Moment of Heartbreak: Athelstan is Crucified, Vikings “Eye for an Eye”
Oh man. I think we just witnessed the most brutal punishment that has ever been inflicted on Vikings.
Can anything top a crucifixion? To be fair, it’s only season two. Only 13 episodes have aired in total. There’s plenty of time to come up with something bigger. But it’ll have to be huge. The seeds of Athelstan being crucified wearing a crown of thorns (Ã la Jesus) were planted. However, I never thought the show would actually do it. But they did.
When I watched “Eye for an Eye” the first time, I was a mess. That didn’t change with each subsequent watching. Poor Athelstan. Poor, beautiful Athelstan. What will he be like going forward? Before we contemplate the future let’s backtrack a little bit.
In Wessex, Ragnar gets word Jarl Borg has attacked and taken over his village. He decides he must leave tout de suite and get back to protect his family. Of course he thinks Athelstan will join him, but when King Horik states he needs Athelstan’s help with King Ecbert, Ragnar leaves the decision to the former monk.
Athelstan tells Ragnar he’s staying
Yes, Athelstan decides to stay. And I don’t mind saying, this was disappointing to me because I adore Ragnar and Athelstan scenes so much. But this is how the Vikings universe works. The characters are often separated for months and even years at a time.
It is abundantly clear Athelstan’s decision to stay is a huge mistake. He ends up getting captured and what transpires is brutal and heartbreaking and difficult to watch. But it is also television at its best. This will (hopefully) drive story for Athelstan. He’s been one of the most interesting characters of the series, in my opinion. But he’s also been one of the most underutilized. Thankfully, it’s not his day to die. King Ecbert tells his people to cut him down.
Creator Michael Hirst talks about the episode and gives information about Athelstan’s crucifixion and what’s going to happen to him next
What will Athelstan be like after experiencing such a cruel act? How long will he remain in England? When will he reunite with Ragnar and his family? How will his religious beliefs change after this? Will he abandon the Christian teachings altogether and dive into the pagan end of the pool for good?
I hate Athelstan had to experience the amount of pain and degradation that comes with being crucified to a cross and having a crown of thorns pressed into his skull. I had such a visceral reaction to the scene. And every time I even glimpse at him up on that cross, I feel for him all over again.
I’m wondering how Athelstan will proceed with his life. And how he will be affected by this horrific event. But at the same time, I am excited to find out what this all means for this character.
A couple other scenes I thought were standouts
-Rollo did some soul searching and finally realizes what his brother means to him. He tells Siggy all about it:
Rollo: My brother forgave me — something I thought impossible. When I searched my heart I discovered that I always loved him. I’ve grown to hate myself.
-Lagertha’s badass self emerges once again when her nasty husband tries to rape her. She fights him off with authority.
Lagertha: Don’t ever treat me like your whore. I’m your wife. I am not your whore! Do you understand?
That guy is no match for Lagertha. Let’s face it. No men in this world are a match for Lagertha. She’s fierce and deserves better than she’s gotten. It was nice to see her and Ragnar in the same vicinity again. There isn’t the chemistry between Ragnar and Auslag that there is between Ragnar and Lagertha.
Finally, I said this in the preview and I’ll say it again. The addition of Linus Roache to Vikings is just genius casting. That Ragnar/Ecbert bath house scene was highly interesting. I hope we see more and more of him as the season continues.
Vikings airs Thursdays at 10/9c on HISTORY.
A recap of “Eye for an Eye”
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