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Monday, December 17, 2018

Vikings 5.12: "The Beast with Two Backs"

That was my favorite phrase in Vikings 5.12 - one of my favorites, in fact, in the entire series - "making the beast with two backs".  It's what that "troublesome priest" (another familiar phrase) hears Heahmund and Lagertha are doing, after his spy sees them "fornicating".

And that word describes a lot more than one crucial story in this episode.  In addition to Lagertha and Heahmund, so does the woman betrothed to young King Alfred - not with Alfred but Bjorn - and so does the woman sharing Ivar's bed - not with Ivar, but some Viking stud (I'm not sure whom) she needs to get pregnant, so she can say that the baby's father is Ivar the Boneless, who apparently can't make the beast with two backs. 

In addition to Shakespeare - the oldest recorded "two backs" reference is in Othello - Cole Porter's spirit's in this episode too.  "Birds do it ..."

And since Vikings has always been not only great historical drama but high moral storytelling, none of the fornications can come to any good.  Or, they may be good loving, but no good will come from them.   Heahmund kills the troublesome priest rather than let him blab to King Alfred.  Alfred is bound to find out what his betrothed did - if not with whom, certainly what - if the wedding proceeds, since she tells Bjorn and us that she's a "virgin".  And Ivar may be a little crazy but he's no fool - he'll sooner or later realize that mixing blood does not produce children, even if you are a god.

These affairs make for good relief from the fierce battles, which we certainly saw plenty of at the end of last season (or the first part of this season).  I haven't said anything yet about Floki, who I still think is on his way to discovering America, or least Greenland.  Presumably he and the people who accompanied him are in Iceland.   I was glad to see that he survived that vote of confidence.  He remains a fascinating character.

And I'll be back here soon with a review of 5.13, very soon.

See also Vikings 5.1-2: Floki in Iceland ... Vikings 5.3: Laughing Ivar ...Vikings 5.4: Four of More Good Stories ... Vikings 5.5: Meet Lawrence of Arabia ... Vikings 5.6: Meanwhile, Back Home ... Vikings 5.7: A Looming Trojan-War Battle, Vikings Style, and Two Beautiful Stories ...Vikings 5.8: Only Heahmund? ... Vikings 5.9: Rollo ... Vikings 5.10: New and Old Worlds ... Vikings 5.11: Rollo's Son

And see also Vikings 4.1: I'll Still Take Paris ... Vikings 4.2: Sacred Texts ...Vikings 4.4: Speaking the Language ... Vikings 4.5: Knives ... Vikings 4.8: Ships Up Cliff ... Vikings 4.10: "God Bless Paris" ... Vikings 4.11: Ragnar's Sons ... Vikings 4.12: Two Expeditions ... Vikings 4.13: Family ... Vikings 4.14: Penultimate Ragnar? ... Vikings 4.15: Close of an Era ... Vikings 1.16: Musselman ... Vikings 1.17: Ivar's Wheels ...Vikings 1.18: The Beginning of Revenge ... Vikings 4.19: On the Verge of History ... Vikings 4.20: Ends and Starts

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

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