A good treason- a closer look at betrayals

As promised- I have calmed down, watched a second time and am now ready to deal with all of the various levels of betrayal. Before we get into the more serious issues and intense drama of the week, I just want to hand out a few small awards.

I know you all assume that Rollo’s behavior was the most disgusting and lowest of all… but really that award would go to our other treasonous traitor, Einar. Einar gets the prize for not only being a conspiring traitor but displaying the ultimate in cowardly behavior!

award for ultimate cowardly behavior

The next award is a much more prestigious one… Our Frankish knight Roland showed himself to be a true gentleman, a fine example of calm in the middle of a storm and grace under fire. Obviously, this man has dealt with Gisela’s outburst before. Her antics and behaviors did not appear to phase him in the least. He took a spit in the face from the little shrew and was gracious enough to thank her for it! 

roland gives thanks for a spit in the face

 

Now, unfortunately we need to move on to the more serious issues going on, the betrayals- the many levels and versions of betrayal besides the one that everyone was so outraged by. On the surface level, Rollo’s betrayal appeared to be so over the top and outright extreme that it may have caused one to not pay attention or look closer at everything else that was taking place. I admit that on the initial viewing, I was so shocked by this blatant in your face act of treachery that I focused only on that one scene and the rest of it seemed to fade in relation to this act.  When I watched a second time, I was determined to watch closer, pay attention to all of the little details that so often add up and mean something later on. 

levels and layers of betrayals

I mentioned previously that something felt off, didn’t make sense and it felt like I was missing something about the whole situation or event of  Rollo’s action against his men. After much discussion with others who shared my feelings and a second viewing of the episode, I think it has begun to make more sense for me.

Since Rollo’s betrayal was by far the most controversial and talked about one, I am going to deal with it first and get it over with. First of all, I want everyone to understand that I am not looking at this event from the perspective of a glossy eyed fan girl as a few have accused me of being. I am not a fan of Rollo based on Clive Standen’s looks. I have done research into Rollo’s history and I do understand that Rollo in history was as cut throat, power hungry and violent as any other leader or warrior of that time was.  So, I am not sitting here gasping in shock and horror that “my” guy Rollo could or would have done such a vicious act if he felt need to. Rollo is a battle hardened warrior with sometime dubious morals and ethics… yes, we all know that. Many people want to assume that he is just a big dumb oaf with no thought, no brain in his head and that he can’t survive or win without Ragnar or some other leader guiding him or setting ideas in his head. I am also not sitting here defending him or denying that he’s a betrayer because he is, most of them are! I do have doubts about his outright slaughter of his own men without some underlying reason that we as viewers may not have been informed of in a tell everything way… 

When I first watched the episode, I was appalled and furious at the direction Hirst just took Rollo down as if proving everyone else right in their assumptions. I was also annoyed with Hirst’s action because of his assurances to stick closer to Rollo’s truer history. I know from my own research that Rollo did not become one of the Franks, and that he had a group of Vikings who remained loyal to him throughout life and into the future of Normandy. Now after this second viewing, I realize that there may be far more going on with this situation than what we first saw on the surface.

In order to understand this situation better, we need to look at the events in Paris closer. Perhaps once I’ve provided this closer look, you will see the underlying issues and events that help to make more sense of this “betrayal”. I am not going to address the wedding here other than in the terms that it corresponds to people and events leading up to the final act. One of those people involved is Sinric.

At the wedding we see Sinric still with Rollo, still helping him along with understanding the ways of the French. Things seem to be fine with them during this time. Sinric guides him through the intricacies of the wedding and the bedding ceremony… until Rollo gets fed up and kicks everyone out. So, as far as we could know or tell things are still good with Sinric and Rollo.

sinric is still around to provide assistance

when rollo looks over to sinric in some confusion sinric nods to the bench for him to kneel

rollo follows the cue and kneels not all that happily himself

sinric is still here giving cues to rollo

rollo needs no instruction on preparing for this part

Some time after the wedding, we witness a sudden change and tension in the air between Sinric and Rollo. 

sinric seems ill at ease about something back in paris an odd meeting takes place between rollo and sinric

Sinric suddenly announces, “I have to leave!” When a puzzled Rollo asks him why, he rambles on his speech about being a wanderer, “I am a wanderer, I do not belong here, I do not not belong in Paris… I am a wanderer, I belong to the wide wide world…”

Sinric suddenly stands up and announces I'm leaving

Sinric suddenly stands up and announces I’m leaving

sinric gives an answer of I don't belong here, I don't belong in paris

sinric gives an answer of I don’t belong here, I don’t belong in paris

sinric continues with I'm a wanderer I belong to the wide wide world

sinric continues with I’m a wanderer I belong to the wide wide world

 

rollo of course answers sinric with I don't want you to leave

rollo of course answers sinric with I don’t want you to leave

When Rollo says he wants him to stay, Sinric’s reply is a little over the top or extreme… “If you want me to stay, you’ll have to cut off my feet!” It’s obvious that something is bothering Sinric and he wants to get the hell out of Paris

sinric's response if you want me to stay you will have to cut off my feet. obviously sinric wants to get out ofhere

sinric’s response if you want me to stay you will have to cut off my feet. obviously sinric wants to get out of here.

sinric's advice We may meet again after all everything that goes around comes around

sinric’s advice We may meet again after all everything that goes around comes around

Sinric also leaves Rollo some rather odd parting words, “We may meet again, after all everything that goes around comes around.”  It was an odd meeting and conversation that didn’t quite make sense at first. 

As soon as Sinric left, one of the Viking men from the camp showed up. Rollo was  happy to see his friend Eirik, greeted him and welcomed him. 

as soon as sinric leaves Eric shows up rollo is happy to see Eirik but Eirik does not look same

Rollo was happy to see Eirik but  Eirik didn’t  seem quite as happy to be meeting with Rollo. Now, on the surface at first glance we could assume that would be because Eirik has difficult news to share with Rollo and is worried for his “friend”.  I mentioned previously that something just did not feel right about any of this and after watching a second time, I paid closer attention to both Eirik and Rollo during this meeting.

Eirik is uncomfortable throughout the meeting where he says he has come to warn his friend about dissent in the camp. 

Eirik looks uncomfortable even before any discussion takes place

Eirik looks uncomfortable even before any discussion takes place

Eiric will not sit and immediately states we've had a meeting at the camp I thought you should know about

Eiric will not sit and immediately states we’ve had a meeting at the camp I thought you should know about.

Eirik evades rollo's question of how many and continues they don't want to fight for the franks, they don't want to fight against king ragnar

Eirik evades rollo’s question of how many and continues they don’t want to fight for the franks, they don’t want to fight against king ragnar.

Rollo quickly realizes this is not a friendly meeting and begins to watch Eirik closely as he asks him again how many men…

rollo quickly realizes this is not a friendly meeting between friends

rollo quickly realizes this is not a friendly meeting between friends

He asks Eirik again how many men are involved and watches Eirik as he answers

when rollo insists on an answer of how many Eirik responds with maybe half

If you watch both of their facial expressions closely throughout the conversation, it seems like Eirik is hiding something and Rollo knows it. Rollo is probably putting this together with the earlier odd conversation he had with Sinric and is coming to the conclusion that something is not right about any of this? This is the point where you need to understand that Rollo is not stupid.  He has spent years watching, observing, making his own mistakes and learning from those mistakes. Perhaps the adage of “it takes one to know one” might apply here. If we go with the notion that Rollo is or has been disloyal and a betrayer, then he might certainly recognize one who is being disloyal or attempting to betray him?

rollo then asks what about you eirik

rollo then asks what about you eirik

rollo's question to eirik what about you... you are so unhappy

rollo’s question to eirik what about you… you are so unhappy too?

remember rollo is watching eirik's response closely as eirik shifts his eyes and says no that's why I came straight here to warn you

remember rollo is watching eirik’s response closely as eirik shifts his eyes and says no that’s why I came straight here to warn you

rollo has an underneath the breath laugh at Eirik's statement that they want him to come back to the camp so they can talk to him Rollo knows

rollo has an underneath the breath laugh at Eirik’s statement that they want him to come back to the camp so they can talk to him. Rollo knows a set up when he hears one…

Rollo has been part of more than enough underhanded betrayals on his own and in dealing with those of others including Ragnar. His under the breath laugh or sigh at Eirik’s responses are a clue that he knows full well there is more to this than just a friendly meeting. 

rollo can play this game as well as eirik or kalf or others... go back and tell them I will come in due course

rollo can play this game as well as eirik,  kalf or any number of  others… go back and tell them I will come in due course

rollo goes on to eirik I will put all their minds at ease

rollo goes on to eirik I will put all their minds at ease

If you put all of this together and then watch the scene at the camp play out as Rollo arrives, it makes more sense… What you also need to think about is how and why Rollo might choose to deal with the men in the way he did. Eirik tells him maybe half the men are involved. Looking at this information from a military or battle perspective as Rollo would, he would have to ask himself these questions. Is Eirik being honest about that number? If he’s lying about the rest, he could be lying about the number involved as well. Then there is the question of which half? How does he know which half are involved and which half might be on his side? Rollo does not have the option as Kalf did to have a public meeting and weed them out… So Rollo has a dilemma on his hands. He is not about to just show up at the camp on his own if he has some gut feeling or warrior’s instinct that something about this meeting feels wrong. No, he is going to take what ever back up is available, and that would be his new allies- the Frankish forces. And, as difficult as this may be to swallow or accept, you need to understand another factor or thought involved in his decision making. He does not know which ones are the enemy so he has to assume that they all are. It becomes a matter of kill first ask questions later if there are survivors… it’s a matter of kill or be killed and Rollo does not plan on being the killed one on this day. This is where you see the beginnings of what a force Rollo and his Normans will become in the future. Is it cold hearted and vicious… yes that is exactly what it is, and that is what will win their battles in the future. Those who survive will not be quite so willing to go against such a force in the future.

What was going on in the camp as Rollo showed up?  First of all, look at the camp… it’s very large and spread out but the eventuall attack seemed to focus on one well guarded portion of it where a number of the men were.

the viking camp in paris

Let’s look at Eirik’s reactions and behavior… He tells his son, see I told you he would come. Eirik is basically admitting that his intent at that meeting was to get Rollo to show up here.  Eirik seems quite confident that Rollo believed all of his story and would be trusting enough to come to the camp on his own.

eirik tells his son I told you he'd come

eirik tells his son I told you he’d come

eirik and his family

eirik and his family

Now look at some of the people as Rollo arrives. A few appear happy to see him, are smiling and friendly… but not Eirik

rollo arrives at the camp seemingly alone rollo watches all of them there are a few men smiling at rollo's appearance but not eirik

Does this look like a man who is happy to see that his friend has shown up to make amends and mend differences?

this is not the look of a man who is happy that his friend has shown up to make amends or talk of peace

This is what Rollo sees waiting at the gate for him… does this group with Eirik look like they’re wanting to greet Rollo and sit down to any peaceful discussion with him? If you were Rollo, would you get down off your horse and walk into this group on your own?

 

eirik tells them to open the gates these men seem to be prepared for something other than a peacable sit down discussion

Rollo has put all of the odd suspicious fragments together and brought his newfound allies along with him. They are waiting in the woods for his signal… he is watching this group closely and has made his decision, whether right or wrong, that this was not a peace meeting he was invited to. He gives a signal to the men and a massacre begins. It’s bloody, gruesome,  unrelenting and in the end, yes Rollo has betrayed Ragnar and massacred his own people. I am not defending that action but I am suggesting that all is not quite what it appears and there is a very good possibility that some in that camp, such as Eirik were not as innocent as they may have seemed to be. Had some of those people not set about their own agenda of possibly betraying Rollo, it might not have come down to this final act of horrific bloodshed…

Eirik’s last words to Rollo were “You betrayed your own people, Ragnar will come… he will seek revenge for us” 

yes, there is a gruesome bloody and horrific massacre

In some way, perhaps Eirik was just as much at fault in setting up Rollo for a possible ambush and assuming that he could get away with it? It was an act some betrayal on both parts and had Rollo not listened to his gut instinct, his inner warrior self, he would probably be the one dead that day. In putting all of it together, Sinric’s parting words make more sense, have more meaning…” Sinric knew what was going to happen and did not want to be involved on either side of it. Far better to get the hell out of the way and watch to see what happens from a distance!

sinric's advice We may meet again after all everything that goes around comes around

sinric’s advice We may meet again after all everything that goes around comes around.

 

Rollo’s betrayal may have been the most blatant, controversial and despised one of the episode but it was just one of many. Another betrayal had to do with Kalf and his people… one which also ended up in a surprise massacre of his own people. Kalf, however had the benefit and advantage of being able to do it in a more open and public manner while Rollo had to resort to more covert measures. Kalf was also in a more enviable position of setting up his massacre in defense of Lagertha and in killing of a much despised enemy of everyone. Does that make it somehow more ethical or moral? I suppose that is highly debatable as well but most would probably agree that the end result in this case was acceptable except for one possible exclusion in the massacre. We’ll get to that exclusion in a bit. First let us look at the initial betrayal- which many would say was not really a betrayal because it involved Lagertha getting her earldom back… But, realistically and truthfully as much as we hate to admit it- it was a betrayal and gag… Einar had a valid point. That admission is still gagging me! This situation involves a long list of betrayals. From disgusting Einar’s original betrayal of Lagertha, Kalf’s betrayals of Lagertha, and then Ragnar to Slimey Erlandeur’s betrayals and then back again to Kalf’s betrayal of Einar in favor of Lagertha… It’s difficult to keep up with all of the conspiracies in Hedeby! Let’s just look at the most recent one for now. Originally Kalf received Einar’s backing for the Earldom on condition that they would bring down the entire Lothbrok dynasty. The only problem with that was that Kalf really does care about Lagertha so he betrays Einar by deciding that Lagertha should rule equally with him over Hedeby. 

kalf invites lagertha to the front kalf Lagertha and I will rule as equals as your earl that is my determination

This news does not sit well with Einar, and one other person seems perturbed with the idea as well…

einar hears the news of Kalf and lagertha sharing the rule he is not impressed

einar hears the news of Kalf and lagertha sharing the rule he is not impressed

erlanduer listens to kalf's speech and it appears he is not impressed either

erlanduer listens to kalf’s speech and it appears he is not impressed either

Ahhhh yes, now we come to slimey Erlandeur the scum of so many betrayals and low life acts that it’s hard to keep track of all of them. Erlandeur is an example of the advice his own Father gave once and one which Ragnar failed to follow… always kill the heirs because they will grow up to seek revenge. Ragnar made the mistake of letting this child grow to adulthood and now he is the bane of our existence with everyone asking, pleading the same thing… Why is this disgusting piece of garbage still alive? Erlandeur who in his own slimey way, makes everyone else look a bit better when compared to him!  Erlandeur’s first betrayal might consist of just staying alive to spite Ragnar? Now, it seems he’s involved in some multiple betrayal scheme and it’s hard to say whose side he’s actually on other than his own. Einar assumed that Erlandeur was on his side- that didn’t work out so well in the end. 

 

einar greets erlandeur

einar greets erlandeur

In a discussion with Kalf, Einar makes the comment that Erlandeur is with his group.

einar reminds kalf of the original agreement to overthow entire lothbrok dynasty. We believed you and so did Erlanduer who is with us.

einar reminds kalf of the original agreement to overthow entire lothbrok dynasty. We believed you and so did Erlanduer who is with us.

In Kalf’s final betrayal of Einar and group, we discover that for the moment at least Erlandeur seems to be on Kalf’s side even though his disgust of Lagertha is evident.  Kalf sets up a public meeting to vote on whether Lagertha should be co-ruler and invites everyone to cast their mark against her… what ensues is a surprise massacre of those people who step up to the pole to cast their no vote. Kalf has now killed his own people openly in public view of everyone. His comment is “and this is my answer… ” 

the group is attacked by those archers Kalf looks on as the group is slaughtered

And one of those archers enjoying the event… None other than Erlandeur

erlandeur is standing outside the group watching the event erlandeur hestitates when lagertha calls him to stop

At the end of the slaughter, the last man standing is Einer. He is only standing because he’s pinned to the pole by an arrow.

Einar meets an arrow

Erlandeur is quick to step in for one last shot to do away with Einar but is stopped from his fun by Lagertha

Erlandeur steps in to take one last shot at einar but lagertha stops him

erlandeur hestitates when lagertha calls him to stop

Lagertha gets her final and ultimate revenge on Einar

lagertha takes her last revenge on einar lagertha's blood revenge is complete

 

Now, let’s look at one last situation with layers of betrayal… No discussion of cunning, deception, and more subtle betrayal would be complete without mentioning Aslaug!

Her first act of possible treason or betrayal- to mention the death of a King out loud, especially when that King happens to be her husband!

aslaug asking who will succeed after Ragnar's death

aslaug asking who will succeed after Ragnar’s death

Her more subtle acts of betrayal… well, anything that casts a possible bad reflection of her spouse the King could be construed as betrayal for a Queen and she does seem to have a habit of that. Even her son Ubba notices.

ubba comments on aslaug's less than enthusiastic reaction to ragnar being awake Father's awake don't you care

ubba comments on aslaug’s less than enthusiastic reaction to ragnar being awake Father’s awake don’t you care?

She tries to cover her inner thoughts and fakes an overly sweet smile to her son with a reply of “Of course I care, run tell everyone the King is awake!”  For some reason I have to assume that Ubba is a pretty smart kid and she has not fooled him at all!

aslaug tries to fake it... her thought no I don't care I was hoping he wouldn't wake up...

aslaug tries to fake it… her thought no I don’t care I was hoping he wouldn’t wake up…

aslaug to ubba too sweetly Of course I do

aslaug to ubba too sweetly Of course I do

Next we move on to her underlying deceptions and schemes which would amount to betrayal… Let’s watch her visit to the slave market where she inspects the merchandise with a stereotypical Alibaba type slave trader.

an Alibaba like trader is in kattegat with his merchandise

aslaug and alibaba discuss the merchandise

After much browsing, she happens upon one item that catches her interest…

one item in particular catches aslaug's eye

Something about this particular slave causes her to pause, think and smile her sneaky smile

something about this slave causes aslaug to think and smile

Now, really what could be so intriguing or interesting about this specific slave girl? Could it be a thought that she knows how intriguing or interesting Ragnar might find this obviously foreign girl from some other culture or part of the world…

what could be so special about this particular slave to interest aslaug so much

Aslaug takes her new slave home, cleans her up and sets about putting her in Ragnar’s sight… Slave girl is now a house servant for Aslaug and family

aslaug's new purchase is now clean and presentable in her new role as servant

Yes, Ragnar quickly notices and Aslaug sits back with a smile…

all it takes is a glance at her and ragnar's interested... aslaug sits back with a smile

slave girl is not impressed

Obviously Aslaug has purchased this girl for some specific reason and placed her within sight and reach of Ragnar, knowing full well that he will be interested in her. Aslaug apparently has some plan of deception in mind and this girl is a part of that scheme. I really don’t think she’s set the girl out just so he will bed the slave girl and thereby leave Aslaug alone. Aslaug knows as well as the rest of us that there is little chance that he is going to be wanting to bed with herself anymore and she’s probably glad of that. No, she’s got some other plan in mind for this girl.

We’re all already well aware of the betrayals, treason and reasons for Floki’s current predicament so I am not going to go into those here. Now we just have to wait along with Floki and his family for whatever Ragnar decides is suitable punishment.

floki's reaction to ragnar's illness

I do have to say that this was one of the saddest and difficult reunions to watch.

floki's family reunion helga knows floki is going to beg her to do something ragnar must deal with floki

My personal thought on the circle Ragnar marked around Floki… Ragnar seems to be marking a distance between the people and Floki as if in a way to say, he’s not for your public abuse. I guess his thought might be of he’s mine to torture, not yours. 

ragnar marks a circle around floki

Updated added information!

 I recently had a very interesting discussion with someone connected to the show. Of course he could not give out any specifics- and I do not expect him to! But, he did provide some general information and insight on Hirst’s reasoning and rationale for this recent event with Rollo. Hirst has mentioned often that he is presenting Rollo’s story in a more historically accurate context so naturally for many of us this recent event was a little confusing. It is confusing unless you keep in mind and remember that Hirst is framing the story from a Viking perspective, and he has used various Norse Sagas and the Irish Annals as part of his reference. In most of those sagas it does refer to Rollo as a black sheep, one who was banished or exiled, or one who was not a legitimate ruler. This last reference comes from part of the Irish Annals on invasions and refers to some event where he tried to claim a crown or rule that he was not entitled to. Some of those sagas make mention that he was considered a traitor or betrayer to his people at some point in time. This is the frame of reference that Hirst is working from.
The sagas references to him as a betrayer of his people could also be looked at in the context that to them, his conversion to Christianity at that time would have been seen as a betrayal of his people and their beliefs. This is also the line of thinking that Floki is trying so hard to stand by with his justification for killing Athelstan. It also brings us to the issue of Ragnar’s relationship with Athelstan, his fake baptism and conversion to Christianity that his people witnessed and were aware of. Eirik brings up the fact that Rollo is now a “Christian” and that bothers the men… yet, it was okay with them for Ragnar to be a fake “Christian”.
In a last added thought, I am pretty sure this will probably be the last year for Rollo as part of the Vikings because Clive Standen has just been offered a leading role in another series! He has signed on to a role in a new series, Taken being produced for NBC!

14 thoughts on “A good treason- a closer look at betrayals

  1. I think all the men were going to kill Rollo. I think NONE were on his side. I think the Franks have been watching the camp and spying on Rollo. I think the priest/bishop knows the Viking language and overheard something maybe between Sincric and Erick.

    Now Rollo NEVER said that he was going to betray Ragnar again. I go back to the promo pictures. Rollo is in the seat between Jude, the patron of lost causes, and Matthew the Tax collector. Now when Jesus said someone was going to betray him, I am certain everyone looked at Matthew, and nobody suspected Judas.

    Matthew was a betrayer, he was extorting taxes out of his own people and giving the money to the Romans, taking a cut for himself. He’s the lowest of the low, but he left the tax collector table for good. Now Jude was the “brother” of Jesus and the brother of James the Older. James was the leader of the church before Peter. Ivar is in the Peter Seat with Aslaug. BTW perhaps Ubbe is better King material, but Ragnar(the weasel) didn’t have the guts to tell Bjorn he’s not King material.

    I think Rollo was going to share the land, but he wasn’t given a chance because everyone assumed he was going to betray Ragnar. Now out of fury he is going to fight with Ragnar and Bjorn and really betray them. He wasn’t going to tell the Franks about this and he couldn’t tell anyone else! Because of his previous actions, nobody believed he would do the right thing. Remember EVERYONE thought he would rape Gisla because of his previous actions, but he didn’t.

    There’s another promo picture with the King Charles in the Jesus seat, Odo is in the Judas seat. Now Rollo is at the right hand, that’s the seat of John, the beloved disciple of love. Gisla is in the James position. James and John were brothers and Jesus called them the sons of THUNDER for their terrible tempers! They fought over who would sit at Jesus Right hand. Charles is looking at Rollo for advice and Gisla is furious at being replaced. Now think Thor is the son of Thunder and so is Zeus. He’s the son of Odin(Ragnar), and she’s the daughter of Zeus.(Charles) I think he’s going to continue to ignore her and she will become more and more furious.

    God the Actor that does Einar is SOOOOOO good. I am going to miss him, Einar is just and awful man. He watched his brother abuse Lagertha and then he let Lagertha take the risk of taking out brother. Now he put in Kalf because he thought he could control Kalf. He wants Lagertha so he can be the earl, but he knows the people will not accept him. He’s like Odo. Odo wanted Gisla for the power, and he thinks he can control Rollo. Oh hell no.

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    • Else in relation to Eirik and he before he died rollo warns that ragnar is coming, and will avenge them, this means that he already sent the warning to ragnar, before speaking with rollo on the discontent of men?
      which also commonly were loyal Norman warriors rollo who were with him at the wedding at the end of the last episode of the third season? For those men accepted the conditions of the Franks?

      And if the discontent of warriors was so why rollo became a Christian and a French nobleman as Eirik said, why Esles not rebelled against ragnar, which spoiled Athelstan, made agreements with ecberth all a Christian and that in one way or another just prejudicandos the Norse? It seems that Mivhael hrist this idealizing too ragnar as hero, and he is no more of a Nordic-century 9 warrior as any.

      Now with the arrival of finehair Harald, it will be the first time that ragnar will be an enemy to point to strong opposition within the escandinavia and ragnar also will lose the support of floki because this will flock to the side of harald king this a pure Nordic without influence of cistianismo.E king Harald finehai agreement will be as truculent as poderosoe ragnar, maybe even more.
      mais .

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      • yes maybe they sent someone to Ragnar, maybe it’s SINRIC! I think Hirst is tricking us about this betrayal thing. I could be wrong. Now the real Rollo was surrounded by the Franks when he accepted the treaty. What was he going to do, say no? The Franks would have swooped down and killed them all. I didn’t see any other men in the city, maybe Rollo can’t go where he wants. I saw two guards at least at the door and then the page came in. The strength of the Vikings was that they could slip in on there long boats and disappear quickly, they could not win against a huge Frankish host that came upon them in full battle mode. You know when Rollo was bouncing money into that bowl, he looked frazzled like he hadn’t slept at all, and he was afraid and stressed. He’s being WATCHED. I think some of the guards are reporting his every move and the bishop understands his language. I don’t think the Franks were going to let him go alone anyways, they were going to follow him. I think the stupid people in the camp thought they could withstand a cohort of mounted Franks. IT’s a lot easier to lay seige to something in those long ships than withstand the Frankish crossbows and metal shields. Watch mounted Norman against a Saxon foot soldier. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzC3iQrse8Q

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  2. I did not want people to think I was making excuses for Rollo. Nor did I want to read too much into things which could just as easily be Hirst’s thin plot turns as they were deliberate and relevant hints. But though I was dreading this scene weeks before the episode even aired, it was not as bad as I feared. It is still a massacre with the sting of severance and betrayal. But it did not come across as gratuitous or artificial. I do not think Hirst just conjured it up as a way to hate Rollo (though he did portray it more harshly than Ragnar’s atrocities). If one considers the overarching story, then this event has plausibility and does make some narrative sense.

    First, there is the difference between the show’s Rollo and the historical Rollo. From what we are told, the historical Rollo had been operating independently while he was in Francia. If ever Rollo was accountable to some king or higher chieftain, he apparently broke that bond years before and his own men were generally loyal to him. By contrast, the show’s Rollo does not seem to have his own authority. He’s always remained in Kattegat within his brother’s domain and he’s never established his own territory or earldom, like Lagertha, Kalf, or Siegfried. When he stays behind in Paris, it’s in the role of Ragnar’s deputy. Any Vikings who remained with him probably feel loyalty to either Ragnar or some other chieftain. For all these warriors to go along with Rollo’s plan without objection would have been implausible. Even if Ragnar himself had commanded them to ally with the Franks, they would still have been conflicted. So it’s not as if Rollo’s inferior authority was going to quell their doubts.

    I was picking up unfavorable hints about how things stood between Rollo and the other Vikings even before the episode aired. We saw that Rollo has to be admitted into the camp, by them raising the gate. He’s not living with them and approaches more like an outsider. There was also another trailer shot of the Vikings looking at Rollo when he approached. Their faces were not happy or jovial at the return of their “friend.” Even from the split second preview, I could tell that this encounter was a tense one between estranged parties.

    Once we saw the episode, the evidence mounted. When I first saw the previews of Rollo’s wedding last year, I jokingly asked if there would be a “groom’s side” of the church filled with rowdy Vikings. Well, we got our answer. Aside from Sinric, Rollo was completely alone. He just strolled into the cathedral all by himself. Not a single one of Rollo’s countrymen attended the wedding. If Rollo had some warriors accompany him into the throne room to negotiate the betrothal, wouldn’t some of his men attend the actual wedding? Wasn’t it customary that the groom would have some kind of entourage or retinue? Maybe Rollo did not want his men to attend because he thought they would view the marriage unfavorably?

    Now you may say that perhaps the Franks are leery of the Vikings and would not permit them in the city much less the church, even though they are technically allies. However, in the subsequent scene when Eirik visits Rollo, it seemed as if Eirik was allowed to enter the palace freely. The fact that Rollo was pleasantly surprised by Eirik’s visit suggests that Rollo did not have to get prior permission for Eirik to visit. It seemed as if Eirik was allowed to come and go into the palace as he pleased. And the palace should be the most sensitive and secure building in all of Paris.

    Rollo’s happy surprise at Eirik’s visit also highlights that Rollo has probably not seen any of his fellow Vikings for some time. Either Rollo has not checked up on them, or they have not been inclined to see him. Either one suggests some kind of rift or estrangement. And as Starfishlady has pointed out, why do the Vikings ask Rollo to come to the camp to address these grievances that Eirik described? Could not some of the discontented warriors have just come into the city to tell Rollo their feelings on the matter? Do they not feel safe talking to Rollo on Frankish territory? And there does seem to be a contradiction in Eirik’s message to Rollo. One the one hand, Eirik presents himself as a messenger for his men and insists that the disgruntled warriors want Rollo to come to the camp to openly discuss their concerns. Yet, he also presents himself as a covert informant who is “warning” Rollo in advance about some possible threat. How is Rollo supposed to take this message?

    “Don’t worry, we just want to talk to you, but you better be careful.”

    And when Rollo asks Eirik if he is “unhappy,” Eirik’s denial is less convincing than Ecbert’s denial when Aethelwulf asked him if he was willing to sacrifice his own son in Mercia.

    When Rollo travels to the camp, I did not want to read too much into the fact that somebody was sharpening swords or axes. That just sounds like a normal Viking practice. Even though their nominal leader has allied with the Franks, it makes sense that these Vikings would not yet fully trust them and would maintain their weapons (though it did not matter much in the end). When Eirik tells his son, “I told you he would come,” he sounds genuinely hopeful, like some kid happy that his estranged father showed up for his birthday. It does not sound like he means, “I told you he would come, son…now we can lure him in and kill him.” But from the dour look on everybody else’s faces, they are clearly not as reassured to see their supposed leader. And the fact that Eirik said this indicates that his son and others in the camp had openly doubted that Rollo would show up, suggesting a general loss of confidence in Rollo.

    Let’s assume that Eirik was being honest when he asked Rollo to come to the camp. Let’s assume that about half of the men are discontented and they only want to discuss the matter with Rollo in good faith. Based on the obvious lack of confidence and building alienation between Rollo and the men, what were Rollo’s chances of persuading the disgruntled ones to stay the course? If about half of the warriors were determined to abandon the pact with the Franks, what was Rollo supposed to do? Let them leave? Assuming they even had boats left over to go back to Norse territory.

    “Okay, you can go back to Ragnar. We’ll see you next spring when you come back to attack us.”

    Even if Rollo allowed the disgruntled men to leave, the Franks would never permit this. Allowing some of his men to return to Ragnar? Men who would certainly tip Ragnar off about Rollo’s plans? If Rollo does not let the disgruntled warriors leave, what could he do with them? Imprison them or kill them? Even if half of the camp is nominally on his side, if they see him use force against his fellow Vikings to protect the Franks, are they going to stay on his side in that event? And could he use such force against half of his men singlehandedly? Of course not. He would need help from either the supportive Vikings or the Franks. Either option would destroy his relationship with the camp further. Even if about half of the camp still supports Rollo, that half may not be willing to harm the other half to uphold the alliance. And if they see Rollo bringing in outside help to eliminate the disgruntled Vikings, their feelings towards Rollo may change in an instant.

    So even taking Eirik’s words at face value and assuming it was only half of the camp against him, that still presented a dire and precarious situation for Rollo to face. Though Rollo’s actions are upsetting, they make Machiavellian sense.

    We should note that Rollo’s actions here are not remarkable compared to his previous actions during his Viking career. Rollo has slaughtered scores of innocent people before. For Ragnar’s first raid, Rollo commenced the slaughter by killing some poor monk who started praying and then went on to gleefully kill dozens more. What bothers fans now is not that Rollo has killed people. It’s that he has killed other Vikings.

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  3. What concerns me know is if the show is going to bother explaining the demographic origins of the Normans. If Rollo has apparently killed off all other Vikings in Francia, then who will comprise the founding population of what will become Normandy?

    On the previous thread, Joe Dorner held out hope that maybe they will say that there was another camp of Vikings more loyal to Rollo, or maybe Rollo’s faithful companions left the camp prior to the massacre. I would hope for that too, but that feels like wishful thinking. I do wonder, once other Norse people learn about what Rollo did, would they actually be willing to live under his jurisdiction? One thinks they would be both outraged and afraid for their own safety.

    On the Facebook group, the fans are already scrambling to come up with alternate methods for the show to fulfill the foundation of Normandy. Here are some possibilities suggested:

    1. During the second raid on Paris, the Franks capture some Viking prisoners and Rollo has them spared (perhaps in a pang of remorse for what he did).

    2. Rollo solicits some of Ragnar’s not allies with promises of land (seems like a tough sell, but the theme of this season is supposed to be betrayal).

    3. During negotiations between the Vikings and Franks, there is some condition or term that would allow Northmen to settle on Rollo’s domain. Some of the posters think this would be Ragnar’s stipulation and some way for him to “beat” Rollo in the end, if not in combat.

    I just really hope that Hirst doesn’t clumsily end Rollo’s story by saying “Rollo founded Normandy all by himself…The End” or “we’re not paying attention to Rollo anymore, so let’s just focus on Ragnar’s sons.” THAT would be unforgivable betrayal.

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    • That is my whole issue with the direction that Hirst seems to be headed with this story line! I don’t have an issue with him being a betrayer of his so called people- aren’t they all in some way, except for maybe Lagertha! I don’t have a problem with Hirst using the reasoning that some of the Vikings didn’t like Rollo- in that equal line of thinking, a lot of the French didn’t necessarily like him much either.
      I do take issue or have a problem with the possibility of Hirst stripping the Viking- Dane or Norse identity away from him and Normandy, and portraying him as one of the Franks Personally, I think the Franks would take issue with that idea as well! Because other than his original agreement with Charles, he was no true friend to the Franks.
      Obviously, there are other Danes and Norsemen out there besides Ragnar and his group… ones that would probably jump at a chance for some free land- and possibly a chance at betraying Ragnar? There are those new Norsemen arriving soon… plus you have the situation in Hedeby – We still can not be completely sure of whose side Kalf is really on other than his own? The same goes for slimey Erlandeur… if Rollo cuts all ties with Ragnar’s group or dynasty then where does that put him from Erlandeur’s perspective? Erlandeur is obessed with those Frankish weapong… would he go so far as returning to Francia or Normandy on Rollo’s side in order to bring down Ragnar? Who knows…
      Whether you use the sagas or Anglo-Saxon history, it is a fairly well agreed theory and fact that most of the Viking raiders were actually not all that loyal to their raiding leaders. If they were not happy or winning with a particular leader, they would often walk away and go with one who would reward them better.
      I agree, if Hirst ignores the fact that Rollo did have Viking followers, that Normandy did in fact continue to have Viking ties, or he just dumps it because he doesn’t want to bother with that portion- then that is the ultimate unforgivable betrayal!

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      • Obviously, there are other Danes and Norsemen out there besides Ragnar and his group… ones that would probably jump at a chance for some free land- and possibly a chance at betraying Ragnar?

        Of course. I always wondered what happened to the all the men who served under Earl Haraldson, Jarl Borg, and King Horik. Did all their followers just run away or become Ragnar fans?

        Also, we’re supposed to meet Harald Finehair and Halfdan the Black this season. Presumably they will bring their own band of warriors and raiders to add to the mix. Though it appears they make a deal with Ragnar to join him in the second Paris raid, Hirst has announced that they will be threats to Ragnar. And presumably the men fighting under them have no prior loyalty or devotion to Ragnar either. So if Rollo or the Franks want to raise dissension among the Viking ranks, there are presumably enough new chieftains for them to approach. Interestingly, I heard that in some accounts of Rollo was exiled from Norway because of some dispute he had with Harald. Of course with this show’s fanciful chronology and genealogy, you never can tell what connections people are going to have.

        We still can not be completely sure of whose side Kalf is really on other than his own?

        Indeed. The show summaries say that both Kalf and Erlendur will send an assassin to kill Bjorn while he is off on his survival trip in the woods. For various reasons, I do not think Kalf is going to make it back to Paris for a second time. We have seen those clips from the trailers which show Lagertha and Kalf kissing in a wedding tent and then Lagertha emerging from the tent covered in blood, and without Kalf. Also, though we have seen clips of the battles from the second Paris raid, Kalf is not in them. Not sure, but I don’t think I saw Erlendur in any of the new Paris clips either.

        However, we do see Torvi in Paris, standing behind Bjorn while he roars “UNCLE!” One wonders if Bjorn and Torvi become closer (with Erlendur out of the way).

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      • I haven’t watched many of the preview trailers – I’m just going to take it as it comes this season!
        As far as the connection between Rollo and Harald- I think I did read something about it in one of the histories or sagas… But, that’s the problem with using the sagas as reference- they all have different versions of relationships, people and events so then it becomes a process of trying to piece together sketchy information to determine which one might be closer to some truth!

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    • I am ambivalent about Aslaug and what ever Hirst is attempting to do with her character… I agree with the thought that Alyssa Sutherland is just not quite up to truly pulling off this character. I don’t necessarily fault her completely though because at times it feels like Hirst isn’t exactly clear either his intent or direction for her. I know that he is trying to present a picture where people are neither all bad nor all good but I think this has just resulted in a vague kind of messiness for her character. When I watched her in power last season, along with how she made attempts with Porunn- I had some positive feelings about her and could see how there could be some redemption for her as she grows. It feels now like he’s just dismissed all of that and set her back on a snarky bitch path of one who only wants control and power. My other other issue with her character is that if Hirst is trying to use the sagas as some reference point for some of these characters then he has veered from that as well. In the sagas, Aslaug tried to protect him and save his life on his journey to England. At this point, the way he’s written her story, she would rather send him on to a certain death!

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  4. I do have to say that this was one of the saddest and difficult reunions to watch.

    I wondered why Helga would bring her daughter to see her father like that. Of course, one could ask the same question about people who bring babies and toddlers to visit their parents in jail today. The daughter’s innocence and naivete seem to shield her from the reality of her father’s situation for now. She thinks it’s just some kind of game. Floki just sends her off to feed the chickens while he begs Helga to help him escape.

    The scene from this episode that jarred me the most came before the Floki/daughter reunion, and it showed the dark side of children’s “innocence.” The village children were running around Floki, throwing snowballs and rocks at him. What made it especially pathetic was Helga frantically trying to protect Floki, begging the children not to throw things and seizing items from their hands before they could throw them. All in vain. The contrast between the children’s carefree laughter and Helga’s anguished pleas was disturbing and heartbreaking. Looks like Helga is the candidate for most beleaguered woman this season. Tonight’s episode is only going to be worse.

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  5. I thought you all might find this interesting. I was reading about Greek fire, when I found this. The Rus were captured by the Greek army wielding Greek Fire. The Rus thought they had the Greeks had the power of the thunderbolt. So according to their custom, they had to make a treaty with the Greeks. (it’s the offer you can’t refuse) They had to lay down their swords and make a pledge. If they took up swords against the Greeks, after the treaty, the sword would be used on them. They took oaths very seriously. You make an oath it is NOT broken. So because the Greeks captured them, in a sense, the Gods said they had more power, so the oath to the other king was void. http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/oaths.shtml https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VNP50Cdkqs My mom’s family was originally from Constantinople and I am friends with the man that put up the video.

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  6. On the Season 4, Part 1 Blu-Ray, there is a “Transformation of Rollo” featurette which discusses Rollo’s change, and his betrayal of the Viking camp. Clive Standen agrees with your interpretation of Rollo’s awareness and situation.

    Clive Standen: “They know what his motivations are. So if he steps foot into that camp again they’re probably going to murder him in the worst possible way. Rollo killing the vikings in the winter camp is a huge betrayal and quite a villainous thing to do. But if you look at things decisively he’s outwitted them, and this is the first steps of him being a general.”

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    • Yes! I know feel validated in my view of the events! Is he a traitor, yes but then again weren’t they all at some point? I always think back to Ragnar in the beginning and envision how he would react if someone went against him like he initially went against Earl Haraldson.

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