Photo stills and recap of Vikings Season 4 premiere, “A Good Treason,” which aired on Thursday, February 18 at 10:00pm ET|PT on HISTORY. Also watch a sneak peek of episode 2, “Kill the Queen”.
As the episode title intimated, in the Vikings‘ Season 4 premiere we saw treachery emerge from several corners. Ultimately, it became clear that Ragnar’s power and legacy were under threat.
“A Good Treason” began with King Ragnar riding through valleys and forests, chasing a bright light in the distance. Eventually, he saw a set of two golden massive doors and got off the horse to approach on foot. Inside of the gate, a huge feast was going on; however, a horn sounded and the doors started to close to Ragnar. He ran to climb the stone steps to enter, but he wasn’t able to make it in time. As he ran we saw flashes of violence: Ragnar strangling the farmer Stender (Season 3, Episode 6), Floki killing Athelstan (Season 3, Episode 6), Ragnar and Rollo in battle and drenched with blood, Ragnar trying to save Bjorn when he was shot by arrows during the Paris battle (Season 3, Episode 8), Ragnar striking Aslaug. The gate disappeared, and an angry Ragnar stood there, screaming into the valley.
At the same time, Queen Aslaug was on a trek of her own to find the Oracle (who she found collecting herbs in the forest). She wanted to know if a woman would become the next ruler of Kattegat after Ragnar died. The Oracle did not think it was wise to imagine the death of kings, but did confirm that a woman would one day rule in Kattegat. When Aslaug pushed the Oracle to name that woman, whether it would be her, the Oracle chuckled. He knew the truth, but would not tell her. Aslaug licked the Oracle’s hand (perhaps in supplication), and he replied saying: “The gods are here. They’re watching.”
It turned out that the Vikings had just returned from their Paris raids. Ragnar’s other four sons (Ubbe, Hvitserk, Sigurd, and Ivar) were excited to see that their older brother Bjorn was back. Even though the boys were in a good mood, it didn’t seem that Aslaug was to happy to have Ragnar back. Aslaug told Bjorn about Porunn leaving Kattegat in the middle of the night. He was clearly upset. Even when presented with Little Siggy, it was like Bjorn couldn’t stand the sight of her. Aslaug was disappointed in the reaction, but promised they would take care of Siggy.
Ragnar was still sick and unconscious. (At the beginning of the episode, he was probably dreaming about entering Valhalla, but being turned away.) Floki came to Ragnar’s bedside and left two runes that he had carved. Floki placed the runes on Ragnar’s chest and swore that they would help heal his friend.
A little later, Bjorn had all the treasures from Paris brought into the hall. He confirmed for Aslaug that Paris had been everything Athelstan said and Ragnar had dreamed. Outside, Bjorn addressed his fellow Vikings (Aslaug, Lagertha, Kalf, and Floki were also there), sharing gold and praising them for being an unstoppable force. He presented the crowd with a lock from the gates of Paris as a physical representation of their win. Yes, Paris had made them rich, but for Bjorn, it was important to show gratitude.
Ragnar was ill and might die, but Bjorn implored the crowd to remember that Ragnar was still king and still owed their allegiance. Ragnar had always shown gratitude to those who trusted and believed in him, especially his loyal friend Athelstan. In fact, their success in Paris was because of Athelstan; therefore, Bjorn believed they needed to avenge Athelstan’s murder. So he ordered that Floki be arrested. At first Floki tried to fight the other Vikings off, but then he stopped. He killed Athelstan for the common good. Floki even brought up the fact that he had a conversation where Bjorn shared his concerns about the influence Athelstan was having on Ragnar. Bjorn said nothing as Floki was led to the stocks.
Eventually, Ragnar woke up and he wasn’t too pleased about it. Ubbe was the the first to see his father, and the first thing Ragnar asked for was ale.
Ubbe went to tell Aslaug that Ragnar was alive (she was at an auction buying a slave, a young woman, from those recently captured in Paris). At first, Ubbe was concerned that his mother didn’t care that Ragnar was awake (which was probably an accurate observation!). But Aslaug quickly changed her expression and told her son to go tell everyone that Ragnar the King lived.
While Floki was chained down in the square, children threw mud at him. Helga came to help Floki and begged for them to leave her husband alone. She also brought their daughter, Angrboda, and some food. Helga told Floki that Ragnar was awake, but that made Floki even more agitated. He believed Ragnar would kill him and regretted making those runes. Floki begged Helga to help him escape, but she walked away from him in disgust.
Elsewhere, Bjorn was looking over a map (though he wasn’t quite sure of what). He had stolen it from a man in Paris. When Ubbe asked why Bjorn cared so much, he replied that it was his “destiny”.
At dinner, when Ragnar joined the festivities, everyone was happy to see him, except Aslaug, which Ragnar noted:
Aslaug: “Everyone is so happy to see you, Ragnar.”
Ragnar: “Perhaps some more than others, hmm?”
Ragnar also took particular notice of the new servant Aslaug had brought in. He inquired about what else he missed, which is when Ubbe told his father that Bjorn arrested Floki. Ragnar was NOT PLEASED:
“Did you also think that if I wanted him arrested, I would have done it a long time ago? But now you have made it public and left me with no options. Now I am forced to deal with my errant friend.”
Ragnar was also highly disappointed with Bjorn’s idea to leave Rollo in Paris. He had a strong suspicion that if left to his own devices, Rollo would not act in Ragnar’s best interests.
The next day, Ragnar sat in the square watching Floki, his sons, and the new servant. While there, Bjorn came to tell his father that he was leaving Kattegat to go out into the wilderness. He wanted to see if he could survive. Ragnar thought the decision was foolish, but this motivated Bjorn even more.
Ragnar: “Why are you really going?”
Bjorn: “Because you don’t think I can survive.”
Afterwards, Ragnar approached Floki and drew a circle in the dirt around him. Floki asked if he would be killed, while Ragnar accused him of betrayal. However, Floki maintained that he was trying to save his friend from a false god, as the real gods commanded, and he would do it again. But Ragnar didn’t buy it; Floki was hiding behind the gods. As far as Ragnar was concerned, the real reason Floki killed Athelstan was out of jealousy. So would Ragnar kill him? We still didn’t know.
Later, when Bjorn was leaving, he promised to see them in the spring and asked his brothers to look after Ragnar. Bjorn also got some advice from his father: “watch for fresh snow drifts, and for what’s pissing in front of you, as well as behind you.” Ragnar also asked for Bjorn to prove him wrong (about his ability to survive). With that, Bjorn left. As they watched Bjorn walk away, Aslaug commented that this could be the last time they saw Bjorn alive (perhaps she was upset about Ragnar’s cold remarks). But Ragnar got very alarmed. Had Aslaug had a premonition? She hadn’t, which made Ragnar even more upset that she would say something that horrible.
Elsewhere, Lagertha, Kalf, and Erlendur returned to Hedeby. They presented their plunder from Paris. Erlendur was especially happy about his new crossbow, which he showed to Einar. Kalf spoke to his people about Paris, how he saved Lagertha during the battle of Paris and that she also saved his life. Kalf called Lagertha forwarded and announced that even though they weren’t married, they would both rule equally as earls of Hedeby.
Later, Einar spoke with Kalf about how the new arrangement to share the earldom with Lagertha was unacceptable. Einar, his family, and Erlendur only put Kalf in power because they agreed to take down the Lothbrok dynasty. If Kalf didn’t rethink his decision, Einar promised that they would remove Kalf as earl. Kalf seemed amenable to accommodating Einar’s wishes. Interestingly, Kalf also accused Einar of still being in love with Lagertha. Einar admitted it was true, “but love isn’t everything.”
Kalf then called everyone together in the square and ordered a vote on whether or not Lagertha should remain his joint-earl. Those who wanted her out would go to the middle and cut a mark into a wood post. Einar went first and called his allies to join him. The majority had spoken. Yet, Kalf replied by calling on his archers to shoot everyone who stood by the post. (Surprisingly, Erlendur was there with his crossbow shooting at Einar and his followers too!) Einar tried to block the arrows, but he was quickly hit by an arrow in his throat that pinned him to the wooden post. When Erlendur came to finish Einar off, Lagertha stopped him and LITERALLY took matters into her own hand. She removed Einar’s pants and castrated him in front of the crowd. He died from the blood loss, while Lagertha and Kalf nodded at each other.
In Paris, Rollo’s wedding to Princess Gisla continued, against her wishes. Her father, Emperor Charles, led Gisla through the cathedral, physically forcing her to kneel down and bow her head as the priest performed the marriage ceremony.
Afterwards, when the time came to consummate the marriage, once again Gisla was physically carried into the bedroom, where Rollo and others waited. After the priests sanctified the bed, Rollo cleared the room. All the while, Gisla continuously made the sign of the cross. In the Viking language, Rollo told Gisla not to be afraid of him. And in the Frankish language, Gisla called him a monster and an animal. They didn’t understand each other at all. When Rollo took Gisla to bed and tried to kiss her, she pulled out a dagger. At that point, Rollo grabbed a pillow, wished his wife good night, and went to sleep.
The next day, Rollo’s only ally, the Wanderer announced that he was leaving Paris. As if that wasn’t enough, Erik (one of the Vikings who stayed behind with Rollo) announced that there had been a meeting at the camp and the Vikings refused to fight against Ragnar. The warriors didn’t like that Rollo had adopted Christianity and was even a Frankish noble. Erik encouraged Rollo to come back to the camp to speak with them and allay their fears.
Rollo did come, and he brought Frankish soldiers with him. They shot everyone in the camp, men, women, and children. The Vikings tried to put up a fight, but their shield wall wasn’t enough. As Erik died, he called Rollo a traitor and swore that Ragnar would avenge them. Rollo didn’t seem to be concerned.
If you missed Thursday’s episode, you can watch “A Good Treason” online HERE, OnDemand, or on the HISTORY app.
Make sure to get ready for next week’s episode “Kill the Queen” with the preview and a sneak peek of a Ragnar/Floki scene below: