Vikings Recap - S04E09 'Death All 'Round' - Death Comes in Threes

Taking no break from last week's episode, death comes 'round a few more times in Death All 'Round.

We start with a funny but short-lived moment of levity from Ragnar's frenemies, the wolfish brothers King Harald Finehair and Halfdan the Black. Raiding a seemingly abandoned farm, Halfdan wastes some eggs, throwing them at Harald.

Not interested in being a character known for humor or magnanimity, King Harald quickly shifts back to his normal vile and murderous tendencies, "There are women here." he mumbles. In episode S04E06 ("What Might Have Been"), these two psychopaths killed a group of Frankish soldiers by burning them alive, partly in retribution for lighting a signal fire and partly because Harald and Halfdan. Now they've fallen upon a defenseless family and it goes as one might expect and only one the members survives (but perhaps not for long).

Vikings stays true to its method once again: the violence enacted upon the women is implied but not shown—we see only the aftermath of dead bodies and the burning farm as the villains march off with the animals while singing a jolly song. Later, back at camp, Bjorn pointedly questions Harald, judging him. Pillaging is their whole reason to be here but like his mother Lagertha, Bjorn seems to have a line he won't cross, and looks down on those who do. One day, these two are going to throw down.

Aethelwulf and young Alfred (believed by fans to be Alfred the Great) have finally made their pilgrimage to Rome, where the Pope allows Alfred to view and kiss a sacred artifact, supposedly a thorn from the crown of Jesus Christ. Later, while Alfred is cosplaying as your grandma in a sun hat, the Pope bestows a holy sword upon him—an actual sword in the hands of this adorable tiny person—with which to defend England from pagans (or something).

Back in Wessex, King Ecbert's plans have come to fruition and he is crowned King of Wessex and Mercia (RIP Kwenthrith). King Aelle feels slighted for not getting a piece of the pie and Ecbert is a bit put out that Aelle won't just take it like a sport, but then again, Ecbert doesn't have to worry what some measly one-kingdom ruler thinks, and just owns it like a boss.

In Paris, Therese's brother Roland has been promoted to Count Roland, and charged with the defense of Paris. Princess Gisla is irritated by this, as she sees it as a slight against her and her husband Duke Rollo. Rollo shrugs it off and is more interested in some sexy time, but Gisla rebukes him. Sexy time is not approved while she is in her "sacred condition" of pregnancy. Deal with it, Rollo.

Pregnancy, however, is much more fraught in the Dark Ages of Europe than now, and Lagertha has had a miscarriage. Lagertha expected this outcome; the blind seer had told her this would happen, but still she hoped her unborn child would escape the prophesied doom. She has a cry while Ragnar and Bjorn comfort her, before she opts for solitude. In loyalty and love, they stay near but respect her decision and give her the space she wants. Endlessly strong, she is soon right back alongside everyone else, working to tow the ships across the land and into the river.

In Kattegat, Sigurd happens upon the body of Siggy in the river, the daughter of Bjorn and Porunn. This is a serious bummer. When Sigurd brings the news to his mother Aslaug (Siggy's caretaker after Porunn disappeared last season while suffering through a bought of postpartum depression), she does her best impersonation of "Drunk Cersei" and is too wasted to care. What the hell, Aslaug? And to make matters worse, her youngest son Ivar the Boneless is developing into a little sociopath."Who cares?" he asks callously.

This is not surprising after his accidental murder of another kid earlier this season (with a baby-sized hand axe, no, wait, who made him a baby-sized hand axe!?) was hastily excused by Aslaug, who has a general tendency to coddle him. Seriously, things are not going well for the Lothbrok family back on the home front.

Lastly, Torvi's torment at the hands of Erlendur has ended in perhaps the best way possible. Erlendur, who has wanted revenge against the Lothbrok family ever since they killed his father King Horik (who was trying to overthrow and murder Ragnar) is gunning for Bjorn, Torvi's new flame. Erlendur is Torvi's abusive ex-husband and he still exercises control over her through that past abuse (he's also threatening to murder her son).

For a while, I was disappointed and even irritated that Torvi didn't just tell Bjorn that this creep was threatening her and plotting his death, but I realized that this was something Torvi needed to do herself. It was a dangerous game, but in the end it was Torvi who made the decision to stop her abuser in classic Vikings fashion, a bolt arrow to the chest. Congrats, Torvi. You've graduated.

Random Thoughts:
  • While Rollo didn't get any sexy time, Count Roland certainly did—at the hands of Emperor Charles! It appears Chuck is interested in both siblings; maybe Chuck got more out of this deal that I previously assumed.
  • Floki had a second vision, the first of Aslaug getting it on with Harbard, and now of Aslaug crying and hollering in the rain, calling after Harbard. What's this connection to Aslaug all about? I don't know, but I'm definitely interested to see what the gods have in mind for Floki and Aslaug.
  • Ragnar took a back seat this episode, but we did see him hallucinate spiders while suffering withdrawal symptoms from Yidu's betel nut edibles (RIP Yidu). I hope Ragnar comes to regret murdering Yidu before the season's end, but I'm afraid he won't until perhaps the second half of season 4 later this year.

Adrian Martinez is a graphic designer, comic book letterer, hobbyist writer, and all-around geek living in New York City.