Season 2, Episode 6
Air date: Thursday, April 3, 2014, 10/9c on History
“Are you sure it is a game?” – Siggy Haraldson
Last week on Vikings, Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) urged his mother (Katheryn Winnick) not to take any more shit. This week, it almost seems as if this message gets through to his father Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) too, as he makes the pivotal decision of taking control of matters. Will the gods favor Ragnar and Lagertha?
“Unforgiven” is a fitting title since the most critical events occur as a result of resentment or someone holding a grudge. However, this episode could also be called “The Game,” a term associated with the politics of alliances, as introduced by King Horik (Donal Logue) in a discussion with Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig). More specifically, it refers to an individual’s ability to influence others, and set things in motion for their own gain.
If a game is indeed being played in Kattegat, let’s do a walkthrough of the key players and how they fared this week:
Horik obviously sees himself as a master puppeteer and based on his latest actions, the objective of his game is holding Ragnar under his thumb to fulfill his personal agenda. Logue has made a career of being an actor with a tendency to play peculiar, twisted men, and as we see in this episode, Horik is no exception. I must also note Logue is so gifted at conveying the self-centered nature of his character, I can barely stand him when he’s on screen! King Horik is nothing but an entitled bully who has others do his dirty work, with the goal of inciting disarray for his personal gain.
Although Siggy claims to do everything for Rollo (Clive Standen), I’ll believe it when she makes a sacrifice for someone she cares for. Judging by Rollo’s attitude toward her by the end of “Unforgiven,” he may be onto her playing multiple sides to see if any of these alliances of convenience yield benefits for her. Although I understand Siggy’s reasons for being bitter about her present situation, she should consider how being loyal to those who’ve shown her kindness may be the key for the gods to smile on her once more.
Ragnar’s unpredictability, and the manner in which he plays up his silly side to throw off others, makes him an effective player. Pretending to go along with Horik’s wish to renew their alliance with Jarl Borg (Thorbjørn Harr) provides him the perfect façade to carry out his revenge plans, even fooling his own wife Auslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) in the process.
Hearing Horik’s version of the Wessex attack and the disdain the king shows for Athelstan (George Blagden) is what solidifies his need for action. Also, Ragnar’s request to have Borg’s men stay at the barn sets off alarms in my head – I knew a plan was already in execution mode. Ragnar’s instincts are right on the mark: there is something rotten going on when a supposedly powerful King like Horik needs two Earls to carry out another Wessex raid. Considering Horik’s powerful position, and as evidenced by his pushy nature, he should certainly have a variety of other resources available to him.
Jarl’s eagle obsession has turned out to be rather troublesome, to say the least! Based on the latest events, it looks like the Seer (John Kavanaugh) is stringing him along just like Rollo and Ragnar did. In such a dog-eat-dog society, how could Jarl think Ragnar would ever trust him again?
Seeing Jarl consult with his dead wife and watching him basically make out with her skull nearly breaks the creep-o-meter for me, to say nothing of how disrespectful it is to his current wife.
Does the miserable and drunken Earl Sigvard (Morten Sasse Suurballe) really know Lagertha so poorly? His decision to publicly humiliate his wife for aiding Ragnar results in a fairly dramatic turn of events, and offers one of the most gratifying scenes of “Unforgiven.”
Gaining the favor of King Ecbert (Linus Roache) as a scribe and confidant is a huge win for a pagan in a Christian court. Seeing the humane and more intellectual side of Ecbert is clearly exciting for Athelstan but does anybody else feel this new secretive position will turn out to be troublesome for him?
Athelstan’s earlier observation of how Ragnar and Ecbert are very similar men is spot on. It’s interesting how both leaders see the value of a resource like him in regards to their long term plans, while most locals look at the monk with distrust. Overall, the short-term win is good for Athelstan but he’ll find himself in a huge dilemma when Ragnar returns to Wessex.
Bjorn is a good kid with a kind heart who has now succumbed to puppy love for Porunn (Gaia Weiss) – or should I say lust? Considering the master/slave relationship at play here and how Bjorn basically stalks Porunn around the village, why would she trust him at all?
I appreciate Bjorn’s nobility in not abusing his position of power with her but I find this whole storyline to be rushed and forced. Although Bjorn may end up having a really good time with Porunn, I expect this love interest will bring nothing but complications for him long-term.
What’s On My Radar?
- Rollo’s compassion for Borg’s wife after seeing how he humiliated her with the deceased first wife’s freak show.
- Floki’s (Gustaf Skarsgård) awesome inability to keep secrets.
- Auslaug’s ongoing concern about Ragnar’s interest in other women.
- Will Lagertha become a ruler, and will the recent chain of events favor Bjorn too?
Of all the season two episodes, “Unforgiven” gives me the most conflicted emotions. I have trouble buying some of the characters’ decision making (Bjorn and Ragnar, in particular) but it is also extremely gratifying to see some events unfold, especially for Lagertha and Ragnar. Watching Siggy get burned by her ambitions is a huge bonus too!
By cutting off the strings from King Horik, Ragnar comes out ahead as the winner of this round. However, his failure to take swift action against Jarl opens him up to vulnerability. My advice to Ragnar is to keep his ax at arm’s length because King Horik’s endgame may have just switched to getting rid of him.
What did you think of “Unforgiven?” Leave me a comment below or tweet me @LutzElle to discuss.
For more on the show, go to http://www.history.com/shows/vikings.
All photos © 2014 HISTORY®, an affiliate of A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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