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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Vikings 4.2: Sacred Texts

The scene of the best action in Vikings moved back to Wessex in Thursday's episode 4.2, with a pitched, desperate battle to save an imprisoned Queen.

Since this is historical drama, we know something of what will happen to some of the major characters. That's the history part.  But the drama part means that some details and perhaps even outcomes could be changed.   In any case, the successful rescue attempt, and the way it happened, with Aethulwulf fighting hand to hand, and the Queen doing the same to save not only herself but her baby, was one of the best blow-by-blow battle scenes we've seen on television in a while.   This miniature chess match come to life was a fine complement to the cinematic battle scenes in Paris last season.

Meanwhile, we also get an excellent little media history lesson in Wessex last night, something in which Vikings, like Michael Hirst's other history tableau, The Tudors, has excelled.  Women were not allowed to work on the sacred texts - the illuminated manuscripts - in those days.   This of course was many centuries before Jane Austen showed women could write with the best of men, and even then women painters were a rarity, so Judith's desire to put her mark, literally, on the illuminated manuscript was tough for the powers-that-were to accommodate, even though Judith was the prince's wife.

She succeeds because Ecbert is interested in pleasing her, in more ways that just as a father-in-law, and this teaches us something profound about the workings of history: progress can ride on all kinds of coat tales.   It's not clear, by the way, that Judith was actually married to Aethulwulf at this time - he looks young enough to still be married to his first wife recorded in history, Osburh - but the bedding of fathers and daughters-in-law, and mothers and stepsons, was clearly part of the culture of the day, with Judith in real history marrying Aethulwulf's son (by Osburh) after his death.

I haven't even talked about the multiple plot lines in Scandinavia - maybe next time, unless something more pressing happens in Paris or Wessex.

See also Vikings 4.1: I'll Still Take Paris

And 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 ... Vikings 3.6: Athelstan and Floki ...Vikings 3.7: At the Gates ... Vikings 3.8: Battle for Paris ... Vikings 3.9: The Conquered ... Vikings Season 3 Finale: Normandy

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


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