Apr 25 2014

Vikings – “The Choice” Recap – A Fated War: Reading isn’t only for Monks!

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Season 2, Episode 9

Air date: Thursday, April 24, 2014, 10/9c on History

Rating:

 

The sly one knew he had to find a way to kill him.” – King Horik

King Horik (Donal Logue) takes a strong stance against Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) by demanding he consults with him before making any decisions while they’re raiding the West. Horik clearly needs to feel in control and be the shot-caller in all situations but will his choices be beneficial to the Vikings? More importantly, will the gods favor the Northmen on the battlefield or has the outcome been fated?

Let’s see how our favorite Vikings and Anglo-Saxons fared this week:

King Horik

Horik makes clear to Ragnar he’s never had any intentions to negotiate with King Ecbert and that he’s only motivated by revenge. As cold and callous as Horik is, its ironic how his decision making is fairly emotional, and driven by his arrogance. Horik’s favorite power play is invoking the gods to rally others to do his bidding, with his favorite target being Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård).

Ragnar (Fimmel) will continue to face tense moments with King Horik (Logue)

Ragnar (Fimmel) will continue to face tense moments with King Horik (Logue)

Ragnar

After Horik’s ambush on Ecbert’s (Linus Roache) envoy puts Ragnar’s plans for the Vikings of securing farming land at risk, the Earl of Kattegat isn’t pleased with the Viking king.

Lagertha

Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) is in the most interesting position of all the characters. She doesn’t have any power or vengeful motivations in their trip out West, yet she walks a delicate balance in asserting her power as an Earl in front of Horik, while helping to manage his volatile personality. I wouldn’t say Lagertha has figured out all Horik is capable of yet, but she’s getting there. Regardless of what Lagertha’s real intentions are regarding her involvement in this trip, she ends up being a useful ally to Ragnar in neutralizing Horik in key situations.

Athelstan

It is exciting to see how loyal, and how much of an advocate Athelstan (George Blagden) is for Ragnar in his discussions with Ecbert. Athelstan will make an important choice by the end of this episode.

The Awaited Battle Day

Hearing Athelstan read a fragment about Caesar using the terrain to win a battle at the beginning of ”The Choice” seems to hint the outcome of the Anglo-Saxon/Viking battle is fated.

Seeing the entire field in a wide screen shot confirms my suspicions about what’s to come but I’ll also add that after hearing Caesar’s account, the studious Ecbert clearly presents his battle plans as a calculated exercise. On the other hand, the Vikings led by the egocentric Horik, are unprepared for what is about to come at them. One, no two…wait! Three armies attack the Northmen from all sides. The Vikings remain unfazed and resolute as ever until Ecbert sends in the cavalry, and what a game changer that is!

As pandemonium ensues, Floki appears concerned in ensuring the safety of his new BFF, while Ragnar continues fighting to allow the rest of his countrymen to flee. Ragnar’s valor leaves him to face a sizable amount of men and just when he appears to be outnumbered, Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) comes to his aid. Ludwig does a great job in portraying a much improved and fearlessly awesome Bjorn in the battle, all in great part due to Bjorn’s training with his Uncle Rollo (Clive Standen). This improvement earns him a compliment from his father – “You fought well today” – and the nickname Ironside.

Watching Ragnar challenge Horik for the choices made during the battle is a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me but I’m sure King Horik will begrudge him for it.

Bjon (Ludwig) contemplates about death prior to battle.

Bjon (Ludwig) contemplates about death prior to battle.

The Anglo-Saxons

In Wessex, everyone is celebrating the sizable victory over the Northmen. King Aelle (Ivan Kaye) gets cocky real quick as if he had been the brain behind the operation (ha!). Let’s just say he’s more of a bull in a china shop who happens to share Horik’s sense of arrogance. Ecbert—the real architect of the English victory—hides his personal agenda from his allies, while planting the idea of needing to negotiate a treaty with the Northmen to discourage future raids and to buy their services as mercenaries to help win Mercia. The one calculation he doesn’t seem able to foresee is the victory and negotiation will end up losing him someone who is near and dear to him.

The Anglo-Saxons select Athelstan to be the next envoy to confirm the possibility of a negotiation with the Vikings. Judging by how raggedy and beaten the Northmen look (huge props to the make-up department!), this is a task that doesn’t promise to be challenging.

Upon seeing Athelstan arrive at the Viking camp, Horik and Floki waste no time in putting him down while Ragnar keeps a close eye on the situation. Once the negotiation logistics are finalized Ragnar insists in accompanying Athelstan and with all that has happened, why wouldn’t Ragnar suspect another dirty move by Horik? Next, we’re treated to a wonderful brotherhood scene in which the friendship between these two men is reaffirmed.

The Treaty

Is anyone else impressed at how Ecbert bothers to learn the Northmen’s language? Watching his enjoyment in learning, and taking the time to learn a new language, shows how much he and Ragnar have in common indeed.

As expected, King Ecbert’s terms end up being agreeable to two Earls, which means someone has to swallow his words for now. But rest assured, there will be retribution to these events. What is a relief is seeing a more subdued Princess Kwenthrith (Amy Bailey) this time around. Yes, she still manages to yield a few laughs thanks to her Viking fetish.

Back in Kattegat, someone has a Lagertha makeover, while Auslaug surprises us, once again, with an act of kindness that makes Bjorn extremely happy when he gets home.

During “The Choice,” we see many characters make decisions that will be key during the finale, although it seems Athelstan had the biggest choice to make. As the episode comes to a close, King Horik has an important proposition for Floki and that can’t be good. It makes me think of their earlier discussion about how Loki, “the sly one,” manages to kill Odin’s favorite son Balder. This is clearly a story shared with a purpose and it means someone will have to pay the ultimate price. With seven days until the Vikings finale, it’s going to be a long week of waiting!

What did you think of “The Choice?” Leave me a comment below or tweet me @LutzElle to discuss.

For more on the show, go to http://www.history.com/shows/vikings.

Follow Vikings on Twitter @HistoryVikings using hashtag #Vikings, as well as some of the cast members—@gblagden, @KatherynWinnick, and @CliveStanden.

Like Vikings on Facebook.

All photos © 2014 HISTORY®, an affiliate of A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

© 2014, elleL. All rights reserved.

elleL

Soaker of life. I like to experience things and see the world. I consider myself a professional traveler. My love for movies and television goes way back but I'm a sucker for action-oriented films and shows. Oh, and I make excellent martinis! Follow me on twitter @LutzElle.

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