We saw the beginning of this last week, when Haraldson, unwilling to let Ragnar get away with the killing of Knut, sends a group of his Viking goons Ragnar's way. They're back in force this week, slaughtering anyone they can get an axe on in Ragnar's homestead. This sets in motion a heart-pounding escape piece in which Rangar's combination of mental acuity and physical dexterity gets him and his family out of harm's way.
We also get some valuable insight into Haraldson, and what makes him such a vicious, paranoid leader. He talks to Siggy about the loss of their two sons, and the brutal way in which they were killed. His animus towards anyone who challenges him is a transference - that chestnut of Freudian analysis - of Haraldson's inchoate hatred of the killer of his sons.
There's good treatment of women and their relationship to men in this culture as well in this episode. Haraldson's giving of his daughter's hand - and body - to an ugly old Swedish lord for political reasons is a story we've seen a thousand times. Far more interesting is what we've seen in a previous episode, when Ragnar and Lagertha invite their captured priest to join them in bed. In episode 1.5, we see another version of this erotic generosity, as one of Ragnar's crew visits him at Florki's home, where Ragnar is recovering from the serious wounds he received from Haraldson's raiders. When Floki's woman flirts with Ragnar's man, Floki's first response is "she's taken," hands off. But later that evening, with the hearth warmly blazing in the cold night, Floki invites the visitor to join him and his woman. I tell ya, those Vikings were not just plunder and pillage - they had some really enlightened qualities.
Vikings continues to be one of a kind series on television, providing a lens onto to a little known culture, and offering a riveting story in the bargain.
See also Vikings ... Vikings 1.2: Lindisfarne ... Vikings 1.3: The Priest ... Vikings 1.4: Twist and Testudo ... Vikings 1.7: Religion and Battle ... Vikings 1.8: Sacrifice ... Vikings Season 1 Finale: Below the Ash