Vikings season 3 premieres with new characters and plot-themes and a restless Ragnar.
From early on in the episode we see Ragnar telling his son, Bjorn–whom we are led to believe has turned into quite a blood-thirsty, power-lusting viking–that he never asked for power, and he never lowered himself to get it. This explains the stress that we see him in; stress of being a ruler and doing the best for his people, which is colonizing and farming new lands, even though he still has to resort to fighting and killing in order to get what he wants.
The only two times I saw Ragnar stress-free during this first episode was when he told Athelstan that he is in fact also drawn to christianity, much like Athelstan is drawn to the Nordic gods; and when he was playing with his children.
However, the latter only lasted a little while, because when Aslaug shows up holding Ivar the Boneless in his arms, Ragnar’s playful attitude immediately changes to one of sadness. He isn’t happy as a ruler, and it seems he isn’t happy as husband to Queen Aslaug or father to a disabled child, either. In fact, when Rollo asks him point blank whether he is happy, he laughs and tells him this has never been about his happiness.
Lagertha, on the other hand, seems to be blooming in her position as Earl Ingstad. She has grown into quite the ruler, but is foolish enough to have succumbed to the charms of a trickster that the seer warned her about. But when King Ecbert takes an interest in her, it seems Lagertha’s options for marriage have exponentially expanded. Will the romance between these two prominent characters flourish? If it does, Lagertha could stay in England as Queen and leave all those problems behind her in Scandinavia. If it doesn’t, then she has a very cunning enemy to reckon with back home. And Lagertha isn’t the type of character to shirk away responsibilities, especially not her Earl-dom.
While Ragnar is struggling against a lack of happiness, Floki struggles with an abundance of it. He’s so happy, in fact, that he can’t wait to go raiding and get away from his overwhelmingly healthy family dynamic. And Bjorn struggles with his girlfriend (wife?) Porunn, who is pregnant but still wants to go raiding, which is not a smart move by any accounts. Ragnar clearly disapproves, as we can see from his sly looks at them throughout the episode.
I think that Ragna’rs wish for colonization versus his duty towards raiding will definitely come to a clash sometime this season, as well as his internal inclinations towards Christianity. Since he’s unhappy in his marriage, it’s very likely he’ll have a fling with Princess Kwentrith too, who obviously has a crush on him.
Let’s see where this goes…
Episode 2 is set to premiere next week. Stay tuned for the next review.