Up unto the overturned keel,
Clamber with a heart of steel,
Cold is the ocean spray,
And your death is on its way,
With maidens you had your way,
Each must die someday!
— "Death Chant of the Vikings", inspired by the death poem sung by Þórir Jökull Steinfinnsson shortly before his execution.
"When Death comes, do not fear it. Embrace it. As if you were lying next to a beautiful woman."
— Ragnar Lothbrok
Let us now wind the web of war
Where the warrior banners are
Let his life not be taken
Only the Valkyries
Can choose the slain!
— Translated lyrics of "Battle of Brothers", lifted directly from Darraðarljóð
"Let him stand. I am sure he would want to die well."
— Rollo Sigurdrsson
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1 - Rite of Passage
- How often does a show start with one? The fight in the Eastern Baltic is BADASS. And it even concludes with the surprise appearance of motherfucking Odin.
- Lagertha kicking the crap out of two cowards who came to rape her and her daughter.
- The new Longship actually working.
- Ragnar winning the men to his cause is awesome:
Ragnar: What is your name?Knut: Knut.Ragnar: I've heard tales, Knut.Knut: Just stories...Ragnar: "Just stories"? (to the rest of the men) All things begin and end with stories.Erik: Aye, but you have to remember that Earl Haraldsson has ordered us to sail East.Leif: And you could get us killed for disobeying his orders.Ragnar: We can give you the chance to shine in battle, and impress the gods, and to bring back such plunder as you have never seen before. So the only question remains... Do you have the balls to join us?Erik: I'll go.Kauko: And I.The Rest: Aye!Ragnar: What about you, Knut?Knut: I'll come, I want a good story to tell my children.
- Bjorn standing between his parents as they are fighting. Lagertha has a weapon. Ragnar on the other hand has been fighting unarmed.
- It's one for Bjorn himself, also.
- In many ways, the success of their first voyage to England is this; they come back loaded with gold and slaves when everyone thought they would fail.
- When the Vikings sail westward for the first time, a terrifying storm lashes the longship. Where the monks of Lindisfarne see the storm as the punishment of their god and cower, the Vikings scream and roar to the heavens and take it as the blessing of theirs. Floki's reaction is both one of these and a Crowning Moment of Funny
"It is true, Thor is beating his hammer! The lightning is the sparks from his anvil, but HE IS NOT ANGRY WITH US! I UNDERSTAND NOW! WHY SHOULD HE BE ANGRY WITH US?! WHY SHOULD HE WANT TO SINK US?! DO YOU NOT SEE?! HE IS CELEBRATING!!! HE WANTS TO SHOW EVERYONE THAT HE CAN'T SINK THIS BOAT! HE LOVES THIS BOAT! IT'S MY BOAT!! AND THE GODS LOVE MY BOAT!!!!"
- One for Haraldson, who strips Ragnar of his entire hoard, except for one bit of treasure that each man gets. He's a deliciously arrogant Jerkass about it too.
Haraldson: (as spearmen come into the hall and surround Ragnar's party) Here's what I've decided to do. Each of you may take one thing from this hoard.Raider: One?!Haraldson: Yes. One, and you'll still be richer than you were before. Now, all the world can see how generous and magnanimous is your lord. Especially considering how you disobeyed me.
- The Vikings' utter curb-stomp of the Saxons in spite of being totally outnumbered by them.
"They fought like demons! Like men possessed, with no fear of death!"
- This quote from the Saxon nobles should spell it out.
- The raid of the Saxon village in Trial, the music and atmosphere of the sequence is arresting. It showcases Ragnar's cunning in that he waits till everyone is at Mass before striking. It's the first true example of a Viking raid, in all its horror and glory.
- Hell, the eponymous trial scene was awesome in its own right;
Ragnar: It is true I killed Knut, sadly your brother, but I only did so after he attempted to rape my wife. (to the freeholders) I ask all of you, free men; what would you have done? Would you have just stood by, and encouraged the culprit? (laughs) No. I don't think you would. (to Haraldson) And even had I known at the time he was your brother, I still would have carried out the same sentence.
- Ragnar's speech to the assembled;
- Of course, he didn't really kill Knut, that was Lagertha's doing. But still, this was a good speech.
Svein: (continuing from the above) Do you honestly expect us to believe your story?Lagertha: I can confirm it.Haraldson: You are the wife of Ragnar Lodbrok?Lagertha: I am, lord.Haraldson: How remarkable you managed to be there at the same time. Your husband is lying. And you are so under his thumb that he has persuaded you to lie for him.Lagertha: May Thor strike you dead.
- Lagertha gets a remarkably understated one while threatening the Earl in front of witnesses, this woman has balls of steel.
Haraldson: Now then, who killed my brother?Rollo: Ragnar Lodbrok killed him.Haraldson: (triumphantly) In cold blood?Rollo: No, lord. For a good reason. What Ragnar Lodbrok has sworn is true, your bastard brother was caught raping a Saxon woman when he tried to rape Ragnar's lawful wife, Lagertha, the Shieldmaiden. So, unfortunately... You cannot punish him.
- And Rollo saving the day with his testimony, despite all prior signs pointing him to betraying Ragnar.
- Any time Erik fights, or does anything for that matter, you're in for something like this. To whit.
- Hewing multiple Saxons apart in quick succession.
- Sending a man flying with a shield bash.
- Making a declaration of eternal vengeance against the King of Northumbria.
- In the fifth episode Ragnar returns home as the earl is attacking and makes a beeline straight for his family. Along the way he kills eight armed and armored men in about twenty seconds while barely breaking his stride.
- Ragnar is dying from a dozen wounds and an arrow he pulled out with his bare hands, the Earl stands before him and savors his victory. Ragnar then beseeches his father, the mighty Odin, to aid him in this inescapable hour. Odin answers, and Ragnar rises to his feet, slays the Earl's men, steals a horse and rides away from the ruin of his home. Leaving no question as to whom the gods favour more.
- One for Athelstan, after Ragnar falls near-dead into the river he jumps into the water, swims in and saves him from death. That alone gives lie to any accusation made by the Vikings that the Saxon is not a real man.
- Another one from the same episode is when Athelstan starts praying over Ragnar's body and begs the Virgin Mary to save him as he recovers. This is inspite of the fact that the Vikings have mocked his God repeatedly, he still prays for their welfare. This man is a true Christian.
- Rollo fights off several of the Earls men at the same time unarmed while they use weapons, and is only captured due to six or seven men zerg-rushing him and beating him to near death. He's then brutally tortured by Earl Haraldsson, but still refuses to betray Ragnar. That, friends, is loyalty.
- The fight between Ragnar and Haraldsson. The only thing that could have made it cooler would have been a heavy metal soundtrack.
- The fact that Ragnar wins handily despite being almost dead from a dozen grievous wounds and not even fully rested in addition to having a crippled leg only makes it more badass.
- Another moment of awesome goes to Rollo after Ragnar wins the duel. Svein orders the other Northmen to kill Ragnar, but none of them move. Rollo then calmly walks over to Svein and kills him with an axe.
- This speech by Tostig to Ragnar, an old warrior demanding the right to die in battle.
"The truth? That I am too old? Hah! Yes! I am old, but I have been a warrior all my life! Many years I sailed with Lord Haraldsson and fought battles against the Eastlanders. And I have watched all the companions of my youth die. And though I fought with them in the shield wall, never once was I touched by a blade! All the friends and companions of my youth are dead, and are feasting and drinking with the Aesir in the halls of the gods while I... I am FORSAKEN! BEREFT! Which is why I beg you lord! Give me the chance to die with honour in battle and join my friends in Valhalla!"
- Haraldsson's death and the way he embraces it. Face Death with Dignity doesn't even begin to describe it.
- The Seer's description of Ragnarok to Athelstan, complete with visions granted by apparently hallucinogenic leafs.
- And here it is, behold it in all its glory
- "The Twilight of the Gods will happen like this: There will be three years of terrible winters and summers of black sunlight. People will loose all hope and surrender to greed, incest and civil war. Midgarthormen, the world serpent, will come lunging from the ocean dragging the tides in an flooding the earth. The Wolf, giant Fenrir, will break his invisible chains! The skies will open and Surtr the fire giant, will come flaming across the bridge to destroy the Gods. Odin will ride out of the gates of Valhalla to do battle for a last time against the wolf. Thor will kill the serpent but die from it's venom. Surtr will spread fire across the earth. And at last Fenrir shall swallow the sun!"
- And here it is, behold it in all its glory
- The battle in King's Ransom; despite launching a surprise attack, complete with cavalry, the saxons are completely routed by the superior tactics and fighting skill of the vikings.
- Every moment Tostig gets in A King's Ransom, his fighting skill is incredible and what he said of himself to Ragnar barely does justice to his warrior spirit. His death scene is also magnificent, and easily rivals that of Earl Haraldson from the previous episode.
- To elaborate on that, in both the major battles of the episode, Tostig fights and defeats multiple enemies at once. A feat rivaled only by Eric, Ragnar or Rollo. But what makes it more awesome that he's doing it while being several times as old as any of those guys.
- On the raid in the Saxon camp, Ragnar himself has his gaze turned away from battle to witness Tostig felling two Saxons at a time. After he kills them, he shrieks "ODIN!!!", a cry so piercing and terrifying that it alone jolts the enemy leader awake, who has already managed to be oblivious to the raging sounds of a pitched battle
- He then kills three Saxons in quick succession during the surprise attack on the Viking war-camp in the episode's climax.
- Rollo examines and uses a Saxon blade and notes that in comparison to Viking weaponry, it's stronger and sharper. The Vikings have been handily overcoming an enemy with superior technology in comparison to themselves through SHEER FEROCITY.
- The night raid on the Saxon camp is also this. They just stride in, slaughter the Saxons like cattle, burn the place down and take the King's brother as prisoner. All of this, right after the Saxons muse on how the Northmen must just be stupid beasts.
- Rollo converts (in appearance) to Christianity in order seal the deal with Aella for 2000 pounds of gold and silver. He insists that it was only a ruse, and that he holds to the old gods. Floki calls him out on it all the same. Rollo then fixes him with a deadly stare, and then when the Saxons come, he vaults into battle full of rage, and promptly shows where his faith lies.
"HEY! HOW MANY CHRISTIANS DID I KILL, FLOKI?! HOW MANY?!! DO YOU THINK ODIN'S STILL ANGRY WITH ME NOW?!"
- Special mention has to be given to Floki, who meets Rollo's Death Glare and doesn't flinch. After the battle and Rollo's outburst, Floki just grins with amusement- one has to wonder if he wasn't trying to get just such a rise out of Rollo.
- Also, a bit creepy, many of the Northmen are visibly unsettled by Rollo at this time, and the promotional meterial for season 2 states that Floki has begun to fear that Rollo is becoming an honest-to-Odin berserker.
- During the battle with the Saxons, Leif loses his axe. His reaction is to start roaring and now strangle armoured Saxons and to snap their necks.
- Hell, the entirety of A King's Ransom was this for the Vikings.
Ragnar: It seems your brother, the king, does not care if you live or die.Athelwulf: I-If you let me talk with him I'll... convince him to honour his pledge-Ragnar: (paints the sign of the cross on his forehead in blood) Why should I not just kill you now?Athelwulf: (confidently) Then you'd have nothing left to bargain with.Ragnar: (lifts his axe) I have this.
- They make shore at Northumbria and promptly decimate the entirety of the force sent to defeat their warband and take a member of the ruling family hostage.
- They then go into the king's own hall and swiftly make a mockery of all the Saxon's beliefs and get him to agree to pay them 2000 pounds of gold and silver to leave his country.
- Then, the Saxons make one final attempt to annihilate the Vikings by sending a MASSIVE army at them with dozens of horsemen and through a combination of clever engineering, battle-tactics, and concentrated badassery, they slaughter that whole army with minimal casualties. After that, Ragnar kills the King's brother - the man whom they had been using as a bargaining chip all along, and sends his blood-drenched corpse on a cart to Aella's castle, to show the man that the Norse don't fuck around.
- And then, realizing that throwing men at them wont make a difference, King Aella gives them their gold and silver anyway to get them to leave. A King's Ransom was just one long succession of these.
- Hell, the conversation prior really sells it;
- That slow motion shot of all the Vikings preparing for battle as the Saxon army charges forth. Pretty much a non-verbal Pre-Asskicking One-Liner. In particular, Rollo hammering his axe on his shield in slow motion while shooting the Saxons a Death Glare A better way of saying 'bring it, bitches' has yet to be formulated by mankind.
- Aella himself gets one in this absolutely epic declaration of vengeance, only made stronger by the actor's terrific delivery.
"I swear before God All-Mighty: I declare war eternal on the Northman; Ragnar Lodbrok. I swear to our Lord Jesus Christ, to the Blessed Virgin, that one day, I shall avenge myself on him. Bring him to justice, and to death. So help me God.
1 - Brother's War
- The battle scene at the beginning is awesome from start to finish. Special mention goes to Rollo's Unstoppable Rage, and Floki taking on both him and Jarl Borg at the same time.
- Hell, the entire battle was barely a ten-minute sequence of an honour long episode, and yet it was but a succession of one awesome moment after another:
- Rollo leaping over the shied-wall with a roar and savaging the men on the other side.
- The battle itself, just seeing Ragnar's hird clash with Borg's is incredible, it's the first time we've ever seen a true shield-wall vs shield-wall battle.
- The soundtrack to the fight was composed by Kriftrafn. That is all.
- The lyrics are lifted from Darraðarljóð, norse poetry at it's most horrific
- Rollo continuing to fight on and dominate even when Floki cuts off the head of his axe, in other words; Rollo can kick ass even with a stick.
- Brutal, but Rollo killing Arne is an incredible show of strength and skill. Not to mention the great acting in that scene, the way the actors look at each other, Arne showing despair not for himself, but for Rollo, and Rollo's own disgust at what he's done, which in turn sets up his later repentance at the end of the battle. All the more poignant as Arne states to Rollo that he thinks of him as a brother before the battle.
- The absolutely haunting music during that scene simply makes it all the more harrowing.
- Ragnar's pure rage upon seeing Rollo slay Arne, the way his look shifts from shock to hate as he slaughters his way through a maelstrom of warriors to bring his brother to book is simply the definition of badass.
- Hell, the entire battle was barely a ten-minute sequence of an honour long episode, and yet it was but a succession of one awesome moment after another:
- The music of the battle itself, Battle of Brothers is absolutely primeval.
- Ragnar's What the Hell, Hero? moment to Horik, Borg and all the Norsemen present. Some great acting and writing, which truly shows how far Ragnar has come as he's risen from warrior to king.
"Why do we continue looking inwards? Why?! Why do we fight each other?! About this piece or that piece of land?! Why are we not looking outwards, to the west? If we raid it together, we would not need to fight amongst ourselves! We would not need to kill ANY more of our young folk! But instead, offer them land! Land that they can farm."
- This moment is doubly significant because it alludes to one of the possible primary motivators for the Scandinavian expansion of the Viking Age — a lack of natural resources and living space.
- For Lagertha fans/Aslaug haters, Lagertha divorcing Ragnar (rather than be his co-wife with Aslaug) probably counts.
- After months of dreading, fans can finally breathe easy. Floki LIVES!
- Ragnar's lecture to Bjorn counts simply of how well its delivered and how well it communicates such an alien world view.
"I know it is difficult for you to accept; but unhappiness is more common than happiness. Who told you you should be happy? You come to an age where you must grow up and be responsible about such things. When I was your age, I had many friends. All are dead now. Their happiness is neither here nor there."
- Jarl Borg once again attempts to turn Rollo against Ragnar. This time, however, Rollo punches him in the face.
Jarl Borg: (face covered with blood, eyes wide open, spitting and coughing blood) You're a fool.Rollo: I am. But someday, I hope to be wise.
- And the exchange right after;
- Athelstan saving Ragnar.
Ragnar: You did not hesitate today.
- Horik's speech during the battle with the Saxons of Wessex;
"Do not be dismayed; meet everything head on. Whether we live or die this day is already in the hands of the gods! They know whether we sup with them tonight so fear not. Fight well. And should you fall, surely Odin will take you to Valhalla!"
- The entire battle sequence during the ambush was this.
- The shield-wall vs. shield-wall fight between the Saxons and Norsemen.
- Athelstan fighting and holding his own against several Saxon warriors.
- Ragnar saving Athelstan, killing a dozen Saxons in the process.
- The Vikings roaring their victory to the gods after they slaughter the Saxons.
- One for the fyrdmen of Wessex, actually managing to catch the Vikings off their guard.
- Rollo taking Siggy's white-hot dagger and holding it firmly in his fist, keeping quiet as the grave even while it's burning his palm. Her Oh, Crap! reaction says it all.
- During the voyage towards England, a raven perches Ragnar's shoulder. The implications of that are just astounding.
- Athelstan cursing Floki in Old English, in order to prove he's no longer that victimized priest from four years ago.
- Ragnar making Athelstan a free man by granting him an arm-ring.
- Horik punching Bishop Swithin in the face. Don't insult a Norseman's gods. Especially by claiming they don't exist.
"You say there is One God. But you are an old fool. The Gods hate you... but I hate you more."
- Athelstan physically standing between the raiders and the tortured bishop, and giving him a Mercy Kill.
- The Bishop of Winchester himself deserves one: He goes to Athelstan's face, who at this point is part of a large marauding party that just slaughtered most of the city's defenses and is holding an axe and tells him he'll go to hell for his deeds without even blinking. Then, as he is pierced by multiple warriors he keeps praying. The man may not have been a fighter, but he certainly earned his credentials as a Badass Pacifist.
- Borg manages to go toe-to-toe with Rollo. Bear in mind this is after Rollo has killed close to a dozen of his warriors single-handed. He actually causes Rollo to flee.
"Run Rollo, run! Run like you always do."
- The villagers of Kattegat fighting to the last man and woman to give Rollo and the rest of Ragnar's family to escape.
- Old Guys seem to be able to get these effortlessly in this show;
"Rollo, go. I will tell the Gods what you have done.
- An old Norseman convinces Rollo to leave the battle and save Ragnar's family. Though it kills him to do so, he eventually sees the wisdom of the elder warrior's words.
- He then goes out, with Rollo's battle-axe in hand. The Gautar come forward to accept his seeming surrender, only for the old man to slaughter TWO HIRDMENN with his axe before he's finally struck down! This guy must have been Tostig's brother or something.
- Borg standing triumphant in Ragnar's hall, laughing. A powerful ending shot.
- The whole battle between Jarl Borg's and Ragnar Lothbrok's armies. We have scenes like Jarl Borg's literal Foe-Tossing Charge, Bjorn proving himself as a warrior, Lagaertha leading the charge, Ragnar slicing down next to thirty men in quick succession, Rollo and Ragnar finally acting like Bash Brothers and teaming up against their foes, and so forth.
- King Ecbert has a Offscreen Moment of Awesome in single-handedly anihilating King Horik's troops and causing him to flee from Wessex in a period of weeks.
- After being relentlessly degraded, humiliated, and abused by her husband, Lagertha finally snaps and stabs Earl Sigvard in the eye during a feast. He's then decapitated by one of his own retainers.
- And you can tell by the look on his face that he's been wanting to do that for some time. He might as well have quipped "I never liked him anyway."
- Ragnar pulling a move worthy of Walder Frey and checkmating Borg in a single evening - trapping his men in a barn and burning them alive whilst capturing the Jarl and promising to subject him to a Fate Worse Than Death - Blood Eagle
- Borg did not scream while Ragnar drew the Eagle on his back. His passage to Valhalla is assured.
- Even cooler is the scene when he's about to die, he see's an eagle among the flames, and grins.
- The juxtaposition of the Christian Anglo-Saxon and the pagan Viking wedding ceremonies. So different and yet so similar!
- Lagertha...just Lagertha. The high points of this particular episode include a "Ride of the Valkyries" styled scene, ordering her warriors to get ready while petting a cat and talking a wannabe rapist into submission, verbally stripping him of his manhood.
- The allied English armies soundly crushing the Norse raiding force in open battle. King Ecbert's tactics allow him to inflict heavy casualties on the Norsemen and send them running with their tail between their legs.
- Prince Aethelwulf slashing down Vikings left and right, and then trampling Rollo underfoot, shattering his legs and nearly killing him. Truly a blessed family.
- Bjorn fighting during said battle. His movements are so fast and convincing, it's easy to believe that he comes out of this mess unscathed.
- Rollo cutting down charging horses with an axe.
- Despite viewers knowing that Ragnar and his family would never allow Athelstan to be attacked, it was still incredibly gutsy of Athelstan to walk into the middle of a hostile Viking camp, completely unaware if they would kill him on the spot for being a suspected traitor and Christian sympathizer.
- Lagertha's response to King Horik when he refuses to negotiate peace with the Saxons:
“Ragnar and I will go. And if he means to kill us, then so be it.”
- As if there was any doubt, Ragnar once again proves his Magnificent Bastard status by turning King Horik's scheme completely upside down, eliminating the King of Denmark and most of his family in one fell swoop.
- The whole conversation between Lagertha and Horik's wife, which seems to consist entirely of two powerful shield-maidens sizing each other up for future combat.
Gunnhild: They say that you are now an Earl in your own right. How did it happen?Lagertha: I killed my husband when he invaded me.
- And then there's their subsequent battle, where each woman proves why they are such famed warriors once and for all.
- The grand reveal that Floki and Siggy were both on Ragnar's side all along and had been feeding information to him for several months now. All of those furtive side-glances and resentful grumblings had been to win Horik's trust and favor; thus, allowing them to find out which members of Ragnar's family he would target first.
Horik: You have betrayed the gods.Floki: No, I have only betrayed you.
- Floki naming his and Helga's daughter Angerboda.
- Early in the episode, Rollo tries to stand with the aid of a crutch and falls to the ground. Siggy tries to motivate him by tauntingly placing an axe out of his reach. Later, when Horik's men arrive to kill him, Rollo has managed to drag himself over to the axe, and as they approach, he manages to stand despite his crippled legs, and swings at the first man to approach him before the camera cuts.
- Athelstan dual-wielding axes against Horik's invading soldiers. He may not like violence or fighting, but Athelstan is also willing to set aside his Good Shepherd values to protect his friends and family.
- A cloak-covered Torstein revealing himself to Horik and his soldiers, showing that Ragnar had known about Horik's intentions all along and that Floki had been working for him as well, purposely feeding Torstein a non-poisonous mushroom that would make it look like he'd been murdered.
1 - Mercenary
- The battle between the Mercians and the combined Viking-Wessex force. The Mercians control the river banks, firing arrows upon their ships, but the combined force manages to make a beachhead, and then win, killing Kwenthrith's uncle, the new king of Mercia, with Floki himself being the one kill the king and claim his crown.
- Evil, Magnificent Bastard variant, Ecbert and Aethelwulf disenfranchising all of the nobles who had questioned Ecbert's rule and removing the Northmen's settlement in one fell swoop, all while making Ecbert look like an innocent party.
- During a battle against Mercian soldiers, a random Mercian soldier manages to beat the shit out of Porunn and nearly kill her, if it hadn't been for Bjorn. Granted she was pregnant at the time, but that's a lot more than many Saxon soldiers can say. As a matter of fact the Mercians in general do well there, managing to kill a large number of Vikings through skillful archery and spear-throwing.
- Co-composer and Wardruna frontman Einar Selvik as a shaman performing Völuspa in song-form as berserkers and úlfhéðnar dance around a huge bonfire like indians and Floki murders Athelstan. Shivers.
- The whole scene really: Floki's Unflinching Walk, Athelstan's stoic acceptance, the mystical overtones, and last but not least the fact that Floki, who normally murders people with cheerful glee, is absolutely serious and has to actually psyche himself up to do the deed. It's a pivotal point in the series and it's handled brilliantly.
- Aethelwulf continues to prove his Warrior Prince credentials. Upon hearing Mercia has rebelled itself against Wessex, he goes there on a diplomatic mission against Kwenthirith (who has a knack for butchering diplomats for no reason), bypasses her defenses by sheer force of character and is the first male character to withstand her sexual seduction. Kwenthirith then reveals her plan (to use her son by Ragnar to threaten Ecbert), Aethelwulf proceeds to verbally destroy her.
Kwenthirith: Nothing will stop him from coming back to these shores, both for his settlement and for his son.Aethelwulf: We have destroyed his settlement.Kwenthirith (getting alarmed): Then he will return with vengeance upon you!Aethelwulf: In which case it would incovenience us a great deal if he found a ready ally here in Mercia. So whether or not this poor child is Ragnar's son, makes no difference. He cannot help you, and you can't threaten us with him!Kwenthirith, enraged, orders the guards to pull their swords against the unnarmed Aethelwulf. Aethelwulf starts laughingAethelwulf: Queen Kwenthirith, you would be unwise to kill us. It would give my father the very pretext he needs, a pretext to invade Mercia and become its King. He may have been even prepared to sacrifice me to attain his ends. (Aethelwulf walks closer to her, swords literally at his throat) So if you value your life and that of your son, then I suggest you sign the documents we have brought with us, reaffirming the fact that Mercia and is a vassal state of Wessex, and must in future pay not only homage, but also TAXES TO WESSEX, FOR THE PRIVILEGE!
- Our newly introduced character, Count Odo of Paris, earns some Offscreen Moment of Awesome points for being the only man of the Parisian court to realize the threats the Vikings represented and prepared accordingly.
- The ending of the episode, with the Vikings preparing their fleet for war as Floki releases his Battle Cry. A powerful ending shot.
- What was Floki chanting, you ask? "Skeggǫld, Skálmǫld, Skildir ro Klofnir!", "An Axe-age! An Sword-age! Shields are riven!". Floki's war-chant is a verse from the Völuspá which foretells the Ragnarøkkr. Floki's battlecry is a prophecy heralding the End of the World.
- The episode itself is a Crowning Moment of Awesome for the series, featuring the longest, most ambitious battle scene in the show's run. It lasts for a full 30 minutes and doesn't let up from start to finish. Individual moments of awesomeness include:
Ragnar: He was showing you don't need a title to be a leader.
- Rollo, shirtless and with nothing but an axe almost driving back the Frankish soldiers on the wall.
- Lagertha and Kalf breaching the main gates.
- Princess Gisla rallying the defenders with the Oriflamme of St. Denis and turning the tide of the battle with a Rousing Speech:
Princess Gisla: Soldiers! Citizens of Paris! Behold the Oriflamme. Behold the sacred flag of Saint-Denis. Behold the sacred flag of Frankia. Behold, soldiers of Christ. That wherever the Oriflamme is, no quarter is to be given to our enemies. Soldiers, show no mercy. Fight on! (Soldiers screaming) Fight to the death!
- The defenders of Paris effectively countering every single thing the Norsemen threw at them and driving them back with heavy casualties.
- Rollo fighting his way up the siege ladders and hewing apart countless Franks as he attempts to fight his way to the Oriflamme, correctly deducing that without that banner, the Franks' newfound resolve will crumble.
- He manages to terrify Princess Gisla of all people, who before that point was screechily and bloodthirstily exhorting the Frankish troops to merciless combat.
- Ragnar going full Papa Wolf mode when he sees Bjorn in danger, which eventually results in him being the first to successfully scale the walls of Paris, leaving countless Frankish corpses in his wake until he's finally thrown off the walls by the combined efforts of ten men.
- Hell, even when the Franks all gang up on him he's still defiantly snarls in their faces. Hell, he nearly broke free of them!
- "Snarl" nothing, he looked like was gonna bite the Franks' faces off.
- Earl Sigfred single-handed pulling down the gates of Paris, something that even two draft horses couldn't do.
- Bjorn stepping up and rallying the warriors into an effective force when things start going belly up for the Vikings also counts.
- Ragnar speaking to Athelstan at the end is this while simultaneously being also a Crowning Moment of Funny and a Tear Jerker.
Ragnar: Ah, Athelstan... I hope you can hear me, Athelstan, and I'm not just talking to myself. What? Do you think I went too far with Floki? Did he actually believe that I would let him lead without my having an agenda? If I was him, I'd worry less about the Gods, and more about the the fury of a patient man. And as well you know, I can be very patient. ((Coughing fit)) I wish you were here, Paris is everything you told me it would be... and I am bound and determined to conquer it.
- A major one for Floki who up until that point likely didn't look like anyone's idea of a general, yet did a bang-up job in preparation and execution. Indeed, the only reason Paris isn't taken is that the defenders give our Viking protagonist a run for their money in the ferocity department.
- Lagertha backed by group of hand-picked shieldmaidens swims across the Seine under the cover of darkness, scales the walls and then with the stealth of a ninja kills all the guards in the covered bridge and even after the alarm is raised manages to open the gates and let the Norse army in.
- After the Vikings storm the bridge, Odo and the Parisians unleash an enormous, spiked-wheel contraption that crushes the Norsemen… until Rollo almost singlehandedly disables it.
- Earl Siegfrid's execution doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny. He ask for someone to hold his hair so the axeman can make a clean cut, but then pulls back at the last second... pulling the hands of the soldier holding his hair into the path of the axe.
- In what has become a series hallmark, Ragnar manipulates literally everyone into doing exactly what he wants. In so doing he manages to successfully raid Paris, trick Lagertha into what she thought was a posthumous Anguished Declaration of Love and get Floki to confess to the murder of Athelstan.
1 - A Good Treason
- Kalf's flawlessly executed Batman Gambit to get Einar and all his followers to declare themselves and gather in one public spot... where Kalf's crossbowmen could slaughter them all with ease.
- Lagertha puts the cherry on top of Kalf's plan by castrating Einar before she allows him to be killed.
- When Kwenthrith hears the shouted order for her murder, she wastes absolutely no time fighting for her life and her son's with everything that comes to hand — including an embroidery needle, a stool, and a piece of broken wood.
- A Mercian footsoldier, really no different from the ones we've seen slaughtered by the score so far, is tasked with killing Kwenthrith and makes a mad dash to the tower, only to be shot in the leg by a Wessex archer. Well, that's that taken care of... nope, he pulls the arrow out and then damn near beats Prince Aethelwulf, who comes after him with murder in his eyes, in a knockdown-dragout brawl which has to be seen to be believed. He's only stopped by a stone thrown from the battlements; by his own side, no less. Okay, his goal wasn't all that noble, but Mr Random Mercian Mook had some serious balls on him.
- Bjorn's fight with the bear. With nothing but a dagger and axe, he faces it down and manages to kill it, but he takes a nasty gash across his chest. He then proceeds to cauterize the slash wounds with a hot knife, but not before he skins and butchers the beast. If there was any doubt Bjorn is as badass as his parents that doubt is now well and gone.
- Athelstan's apparition is equally creepy, tearjerking, heartwarming, and awesome.
- Bjorn killing the berserker who was sent to assassinate him.
- King Ecbert's speech in the chapel is hauntingly magnificent.
- Torvi finally has enough of Erlendur's coercion and cruelty and, after shielding Bjorn from a crossbow assassination with her own body gambling that Erlendur wouldn't kill her, then when he hands her his crossbow and demands she kill Bjorn himself she walks up to him, tells him what Erlendur has told her to do, then turns around and shoots Erlendur in the chest.
- Rollo's absolutely epic Rousing Speech before the Franks take on the Vikings' fleet. Clive Standen's delivery makes you want to cheer along with the soldiers.
- The sheer fact that Kattegat is doing better under Aslaug's rule as Queen Regent in Ragnar's absence than it ever did under Ragnar's as King just goes to show who the more competent of the two is when it comes to ruling.
- Lagertha's flawlessly executed attack on Kattegat. The whole thing was so carefully planed that it resulted in a Curb-Stomp Battle in Lagertha's favor.
- Dear Thor, where to even start on this one? Aslaug's absolutely epic Face Death with Dignity moment, Ubbe's Foe-Tossing Charge as he tries to fight his way to Lagertha to avenge his mother's death, every scene between Ragnar and King Ecbert with Travis Fimmel and Linus Roache delivering some of the finest acting in the series to date... the show had its ups and downs but this is definitely a return to form.
- Ragnar's final speech.
"It gladdens me to know that Odin prepares for a feast! Soon I shall be drinking ale from curved horns! This hero that comes into Valhalla does not lament his death, I shall not enter Odin's all with fear. There, I shall wait for my sons to join me, and when they do I will bask in their tales of triumph. The Aesir will welcome me, my death comes without apology! And I welcome the valkyries to summon me home!"
- Ivar hauling himself up the length of the hall of Kattegat (incidentally in a far more intimidating manner: where before he just dragged himself around, he now stabs a pair of spikes into the floor and pulls himself forward), and up to Lagertha. He proceeds not only to utterly dismiss her arguments for conquering Kattegat, declaring it to be nothing more than an act of ambition, but then challenges her to single combat. She refuses, at which point he simply shrugs:
Ivar: All right, don't fight me then. I don't care, just as long as you know that one day, I will kill you, Lagertha. Your fate is fixed.
- The entire ending scene is one. Bjorn spots a flock of ravens when viewing the Mediterranean and pauses. And then one by one, each son of Ragnar is visited by none other than ODIN HIMSELF. The Allfather delivers the news of Ragnar's death to all of them, after which we hear an echo of Ragnar's final words. A massive storm begins to brew, shaking Kattegat from every tree to every hut. Chilling, surreal, and a foreboding omen of things to come.
- Earlier in the episode Floki manages to stare down Harald, Halfdan and all their men and prevent them from killing the Muslims praying in a Mosque. Less overtly epic, but still took a lot of bravery and may be the start of a redemptive arc for Floki.
- Ivar's plan. His chilling smile sells it.
"We declare war... on the whole world."
- An entire sequence of one after the other:
- Ubbe and Ivar mingle at Lagertha's party, subtly intimidating many of the visiting Earls who don't realize how seriously they should fear Ivar (and a subtle Heartwarming Moment when Ubbe tells a pair of Swedes how much he respects Ivar and the danger he represents despite his disability).
- All of a sudden a group of warriors springs into action and bars the door, holding several people hostage and it appears one of the visiting Earls plans to stage a takeover. Cue the thudding of Ivar's floor-spikes as he and Ubbe confront Lagertha to gain their revenge for her murder of Aslaug.
- Lagertha grabs a weapon and prepares to face the death at the hands of a Ragnarsson that the Seer predicted. Before Ubbe or Ivar can attack, though, the door bursts open to reveal Bjorn and his battle-hardened men. Even together, Ubbe and Ivar don't dare to face him and the situation is diffused.
- King Harald gets shot down HARD by Elisif, the woman who inspired him to become king of all Norway, but rather than kill her as Halfdan expects he lets her go because, vicious backstabber he may be, he does genuinely love Elisif as a person.
- The reveal of the scale of the Northmen's invasion, along with the pure hate in the eyes of the Ragnarssons when they see Aelle. And even Ivar, thanks to Floki, is able to fight and contribute to their revenge.
- The battle of the Northumbrians vs. the Great Heathen Army. Such a Curb-Stomp Battle it Smash Cuts from the Northmen charging towards Aelle's line to Aelle being dragged behind Ivar's chariot.
- The ultimate vengeance makes its return. Upon the site of Ragnar's death his sons begin their vengeance as Bjorn, years after seeing it done to Jarl Borg, draws the Blood Eagle on King Aelle's back.
- Ecbert pulls off one last plan that cements him as a Magnificent Bastard for the ages. To wit, when he is captured he offers the Ragnarssons the kingdom of East Anglia so that they will have land of their own to which to retreat, in exchange for choosing the manner of his own death. They accept, unaware that Ecbert had already abdicated the throne in favor of his son Aethelwulf, meaning that the deed to East Anglia is completely worthless — in the end he still won out in the last battle of wits with Ragnar.
- Bishop Edmund deserves a shout out for meeting his death with dignity. Through out the series he's shown himself to be a man who enjoys the comforts that come with his position but in the end he met his demise like a true man of God the same way Athelstan did, with the same fearlessness as a Northman. Not So Different after all!
- What makes this scene even (bitter)sweeter is that Floki, who not so long ago would have cheerfully murdered the bishop himself, looks positively appalled by his demise.
- To give the man his due, while he otherwise showed himself to be a resentful Jerk Ass, Sigurd nonetheless gets an impressive moment when Ivar throws an axe into his chest. Most men would have doubled-up in pain and died, but not Sigurd. He rips the thing out and marches down the table towards Ivar, fully intending to return the favour, and dies only a step away.