Season 2, Episode 10
Air date: Thursday, May 1, 2014, 10/9c on History
“Don’t play games…this is the final one.” – King Horik
The gods are coming to Kattegat to witness how King Horik (Donal Logue) plans to finish his game of undermining Ragnar’s (Travis Fimmel) rising influence as an earl. Since the last Wessex trip didn’t go as Horik planned, the King is growing increasingly uneasy at witnessing Ragnar’s influence on the Viking community and believes the time to act has come. The season two finale contains containing answers about how far reaching Horik’s calculations are and whether he’ll have the ability to rally people against Ragnar.
One of the most pivotal scenes in “The Lord’s Prayer” is a private conversation during which Horik shows his son Erlendur (Edvin Endre) the sword of Kings, explaining. “One day, if the gods will it, this sword will belong to you. Today, we must overcome something extraordinary. We must overcome the magic of Ragnar Lothbrok, which threatens our power and survival. The gods have spoken and I’ve listened.” Whether Horik truly believes the gods are on his side, his words reveal the deep envy and resentment he feels about the gods’ favoritism (real or perceived) of Ragnar. Horik’s emotions are completely palpable and can’t be contained any further. He is fully vested in a mission with a point of no return —since Ragnar’s good fortune with the gods threatens his position, he’s stepping up to prevent this perception from hindering the future of his family.
Relying on his observant and opportunistic nature, Horik’s plan is based on the long game. His favorite tactic has been to destabilize situations and relationships for his benefit by applying increasing, systematic pressure on those he’s chosen as his minions. His favorite targets have been Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) and Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig), who he’s perceived to have the most vulnerable relationships within Ragnar’s inner circle.
As Horik gets ready to execute the final stages of his plan, without raising suspicion, he brings his entire family to Kattegat, including his wife, the famous shield-maiden Gunnhild (Elizabeth Moynihan); and the rest of his children. Horik also demands proof of loyalty from Floki — he must kill “someone that matters.” This request seems a little vague as I didn’t consider the selected target extremely important. The key take away is after the deed is accomplished, Horik is satisfied enough to reveal the full extent of his plans —murdering Ragnar and his entire family. He then orders Floki to kill Bjorn and Siggy to murder Ragnar’s youngest sons, going so far as providing her the murder weapon.
Plans vs. Actions — What Actually Unfolds
If there were an Oscar-like ceremony in Kattegat honoring top dramatic performances, Ragnar’s inner circle would win “Best Performance for an Ensemble” by a landslide. The way they all play Horik along by basically entertaining his evil machinations makes the King look like an amateur in the intrigue department. Ultimately, all of Horik’s supposed minions have irrefutable proof of his scheming.
Among the men, “Best Supporting Actor” would go Torstein (Jefferson Hall) for best barf in the series, as well as for his role in most unexpected twist of “The Lord’s Prayer.” The “Best Actor” award undoubtedly goes to Floki. Disloyal, crazy, troublemaker Floki owns the finale, and this is where I take my hat off to series creator Michael Hirst. He took us on a season-long journey that kept us guessing about Floki’s loyalty to Ragnar. What a great way to showcase Skarsgard’s acting talents!
Ragnar does quite a bit of acting in “The Lord’s Prayer” – getting drunk and offering the King’s family a welcome full of fanfare, fully knowing what is at play. Listening to Horik’s family and his equality speech couldn’t have been easy.
The “Best Actress” award must go to Siggy. Not only do I love how she always manages to push Rollo (Clive Standen) around, but pulling out the knife in such a timely manner while offering Horik a winning smile is utterly brilliant! I’ll admit I was among those who weren’t too sure about Siggy but I’m glad her loyalties remain with Ragnar and his family.
The final moment in the great hall is an epic moment! I love how the final pieces of the game are patiently executed by Team Ragnar, and how Horik’s scheming is threaded into the final scene carefully; it is a huge testament to the high production value and well thought out storylines in the series.
To Horik, the great hall sequence must have been the equivalent of watching his life flash in front of his eyes, with an emphasis on where he went wrong with his game plan. The tragic irony in all this is that his stubbornness and arrogance in relegating Ragnar to a puppet to be used at will, instead of acknowledging him as a strong viable partner, is ultimately what does Horik in. His pompous, self-serving attitude never allows him to consider the possibility of looking at Ragnar as more than a pawn or a rival, a deep contrast to the more studious and patient attitude of King Ecbert, whose willingness to open a dialogue with Ragnar leads to a more favorable outcome for both Anglos-Saxons and Vikings.
Horik seems to be slightly surprised to find himself in such a situation but the hints at what is to come are all over the episode —the way in which Floki pushes away Helga (Maude Hirst), Siggy conveniently leaving an ax within Rollo’s reach, and Athelstan (George Blagden) and Ragnar praying. Judging by the way Auslaug looks at Siggy in the great hall, she seems to know what’s up too.
If these clues aren’t obvious enough, there are even more. Lagertha’s quickly dressing in her battle suit, and calmly walking in the midst of chaos, in addition to Floki telling Bjorn he is “looking after you, like I promised your father” should have made it absolutely clear to all. Floki’s statement to Bjorn is also revealing at other levels, and is an exemplary example of the writing quality of the show by delivering a loaded comment revealing the trust that remains between Ragnar and Floki.
Last, but not least, the lack of dialogue in the final hall scene is an extremely powerful tool for building tension and intensity to a pivotal and climatic moment that has been building all season long. The dialogue in “The Lord’s Prayer” is the sparsest in an episode to date and helps enhance the secrecy and mystery of the chain of events. This is particularly true for Ragnar, who barely has any lines throughout most of “The Lord’s Prayer.” His screams after confronting Horik in a violent, caveman-like manner seem cathartic in that they help him deal with the anger he feels towards Horik.
Open Questions for Season 3
- What does Floki feed Rollo and is it really “the food of the gods?”
- What a personal sacrifice Floki makes for Ragnar and Kattegat in keeping away from Helga during the remainder of her pregnancy. Will Helga be able to forgive him? In addition, is Floki naming his daughter after a giantess who is considered evil a bad omen?
- It isn’t clear whether Erlendur survives but if he does, it provides quite a fertile background for drama in upcoming seasons. Will the gods return the sword and kingdom to him?
- The gods come through for Ragnar this time but will his prayer to the Christian gods make him lose their favor?
My Season Three Wish List
- Although I enjoyed how Porunn (Gaia Weiss) asserts her right to make choices as a free woman, her relationship with Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) is ready for more dialogue and character development (May I add better foreplay scenes, too?!). The routine of watching Bjorn running after Porunn like a lost puppy has gotten old and both actors look ready and capable for much more.
- Not making viewers privy to certain conversations among characters, to only reveal/hint at them later as part of a twist, is a technique that only works well in the short term. It also has the consequence of negatively impacting character development. There’s debate among the fans this could also be a result of editing that results in shortened air time. Whether it’s a creative choice or a result of editing, I truly hope this storytelling pattern isn’t the norm for Season 3.
- I hope the gods throw Siggy and Rollo a bone (together or individually) next season.
Overall, I give the Vikings season two finale an enthusiastic thumbs up! The episode, and its build-up to the final scenes, is truly a culmination of a season-long journey. “The Lord’s Prayer” also has the added bonus of a strong combination of intricate intrigue with intense action scenes, all resulting in favorable outcomes for Ragnar’s inner circle and is a huge pay off. The Gods have spoken and it seems season three will be all about him bringing farming to Wessex and conquering new worlds to ensure the survival of, and prosperity for, his people. For sure, it will be a long wait for Vikings to return in 2015.
What did you think of “The Lord’s Prayer?” Leave me a comment below or tweet me @LutzElle to discuss.
To keep up with the latest news on Vikings, go to http://www.history.com/shows/vikings.
All photos © 2014 HISTORY®, an affiliate of A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
© 2014, elleL. All rights reserved.
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