The following are a few notes I took while watching Vikings Season 5 Episode 20. 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 20, a new war for Kattegat ensues with only the gods knowing the fated victor. Taking a page from the Game of Thrones playbook, nearly the entire episode revolves around the battle. What results is probably the best episode of the season, full of worrisome suspense and masterfully setting up the final season of Vikings.
Be forewarned: there are probably more spoilers than normal in this write-up. Unfortunately, the nature of the narrative made it difficult to discuss Vikings Season 5 Episode 20 otherwise.
While the battle planning seemed amateurish, there were bigger questions at play.
All in all, I thought the battle was suitably exciting, though I was questioning the plan throughout. It seemed ill-conceived, to be honest. I would have thought they would come up with a better strategy than simply throwing men at the walls and letting them get chewed up. Still, it was exciting and suspenseful, and I honestly worried for our heroes, which speaks to the storytelling. After all, with Vikings approaching it’s final season, you really never know who is going to make it nowadays.
Then again, I think the physical battle itself was truly just a set piece. It was the backdrop against which the greater struggle was to play out. Namely, this was the difference between an invader versus someone emancipating you from a tyrant. I’ve found myself wondering why the people of Kattegat follow ivar, and Bjorn wisely posed that same question. Voice hoarse from the fighting, his impassioned pleas to the people of Kattegat that he was not their enemy, even as he retreated broken from the walls, sowed the seeds of doubt that ultimately made taking the city easier, once they were inside the walls. It was a wonderful moment of raw emotion from a character who hasn’t had many opportunities to shine this season. Bravo!
A puzzling choice in Vikings Season 5 Episode 20 definitively puts an end to one character’s journey.
I’m speaking, of course, about Freydis, but it’s not the choices she makes earlier in the episode I struggle to understand. I’ve stated previously that I haven’t always been sure of her intentions. She has done so much to prop up the craziness surrounding Ivar declaring himself a god. It left me wondering, at times, if it was all manipulation or if she too was a bit unhinged. Her character understandably took a hard left turn against her husband after his hand in the death of their child, though.
As a result, her decision to betray her husband and show the attackers a secret way into the city makes perfect sense. She – again quite understandably – wants Ivar dead for abandoning their crippled child to the elements and beasts of the wild to protect his own political position. What mother wouldn’t? Even her decision to admit what she’s done to his face is easy to understand. Again, there’s little point in revenge if the person doesn’t know you had a hand in bringing them down.
What leaves me scratching my head is why she would turn her back on him, ultimately setting the stage for her own strangulation, even as the city is being liberated. She stated to Bjorn she wanted Ivar hung in a tree, but she will miss that spectacle in death. The only thing I am left to surmise is that, after the death of their child, she has no interest in living by that point in the story. It’s a sad end for a wonderfully complicated character, but her final acts were heroic. Her courage might be different from that displayed by characters like Lagertha, but it’s courage nonetheless.
Where will next season take us?
Obviously, the escape of Ivar insures he will remain a thorn in many a side next season. The look on his face, even as he was being spirited away by loyalists, was definitely that of a man intent on revenge. In his own weird, twisted way, I think a part of him did love Freydis. At the very least, he loved the idea of her, and he will no doubt find a way to blame her death on others, rather than accept responsibility himself.
Additionally, we still have unanswered questions in the love triangle between Bjorn, Gunnhild, and Harald. I think it was obvious Harald’s decision to save Bjorn during the battle was largely because Gunnhild was watching.
Also, is Floki truly dead, and what are Ubbe, Torvi, and Lagertha going to be doing next season? I was under the impression they were going to the East Anglian settlement, but are we now to infer they will settle in Kattegat? Could their absence from the farming settlement help spur the problems I believe will befall that community in season six? Time will tell.
And, most tantalizingly, what was the deal with that vision Bjorn experienced holding the sword of kings? Was that Russia pictured in the teaser for next season? I already can’t wait!