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TV Review: Vikings 5.8 “The Joke”
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Vikings 508-06

Season 5 Episode 8: “The Joke”
Directed by Jeff Woolnough
Written and created by Michael Hirst
Starring Katheryn Winnick, Alexander Ludwig, Gustaf Skarsgard, Alex Høgh, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Marco Ilsø, Jordan Patrick Smith, Josefin Asplund, John Kavanagh, Clive Standen, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Darren Cahill, Jennie Jacques, Moe Dunford, Peter Franzén, Jasper Pääkkönen
The History Channel
Air Date: Wednesday, January 10th, 2018, 8:00pm

Warning! Spoilers below for last night’s episode of Vikings!

The last episode of Vikings left Kattegat on the brink of war. With the moon comes Ivar (Alex Høgh) and King Harald (Peter Franzén) and Bishop Headmund (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), whose relationship with Ivar is completely complicated. Ivar seemed to look for another father in the Bishop, who promised no lies as that is the will of his god. Alfred (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) journeyed to find Athelstan’s past, and at the end of the episode said The Lord’s Prayer in unison with his late father. Astrid (Josefin Asplund) revealed she was pregnant. Harald was delighted, but she was sad, as the baby has a few possible fathers. Torvi (Georgia Hirst) freed Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) from fidelity. Floki (Gustaf SkarsgÃ¥rd) and his followers found the land, but there was still dissent. Margrethe (Ida Nielsen) urged Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) to take the throne.

Spoilers below.

Vikings 5.8 “The Joke” review: The armies ready to fight. Astrid insists on coming along, and Harald, besotted, agrees with her. Ivar gifts Headmund with a sword.

As the Kattegat armies head out, there are obvious relationship troubles. Torvi is troubled by Bjorn’s interest in an allied princess. Margarethe is jealous of Torvi.

The settlers in the New World argue, Eyvind (Kris Holden-Ried) being the most vocal against it. They have to agree to put aside their differences in order to build their new community.

Lagertha is troubled by the sons of Rganar getting ready to slaughter each other. She send Bjorn and Halfdan the Black (Jasper Pääkkönen) as emissaries. Harald and Hvitserk meet them. HalfDan and Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø) are exchanged as hostages. Both sets of brothers appeal to the other to no avail.

Bjorn starts as the voice of reason, “I call upon my brothers… let’s put aside our differences for the sake of our father.” Ubbe and Lagertha concur. It is up to Ivar. Surprisingly, he seems to relents and says he does not want to kill his brothers. But it was all a trick. He throws his drink in Ubbe’s face and calls him no brother of his. He has to kill Lagertha. “you can try,” she retorts. Astrid and Lagertha stare longingly at each other. The die is cast. It is war.

Aethulwulf and Aethelred (Moe Dunford, Darren Cahill) practice swordfighting as his mother and Alfred look on. Alfred wants them to build ships to prevent another viking attack. His mother says to tell his father but Alfred knows he won’t listen.

Ivar takes Astrid and Hvitserk to protect the fleet. The battle begins and it starts as bloody and ferocious as we’ve come to expect from Vikings. Ivar stops to listen as Hvitserk goes ahead and they get ambushed in the forest.

The rear flank gets ambushed by Lagertha and the shield maidens. Ivar and Astrid hear the battle. She wants to go back, but Ivar refuses and Harald’s army is forced to retreat, not before Bishop Headmund is knocked out. When they regather, Ivar is upset when informed of his death. Lagertha finds him alive and keeps him once she learns he is a Saxon priest. Is history repeating itself in Kattegat?

This episode was full of blood and guts and hacked limbs, but it was the complicated relationships and feelings that filled it even more. The love triangle of Harald, Astrid, and Lagertha is incredibly sad. I believe Astrid does care for Harald – she wanted to help him, but Lagertha is like the sun. Harald’s vulnerability in love makes him a very endearing character. Ivar and the bishop have a very complicated relationship. What is it about vikings and priests? His interaction with Lagertha is something to look forward to, if the previews are any indication.

Great episode and fantastic battle full of strategy and blood.

Vikings airs Wednesday nights at 8:00pm ET on The History Channel.

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