Four episodes into the second half of the fifth season of Vikings and we’re having a lot of feelings. Not just us, but every character. It’s probably going a bit far to say we’re going to see some emo fringes emerge in Kattegut and Wessex, but when people start drastically changing their hairstyles, you know there’s some emotional unrest. At least Lagertha doesn’t have bangs yet, right?
Harald Finehair has a poetic soul
Summoning every scrap of synth-driven sentiment from the 1980s charts and filtering them through the perspective of a battered, brutal brother-slayer isn’t the easiest ask, and yet here we find the Norseman equivalent of “I wanna know what love is…”, “Take my tears and that’s not nearly all…”* and pre-Love Actually “Love is All Around”.
Sailing along a river with battle in his heart, Harald Finehair waxes lyrical to his new comrades on what true romance is like: “Love is in the gut, in the entrails.” Someone find that man a copy of “Walking on Sunshine” or “Echo Beach” – although his new shieldmaiden love interest, with all her talk of fate, seems like more of a “The Killing Moon” kinda woman.
*Don’t @ me with Gloria Jones (or Marilyn Manson) – you know the version I’m talking about so stop it.
Magnus is experimenting with eyeliner
Speaking of which. Imagine a time, old-school Goth readers, where wearing eyeliner was something mighty warriors and mystics did to look scary in combat, and not because they were pretending it was to look brooding when really they just thought it made their eyes pop in Sisters of Mercy-themed club nights.
Magnus straddles this line perfectly – raised Pommy, feeling as though he’s found his family at last, but totally not one of them. “Revenge is everything,” he tells Bjorn like you may have written on your MySpace page, back when you were pretending to love The Damned but secretly preferred Fall Out Boy.
The ultimate outsider moment is when he’s told more than once that Ragnar said he never had sex with Kwenthrith (Magnus’s mother) and he gives the very English, not-very-Viking response: “Well he would, wouldn’t he?” One day he’ll learn about his presumptive dad’s poly lifestyle and freak out hard. In the meantime, Bjorn can use him as a wedge against his freshly Christian brother. [tl;dr – this ain’t a scene, it’s an arms race.]
Iceland’s gone full black metal
Foreshadowing the brutal music to come from the north, complete with inexplicable yet symmetrical band logos and rough choking lyrics, Iceland is now a place where pregnant young women are murdered with rocks and buried beneath other rocks, killers are revealed in operatic-interlude visions and face-rocking album titles emerge from dialogue (I bags Lawgiver Avenges Son Three Times Over).
Floki expels the entire turbulent family – including Thorunn’s killer and his endlessly weeping griever son – from his nascent community, saying he couldn’t care less that winter’s coming. Tell it to George RR Martin, he doesn’t shout after them before spinning some full-volume Svartidauði on the CD player he just invented.
For once, brother didn’t betray brother
But he totes wanted to. Ever since Judith talked him into stepping aside from the throne, Aethelred’s had a flea in his ear about what Alfred’s doing with the title. So he was perfectly placed for scheming priests to whisper poison in that flea-packed ear about his bro being total weaksauce, dudeballs. Unfortunately for them, even though Athelred agreed to the fairly ludicrous plan of “close the doors and kill the king, his favourite cleric and all the Vikings”… he couldn’t go through with it.
Was it because Alfred said he loved him? Or was it the king’s fresh new haircut, jumping him from “Give it Away” Anthony Kiedis all the way to post-Stadium Arcadium Anthony Kiedis (complete with moustache)?
Before we move on, let’s take a moment to contrast Harald’s visceral description of love with Aethelred’s timeless sweet nothings to his wife: “When I return, I shall perform the duties of a husband.” Gets you right in the entrails, doesn’t it?
Even Ivar’s in an emotional mood
“Hatred must never take the place of love,” our newly ascended god muses, moments after sending two rebels to the gallows. This, after a cute chat in bed about how his demigod child will be so precocious he will crawl straight out of Freydis. Ivar, ever ambitious, would prefer walking over crawling – which makes sense as a reference to his bonelessness – but you have to think Freydis’ gyno would frown on this plan.
Of course, Ivar being Ivar, he has to have his moment of bacon-not-eggs violence. Not content to have a cod-Lagertha’s throat slit and body burnt as a sacrifice in the opening scene, he has to get those hands dirty. Luckily a chance arises when the old Seer claps back at his prattle, and cops an axe-wound to the head. It’s probably for the best, since he wouldn’t shut up about The Darkness. I mean, we all loved 'Permission to Land', but come on…
Vikings airs on Thursdays at 8:30pm on SBS or catch up on season 5 episode 11 on SBS On Demand.