TV Tuesday: Vikings Season 4, Episodes 8 and 9

I keep feeling conflicted about Vikings, and it’s episodes like 8 and 9 that do it. The key plot here — in addition to the usual West Saxon malarkey and some politics back in Paris and of course Harbard — is that Ragnar is taking his ships and portaging them upriver so that he can attack Paris from the side not defended by Rollo’s forts. Clever! And the show uses its budget well to show what an immense and complex technical and organisational undertaking this is. Also great!

And then in the same breath it just does all this stuff that’s so dumb that I have to wonder what’s going on. Like: Bjorn enquires whether Harald and Halfdan killed a local family — because otherwise they might tell the Franks they’re about. Bjorn, you have cut down like a thousand trees, effectively built a road, and there are thousands of you dragging dozens of ships at a snail’s pace while simultaneously shouting at the top of your lungs. How could they possibly not notice you? But I bet they haven’t.

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Similarly, they have to portage their boats “over the mountains.” The … mountains? This show is set in a world where there are just mountains everywhere, I guess.

Aaaaanyway, Ragnar kills Yidu as well, an end that goes nowhere to a story that was never anywhere to begin with. Presumably this will have some later effect, but maybe not; there is a definite sense that they’re just marking time. The Alfred the Great origin scenes are well done. This series continues to look great, but I can’t help but feel that the looks are guiding the writing perhaps more than is healthy.

Plus all kinds of people die, including whatsisface, further developing the idea that politics in this show is useless and only violence matters, which is fine and all except it’s weird that no one has noticed. Like, why would whatsisface say to himself “well, I have Sheepy’s vulnerable son, so she won’t do anything to me. Of course, we’re in France, so she could just stab me to death or have her famous warrior boyfriend who’s twice my size do it, and then I’d be screwed, because why would any minions I had watching the kid effectively sacrifice their lives out of loyalty to a dead jerk? Well, enough thinking about that, I’d better hand her a loaded gun.” Like, surely all these people have noticed that no one ever benefits from devious political negotiation except Floki, who has the Script Immunity of the Gods?

Also yay, Cwenfrith is dead. I wish that I thought that this show was getting rid of superfluous smexy smex, but whatserface is still in it, and I also wish that getting rid of the plots that posit that the richest man in the country can’t get laid didn’t mean just knifing or drowning a bunch of the female characters. I guess we’re getting some superfluous gay sex plot, which is fair enough, but naturally it just cuts to a tastefully dozing Roland instead of three minutes of candlelit chest hair.

Something is going on back in Denmark, with young Sigurd emerging as an unlikely hero while Aslaug falls apart. She even drowns little Siggy, the daughter of Bjorn and Thorunn. I feel like the cleaning-out of superfluous characters is getting a little obvious here.

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TV Tuesday: Vikings Season 4, Episodes 8 and 9

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