one is dead. Soon they will all be dead.”
She visits The Seer and tells him that she has seen the deaths of those in battle. The Seer reiterates his prophecy.
“Ragnar’s death would lead to calamities and horrors beyond measure, beyond imaginging. Pity the sons of Ragnar, watching these events, even the Gods weep.”
She asks if Ubbe will rule Kattegat and if she will be Queen. He doesn’t quite answer, merely tells her that, “I said he would not be King of Kattegat.” He then calls her mad.
“Perhaps the mad will inherit the Earth.”
Thankfully in all her madness, she does not harm Torvi’s children. When Torvi returns from battle, she finds them unharmed.
Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) and Colony
Eyvind (Kris Holden-Ried) and his family bury his son, Bul, who died in the scuffle the night before. Floki can sense the rage he feels and tries to empathize with him by telling him about his loss. He begs Eyvind to not focus on revenge because it was an accident and warns that if he does retaliate, he will start an endless cycle of misery. He offers to make him the ‘lawgiver’ of the new land, as long as he doesn’t do anything.
A little while later, Kjetkill’s (Adam Copeland) daughter comes to see Floki. She leads him to the hot spring, where the body of her brother is floating. Eyvind killed Kjetkill’s son after all. Floki decides to gather the colony.
“This is not right. This is not how imagined everything. No doubt I am a fool. I was always called a fool, and now I have proved it. We have failed the Gods. We have behaved like humans. They gave us every opportunity to be better people and we have all failed.”
He suggests that they must make a sacrifice, and then he offers himself as that sacrifice.
As both sides recuperate from their losses, Ivar sits alone and thinks about Queen Lagertha.
“Ah Lagertha, don’t be a coward. Come and fight me. Come and fight me.”
Their losses are high, and Bjorn knows it is no longer safe for them to stay in Kattegat because Ivar will come after them. He instructs everyone to get ready so that they can leave. All of a sudden he comes across his mother cowered in the corner of her chambers. She is in a trance-like state, and her hair is stark white.
The death count was pretty high, and the episode did not disappoint! We will miss Halfdan as he was growing on us. As for Queen Astrid, we are sad for what she went through and her desperate need to end it at the hands of someone she loved.
In the final moments of this action-packed episode, the camera pans to a ship sailing towards the direction of Kattegat. To our utter surprise and excitement, it is the one and only King Rollo (Clive Standen)!
What will Ivar do now that he has conquered Kattegat? Will Queen Lagertha recover from the devastation and Queen Astrid’s death? Will Hvitserk leave Ivar’s side? Will the colony sacrifice Floki? Last but not least, how will King Rollo’s return shake things up?
What a fantastic first half of season five! We can’t wait for the second half of the season to return!