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Vikings Review (S3E8): 'To The Gates'


It was full speed ahead on the attack on Paris. Within Paris' walls, Count Odo assembled the troops while the Emperor whimpered behind an iron mask. It seemed the only people ready for war were the Vikings and the Emperor's take-charge daughter, Gisla. The Viking fleet landed, Lagertha and Kalf led their group to the gate while Ragnar, Rollo, Floki and Bjorn attacked the walls. The siege on Paris had begun.

In the most ambitious and sweeping action scene of the series, Vikings used a combination of CG and practical stunts to execute an epic raid on par with anything that Game of Thrones has done at probably a fraction of the price. In fact, the action doesn't let up for 2/3 of the episode. 

It begins with Lagertha leading the charge at Paris' gate along with Kalf as they attempt to break through with a battering ram. When that fails, Kalf takes command, much to the chagrin of Lagertha. Meanwhile, Ragnar and company are having a hell of a time getting over the walls as their men keep cascading down from the top of the towers riddled with arrows.

Rollo takes it upon himself to get to the top and get over. Enraged and determined, he does reach the top and fights like a man possessed even looking at Gisla in defiance from afar. Yet it was not enough as he too soon fell into the River Siene. Ragnar, as he's done much this season, looked on as Bjorn encouraged his men to climb the ladder. He too would finally go up when Bjorn did but he too was pushed back and took a dangerous fall himself. 

Lagertha's troops didn't fare much better as they finally breached the gate to find an empty corridor and walked right into a trap. It was exciting to see Lagertha lead the initial attack, her troops at her command. Katheryn Winnick projecting such fierce resilience amid falling stones, speeding arrows and a stubborn gate. You just got to love a woman you have to fight to save as Kalf found out when he tried to pull her away from an impending attack in that corridor. It was still a disappointing retreat.

It was a strange sight to see Ragnar finally face defeat. The usual architect of these raids has come up the victor time and time again. But he wasn't the architect this time, was he? He made Floki the point man this time. The most important raid thus far and he puts Floki, the most unstable ship maker in all the land, responsible for attacking the "impregnable" fortress?

In the end, as Ragnar licks his wounds he speaks to Athelstan in the sky. We learn he always knew it was Floki that killed his precious priest. 
Do you think I went too far with Floki? He actually thought I would let him lead without my having an agenda. If I were him I would worry less about the gods and more about the fury of a patient man. As you know I can be very patient. I wish you were here. Paris is everything you told me it would be, and I am bound and determined to conquer it.
 Floki did breakdown in the middle of the siege, hiding within one of those fiery towers after they had been doused with oil and lit afire by the Parisians. Gustaf Skarsgard at his very best, showing wild-eyed incredulity and desperate, paralyzing despair. His faith tested to the point of self-destruction only to be dissuaded by a falling, burning body tumbling right in front of him. 

Was this part of Ragnar's plan? Ragnar has always seen the big picture and planned accordingly. Like King Ecbert, he bides his time while making small moves before finally springing the big reveal but was putting Floki in charge of the raid a blunder? After expressing so much desire and passion for the place Athelstan described how could he risk it failing? It did fail make no mistake about that but to sacrifice so many lives to punish one man is irresponsible. Sure, the Vikings will inevitably succeed but this latest development questions Ragnar's priorities. 

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