Vikings S03E01 Recap: Mercenary

The long wait is over, and Vikings is back! I hope you've dusted off your shield, and sharpened your swords, because Ragnar and crew are ready for raiding.

But first. Lagertha pays a visit to the seer. She wants to know if she will ever bear another child, she will not, no matter how far into her future he looks. She asks what does he see. He sees a harvest celebrated in blood, a trickster, a city of marble, a burning city. She doesn't understand his prophecy, and she's not meant to. Lagertha asks when she will die. It has already been decided, but he cannot tell her when or how.

High on Ragnar's new perch he tells his son that when the ice breaks he will go back to Essex, and claim the land that King Ecbert promised. He will farm it as he dreamt. Bjorn wants more, he wants to fight, to raid. Ragnar asks why he wishes to fight, and for what. Bjorn has large aspirations of his own. Ragnar asks what he sees. Bjorn sees power. Power is dangerous, it attracts horrors, corrupts the best. Power is only given to those who can lower themselves to pick it up he tells his son.

Lagertha returns to her home. All men except one rises as their Earl comes through the great hall, her former brother in law. He rises as she stops in front of him, before proceeding into privacy with her handsome second in command Kalf. He will not go with her to Wessex, he wishes to stay behind to look after her best interests. He's earned her trust over the last year. She tells him of her newest marriage offer, a turf cutter. She jokes that she'd be warm all winter, and wonders why Kalf has not offered to marry her. He's made himself almost indispensable. He claims he has nothing to offer, and the marriage would be looked at poorly by others, which would do neither of them any good. She asks about her former brother in law. He is still trying for a coup, and trying to rally those around him to restore his family's former dynasty. Lagertha ponders what to do.

Porunn looks over one of the ships trying to imagine what it will be like when they finally sail away for a raid. Bjorn reminds her that they have not talked about it yet. He's not sure he wants her to come. Porunn is sure that she's ready, Lagertha has trained her herself. Bjorn is worried that she's pregnant, and cannot fathom the thought of losing mother and child.

Ragnar plays with his three young children, chasing his little piggies. Aslaug watches with delight, carrying Ivar in her arms. When Ivar begins to cry, Ragnar notices the pair and stops playing. Aslaug tries to get him to continue, but he tells her they're through, asks how is Ivar. Ivar is what he is.

Floki looks at his wife and daughter, and he cannot stand all the happiness. Ever melancholy he laments. Floki doesn't think that families should be happy, and Helga points out that Ragnar's family is happy. It's a lie and Floki knows it. He wants Helga to be angry that he's upset over their happiness, and she is, but she knows it won't help, and wonders if it will be better once he's left and returned home from Wessex. Floki points out that he could die in Wessex. He turns to leave, he can't stand the happiness any longer, or how good Helga is to him.

Aslaug is filled with sorrow over Ivar, she cannot make him happy. He suffers and there is nothing she can do for her crippled child. She asks Ragnar if he even cares, and he does. He nears his son, looking over his legs as she asks if he loves Ivar. Of course he loves the child, but when she asks if he loves her, he does not answer.

Over in Hedeby, Scandenavia Lagertha prepares to leave. Kalf helps her into her saddle, and as she leaves, her former brother in law approaches Kalf. He will not talk betrayal or murder, and his men have the man surrounded before he can draw his sword.

The men prepare to leave, Aslaug cooks by the fire. Athelstan looks out at the preparation. Ragnar knows what tortures Athelstan. He cannot his God, or Ragnar's. Together they will return to Wessex, and they will stay together, with Athelstan guiding him as his own personal John the Baptist.

In the great hall, Siggy watches Rollo. Torstein tells Bjorn and Rollo of his problem. He has two women who both claim to be carrying his child. Bjorn wonders if that is possible. Rollo suggests that he marry one and take the other as a concubine, but he can't, the women hate eachother, and he just wants to head out as soon as possible.

The boat preparations continue. Floki tells Rollo how ecstatic to be leaving, and Rollo understands completely. Torstein looks over his two lady loves, Floki always warned him to keep his axe in his pants. But he's the lucky one, he gets to leave his trouble behind, whereas Bjorn will be taking his with him. Ragnar greets Lagertha. She notes that Porunn is joining them. Bjorn could not talk her out of it, she's a lot like another woman he knows he tells his mother. The people of Kattegat gather as the ships set off. Aslaug watches her husband set off with his ex-wife.

Kalf takes his prisoner out to the middle of the lake, telling him that it is time to die. The man wants to die with an axe in his hand, as he would in battle. He tries to talk Kalf into giving him the axe, and Kalf does hand it over. He's surprised at Kalf's gift, calling it foolish. Kalf doesn't think he will use it against him. If he kills an unarmed man, he is really foolish, and he doesn't think the man would kill his own Earl. He wants the man to talk to his family, and put their support behind Kalf. Lagertha is no Earl, she goes off raiding with Ragnar, and she and Ragnar care only about farming. He doesn't want to go places to farm, there is no glory in that.

In Wessex, the Vikings have arrived, and they're allowed entrance into King Ecbert's castle. King Ecbert greets them all happily, especially Earl Ragnar. Athelstan clarifies, that Ragnar is now a King. Ragnar tells him that King Horik met with an unfortunate end, they are now equals. Around the table, Ragnar asks what happened with the war against Mercia. Princess Kwenthrith's Uncle proved to be formidable, but she's sure with his and Lagertha's help they could defeat him. Lagertha asks for translation, and Ragnar complies. She points out that they came to farm, and have no quarrel. King Ecbert admits that he has honored the treaty, but some of his nobles do not disagree. He wishes for them to help in the war. Though they do not have to, Ragnar tells King Ecbert he will fight, but he cannot speak for the rest. Rollo upon hearing that his brother will fight, he will fight as well. Bjorn came to fight, so he's on board, and of course Porunn wants to fight as well. Torstein is with him, Floki teaters. Ragnar asks for a decision. Floki will fight. Athelstan translates for King Ecbert, all will fight, but Lagertha. He announces that for their farming settlement, he will need a strong leader. Lagertha agrees to remain in Wessex to establish their hold, and to farm. King Ecbert asks that Athelstan also stay, he needs him, and he can translate. Ragnar thinks it is a good idea, so Athelstan will stay.

King Ecbert brings Athelstan back to the room he spent so much time in during season 2. He gives him back the cross that the left behind.

Ragnar and the others prepare to go their separate ways from Lagertha and her people. Lagertha hopes that the Gods will protect her son. Princess Judith sends her prayers with Athelstan. He thanks her. She asks if she may touch his hands, having heard that he was crucified and still bears the marks of Christ. He tells her its not true, but she grabs his hand and sees that he lied. Aethelwulf watches the exchange and approaches his wife, telling her to take care of their child and to wait for him.Bjorn tries to appeal to Porunn, asking her to stay behind and attend to the settlement with Lagertha. He loves her and thinks she is already with child. She makes no denials. Lagertha boards the wagon, as King Ecbert stops them. He's coming with them. He does not care that he is a King, he wishes to accompany Athelstan and Lagertha. Rollo asks his brother if this makes him happy, but Ragnar points out that none of it has ever been about his happiness.
Lagertha's wagon leads the way to the settlement.

Ragnar's boats go up river, loaded with Vikings and Anglo-Saxens. Ragnar asks Princess Kwenthrith about her family. Her uncle has usurped her crown, and her brother she thinks has been tricked, or magicked into helping him. Ragnar mocks this excuse. He's been deceived many times, but magic was never the culprit.

King Ecbert stares at Lagertha, he's quite taken in by her. She's unlike any woman that he's ever known, warrior, mother, farmer, he finds her irresistible.

The men watch Princess Kwenthrith dance around. Torstein thinks that he could love her for a lifetime, and have many babies. Floki and Rollo slip into some bittersweet poetry about loving a woman. Aethelwulf is unsure he can trust the Pagans, regardless of what his father says. Rollo tells the others how he knows of unrequited love. He loved deeply once, sat in the reeds waiting. Love leaves many in bad repair. Princess Kwenthrith dances herself out as Aethelwulf ponders which of their religious beliefs are the true ones. Princess Kwenthrith's men return. Her uncle has his men posted, waiting for their arrival.

Back on their boats, Princess Kwenthrith tells Ragnar that if he should be victorious in Mercia she will give him something beyond riches. I'm not sure he wants to play this offer out, the last one didn't work out so well for him. He doesn't voice his response. Floki sharpens his axe, as the arrows begin to fly. A few arrows take out unsuspecting men before the Vikings can get their shields up. Ragnar gets his up in time to save Kwenthrith, asking her if that was the work of her god or his. The ships surge ahead as they get out of range. Ragnar sees that he has not one army to face, but two, on separate fronts. One lead by her uncle and one by her brother. Bjorn points out that it is a much more formidable force, and Rollo suggests that its not too late to fall back and bow out.

Lagertha and crew arrive. King Ecbert has given her a sizable piece of land with many farms on it, and Lagertha likes what she sees. King Ecbert wants them all to live in peace.

The ships surge ahead. Ragnar looks over the situation. The armies are separated, with no way to quickly unite. If they head towards her uncle's forces, which are the smaller of the two, they can easily overtake them first. Ragnar orders the boats to be turned for the single bank. Kwenthrith's brother realize that the opposition are headed towards his uncle, and orders his archers to open fire. The ships are out of range, he cannot offer any assistance.

Uncle Britwulf, on his own readies his men, trying to bar the Vikings from getting ashore, but they do a horrible job as the Northmen come pouring off their ship. The fighting is fierce, and beautiful in its savagery. Kwenthrith watches from the ship. For a moment Rollo and Aethelwulf meet on the field, but it's not a repeat of last season and they head off to opposite ends of the conflict. Porunn is nearly taken down, and Bjorn assists her, taking her away. Torstein has troubles of his own, and Floki helps with a little throat slashing. Britwulf and his men are no match for the Vikings and ultimately Floki beheads him. Kwenthrith watches with almost esctasy as her uncle loses his head. Ragnar sits, covered in blood in the aftermath.

Photos by Jonathan Hession/HISTORY Copyright 2015


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