Vikings has finally returned for its fifth season on Amazon Prime and following the troubling end of season four what did the opening episode have in store for us.
Before reading on about the episode please be aware that this review contains spoilers!
Yet again it is time for Bjorn to go off on his own adventure, this time he’s off to the Mediterranean to continue his father’s quest for new lands. He ships off with a small army leaving his brothers behind, probably a wise move considering Ivar’s increasingly psychotic episodes. What does seem strange however is that, as the eldest of Ragnar’s sons, why is he not leading the settlement and putting Ivar in his place?
A mystery is revealed
At the end of last season, we were left with a glimpse of a new character. This character you may remember was a priest, unmistakably played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors, Match Point, Velvet Goldmine), But all we saw was that he was clearly high up in the Church and he had a sword so he’s no regular priest.
In episode one of Vikings, we see him in all his glory as he is unveiled as Bishop Heahmund, a man with a serious devotion to Christianity and deep hatred of the Vikings. It seems he will be our main for this season and it looks as though he will be no pushover for the sons of Ragnar.
The power struggle begins
With Vikings favourite Ragnar dead and Bjorn out of the way, the throne is open for Ivar, Ubbe and Hvitserk.
Ubbe seems like the most likely successor as he’s level-headed and considerably more grown up and stable than his brothers but we’ve not seen him in battle until this episode where he impresses.
It’s clear he’s quite the warrior but the brutality of raiding sits uneasily with him. He certainly seems to have a solid moral compass, something he proves during a harrowing scene in a church where he shows mercy to a nun by killing her before she’s raped by the Viking hordes being led by his psychotic brother Ivar.
Ivar the terrible
It’s safe to say that Ivar is unhinged, whilst he can occasionally show moments of emotion and strategic brilliance he really is all crazy. This is taken to new heights in the opening episode as he leads an attack on York after gathering information from some children who he then has sacrificed. The raid is typical Viking brutality as a crowd of unarmed men, women and children are butchered in Church as they attend a festival.
There is a heartbreaking moment as a lone baby is left crying, sat amongst the corpses as the violence continues around him. Ubbe is measured in his approach, only killing the aforementioned Nun, as he intends on attempting a new way for his fellow countrymen. Ivar, on the other hand, is sheer ferocity and madness. He hacks and stabs his way through the church until he tortures the Priest, eventually melting down his cross and having the molten liquid poured down his throat.
The priest is then dragged out of the church by a horse as Ivar sits and laughs. No doubt this is just the beginning of his depravity and a confrontation with Ubbe draws near.
Lagertha and Harald
Back in Kattegat Harald returns to tell Lagertha of Bjorn’s victory in England. Lagertha quickly challenges him on his intentions though following his failed attempts at having her replaced in the last season. He denies any intentions of being King but Lagertha has him arrested anyway.
Floki sets sail
The last major event worth mentioning is that Floki is seen building a one-person boat, something that Ivar dismisses as a toy before breaking down crying that he friend is leaving. Floki does however set sail on his own and as he does so all the clan line up along the shores to chant his name and bid him farewell.
He says that he’s going wherever the Gods take him so yet again it seems he’s off on a holy mission, most likely to find some peace after the death of his best friend, wife and child. Once he’s out of sight he throws away his gift from Ivar, some form of navigation tool although that wasn’t clear. We don’t think Floki’s kind words toward Ivar or his invitations to come with him were entirely sincere.
So that’s it for this episode of Vikings, what did you think of the season opener? Does the show still keep you interested without Ragnar in it? Let us know what you think in the comments.