• Ivar sees his divine future in the flames. (SBS)Source: SBS
A recap of "Baldur", episode 18 of season 5.
By
Shane Cubis

17 Jan 2019 - 10:05 PM  UPDATED 17 Jan 2019 - 10:05 PM

The previous episode of Vikings was all about the power of the women behind the throne/axe/mead horn. This week there’s some blowback from the blokes, who spend the entire time battling over the conch to deliver more speeches than a Hollywood awards ceremony. Hold your applause till the end.

Bjorn begins the plain-speakin’ trend

Things can move fast on this show, and so after a (very) cold opening with Hvitserk, we’re suddenly at the nuptials of Bjorn Ironside and Gunnhild Question-Asker, who pash on in front of King Harald – who’s doing his best impression of the Mr Brightside film clip. There’s a gritted-teeth congratulation from the H-man, which leads to (a) some serious bro code talk and (b) Bjorn not really caring that he’s rubbing in his good fortune to a homicidal monarch who is obsessed with his new bride. Gutsy.  

Ivar gives Thora the right of reply… kind of

 

After riding up in his sweet chariot to see his statue defaced, Ivar rounds up the usual suspects – including his brother’s partner, Thora. He asks her why she’s ruining all his stuff when he’s just trying to use his divinity to protect everyone from ne’er-do-wells… and in another failed diplomacy check, she tells it to him straight. Ragnar was better, he’s a bad leader and defo not a god. Ivar tells her she spoke well and lets her go. Lets her go straight to the bonfire, that is, where her whole family and some other rebels are being burnt alive. Vale, Thora. 

Hvitserk’s hotter and colder than a Katy Perry song

In what he sees as a sign from Buddha, Hvitserk is stripped naked and led into a piping-hot sauna to converse with the enormous-bellied King Olaf. Over mead horns, the big fella asks what kind of leader Ivar is, and we see some more plain-speakin’ from the Ragnar Boys when Hvitserk declares his brother a tyrant and asks for Olaf’s help in overthrowing him. For his efforts, he gets tortured in the steam room but also gets the episode’s best line: “This is a ridiculous way to die. Too hot in a cold climate.” Also, apparently it was all a test because now Olaf is in for attacking Ivar. Politics is complicated.

Floki gets real dark, real quick

Maybe it’s all the black metal he’s been listening to, or maybe it’s the fact everyone in his neo-Asgardian colony keeps murdering the one-hockey-stickin’ Hel out of each other. But when Kjetill tries to make our bald boat-builder sink to his level, Floki limits himself to explaining what he’d like to do – which involves the removal of Kjetill’s balls, forcing him to eat them while there’s an axe embedded in his skull, then raping his son before his eyes.

But Floki’s not gonna do all that, because he’s become a better man. He’s done with humans, an ascension he demonstrates by spending the rest of his screen time speechifying to the gods instead. In fact, he only shuts up at the end of the episode, when he finds a sweet cave. 

Ubbe wants to parley because of course he does 

Instead of a pitched battle between the Wessex-aligned Norse and the triple alliance of Danish kings, we get another speech from a son of Ragnar (who is greeted by the Danes all chanting his name and/or doing a stealth viral ad for a rideshare service). Arrayed before the three kings, Ubbe plays the “Swords to Ploughshares” card, telling them they can settle in East Anglia instead of having to fight the Poms for land and treasure and whatnot. Two kings are in, but the third (who appears to be named Frodo) agrees with us that there should be some fighting. So it’s gonna be single combat next episode!

Judith gets a word in edgeways

In a room with no blokes present, Judith gives a short lecture on future art history, explaining the rarity and provenance of lapis lazuli, which is used to make blue paint for the exclusive use of depicting the Virgin Mary’s robes. She also casually mentions that she has a lump in her breast and will die soon. But then Lagertha puts that blue stuff on her face like warpaint and – on yeah, did we mention Lagertha is BACK? She was hiding in a witch’s cage the whole time!!  

Ivar gives one final speech

This one’s directed to his newborn son, Baldur, who has some unexplained “deformity”. Even though Freydis declares it proof of the gods’ favour, he sees it as a constant reminder of his own condition. So he not only subjects the poor baby to a lengthy monologue about how tough it’ll be on him (Ivar) to have to constantly look at him (Baldur), he leaves the kid to die in the cold, dark woods. Which, if you’re still trying to see Ivar as a hero after all this, could be construed as having the strength his own father Ragnar lacked?

Nah.

 

Vikings airs on Thursday nights at 9.30pm on SBS. Watch "Baldur" at SBS On Demand:

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