His deliverer was Floki, whose resentment of the Christians has been building to the boiling point all season. The massacre in England that we were witness to last week added fuel to his rage, and who can blame him for that. But taking it out on Athelstan, a fundamentally gentle soul whose life of the mind was a beacon and resource for Ragnar, was not the way to go. Because in taking out Athelstan, Floki deprived not only Ragnar but the audience - us - of Athelstan's vision and wisdom, and this moves Floki from the slightly crazed but almost lovable category to the thoroughly crazed and despicable column of villains.
Athelstan's murder did give us the occasion to see Ragnar in one his most sensitive and eloquent moments, providing a personal eulogy for Athelstan high in the mountains, just himself and Athelstan's body, which Hamlet himself would have admired. What will Ragnar do now without Athelstan to talk to, was his and our central question.
Will Ragnar first wreak vengeance on Ecbert for his massacre of the Norse village settlement in England last week? That would be satisfying, but Ragnar may not want to risk so much of his fighting force, with a plan take Paris in the works. Ragnar is a master tactician, and knows he'll need every sword and knife at his command to take this city in the Seine.
Meanwhile, there are births to offset the deaths in this episode - Ragnar's grandson in Scandinavia and Athelstan's son in England. These two promise hope for the future, but cannot make up for the loss of Athelstan - not to Ragnar or us.
See also Vikings 3.1. Fighting and Farming ... Vikings 3.2: Leonard Nimoy ...Vikings 3.3: We'll Always Have Paris ... Vikings 3.4: They Call Me the Wanderer ... Vikings 3.5: Massacre
And see also Vikings 2.1-2: Upping the Ante of Conquest ... Vikings 2.4: Wise King ... Vikings 2.5: Caught in the Middle ... Vikings 2.6: The Guardians ...Vikings 2.7: Volatile Mix ... Vikings 2.8: Great Post-Apocalyptic Narrative ... Vikings Season 2 Finale: Satisfying, Surprising, Superb
And see also Vikings ... Vikings 1.2: Lindisfarne ... Vikings 1.3: The Priest ... Vikings 1.4: Twist and Testudo ... Vikings 1.5: Freud and Family ... Vikings 1.7: Religion and Battle ... Vikings 1.8: Sacrifice
... Vikings Season 1 Finale: Below the Ash
historical science fiction - a little further back in time