Season 3, Episode 8
Air Date: Thursday, April 8, 2015 at 10 pm ET/PT on History®
“Their swords will be coloured with blood.” – Floki
Ever since the premiere of season three of Vikings, the show’s promos have made it clear we should expect the Northmen to raid Paris before the season finale. Personally, I’ve hardly been able to contain my anticipation for what series creator/writer Michael Hirst might have in store for us, especially since I love it when the Vikings head to new territories. But with all the ongoing buzz about Vikings, will the Paris raid turn out to be an epic moment for Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and the Northmen, or will it be a huge bust?
“To the Gates” is a carefully crafted yet thrilling episode filled with majestic battles and unexpected turns. Here are my top five moments of the episode:
Moment #5 – Good riddance
Porunn (Gaia Weiss) packs up and takes her misery away from Kattegat. Seeing her at the top of the mountain on what appears to be her way out made me want to do a happy dance. I couldn’t take the pity party anymore! With Porunn’s attitude and her state of mind, it’s probably best for all. Although I feel bad for her baby and Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig), perhaps Porunn realizes in order for her daughter to be strong, she needs to leave. Luckily, it appears Auslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) has a big heart so let’s keep our fingers crossed the baby is well taken care of.
Moment #4 – The epic Viking invasion of Paris
From the moment the episode starts, the energy and tension created by the various characters begin the process of building up the momentum for the battle. The scale of the action is as monumental as we have ever seen in an episode of Vikings, rivaling the battle scenes of shows with far larger budgets. Thus, “To the Gates” provides a wonderful treat for those who love battle scenes. I took special delight in seeing how both the French and the Vikings show their inventiveness in waging war, especially in their very different tools and techniques. Longtime fans of the show will delight in once again seeing the battle-fierce sides of Rollo (Clive Standen), Ragnar, and Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), who are all determined to conquer Paris. However, only one side emerges victorious in this clash and surprisingly, it is the side whose fear is tempered by faith.
Moment #3 – Braveness and Faith
Princess Gisla (Morgane Polanski) is not only a most trusted advisor to her father Emperor Charles of France (Lothaire Bluteau), but in this episode, she emerges as a clear protector of and power behind the throne.
Sharp and determined, Princess Gisla recognizes in a critical moment the need for a sign to inspire her fellow countrymen in order for them to stand up against the brawny Vikings. She finds that sign in a powerful symbol — the sacred banner of St. Denis. Unlike her father, she conquers her fears and emerges in the midst of a battle to urge both soldiers and citizens of Paris to fight their invaders to the death. Her reaction to the battle is worth noting as it not only is a mix of horror and fascination but also includes Princess Gisla noticing Rollo’s fierceness (or his fabulous physique?) in the middle of the chaos.
Moment #2 – Kalf, the Masochist Earl?
In the spirit of transparency, I was somewhat surprised to see Kalf (Ben Robson) literally dragging Lagertha (Katheryn Winnich) to safety during the raid. Well, I was surprised for about two seconds because then I remembered how Kalf always has an agenda and is constantly full of himself. The action sequence quickly proves me right —Kalf is convinced Lagertha can’t hate him and reveals his desire to be with her. Seriously? Wow, Kalf’s ego is as big as he is tall! Even when he hears her say, “I will never forgive you for usurping my earldom and one day, I will kill you. If you accept that condition, then let us be together and enjoy each other,” he still presses forward. I say, fair warning! Kalf is clearly attracted to challenges and in spite of his enormous sense of confidence; I predict this isn’t a battle he’s going to win.
Moment #1 – Ragnar’s patience pays off
As the Viking body count rises, their frustration and anger emerges, as does Floki’s (Gustaf Skarsgård) despair at witnessing the disastrous results for the Northmen. Floki feels abandoned by the gods and is convinced they are punishing him. “All of this disaster is my fault.” I must note how well Skarsgård portrays Floki in this scene.
I love battle scenes and I’m also intrigued by ancient war methods so “To the Gates” had me glued to my seat. It shows a whole other side of warfare than what we’re accustomed to seeing in Vikings. While the Vikings show their fearlessness and bravery, the French show a higher level of sophistication in machine warfare and battle preparation. It’s clear this isn’t the first time Paris has had to withstand attacks…for now!
The Paris raid also brought out the worst and best in men. For Emperor Charles and Floki, it most definitely brings out the worst. For some, it brings admiration of the bravery for others. A particularly enjoyable moment is hearing Ragnar express the sense of pride he feels for Bjorn. “He’s proving he doesn’t need a title to be a leader.” Then, when Rollo and Lagertha are ready to baby Bjorn, Ragnar forces them to back off, telling them to allow Bjorn to be a man.
Paris is also a reminder to some of Athelstan (George Blagden). This includes Floki and it causes Ragnar to miss him even more. Ragnar reaches out to Athelstan as if they are having a conversation, asking in a mischievous tone, “Do you think I went too far with Floki?” He also reveals his agenda in full. It was exactly what I suspected, Ragnar wants Floki to pay for what he did to Athelstan and for it to be a slow and painful punishment. Ragnar is a patient man indeed!
I had a feeling the Paris raid would be epic but probably not in the way most people hoped, including the Vikings. They aren’t used to losing battles and show their frustration at these results in a variety of ways, ranging from anger to frustration. Yet, for someone like Ragnar, such a devastating defeat only serves to increase his determination to conquer Paris.
What did you think of “To the Gates?” Did the Paris raid live up to your expectations? Please let me know by reaching out to me on Twitter at @lutzelle or leave a comment below.
For more on the show, please visit the Vikings website.
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© 2015, elleL. All rights reserved.
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