To kill a queen… or not

The title of this Vikings episode is a bit misleading in that no Queen actually meets her death in this episode! Ohhh, so sorry for that spoiler. And, on that spoiler note- if you have not watched the current season yet and do not want spoilers, please exit the page immediately! This page as well as most of the other Vikings episode related pages here does contain spoilers. There, that is your warning!

This article is a look at the darker side of attempting to kill a queen and my personal thoughts on all of it. We’ve already looked at the lighter moments and now we must visit the usual harsher, darker facts with all of their possible underlying meanings or future consequences.  Before we get into my thoughts, I want to suggest another article regarding the history involved in this episode. Patricia Bracewell has shared her views here and it is well worth reading! 

http://www.patriciabracewell.com/2016/02/vikings-4-episode-2-kill-the-queen/

I mentioned that the title is misleading because no Queen actually dies. There is great attempt and thought of killing one Queen outright, and then there is underlying and possible wishful thinking of killing a Queen- or at least wishing she were dead… 

I am going to talk about that wishful thinking first because that is the one that bothered me the most and left me conflicted once again. This underlying thought or wish involves Ragnar and Aslaug. Please keep in mind that I am not really a fan of either one of these two and am generally critical of both their behaviors. While I am not a fan of Aslaug, towards the end of last season I did see some redeeming attributes to her character in her dealings with Porunn and in the way she dealt with the Christian priest. Aslaug may be sneaky, manipulative, loose moraled and power hungry but she is a firm believer in the old ways and beliefs. That being said, she stood her ground in defense of those beliefs and suffered for them. In the first episode, when Bjorn arrested Floki, you could see the doubt and concern on her face.  Bjorn is arresting Floki for the murder of Athelstan, a Christian that many of those villagers-Bjorn included had expressed the exact same feelings and fears about as Floki did. 

even aslaug is not too sure about bjorn's decision

even aslaug is not too sure about bjorn’s decision

There a great number of fans out there who feel that Aslaug is the evil incarnate equivalent of Rollo and that she got exactly what she deserved in this episode. What is conflicting for me is that these are generally the same people who take a moral high road, condemning Rollo and the Christians while praising Ragnar and all things Viking.  In this instance, Aslaug took a stand for the old beliefs, for the threat to those beliefs and she gets condemned for it.  Fans who are so outraged by Rollo’s behaviors such as “raping” a slave girl and treating Siggy so badly, applaud Ragnar’s treatment of Aslaug in this instance with their voices of “she deserved it”.  I guess she “deserved it because she had the nerve to question Ragnar’s authority, his rule and thus proved herself once more disloyal to him because she placed her loyalties to the Gods above that of her King. Realistically, there are so many other offenses that she could have been justifiably  punished for had they been public knowledge (and, I think that with Ragnar’s habit of keeping tabs on everyone, he does know of those offenses). To me this event just shows that Ragnar is losing control of his well maintained facade of calmness under pressure. 

Floki had a valid point when he made the statement that he was loyal to the Gods first and foremost and would continue to put his religion above his loyalty to Ragnar. I am not necessarily condoning Floki’s action either in killing Athelstan. He knew it was wrong, he knew what the consequences would be. If he felt so strongly that Athelstan and Ragnar’s involvement with the Christian were such a threat to his personal beliefs and his loyalties, then he should have chosen to walk away from Ragnar right then rather than resort to the secretive killing that he did.  

aslaug stands up to ragnar for floki because he's right what did he do so wrong he killed a christian.

aslaug stands up to ragnar for floki because he’s right what did he do so wrong he killed a christian.

Ragnar is correct when he makes the comment, “This is not about religion, this about loyalty and respect…” Ragnar has chosen personal power and control over the more moral and ethical reasoning of what is good for the people. He has brought this debate or issue over Floki down to the most personal of levels- a dispute between two one time friends who now differ in their most basic core belief systems. Neither of them will back down from their belief that they are right and because of that, everyone else will be dragged into the dispute and suffer for it.   The problem with Ragnar’s current thinking and method of leadership is that it as turned to one more of fear than anything else. These people have experienced his better side of ruling for the good of all of them and now thrust into a position of following him not so much because they trust his judgement but because they most likely fear they will suffer the same fate as Floki.  There are times when instilling fear is necessary, but that sort of thing generally happens in the beginning of one’s rule as a means of gaining some control over a situation or group of people. It usually does not play out so well to use the fear tactic against those who originally on your side and assumed that you were on theirs.  

As floki mentions, there comes a point in one’s life when one must make a decision on whether or not to follow a leader based on one’s personal ethics, morals and beliefs. In a way, Floki’s decision to follow his own conscience speaks of what others will have to decide in the future. Do they follow Ragnar blindly without question just because he is their leader no matter what he decides to do… or do they at some point begin to question his motives, his personal agenda and his methods? This is much the same position that Ragnar and his followers were in when they questioned King Harald’s rule and Horik’s rule… Ragnar is now putting himself close to that same category as those two leaders that he fought to bring down. 

ragnar is losing control this is not about christians this is about loyalty!

ragnar is losing control this is not about christians this is about loyalty!

Ragnar is outraged that Aslaug would even think of taking Floki’s side in this. He is determined that he is King and he is right no matter what and anyone who would question his actions is guilty of disloyalty or treason. His rage causes him to lose control and he strikes out at Aslaug, knocking her down… the look on his face is one of utter contempt and that underlying thought of wishing he could do more to her, wishing her dead. To be honest, I was waiting for him to add a final blow or kick to her while she was down on the floor. 

ragnar takes his anger out on aslaug

Ragnar takes his anger out on Aslaug

Realistically, the situation between Ragnar and Aslaug comes down to them both wishing the other was dead! The rather sad part about Aslaug’s story direction in the show is that in the Sagas, Aslaug remained loyal to Ragnar and went so far as to sew him a magic shirt to protect him against the Snakes she foresaw for him in England. Unfortunately, I do not see Aslaug sewing him anything in the future other than possibly a shroud!

I guess this pretty much rules out that majic shirt to protect from snakes

While Aslaug’s treatment did not sit well with me, the even more disturbing event was the fallout of this personal quarrel for others, mainly Helga and her daughter. Her situation apparently did not sit too well with Ragnar either because he did appear genuinely bothered by her situation.  It could be said that Helga brought about her situation on her own by helping Floki to escape in the first place. While that might be a fair assumption, it does nothing to detract from the true emotional torture that Helga was enduring by being caught in the middle of this argument. She has to stand by and watch her husband tortured for his refusal to give up on his personal beliefs, his denial of any wrongdoing, and his unwillingness to compromise those values even in the face of suffering to his family. In fact, he goes so far as to use Helga’s emotional tie in still loving him as a means of saving himself. He is as guilty and as stubborn as Ragnar in this situation and is only thinking of himself. 

helga tries to stop the children a difficult reunion to watch

I do have to mention here that as much as I feel for Helga’s pain and the suffering she endures, she does bear some responsibility and some blame for the events that brought her so much pain and grief.  First of all, my one frustrated thought with her actions began when she subjected little Agriboda to that visit with Floki tied to the stake? Was she perhaps hoping that the sight of his child seeing him like this might spark some balancing thought in Floki’s head? Some thought of “What am I doing to my family, should I not have some care about them above my own needs or thoughts?” If that was her intent, then of course it failed miserably and Floki used Helga’s feeling to manipulate her into doing something she knew was wrong.  When Ragnar asked her later why she did it, she made a comment about love… She allowed her love of Floki to take precedence over her love of her child. Perhaps this is why she must suffer a torture far greater than that of Floki. 

My other thought is one of Why is Helga living down here in the cold, in a way at the edge of nowhere… Has she been shunned by the others or has she set herself apart from everyone because she feels some guilt for the part she has played? Her present circumstances also bring us back to Aslaug. Aslaug who stood up and defended Floki’s actions yet apparently felt no concern for Helga’s situation. What ever the reason, Helga is living a destitute life and her child is suffering because of it. 

helga and abrigoda living in cold at the edge of nowhere

helga and abrigoda living in cold at the edge of nowhere

agriboda is sick and coughing helga tries to comfort her while ragnar says I don't blame you...

agriboda is sick and coughing helga tries to comfort her while ragnar says I don’t blame you…

Ragnar does show some concern for her welfare and leaves a bag of food for them.

ragnar does take pity on helga and leaves a bag of food for her

ragnar does take pity on helga and leaves a bag of food for her

Later we see how the actions of everyone, including Helga have played a part in the greatest torture and pain… the loss of an innocent child. While Floki may be suffering extreme physical torture at the hands of Ragnar, Helga is experiencing the far greater torture of having to bury her child and probably coming to the understanding or realization that she must share some guilt in this senseless death brought about mainly because two men were too self involved and egotistical to waiver on their mindset, and because she put her feelings for Floki above the needs of her child. It was a sad, painful event to watch and there was a moment when it seemed that even Ragnar might have some feelings of his own complicity in this death.

burying an innocent child

does this death have any affect on ragnar well he does step in and dig the grave...

does this death have any affect on ragnar well he does step in and dig the grave…

a few moments of compassion

a few moments of compassion

The one thing I did not understand was when Ragnar asked Helga if she had told Floki… How could she have told floki when Ragnar has him already enduring his own personal torture???

floki is enduring his own punishment so really how could helga have told him of agriboda's death

 

In contrast to Helga’s actions and the result of them, on the other side of the sea in Wessex we see a far different version of a Mother’s struggle to keep her child alive. And, it comes from the one woman you would probably least expect it of given her previous behaviors. From what we’ve seen of Princess Kweni in the past, I have to say that I did not expect her to have much Motherly instinct or concern for her child other than for how she might use said child to her own advantage. 

In our return to Wessex, we saw an outright attempt to kill Queen Kweni- and not an attempt from those in Wessex… though I have some doubts or suspicions on who might have actually instigated this overthrow and ousting of her. Ecbert’s response to the event was along the lines of “save the child, just be sure to keep the child alive no matter what” He had no concerns for Kweni’s survival.

There was the usual disagreement between Ecbert and Aethelwulf over how to put down this rebellion and rescue those being held hostage- Kweni and her son. There was also dispute and dissent from the local Noblemen over having to call their troops up for this event. Ecbert does take note of those balking at the deployment and actually gives them some foreshadowing sound advice…

Ecbert and Aethelwulf have some disagreement over how to proceed.

Ecbert and Aethelwulf have some disagreement over how to proceed.

I am quite certain that this Nobleman and the one next to him may eventually feel some pain of retribution for their dissenting remarks… As we’ve seen in the past, Ecbert does not forget who made what comment.

wessex noblemen balk at having to raise their armies

wessex noblemen balk at having to raise their armies

Ecbert must explain the necessity of keeping a standing army ready because Ragnar and those Northmen will most assuredly return to our shores!

ecbert must explain the necessity of keeping a standing army

ecbert must explain the necessity of keeping a standing army

Aethelwulf is in charge of leading an army into Mercia to rescue Kweni and child.

Ecbert and Aethelwulf present a united front despite their differences.

Ecbert and Aethelwulf present a united front despite their differences.

aethelwulf is in charge of training the army.

aethelwulf is in charge of training the army.

As Aethelwulf trains and prepares his forces, in Mercia a damsel in distress awaits rescue…

a damsel in distress in a tower...

a damsel in distress in a tower…

The battle was intense and brutal but despite some minor problems and setbacks, Aethelwulf held his own in this battle. He is not the only one that held their own. Locked in the tower with armed guards, Kweni proved her warrior spirit and her Motherly instinct!

and it's aethelwulf to the rescue... maybe?

and it’s aethelwulf to the rescue… maybe?

 Aethelwulf is having a few problems defeating his foe...

Aethelwulf is having a few problems defeating his foe…

aethelwulf I should have ate breakfast

why waste arrows when rocks work just as well

why waste arrows when rocks work just as well

While Aethelwulf was battling the tower, Kweni waged her own defensive attack against foes who meant to harm her and her child. She did it armed with nothing but a seriously scary needle, a blanket and a human shield. This woman was in a life and death battle for the life of her and her child and she was determined to win!

A seriousl scary looking needle!

A seriousl scary looking needle!

well that needle is good for something anyway

well that needle is good for something anyway

kweni's found her battle mode

Kweni shows her warrior battle mode

kweni must have heard about Einar's tactics of using a human shield

kweni must have heard about Einar’s tactics of using a human shield

Kweni fights back with the rage of a Mother

Kweni will fight to the death for her child

Kweni does have a motherly instinct after all nobody messes with her baby

Kweni does have a motherly instinct after all nobody messes with her baby Magnus!

Eventually Aethelwulf does come to her rescue and her response is perfect!

Aethelwulf finally makes it to the top of the tower to rescue damsel kweni

Aethelwulf finally makes it to the top of the tower to rescue damsel kweni

kweni's response... what took you so long!

kweni’s response… what took you so long!

In a way, Helga’s story and Kweni’s have that parallel contrast that Hirst loves so much. We have Helga as one who has basically lost her way, her will and seems in some way to have given up the fight. On the other hand, we have Kweni who against all odds, has lost none of her fighting instinct to survive and keep her child alive.

A mother's will and way

17 thoughts on “To kill a queen… or not

  1. Floki is a builder. It looks like Helga helps him, but without Floki, she doesn’t have a living. I think she brought Angraboda there to see him one last time. I think she thought Ragnar was going to kill him. They don’t candy coat things in the Viking world, nor IMO should they. I know people whose children visit them in prison. At least they get to see their dad.

    EVERYONE is scared spitless of Ragnar and they won’t help Helga. Maybe that’s why Aslaug did not go get Helga and the baby. People lie to Ragnar, which is bad. They lie out of fear. That’s really really bad. Now I am reading a book by Benjiman Pohl, on the history of the Normans(Memory and Innovations). They had Dudo of St Quentin write their history in HIGH Latin . They saw themselves as heirs of Rome. Augustus did this too. He had Virgil write a history the Aenid. Now the detractors tried to emphasize their paganism, but the Ducal family emphasized their Christianity. Augustus got his authority because he was the son of Jupiter. Ragnar gets his Authority by being the son of Odin. The Normans got their authority from the church. IMO the whole thing is a clash of Authority as you say.

    Now Augustus he’s the perfect politician. He asks Pullo(a common man) what the people of Rome think of him. People tell Augustus the TRUTH. He needs it. I liked Ragnar at first, but I think he doesn’t really understand how to deal with people. He lacks empathy. I do think he feels bad, but there are some things that can’t be fixed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChbXyK7d_NY

    Octavian may have murdered Cleopatra and Antony, and he did secretly murdered Cesarion. He made a big show of adopting Antony’s two children. He was ever mindful of his reputation. He as a skilled people person.

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  2. I forgot something. Ubbe the wonderchild BLEW a perfect opportunity to let them RUN AWAY! Of course he’s only 12, but that was a great opportunity for Ragnar to save face and let them go. Hopefully, Ivar is smarter. We know Ivar was the leader. I don’t know, I think Queen K and Aethulwulf are going to be together. I saw admiration in his eyes. Plus she had a sh*t family and he totally understand that situation.. Aethulwulf has a good strategy, don’t do anything Daddy wants me to do. I saw his face, and he does not trust his father. I also think he may have given up on Judith, and she’s sorry about it. Of course, Eckbert is placating her with the copiest artist thing. Nuns actually did that work, and the priests were fine with it . Or so I was told. Not sure why the priest pitched a fit about it, except she was supposed to be tending the children and Aethulwulf’s wife. So it’s not her job really.

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    • I was just thinking the same thing about Aethelwulf and Kweni! If you look at the history of Wessex, they made a habit of marrying of marrying Mercian royalty as a means of keeping control and power there.
      I think Judith may be headed to the retirement and seclusion of a Nunnery where she can be “free” to practice her art work…During that time, Convents held a great deal of power- it was the one place where a woman could hold her own power above men… provided she had some good connections, some wealth to start with or some coveted talent such as that painting. In history, a relative of Ecbert’s founded what would eventually become a highly prestigious nunnery at Wilton Abbey… Could Judith someday be the founder of this power base within the church? Ecbert would be clever and wise in setting her up there- He is constantly looking for ways to have more leverage and power with the church. If he were to donate a great some of wealth and create such a place and position for Judith, the church would be indebted to him, Judith would be in a position of power to make decisions in his favor such as approving land grants, waiving certain religious rules for him and his family… Plus her position would be a benefit to Alfred in later years in providing him with that excellent religious education that he had.
      Back then women could renounce their marriage vows to enter the church life and many did so willingly to avoid sticky situations at home. Doing this would leave Aethelwulf free to marry again and his children by Judith would still be considered legitimate.

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      • I didn’t know that. Very interesting. I mean Athelwulf didn’t even kiss her goodbye. WOW. It’s like see ya latter. That book by Benjamen Pohl is very interesting. I had to get it from a University Library. http://www.boydellandbrewer.com/store/viewItem.asp?idProduct=14696 The Ducal family (of Normandy) commissioned this book. He says there was an original sketch that was to be an illuminated manuscript in the book of Rollo and his younger brother. Both were exiled by the King of Dacia. They did indeed use the Aenaed as the prototype. There are MANY allusions to Rollo as being the new Aeneas. There are many parallels to the lives of the Ducal Family and Constantine the Great and his family. The Ducal family was trying like heck to PROVE Rollo was a Christian prince and the detractors were trying to prove he was a pagan. It was a question of authority, as they thought Authority must come from the church. They believed they were the Heirs of Rome and Augustus was their ultimate prototype. This explains why Robert Guiscard thought he could conquer the Byzantine empire. Roger de Hauteville believed it was his destiny to rule Sicily, that’s for sure. I believe they both lived in Richard of Normandy’s house when they were little along with the 22 brothers and sisters. http://www.maicar.com/GML/Aeneas.html Clip from Rome. Augustus goes out to meet the people of Rome as the son of Jupiter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qF2e_KQtFGM

        Augustus chooses a wife with PURE political motivations. She was married and he had her divorce her husband to form a political alliance with him. Just as Cleopatra is Egypt, Augustus is ROME. He thinks breaths and lives Rome.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ahhh the infamous history created by Dudo who did his best to portray Rollo’s family in a such a shining light… even if -as many believe now- he had to create or fabricate some of it! Some historians put him in a category similar to Asser who was King Alfred’s personal historian.
        Because Dudo was hired specifically by the Ducal family to do this history it’s difficult to determine which are actual facts and which are the creative license he used to make them look better.
        Asser did much the same for Alfred and made comparisons of Alfred’s life events to more ancient legends and histories as well.

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  3. I had to get this from a University Library. Maybe you can see it online. This explains a lot. The Ducal family was trying like heck to legitimize themselves. There are many parallels to the life of Constantine and Rollo. They saw themselves as the heir to the Old Roman empire. THis explains why Robert Gusicard, he’s in the book, thought he could conquer Byzantium and had the right to rule. http://www.boydellandbrewer.com/store/viewItem.asp?idProduct=14696 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LaSFigCm50 You can see the real pictures of manuscripts. This is what Judith would have been writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is the first episode that has featured Saxon fighting women. That is, women who have weapons and are wearing soldier apparel. With the way Michael Hirst plays up the sexism of medieval Christian society, you would think that the Mercians would rather stab out their eyes than permit a woman to wear pants or armor. But perhaps having a crazy female ruler loosened their traditionalism.

    However, one wonders how proficient these female guards were at combat, since Kwenthrith was able to fight and kill one of them with a sewing needle and a wooden stool. Of course, I don’t want to sell Kwenthrith short. She fought off two women in armor while she was wearing a cumbersome dress. And incidentally, Amy Bailey was six months pregnant when she filmed that scene.

    Of course, I hate to think that Kwenthrith went to such bloody effort to escape from that prison just to end up in Ecbert’s prison.

    Liked by 1 person

    • GEEZ they had to use almost every letter in the alphabet to get that name out.

      People are so damn gullible, just because someone says something doesn’t mean it’s true. People can say anything. It’s deeds and actions that really count and show the truth of words. I think Aethulwulf is on to the back stabbing Eckbert. He pretends to not know, but I think he’s hatching something with Queen K. There’s a famous line in the Godfather, Don Corleone Says it: “A friend should always underestimate your virtues and an enemy overestimate your faults” and this.. I could be wrong, but I think Aethulwulf knows this already: “Never let anyone know what you are thinking.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • And the guy who played Henry VIII from “The Tudors” is joining the cast. If Hirst is bringing in a main actor from a prior show, that makes me think this show is set to lose a main actor.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ohhhh man, just when I was thinking to end my viewing after this season- they spring this on me! I do love Jonathon Rhys Meyers and have to admit that if he’s going to be there for the season, I’ll be there with him! It says his character/role is being kept under wraps for now…that could mean two things- either he’s agreed to sign on for another go with Hirst no matter what and they haven’t yet come up with a specific role… or he’s got a very key important role and they’re saving it for a big announcement. It says he will have a regular recurring role. I can’t quite see him as a Viking but maybe that’s because I have his visage of Henry and of Dracula stuck in my head! My only concern is that from what I’ve heard, he’s had a rather rough time lately so I hope he can pull this off!

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      • I was wondering about that too but then noticed that he is currently involved in a few upcoming projects. One of them is another production by history channel called Roots which should air some time in May.

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      • After comparing Travis Fimmel and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, I think Hirst has decided he must always have some lead actor with light brown hair, goatee, deep gravelly whisper voice, and wide-eyed psychopathic stare.

        Like

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