The following are a few notes I took while watching Vikings Season 5 Episode 19. Warning: mild spoilers may be included, though I’ve tried to stay away from including anything too glaring. Either way, consider yourself warned.
In Vikings Season 5 Episode 19, Ubbe is forced into hand to hand combat in order to secure peace. Meanwhile, Bjorn sets off for Scandinavia as part of an uneasy alliance, hoping to wrest Kattegat from Ivar. And, in Iceland, Floki reaches new depths only to be met by a shocking sight.
This was the penultimate episode of the season, and it was a good one. The cast has been slimmed down, allowing for more focus on the characters who truly matter. Floki is now off on his own in Iceland. There’s no diluted focus, concentrating too long on half-baked conspiracies against King Alfred. The show isn’t called Adventures in the Royal Court of Wessex, after all, now is it? As much as I would watch that show, it’s only right most of the attention shifts to the actual Vikings. Vikings Season 5 Episode 19 accomplishes that, tying-up some plot threads, while effectively setting the stage for the upcoming confrontation.
Characters perhaps reaching the ends of their narrative arcs
Chief among these, possibly, is Floki. With Vikings officially ending after next season, it makes sense for some long-time characters to begin falling by the wayside. I’m not sure if that’s what we saw tonight, but it’s definitely possible. Delving deep into the earth in search of his gods, only to discover Christian relics left by monks who’re now long gone and then get sealed in by a volcanic eruption would be a bitter end for a character beloved by so many, but that doesn’t always mean it’s not the correct way to take the story. All endings shouldn’t be happy ones, per se. It bucks reality. If this truly is the end for Floki, it’s not without a bit of irony that made him giggle his nutty little giggle in those last moments. Personally, I could be okay with that.
Another character who feels like she’s approaching the end of her story is Lagertha. Vikings has always had a strange way of dealing with the passage of time, but it can’t completely be ignored. Our beloved shieldmaiden and Queen is decades older than when we first met her. To its credit, Vikings Season 5 Episode 19 richly weaved in symbolism indicative of the changes occurring with her character. The discarding of her accoutrements of war and the burning of her braid symbolize her leaving the past behind. It’s fitting then for her to enter the final phase of her life with joyful memories of Ragnar and seeing to the success of the dream they both shared. To clarify, I don’t think we’re finished seeing her on Vikings, but she’s done being a warrior queen, I believe.
Setting up the season finale
Things are coming to the brink of all-out war between three of Ragnar’s four sons. It is a confrontation that’s been brewing for quite a while, and is clearly inevitable. Interestingly, though, the writers have managed to create situations for the characters that are much more complex. Each of them has more than simple battle they must deal with. Bjorn is part of an uneasy partnership that seems destined for betrayal. I feel a little better about his chances of survival now that Hvitserk is around, but he’s got issues of his own.
He now feels fated to be the one to kill Ivar and that the gods lead him to jump ship so that he would be close to his brother for that very purpose. That’s an interesting turn to the story, but we mustn’t forget that he also has an unsteady ally. Neither he nor Bjorn lead their own men; they are dependent on forces loyal to Olaf and Harald, respectively. Needless to say, that makes me quite nervous for the brothers.
Meanwhile, Ivar faces his own uneasy situation, though it’s difficult not to hope for the worst for him. He’s a man about to be besieged by two armies, and while his people may fear him he is not loved. He engenders no loyalty, and that truth may now also extend to his own wife. The death of their child understandably is not sitting well with her, so time will tell if that ignominy plays a role in the finale.
Vikings Season 5 Episode 19 may have also set the stage for next season
Looking beyond next week, however, it’s possible we’ve spied groundwork being laid for season six. Ragnar also had a fourth son, who arguably is closest to realizing his dream for their people. First, let me just say the fight scene between Ubbe and the Danish king tonight was probably the grittiest thing we’ve ever seen on this show. The use of silence drew me in completely, and I wasn’t sure Ubbe was still alive even at the end. Luckily, he did survive. I’m left wondering, however, if his return to the gods of his father won’t have lasting ramifications. Will season six tackle issues of faith? I think so. King Alfred’s people are not going to sleep easily with pagans in their midst. I imagine there’s going to be strife.
One criticism I’ve always had regarding this show is the way the narrative flits around at times.
They wasted no time in Vikings Season 5 Episode 19 getting rid of Judith, despite her still seeming moderately healthy just last week. You could see signs of failing health, but she didn’t appear near death by any stretch of the imagination. Honestly, my first assumption was that there had been a small time jump. The part of the story concerning Ubbe gave truth to that false assumption, however.
His fight with the recalcitrant Danish king was to take place the day after his refusal of Ubbe’s offer. Therefore, that hand to hand combat taking place tonight means there couldn’t have been a jump in the timeline. The writers were simply done with Judith and disposing of her, which I suppose could be considered both good or bad. On one hand, they’re not dragging their feet when it comes to getting rid of dead weight from the story. On the other, however, it can be a bit disjointing for the viewer. Just my opinion.