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Vikings Review (S3E9): 'Breaking Point'


If at first you don't succeed you send some stealthy female Viking ninjas to infiltrate the enemy and open the gates. Lagertha and her shieldmaidens covertly scale the wall and navigate the shadows to take down Parisian guards in the clever and exciting opening sequence. It's progress as Ragnar and his troops continue their seige on Paris with both sides taking a heavy toll. No one's taking it harder than Ragnar who's forced to make some vital decisions while nursing some life-threatening injuries. 

While it was a momentary victory for our Northmen, entering that long corridor was a level up from their last attempt. The Francs had a new medieval weapon waiting to unleash on the rushing horde of Vikings. Like something out of a video game, they released a spiked rolling pin of death, catching retreating Vikings in its path, and keeping the impaled along for the ride. The only Viking who seemed insulted and enraged was Rollo who quickly jumped on the thing and rigged it so it wouldn't roll anymore. Rollo was a man possessed. 
Credit: klotensen
Yet, is was not enough. The Francs had fought off the savages once again, but they took some losses as well. The cowardly king and Count Odo know it's just a matter of time before they break through. It's time to settle this peacefully with a truce. Princess Gisla, who's more hardcore than either of them, is against it. With a plague and shortage of supplies, life within the wall is more dangerous the longer they fight. 

The raid on Paris has been a costly one for the Northmen. A thousand lives have perished and it reflects poorly on two ill-fated strategies that Ragnar signed-off on but didn't orchestrate. He's been rather hands-off, an observer of sorts this season. With one episode to go, Ragnar emerges to the forefront in 'Breaking Point.' 

Anytime you have Travis Fimmel taking charge, for better or for worse in an episode, Vikings finds its soul. Fimmel is magnetic and riveting as the tortured king who lost his Christian friend in Athelstan and hasn't been the same since. His role as leader is emphasized during an impassioned speech Ragnar feels compelled to make as his troops squabble over their next move. 
I did not become earl because I aspired to be one. It came about because of other people’s actions. And I did not become king out of ambition, but once again I had no choice, as a result of other people’s actions. But nonetheless I am king. King Ragnar! That is my name! King Ragnar. What does a king do, Bjorn?
He rules.
Very good, Bjorn. He rules. And as a ruler I have the last say. Me! Not you, not you, not you, and not you. You’ve all had your ideas and they have all failed! I will not. Now, with no more discussion. We shall meet the Franks tomorrow.
Ragnar will not lay back in the weeds any longer. A master of the long game knows it's time to take the lead and agree to the treaty. Time also appears short for Ragnar as his internal injuries have not gotten better as he continues to urinate blood while others like Bjorn have recovered from his battle injuries. His decision for a peaceful end to the conflict may not be a popular one but it's his to make.

The injuries have given way to fever dreams that involve visions of Christ, Odin and his dear friend Athelstan. It still doesn't lessen the shock of Ragnar meeting with the Francs in the morning negotiating the treaty by demanding to be baptized. He's always had a curiousity of Athelstan's god and his religion and carries his crucifix to honor him around his neck but we were not prepared for him to announce to his enemy he was also dying. 
I am a dying man and when I die I want to be reunited with my Christian friend who happens to be in your Heaven.
He forces the Parisian priest, who was being a jerk anyway, to baptize him immediatley in a nearby pond. Ragnar can be quite impestous but also cunning so this move seems either calculated or sincere. You never know with Ragnar. In any case the reaction from Floki, Lagertha and Rollo who catch up to him as he's being lifted out of the water is one of confusion foremost. Floki is probably livid given his pechant for killing Christian monks and all. 

We'll see how this all plays out in the season finale. Paris was Ragnar's sole focus all this time and to give it up for money seems disingenous. Could there be more afoot or has his grave condition altered his plans altogether and decided to cut his losses?

SIDENOTES

In showrunner Michael Hirst's self-indulgent habit, we once again visit with King Ecbert in Wessex to find his conjoling of Judith has brought about a workable "sleeping" arrangement. Then gets his kicks messing with Judith during dinner with her husband, the kings' son Aethelwulf and heir to the throne, at the table. It's all meaningless and mildly distracting. 

At least when we're back in Kattegat, there's a parallel to Aslaug's treated of a Christian missionary (she tests his faith by having him hold an iron bar from the fire) to the way the Francs see the pagan Vikings. 

This leads to a big shoutout to the great Earl Siegfried. If there was such a thing as 'America's Funniest Videos' back then he surely would have taken top prize for his  "hold my braid-while you chop my head off-then I'll drag your hands across the blade" prank. Gets them every time.

Credit: Tim Surette
Check out the preview of History Channel's Vikings season 3 finale,'The Dead.'


Don't miss the season 3 finale of Vikings on Thursday, April 23rd at 10/9c on HISTORY.

In case you need a season 3 refresher:


Get caught up on full episodes of Vikings before the season finale on Thursday, April 23rd at 10/9c on HISTORY.



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