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Vikings - S3E8 - To The Gates!

Previously on Vikings, ‘Paris’

Ravens caw over dramatic music as the Vikings muster to battle in the dawn. Observing as always, Ragnar chews his lip and holds Athelstan’s cross. The women load shields onto the ships and pennants flap from every mast. Shirtless Rollo hypes up the berserkers.

Lagertha/Kalf/Erlendur: The City Gates

The first group curls towards the gates on foot, Lagertha quickstepping to keep in front of Kalf and Erlendur. While the Parisians rush inside, Count Odo reminds the archers not to waste any bolts, and Lagertha stops just short of the arrows’ reach. Inside, Princess Gisla rushes to a barred window as the siege towers arrive.

The Vikings deploy a protective cage over their ram, and, covered by their own archers and a shield wall, advance to the door. Thanks to internal reinforcements, the doors don’t break right away. Lagertha just glances at Kalf who calls for large arrowheads they pound into the doors, then turn to catch the wood. Earl “Hunk of Meat” Siegfried arrives with a team of horses and calls for the ropes, which are run out from the cage under arrow fire. I found myself yelling for them like it was the Viking Olympics.

Meanwhile, the Parisians begin tossing down large rocks onto the cage, and arrows rain into the holes. But ever so gradually, the doors splinter open and reveal a long, empty hallway to the drawbridge. To his credit (or is it?), Erlendur leads the rush while Lagertha and Kalf observe a moment, then walk in about midway. As the drawbridge creaks down, an alarmed Kalf yells for Lagertha to stop. When she resists, he decks her and hauls her back through the throng. Sure enough, a wall of spring-loaded bolts clears half of the hallway instantly. Erlendur is only grazed, but otherwise it’s a slaughter. Not a bad remix of the previously slimy, playboy Kalf, now proving himself a capable, decisive leader with accurate instincts.

Ragnar ‘n ‘em: The Walls

The bells toll as the ships approach, and Thor’s hammer behind him, Floki blows the battle horn. One wolf-clad berserker next to Shirtless Rollo catches an arrow, then laughs hysterically. Drugs, y’all. 

Once the siege towers line up, the Vikings ascend under a hail arrows, bodies raining backwards around Ragnar. Bjorn and Rollo coach warriors up the tower as Floki runs down the dock, screaming that the gods are with them.

Inside Paris, Charles slumps on his throne, masked and hyperventilating, but Gisla is not so useless: she retrieves the banner relic of St. Denis called the Oriflamme (literally, “golden flame”) and interrupts Mass, begging the Monseigneur to bless it. She then climbs to the top of the walls, unfurling it, and calls for the army to give no quarter, to fight to the death. At that, the tide turns against the Vikings.

Below, Floki realizes the fight is going badly and turns as hot oil pours over one tower, lit by a fiery arrow. He climbs into the nearest tower, and Ragnar watches him, lip curling ever so slightly. Perhaps he anticipated these losses now weighing so heavily on Floki. Floki’s tower begins burning, forming a crucible around his crisis of faith. He mutters: “A wolf stands at the western door. We will all die. Ragnar is betrayed. How he trusted Athelstan. And now the earth will redden with the blood of the ruler’s skin. Their swords will be colored with blood.”

Rollo spots Gisla standing bravely in the open. He climbs the tower, cutting men down in his berserker rage, then stares into her eyes—Rollo loves him some strong women—and her jaw drops. When his ladder is cut, he falls screaming boldly into the water, baptized in fire, blood, and water once again. Rollo 3.0 ahead, perhaps?

Bjorn as well is the last to climb his tower, and Ragnar rushes over to follow him up. A falling soldier nearly drags Bjorn down, but he kicks the man off just in time, earning a nod from Ragnar. Ragnar then clears the wall, fighting off a small horde of soldiers a short distance from Gisla and Odo. Holding them back, as he takes an eyeful of the city then screams in their faces and throws himself backwards off of the wall, bouncing on the way down and breaking at least a few ribs. Hardcore.

Some time passes and now all of the siege towers are burning. Ragnar pulls himself up and surveys their losses, then finds Bjorn with two arrows in the back, still alive but stunned.

“If I were him, I’d worry less about the gods and more about the fury of a patient man.”—Ragnar

Floki tearfully remains in his fiery tower, screaming that he gave the gods half of everything. “Don’t piss in my mouth, you gods! You know who I am!” He starts to slash his own throat, then seemingly channels them, “Your mouth is full of lies, Floki. You poor fool. You’re insane. I will be flayed with fire.” A dying man falls, startling him from his fugue.


Count Odo looks happily at the drawbridge hallway carnage as Charles says, “Now that I see them up close, they seem so much less frightening than I imagined. Indeed, they seem almost human.” A celebratory Mass begins, and the crowd applauds the Emperor. Gisla parades in with the Oriflamme, smiling knowingly at Odo, and leads a cheer for him.

The Vikings camp is not as cheerful as wounds are tended and Ragnar drags his unconscious son back to camp past Torvi. Flashing to the other half of Days of our Bjorn, Porunn makes her decision, looking down over Kattegat dressed in her traveling cloak, and departs in the mist. Little Siggy cries and Aslaug comforts her, spotting the necklace she gave her when she freed her from slavery. Goodbye, Porunn. Hello, Bjorvi. Yes, I named their ship. It’s a sickness. 

Back at the war camp, Lagertha hovers over Bjorn, demanding to know what happened. Ragnar snaps “He was proving that you don’t need a title to be a leader.” Then Rollo jumps in, saying Bjorn shouldn’t have been allowed to climb the tower. Ragnar tells them to both stop babying him and swears they won’t make the same mistakes next time.

Outside, Floki sits in the water up to his chin, unable to face the others. Helga wades out halfway and asks what he’s doing, clearly not in the mood. He feels responsible for their failure. “This is not all about you!” she yells, saying all he thinks about is himself. Shivering, he says that’s not true at all, that he’s thinking of everyone in Midgard (the earthly realm). She leaves him crying for her.

Lagertha goes back to her tent, dazed and shirtless, washing her wounds. Kalf walks in, asking how she is, then takes the cloth, bathing her. He knows she wants to hate him, but he still desires her with all his heart. He kisses her but she protests—how can she ever believe him? He says that he could have let her die. Standing, she moves in: “I will never forgive you for usurping my earldom, and one day, I will kill you.” He’s a little stunned, and she continues, “If you can accept that condition, then let us be together, and enjoy each other.” She steps back, but he pulls her back in. Proof that Lagertha can literally say anything, end with, “So let’s have sex,” and a man will agree to it. I’m a little ashamed to say this, but I am shipping THE HELL out of them right now. I know, I know… I’ll show myself out.

Bjorn revives to Ragnar pissing blood in the corner of the tent and says he never should’ve nicknamed him Bjorn Ironsides like the gods were protecting him. Ragnar praises his son’s leadership, finally granting him the respect he’s earned.

Ragnar steps into the woods and calls out to Athelstan, admitting to an agenda with Floki and says, “If I were him, I’d worry less about the gods and more about the fury of a patient man. And as well you know, I can be very patient.” He coughs up blood, then lays back in the leaves, wishing his friend were here. “Paris is everything you told me it would be. And I am bound and determined to conquer it.”

Score | 10/10Overall thoughts:

What a ride! Starting with 13 solid minutes of no commercials, Vikings was not playing around. The relentless music and half-translated Old Norse thrust us directly into their battle hype. After a slowly building unease all season, we finally got to see our favorite characters wear their hardened battle swagger, and in Rollo’s case, little else. Every moment unseated the viewers and left us wondering who will live and what they will do next time. But the final quiet moments were also gratifying as Athelstan has now been elevated to Ragnar’s personal saint, befitting both the Viking and Christian traditions—he first walked with Ragnar as a man, teaching and loving him, then died a martyr. Finally, Ragnar’s closing words brought us vicious satisfaction that not only is Paris still in his sights, but so is the rapidly-unraveling Floki. Did Ragnar give this responsibility to him, knowing that the defeat would unnerve him? Time will tell.

About Sarah de Poer (199 Articles)
Eminently sensible by day, by night, she can be found watching questionable scifi, pinning all the things, rewriting lists, pantry snacking, and not sleeping. She was once banned over an argument about Starbuck and Apollo, and she has to go right now because someone is wrong on the Internet.

3 Comments on Vikings - S3E8 - To The Gates!

  1. Sarah, you’ve been doing such great work with these.

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