Vikings, Season 2, Episode 9, “The Choice”
24th April 2014, 9:00pm (EST), History
The penultimate episode of Season 2 of Vikings sees the hoards return to fight Kings Ecbert and Aelle for the honour of their respective nations. With King Horiks rash decision to massacre Ecbert’s envoy still hanging in the air the two forces square up for a showdown. While Ragnar is content to hang back, Horik’s forces rush into meet the enemy in the valley. This turns out to be a massive mistake as Ecbert, after reading up on Caesar’s battle techniques with Athelstan, has some new ideas about ambush and retreat. A bloody battle ensues with many falling on both sides; the viking shield wall is not match for the English horses and their defenses are quickly overcome.
Lagertha, Ragnar and Bjorn all fight well, with Bjorn even coming to the aid of his father. The boy’s first battle goes well, as Ragnar assured him he was blessed by the gods - Rollo is not so lucky falling to the ground and being trampled by a running horse. While the principle characters fight well and, for the most part, survive the battle the meeting is a huge blow to the Viking campaign. Perhaps Ragnar’s more diplomatic route would have served them better?
With Athelstan on the battlefield Rollo is in luck as the monk recognises him, saving him from the spear, and convinces Ecbert that it is in his interests to return him to the town for treatment. While Horik and Aelle may have given up on diplomacy it seems Athelstan and Ecbert are still hoping for a mutually beneficial outcome.
Meanwhile back at Kattegat Porunn, Bjorn’s love interest, is learning to fight like a shield maiden. Aslaug approaches her and asks her why she is training, Porunn replies that she wants to be like Lagertha. Perhaps not the most sensitive thing to say, but Aslaug forgives her and offers her her freedom. The only reason for her doing this is because she knows of Bjorn’s fondness for the girl, we she her taking on a guardian angel role as she clears the way for Bjorn to have the girl he loves as his wife.
Over the ocean in England Athelstan is sent to negotiate talks with the Northmen. While Lagertha and Ragnar agree readily, Horik is hesitant. As Ragnar walks Athelstan out of the camp we see an archer poised to shoot the messenger (literally) but with Ragnar there the pair not only reach safety but also an understanding of Athelstan’s continued sympathy with the Viking way of life.
With King Aelle given as an unwilling hostage to the Vikings, Lagertha, Horik, Ragnar and Bjorn go to talk with the King of Wessex. They are offered treasure, 5000 acres of farming land and Rollo’s safe return to secure a truce between them and the kingdom of Wessex. Ragnar and Lagertha don’t miss a beat in agreeing to the terms, while Horik is once again more hesitant. The deal is eventually agreed, with a clause for the payment to mercenaries who will fight with Princess Kwenthrith to secure her lands.
On the return of Rollo to the camp Ragnar offers Athelstan passage back to his adopted homeland, an offer he readily accepts calling the Vikings his family. Ragnar and his troops return home with the wounded, and find Kattegat safe and sound - something that does not often happen in Ragnar’s absence. While these troops have returned many have stayed to work with Princess Kwenthrith; while they stand in the courtyard of King Ecbert’s home she inspects them like cattle before proudly announcing that she would like to ‘mate’ with them to produce a race of giants.
“The Choice” sees the tables turn on Horik, with the power shifting towards the mighty couple of Ragnar and Lagertha. While the scene is set for a Viking/English collaboration there is an uneasiness to the alliance that seems poised to erupt in the finale next week. Surely the Vikings will not simply be happy to farm in a country so wealthy as England?
- How will the Vikings fare in Mercia?
- What is Ecbert’s angle sending the Vikings as mercenaries to help secure the very kingdom he wants to overthrow?