‘Vikings’: Episode “Ragnarok” Recap

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The time has come and the season finale of Vikings is here! The events of tonight’s episode were insane, and we can’t wait to recap it all here!

Battle for Kattegat

Photo by Jonathan Hession

King Ivar (Alex Høgh Andersen) has been busy building his army and fortifying his city. His scouts arrive with the news that the two armies are approaching – one with King Harald (Peter Franzén) and Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig), and the other with a King they did not recognize and Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø).

King Ivar laughs as if he knew it was coming.

“Now all of my brothers are against me. Now I know I’m the chosen one.”

King Olaf (Steven Berkoff) suggests that maybe they negotiate with King Ivar, but Bjorn and Hvitserk know better than that. It would be useless trying.

As they sit around the campfire the night before the battle, King Olaf channels The Seer as he begins to recite a grisly tale.

“Once more brother will fight against brother. And the world will be wrecked. Mitgard will be drenched by wars for three winters. Fathers will slaughter sons, brothers will be drenched in one another’s blood, mothers will desert their menfolk and seduce their own sons. Fimbulvetr, the winter of winters, will grip and throttle Mitgard. Fenrir, the wolf, will seize the sun between his jaws and swallow her. He will spatter Asgard with gore.”

Bjorn and Gunnhild (Ragga Ragnars) also partake in the storytelling. After they have all told parts of the story, King Harald puts poor Magnus (Dean Ridge) at ease.

“Ragnarok. It’s only a story.”

In his wisdom, King Olaf adds,

“Stories are all we have.”

The following morning, King Harald suggests they divide their armies and attack from multiple gates.

King Ivar also has a moment of reflection before the fight begins. He asks Queen Freydis (Alicia Agneson) to forgive him. With an impending battle, one can never be sure if he/she will survive. It seems it was something he needed to do before facing his brothers. While Queen Freydis still seems to fear him, she tells him that she does forgive him and that she loves him.

Photo by Jonathan Hession

The horns sound and both sides take their places. With Bjorn against King Ivar, the intensity at which the next few scenes play out is almost too much!

King Harald and Hvitserk hide in the trenches waiting for their moment, while Bjorn and King Olaf attack from the front gates. As Bjorn races towards the door, the flying arrows manage to miss him. It seems the Gods do tend to protect him!

King Ivar spots him from above and mockingly welcomes him.

“Welcome Bjorn, welcome home.”

Gunnhild then aims an arrow at him, but one of his men shields him.

Hvitserk and King Harald send arrows with flames flying towards the enemy and attack from their position at the other gate. Magnus takes cover and begins to pray to his God, yet again.

Hvitserk and King Harald manage to get over the gate. Both sides have their men and women dropping like flies from all directions. As King Ivar stands laughing from above, he decides to mock Bjorn.

“My brother, you’ve come too late. Much too late.”

With that, he then sends his man to the other gate and then instructs his men to burn Bjorn’s men below alive.

In the midst of the insanity and death, King Olaf begins to shout.

“Come and see. Come and see the death of humanity. Upon a shore of corpses, broken heads, spilled guts, scorched flesh. Come and see the young tearing each other’s throats out. Rivers of poison will flow through the halls.”

On the other side, King Harald falls to the ground from the top of the gate as he escapes a sword. Hvitserk barely escapes the arrows. When they meet up at the bottom, Hvitserk thinks they should retreat, but King Harald believes they should wait to see if Bjorn has gotten through the gate on his side.

King Ivar has his men use a contraption to add air to the fire which makes it difficult for Bjorn and his men to get through the wall. When Bjorn has finally broken through, King Ivar has another plan up his sleeve. His men surround Bjorn and the few of his people that got through before they dropped a secondary wall. They subsequently begin to take them out one by one. There is a real look of fear and defeat in Bjorn’s eyes when he realizes he might not make it out alive.

Meanwhile, Gunnhild rips through people as she reaches the top of the gates and Bjorn and his men run towards the wall. They meet up at the top of the wall and make it back over to safety. He sounds the retreat, and they all run.

On the other side, Magnus realizes that the Vikings Gods are with him and it gives him the courage to attack the gate. However, King Harald grabs him because he knows there is no way he would make it. As they weed through the arrows and fighting men, Magnus tells him that he finally knows who he is. Just at that moment, an arrow pierces his heart, and he dies in King Harald’s arms.

As everyone runs, Bjorn defiantly stands and looks up at the men with their arrows aimed at him.

“You know who I am. I am Bjorn Ironside, son of Ragnar. I grew up with many of you. You are my neighbors, my friends. We played together when we were children. I am not your enemy! Ivar is your enemy. He rules over you with tyranny and cruelty. He wants to destroy everything my father built.”

Instead of shooting their arrows, the army listens to the crack in his voice and the heartbreak in his words. When King Ivar screams that he is lying and orders them to shoot, none of them do, so he grabs a bow and arrow from one of them and takes a shot. Bjorn protects himself with a shield from the ground. As he stands up and stares at King Ivar, he says:

“You know me.”

And with that Bjorn walks away unharmed.

Back at the camp, King Harald thinks there is no point in attacking again as they will never get in. King Olaf suggests that they walk away since there is no way to win, but Hvitserk and Bjorn refuse to give in.

Inside the city walls, King Ivar is furious that his army did not follow his orders. He tries to turn them against Bjorn and King Harald.

“I am the only one who speaks for you. And I swear that I will live and die for any of you. All that I ask is for your absolute loyalty. Otherwise, we shall all perish together.”

Photo by Jonathan Hession

Later while King Ivar celebrates his victory, Queen Freydis watches. She then rides quietly in the night to Bjorn’s camp. She tells Hvitserk about his girlfriend Thora and what King Ivar did, as well as what he did to their baby. It seems that the death of their baby was the last straw for her.

“He is a monster. You have to stop him.”

She tells him of a secret tunnel into the town that King Ivar created for his escape. Queen Freydis will have the entrance open for them in the morning. With no other options, they decide to trust her.

As promised, in the morning, she goes to open the tunnel for them and then quietly returns to bed. When King Ivar wakes up, they hear the horns, and she tells him that they are attacking the walls again. He arrogantly replies:

“I’m not even sure I need to get out of bed.”

Meanwhile, Bjorn and the group are flying through the inside of the walls and attacking everyone in their path. Bjorn stops fighting and implores them to stand down.

“People of Kattegat, we have come for Ivar. We have no intention of killing our friends. Stay inside. Don’t fight us. We are here to set you free.”

When they arrive at King Ivar’s home, his army stands guard protecting him. Ready to fight, they see King Ivar in the distance. As they stare each other down, Bjorn comes forward and calls out to King Ivar. Before they can get to him, they need to make their way through his soldiers.

King Ivar knows it was his wife, Queen Freydis that betrayed him and so he goes inside to find her. When confronted by him, she doesn’t deny it.

“No. On the body of our dead son, no. I let them in.”

This confirmation hits King Ivar hard. He kisses her and then strangles her.

“Later when I have time, I will sit and weep for you. I love you Freydis.”

As Bjorn and Hvitserk continue to fight through King Ivar’s army, Gunnhild and King Harald join in. In the middle of the fighting, King Harald sees Bjorn being pinned down, and for a split second he hesitates, but then rushes to help him. Gunnhild spots this moment.

When they have defeated the last of King Ivar’s men, Bjorn and Hvitserk enter the Great Hall looking for King Ivar. They find Queen Freydis laying peacefully in bed with the bones of her dead son next to her. There is no King Ivar in sight.

They rejoin the others outside and claim victory, and King Olaf exclaims to the crowd:

“Here’s to the new year of all our lives. Bjorn Ironside.”

Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) and Torvi (Georgia Hirst) appear amongst the crowd. Earlier in the episode, we saw Torvi and Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) on a ship. They had a moment where Lagertha told Torvi that she was reborn.

“The only thing that I have learned is that life is about suffering. There is no escape from it. That’s the truth. What’s important is how we deal with suffering. How we deal with the truth.”

Now that we know they were on their way back to Kattegat, it seems they have arrived just in time. Ubbe hugs Bjorn and then looks back as Lagertha walks up to them. She comes holding a sword.

“And here is the sword of Kings. Hail King Bjorn. King of Kattegat. Hail King Bjorn!”

As his mother hands him his sword, King Bjorn has a vision of him holding the bloody sword standing among the dead, and he hears his father’s voice.

On top of the mountains that overlook Kattegat, King Bjorn sits just like his father once did with the sword of a King.

He thinks back to a conversation that he had with his father, Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), on top of that mountain.

“Why do you want to fight? And what are you fighting for? What do you seek?”

Bjorn responded.

“Power.”

Ragnar had seen what power could do to a man and decided to impart some wisdom onto his eldest son.

“Power is always dangerous. It attracts the worst. And corrupts the best. Power is only given to those who are prepared to lower themselves to pick it up.”

It is then that The Seer appears behind him.

“And so it has come to pass. The future foretold. The dark raven, the eagle, and the wolf have laid bare the bones of corpses. Here is the story of the world. Make what use of it you can. No one will ever forget the name of Bjorn Ironside. Greater than Ragnar. But the war is not over. “

When Bjorn asks if any of this is real, he merely smiles.

In the very last scene, we see Ivar hitching a ride on a wagon with pure hatred in his eyes. The Seer is most definitely right; it is not over for Ivar or King Bjorn.

The finale had some fantastic moments. The Ragnorak story told by King Olaf by the campfire was incredible to watch and hear. It was as ominous as it could get right before the big battle for the city they all love so much. His screams into the crowd of fighting and dying men and women was also a bit chilling. Berkoff has just the right amount of crazy and scary rolled up into one character!

When Ubbe and Torvi appeared, we might have squealed with delight just a tad bit. It was great to see Ubbe be with his brothers at this very critical moment, as well as bringing Lagertha back to King Bjorn. The moment that King Bjorn shared with his father, Ragnar, was also an excellent way to give warning of what power and all that responsibility can do to a man. Although Ragnar has been gone for some time now, the way that this half of the season was set up, it feels as if he is still very much present and part of these characters and their stories. Could this exchange between father and son be some forecasting for what could happen to King Bjorn? We already saw how it corrupted Ivar.

While we didn’t see any more of Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård), we can only hope that he survived the cave and we see more of him in season six! It will be interesting to see how Ivar finds his way back and seeks his revenge. We only have one more season of our beloved characters so we might have to endure some binge watching of past seasons to get us through to the final season six. Until then, farewell our fellow heathens! Hope you enjoyed the season as much as we did!

What did you think of season five’s finale?