Five Ragnar and Athelstan Moments of Goodness from Vikings “The Choice”
In last nightâ€™s episode, Athelstan had a choice to make: stay with King Ecbert or return home with Ragnar and the rest of the Vikings. Before we talk about his decision, letâ€™s break down all the Ragnar and Athelstan Moments of Goodness that happened in â€œThe Choiceâ€:
1. Athelstan defends Ragnar to King Ecbert
After last weekâ€™s Horik-mandated ambush, things are in a precarious position. But Athelstan shows that he knows Ragnar and his needs.Â
King Ecbert: â€œWe must do battle with Ragnar Lothbrok and his allies.â€
Athelstan: â€œI cannot believe that Ragnar does not want to negotiate. I know him too well. He is looking for land, farming land for his people.â€
King Ecbert: â€œHis men killed all of my envoys sparing only my son. By which they sent me a clear but simple message.â€
Athelstan: â€œWhy not send me to speak to him?â€
King Ecbert: â€œYou are already too dear to me. And too important. Which is why I think they would kill you.â€
I do like howÂ Ecbert has come to rely on Athelstan. Our favorite monk finds himself in a warp and twisted Catch-22. Does he stay with the people who crucified him to a cross? Or go with the ones who kidnapped him from his home years ago? I try not to think too much about this because I really want Athelstan to go back with Ragnar.
2. Athelstan questions his faith
Athelstan is worried. He wants to know when Ecbert is going to attack. I kind of love what Ecbert says after he explains the battle will commence after King Aelle gets back with his warriors:
King Ecbert: â€œIâ€™m sure you would prefer that Earl Ragnar and I would make peace. Perhaps then you could be at peace with yourself.â€
And heâ€™s right. Athelstan is in a place where heâ€™s questioning his faith, his identity, his place in life.Â
Athelstan (in prayer): â€œHelp me, Lord. Who are these gods who haunt my nights and wreck my peace? Odin, Thor, Freyrâ€¦you have taught us not worship false gods but I have seen them. I have seen Thor in the sky. I have seen sparks from his anvil. I felt the sea heave with his anger. Why is this false? Things that Iâ€™ve seen with my own eyes. Things that Ragnar believes. Whatever happens, do not let Ragnar die. Nor yet King Ecbert.â€
Athelstan is so conflicted. His loyalties seem split. Something has to give sooner rather than later. And after the big battle scene, we see him searching through the carnage. I assume heâ€™s looking for evidence of whether Ragnar is alive or dead. Instead, he comes upon a seriously injured Rollo, who wasnâ€™t happy to see Athelstan once he was conscious. Boo.
3. Athelstan and Ragnar finally meet again
Kings Ecbert and Aelle send Athelstan to relay the message that they would like to meet with the Northmen.
He tells them Rollo is wounded but alive. After Lagertha takes the lead and agrees to this meeting and hostage-taking, Athelstan starts to leave. Thatâ€™s when Ragnar says he will accompany him part of the way. He doesnâ€™t do this just to be able to reconnect with his friend, he does this to protect Athelstan because as he suspected thereâ€™s someone in the shadows waiting to kill him. Ragnar puts his arm around Athelstan to make the target impossible to kill.
Ragnar: â€œIt is good to see you. I feared that you were dead.â€
Athelstan: â€œThere are times that I wish I had been. I gave into despair.â€
Ragnar: â€œSo have you returned to your faith, renounced ours?â€
Athelstan: â€œI wish it was so simple. In the gentle fall of rain from heaven, I hear my God. But in the thunder, I still hear Thor. That is my agony.â€
Ragnar: â€œI hope that someday our gods can become friends. I have something to return to you. (he gives him the bracelet) You are safe to go now. But I will see you very soon.â€
Athelstan: â€œThank you, friend.â€
I really digÂ the beauty of this conversation. It’s a long time coming since the two have been separated since episode four. Who knows how many years this actually turns out to be. With this show I always know that a lot of time passes but that’s about it. They never get too specific. Sometimes this is maddening.
4. Ragnar asks Athelstan to come home with him
After Rollo is returned and before Athelstan goes back to Wessex and King Ecbert, Ragnar asks Athelstan a question:
Ragnar: I am taking my brother home. Will you come back with us or will you stay here with your people? I want you to come back.Â
I thought it was great how Ragnar finally acknowledged that Athelstan was with his people. This is the land he was taken from all those years ago. AndÂ I loved the way Travis Fimmel laced the words â€œI want you to come backâ€ with such vulnerability. Vulnerability I didnâ€™t think Ragnar had in him. Itâ€™s easy to see why he wants Athelstan to come back with him. They are friends. He truly came to rely on him. But also he trusts him. And he needs someone who will be completely loyal to him. Because we all know whatâ€™s going on with Floki (more on that later).
5. Athelstan makes his choice
First, we see King Ecbert finds the cross Athelstan left behind. And back in Kattegat, the Vikings arrive with the monk (no longer in monkâ€™s clothing) in tow. Ragnar and Athelstanâ€™s friendship is back on track. They are reunited and (for me) it feels so good. A big shout out to Fimmel and George Blagden for keeping me interested in this friendship.
Princess Aslaug: â€œAnd you, you came back.â€
Athelstan: â€œI did. I came back because you and Ragnar, all of you, are my family.â€
Torstein: â€œDrink, priest!â€
Yay! Iâ€™m sorry but Athelstan returning with Ragnar is probably my favorite moment of season two (so far). I mean, I canâ€™t say for sure. The finale is just a week away.
-The big battle scene: I didnâ€™t know how the Vikings were going to survive. They needed more men and there was no way that was going to happen. Kings Ecbert and Aelle knew what they had to do. The Vikings were on their turf. All they had to do was send everything they had at them. And it worked. The NorthmenÂ were forced to retreat. The battle seemed to go on endlesslyâ€¦not in a bad way. But in a â€œOMG the Vikings are being outplayedâ€ kind of way. It was difficult to see them lose. And it was difficult to see Rollo injured.
Stupid King Horik put them in an impossible situation. He should have listened to Ragnar from the very beginning. Something tells me he wonâ€™t ever admit Ragnar was right. In fact, he chalked this defeat up to being fated by the gods. Nice way of validating oneâ€™s own idiocy, King.
-I canâ€™t believe Iâ€™m saying this but I think I actually like Princess Aslaug now. I loved that she freed Porunn. I never saw that coming. And how great is it that Porunn wants to be just like Lagertha? Not a bad role model to have, right? Now she and Bjorn can be free to love without anything holding them back.
-I hate to say this but it really seems like Flokiâ€™s turning out to be one of this seasonâ€™s villains. It seems like his alliance with King Horik is a very real one. And I canâ€™t believe he told Ragnar heâ€™s a man that can be trusted. Right now, heâ€™s not. At least he isnâ€™t to Ragnar. And Iâ€™m glad Ragnar finally addressed it. It felt like heâ€™s stayed quiet on the fact he wasnâ€™t invited to Flokiâ€™s wedding. And that Floki has stayed close to Horik this entire time. I wish there had been even more to that conversation but Iâ€™m thankful for the little we got.
-I love the brief Ragnar-Bjorn scene where Ragnar completely enveloped himself in a blanket. Like it was a shield that protected him from the world. Do you think Team Florik (Floki and Horik) are going to go after Bjorn Ironside? Just a thought (and the preview for the finale seems to back my suspicion up).
-Queen Kwenthrith continues to be hilarious. Of course she wants to breed with the Vikings.
I was so engrossed in everything that was happening in England that it was almost an intrusion when the action cut to Kattegat for the first time with only ten minutes left in the episode. I did, however, enjoy what went on in those scenes. But, it was still a bit jarring.
The season two finale for HISTORYâ€™s Vikings airs Thursday May 1 @ 10/9c.
A video recap of “The Choice”
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