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VIKINGS Ep. 3 Recap: ‘Mercy’

Welcome back for episode three of Vikings season four! Once again please note this recap contains heavy spoilers! We’ve been officially warned. Enjoy the first two episodes before you continue reading. Come on–it’s not like you’re getting a make-over!

One quick note from Norse mythology first! Like wolves and ravens, bears were highly regarded in Norse mythology. They were particularly linked to one group of warriors who wore their prized bear skins pretty much always. They were called berserkers, which—you guessed it—means bear-shirt. When in battle, a berserker felt a surge of power from the Allfather, Odin, in the way that Floki once felt the Gods’ power working through him when building ships. Keep this little lesson in mind!

So just how insane was this episode? Bjorn versus the bear was obviously the most epic of all. It’s safe to say that that battle won all the Vikings awards for us this season, so far. But before we can get into Bjorn’s The Revenant treatment, we have to cross some other bridges first. After all, not everything is about Ragnar or Bjorn!

A brief look at Mercia brought us back to King Ecbert for some pretty significant reasons. Yes, Athelstan returned! But as a vision only Ecbert and Ragnar perceived in the dead of night. Each received an Athelstan-omen fitting of their relationship with him (he washed Ragnar’s feet versus giving a silent sign of the cross to Ecbert), and his message of “Mercy”—repeated three times—was a key driving point behind Ragnar’s decision to cut Floki down. Ragnar lesson #7: Being merciful is also part of being a good King.

Earlier, the tale Ragnar told to his sons about Thor and Harbard was filled with guilt-shaming towards Queen Aslaug. Their physical and mental punishment against one another reached “I know that you know that I know” levels of insanity. Their inevitable breaking point is in sight, and only driven further along by Ragnar’s growing interest in Yidu.

But now, a moment of silence for Floki and Helga’s little daughter, Angrboða. Still a prisoner hanging within a cave when he learned of her death, we feel all the feels for poor Floki.

Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) has a mysterious visitor, cr_ Bernard WalshOh, Duke Rollo. Yelling at members of the court isn’t how you make new friends! Still just an “ignorant savage” there, Rollo was tested once again by his wife, Princess Gisla. She’s still revolted by him and even publicly demanded a divorce. Count Odo saved the day by promising him a French teacher—if he stayed at court. But Rollo was the very image of how many of us have felt during French classes (it’s not an easy language to master! Rage against French pronunciation!).

Emperor Charles (Lothaire Bluteau) and Princess Gisla (Morgane Polanski), cr_ Bernard WalshMeanwhile, new treachery plans came in the form of Kalf and Erlendur, the late King Horik’s eldest son. Their scheme to rid Lagertha of her only son with Ragnar spells disaster once the truth gets out to her. A berserker is bad news for anyone in his path, and Erlendur has his mind set on punishing Ragnar through Bjorn with this beast of a man. The berserker in question (a guy who could give the Mountain from Game of Thrones a run for his money, by the way) was given King Horik’s ring and the promise of gold once Bjorn is dead. This could be yet another epic battle for Bjorn in the next episode.

And then the moment to which we all looked forward: the battle with the bear! This bear challenged Bjorn from afar at first, then reappeared like an omen later on, after Bjorn’s drunken-howling under the Aurora Borealis night. (His hung-over frosty face was everything!) Its third appearance brought Bjorn right into its growling jaws and claws, and he suffered a deep cut to the chest as a result. But otherwise, he skillfully and single-handedly defeated this mammoth creature. [Insert a most victorious Viking yell to the Gods here.] Some kind of deep paternal-bond definitely triggered in Ragnar afterwards, though: he knew something was going down with Bjorn out in the wilderness. But for now, the Gods are shining down upon Bjorn Ironside, defeater of giant bears and barrels of hidden beer!

Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) v. Bear, cr_ Steve WilkieSo which one would you rather fight: The Revenant bear or the Vikings bear? Let us know your opinions on all things Vikings so far in the comments below. Join us for the recap to episode four, “Yol,” next Thursday!

Image Credit: The History Chanel
GIF Credit: VikingsHistory/Tumblr

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