‘Vikings’: Episode “The Most Terrible Thing” Recap

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Photo by Jonathan Hession

Last week’s episode of Vikings included many critical moments for our characters. Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) decided to travel to York in hopes of gaining a new ally, leaving Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) with King Alfred (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). While the King was ill, his mother, Queen Judith (Jennie Jacques) does the unthinkable to her youngest son, Aethelred (Darren Cahill).

Meanwhile, King Ivar’s (Alex Høgh Andersen) and Hvitserk’s (Marco Ilsø) relationship becomes even more strained. Back in Iceland, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) and Kjetill (Adam Copeland) set out to help Helgi’s (Jack McEvoy) family.

While there was still no sign of Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) in this week’s episode, there is still so much to cover, so let’s get into it!

Wessex

Photo by Jonathan Hession

As Aethelred is being buried, King Alfred arrives in the great hall; not aware that he has lost his brother. When he finds out, he is visibly devastated. When he asks how it happened, his mother, Queen Judith, lies to him in front of everyone.

Shortly after burying her son, Queen Judith immediately sends her daughter-in-law home. She then has a heart-to-heart with King Alfred and tells him the truth behind what happened to Aethelred.

She confesses to poisoning him. King Alfred is beside himself with horror as he takes in everything he has heard. He turns the room upside down with anger while his mother calmly watches. When he finally calms down, she tells him that he is not an ordinary person and should act more like a king.

“A king cannot be like an ordinary person. Must not behave or have feelings like an ordinary person. A king must be prepared to do the most terrible things. Things against all conscious. If he wants to survive.”

A few days later news comes that there is a large Viking army of at least 300 ships that are approaching fast, King Alfred summons Ubbe for his opinion. The Danes are a formidable force, and King Alfred feels that he will be able to inspire his men at the head of the army. However, Torvi (Georgia Hirst) interjects and says that they will not be frightened to see him. When Queen Judith asks why Torvi responds by bluntly stating:

“I have a terrible habit of telling the truth.”

In this rare comical moment, it is clear what she thinks of King Alfred as a warrior. Ubbe then suggests that King Alfred make him the head of the army. Otherwise, there will be no hope for them.

Kattegat

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King Ivar invites everyone to his great hall and announces to his people that the city of Kattegat has grown into a large and vital trading station. He asks the people to trust him as he changes up the rules of how decisions will be made. His rhetoric gets the crowd riled up as he declares himself the sole protector for everyone.

Later on, King Ivar laments to his wife about his suspicion of Hvitserk’s loyalty and contemplates ordering his death. Freydis (Alicia Agneson) tells him that it is a mistake.

“A merciful God will always be more popular among the common people than a vengeful God, like Odin. Wouldn’t you rather be loved than feared?”

Uncertain about what to do, he goes to visit Hvitserk in the dead of night. He tells him that he should have a role and could be more useful to him. King Ivar asks that Hvitserk leave Kattegat on a diplomatic mission to prepare for the spring attacks on York and Wessex. There is no room for negotiations as he threatens his girlfriend unless he goes.

Having no choice, Hvitserk prepares to leave and tells his girlfriend to be wary of his brother. The distrust between them grows every day.

York

Photo by Jonathan Hession

Back in York, Gunnhild (Ragga Ragnars) proves she is a force to be reckoned with as she trains and spars with the men. While she fights, Bjorn approaches King Harald (Peter Franzén) and urges him to start planning their attack.

He wishes to go to Kattegat now, while King Ivar least expects it, despite the threat of storms on the seas. He does not fear the weather because his father came to him in a dream and told him that they would find safe passage. This claim causes King Harald to raise an eyebrow.

King Harald explains the arrangement he had with King Ivar, and Bjorn agrees to the same terms. However, King Harald isn’t quick to believe him. He makes him swear on the life of his intended bride, Gunnhild. Bjorn has noticed the way that King Harald watches her and thinks this offer will be enough to get him onboard.

“What an exciting world we live in. What an exciting world! You will have your ships, Bjorn Ironside.”

King Harald then pays a visit to Gunnhild. He is taken with her and tries to find out what she wants. But instead of answering right away, Gunnhild asks him if he would like to be King of all of Norway. He says yes, and she states that she wants to be Queen. This last remark seems to give King Harald that final push to support Bjorn’s mission.

Gunnhild is keenly aware that King Harald has fallen in love with her. She tells Bjorn that he still wants to be King of Norway. He thinks on this and then remarks that King Harald has always had a heart and that he would have liked to have his heart. He doesn’t feel he has ever really been passionate about a person and isn’t sure that he is capable of it. Even though Bjorn thinks about Gunnhild all the time, he can’t say for sure if he has ever been in love. Bjorn’s displays a great deal of vulnerability in his next statement, which is something viewers have rarely gotten to see. Gunnhild then implores him to declare his love for her, and he does.

Iceland

Photo by Jonathan Hession

Floki, Kjetill, and Helgi finally reach Eyvind (Kris Holden-Ried) and his family. Everyone is shivering with cold and weak from lack of food.

Eyvind is grateful that they have come and admits that Floki was right and that they have all changed.

A little while later, Floki questions Kjetill on why they haven’t prepared to leave. In a shocking turn of events, Kjetill and his son, kill Eyvind’s entire family. They knock Helgi unconscious. Floki is horrified. Kjetill then takes Helgi and Eyvind outside to deal with in the morning. It is apparent that he has lost his mind and is filled with vengeance, which is something that entirely takes Floki by surprise.

“My only ambition is revenge.”

Helgi regrets bringing them here as he and his father struggle to survive outside. While Floki attempts to understand why Kjetill did what he did, he pleads with him not to kill Helgi, and Kjetill says that he would consider it.

When dawn arrives, Kjetill brutally decapitates Eyvind. Even until the last second, Eyvind shows no weakness as he nears death. Helgi pleads with Floki, but Floki is unable to do anything. He realizes that he has completely lost control of this situation. Kjetill ends up killing Helgi and puts his head along with others from his family on stakes outside of the dwelling.

When they return home, Kjetill’s daughter, Aud (Leah McNamara), can see things are not right. She sees Floki from a distance and inquires about what happened. He is reluctant to say anything, but eventually, he divulges everything. She can’t believe what he is telling her. He admits regret in bringing them to Iceland.

Later on, Aud who is still distraught over what her father and brother did, goes to the edge of a cliff by the waterfall. As she stands there, she hears Floki screaming for her. The news of what happened is too much for her to handle and she throws herself over the cliff. He is devastated as he watches her plunge to her death.

The alliance between King Harald and Bjorn is shaky at best. Who will come out on top in the end? Will King Ivar relax now that Hvitserk has gone away? Will King Alfred make Ubbe the leader of his army, and together will they defeat The Danes? Will Floki recover after losing Aud?

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