This week, the Vikings returned to Kattegat, yet there was upsetting news waiting for them at home. Photo stills and recap of Vikings season 3, episode 5, “The Usurper,” which first aired Thursday, March 19 at 10:00pm ET|PT on HISTORY.
“The Usurper” kicked off with Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and the Vikings returning to Kattegat from Wessex. With that said, Ragnar was already thinking about the next raid. He repeatedly asked Athelstan (George Blagden) to tell him about Paris—the amazing, dream city, constructed in marble, surrounded by walls, and with women so beautiful, even Athelstan questioned his vows of celibacy. In response to that statement, Ragnar told Athelstan that he was lucky that he’d never been married and that Ragnar, himself, wouldn’t return to Kattegat if not for his children. But Athelstan, perhaps regretfully, replied by saying that at least Ragnar had children.
Once the ships landed, the ill and injured were offloaded. The two women who were fighting over Torstein (Jefferson Hall) when they left for Wessex (in episode 1) were now both pregnant and asking for him. However, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) informed them that he was now in Valhalla.
Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) also arrived and went straight Ragnar, though he was more concerned about seeing his sons. At the same time, Rollo was calling for Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig). Aslaug told Ragnar and Rollo that Siggy was dead—she drowned saving the two boys and they could not find her body. Rollo was incredibly distraught and blamed himself for not treating Siggy better. However, Ragnar wanted to know why Siggy was looking after the boys in the first place. Aslaug and Helga (Maude Hirst) explained that the three of them were all taking turns watching all of the children, but Ragnar was still suspicious.
Rollo was drinking his sorrows and the other warriors started berating him. They’d all lost loved ones while fighting for the Christians—why was Rollo’s grief so special? A “bar” fight ensued with Rollo trying to fight them all, but Bjorn stepped in to try and stop his uncle. Rollo didn’t want to be stopped and both he and Bjorn started fighting each other in the rain. Both had a lot of rage (Bjorn still dealing with Porunn shutting him out) and Rollo begged his nephew to hit him. Bjorn won the fight, but took no joy from it, and Rollo stumbled away.
Aslaug was concerned about Porunn and went to see her. But Porunn didn’t want any help—there was no help for her scarred face. When Aslaug arrived home, Ragnar asked her again why she left Siggy to watch his sons. Why did the boys walk over a frozen lake? Aslaug responded by saying the boys were curious like her father, but Ragnar didn’t appreciate the sass. When she tried to initiate sex, he stopped Aslaug and walked away.
Later on, Floki, Helga, Lagertha, and Athelstan were sitting together, relaxing. Lagertha suggested that more people should go to the settlement in Wessex, but Floki was (as expected) upset at the suggestion. Why should more people go over to the Christians? Floki also confronted Athelstan and angrily declared that he didn’t know why Ragnar listened to a Christian priest. Interestingly, Athelstan countered by saying he didn’t know why Ragnar listened to him either. After this exchange, Bjorn (injured from his fight with Rollo) walked into the room and Lagertha asked him what happened. Bjorn didn’t want to talk about Rollo or about Porunn. She was a grown woman and if she needed him, she would ask.
That same night, Helga confessed to Floki about Harbard’s (Kevin Durand) time in Kattegat. She told him about how the Wanderer told stories, cured Ivar of his pain, and seduced Aslaug. Floki recognized the name because Harbard wasn’t a human, but a god. As such, he could not be blamed for Siggy’s death: “if it leads to death, it also leads to life,” which was the way of the gods. Floki planned to tell Ragnar the truth.
The next day, a rider arrived and demanded to speak to Lagertha. He brought news about her earldom and lands being usurped by Kalf (Ben Robson), who had named himself the new Earl of Hedeby. Lagertha asked Ragnar for help to reclaim what was rightfully hers, but he didn’t want a civil war or the death that would result. However, Ragnar agreed that they would both go talk to Kalf.
Afterwards, Ragnar asked Aslaug who Harbard was. At first, she refused to answer him, but eventually talked about how Harbard took away Ivar’s pain. Ragnar asked her if Harbard was “good,” and Aslaug said that yes, he was a good man. (*sidenote* it seemed to me that Ragnar was asking about Harbard’s skill as a lover…) Ragnar then went to pick up Ivar, who was sleeping and the baby started crying, perhaps highlighting Ragnar’s ineffective parenting skills.
Ragnar went to see the Seer (John Kavanagh) and asked about Paris. How could he conquer the walled-city? The Seer responded saying “not the living, but the dead will conquer Paris.” Also, a bear would be crowned by a princess, and this would not be good for Ragnar. (Did the prophecy have something to do with Aslaug?)
When Ragnar returned, he told everyone about his decision to raid Paris in Frankia. Everyone was appropriately excited about the development, but of course, Lagertha wanted to know what would be done about her predicament with Kalf.
When they arrived in Hedeby, Lagertha (glorious in red) confronted Kalf, saying that she expected her land and title back. Ragnar interrupted and asked to speak to Kalf in private. In the course of the conversation, Ragnar emphasized that he wanted to avoid civil war. He asked Kalf to join him on his expedition to Frankia. Ragnar then left Kalf to Lagertha. Kalf asserted that he had a better claim to be Earl since he was born there. He admitted that, even though he admired and desired Lagertha, he’d been planning to overthrow her for a long time.
Back in Kattegat, Rollo went to visit the Seer and he was agitated. He lamented that his father, mother, and “his” Lagertha all chose Ragnar over him, so why wouldn’t Rollo want to betray his brother? “He is everything I cannot be…” Rollo said he loved Ragnar, but was so angry. All of his ambitions were failed and nothing good could come of his life. In the middle of this, the Seer started laughing. If only Rollow knew what the gods had in store for him, he would dance naked on the beach. Again, the oracle shared the prophecy of the bear marrying a princess and that Rollo would be present at the ceremony (and this was meant to be a positive thing for Rollo).
After returning from Hedeby, Lagertha refused to stay in Kattegat since Ragnar would not help her reclaim Hedeby. Bjorn tried to convince his mother to stay by sharing how he wanted the three of them to go to Paris together, but Lagertha left anyway.
Meanwhile, Ragnar was sitting on a boat in the harbor, reflecting, when Floki came to tell him about Harbard and Aslaug sleeping together. However, Harbard was another name for Odin. So, in fact, it was a god who came to Kattegat and seduced his wife.
In Wessex, Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford) confronted Judith (Jennie Jacques) about what was wrong with her and she admitted that she was pregnant. Aethelwulf couldn’t be the father since they hadn’t slept together since their son was born. We know this meant that Athelstan was the father…WHOA!
Aethelwulf was very upset and, as he was lamenting, Ecbert (Linus Roache) found him and asked for his son to join him. A farmer had arrived and told them about a conflict between the Northmen and other landowners. The settlement had been attacked and Viking farmers were killed, with the promise that it was just the beginning. Ecbert asked Aethelwulf to bring the disputes to an end and preserve his alliance with Ragnar.
Aethelwulf left Wessex to do his father’s bidding, but when he arrived at the settlement, he asked the soldiers to kill the pagans…and they did. The Northmen tried to fight back and then run, but there was no escape. Not a single man, woman, or child was spared and then they set fire to the settlement. Afterwards, Aethelwulf asked the soldiers to kneel for prayer in front of a giant, wooden, burning cross…it was “all for our Lord” (but it seemed to me that if was Aethelwulf’s jealousy and rage about Judith/Athelstan that really drove him to destroy the settlement).
When Aethelwulf and the soldiers returned to Wessex, Ecbert was very angry about the treaty and peace agreement being violated. He would not tolerate any treason, so everyone who participated would be arrested and hanged. Ecbert asked for the room to be cleared so he could talk to his son alone—it looked like Aethelwulf was in serious trouble. But Ecbert (shockingly) thanked Aethelwulf! This was a good thing because they could get rid of the nobles who questioned his decisions regarding the Vikings, but they also got rid of the pagans, who obviously could not remain among them. “Even Charlemagne would have approved…” (Does this mean Ecbert planned all along to betray Ragnar???)
If you missed last week’s show, you can watch “The Usurper” online HERE, OnDemand, or on the Vikings app.
Make sure to get ready for this week’s episode “Born Again” with the preview below: