Bjorn proves himself in the wilderness; yet elsewhere Kalf and Erlendur plot his death. Photo stills and recap of this week’s Vikings “Mercy,” which aired on Thursday, March 3 at 10:00pm ET|PT on HISTORY.
In “Mercy” we saw the shocking return of a fan-favorite character, which triggered benevolence and compassion from several quarters.
We picked up with Floki in the midst of his punishment in the cave, screaming out in frustration. We saw flashes of the events that brought us to this moment, particularly Ragnar confronting Floki as he was chained in the square. Later, Helga came to see Floki, catching the dripping water in a bowl so he wouldn’t be disturbed as he slept. Helga grew tired and stopped for a rest. The next drops fell on Floki, waking him up and triggering his panic. He cried out for Helga, who returned with the bowl. Floki then apologized to Helga, telling he was sorry over and over again. Helga replied that she was sorry too.
As she was getting Floki something to drink, Ragnar came to see them both. Ragnar realized that Helga hadn’t told Floki that Angrboda had died and implored her to do so. Ragnar them left them alone. Helga told Floki that their daughter died from fever and he was visibly distraught, crying and wailing his grief.
In Kattegat, Ragnar told his young sons a story about Thor’s adventures, which included a meeting with a ferryman named Harbard. That name caught Aslaug’s attention, which seemed to be Ragnar’s intention. (Harbard came to Kattegat while Ragnar was in Paris and slept with Aslaug, Season 3 Episode 4). When one of the boys asked their father if he had ever met Harbard, Ragnar said no:
“But perhaps your mother has?” (UHOH!)
Aslaug deflected by saying it was time to eat dinner. Before they went inside, Ubbe asked his father if he and Hvitserk could join the next raid in Paris. Aslaug interrupted, saying they must celebrate Yol first. Ubbe continued, asking if Bjorn would be back in time for the festivities. According to Ragnar, they didn’t know if or when Bjorn would return.
In the wilderness, Bjorn continued his scavenging and set up traps for hunting. Later, when returning to the traps, he realized that a bear had taken all the animals that the traps had caught. He then came face to face with the bear, who growled at Bjorn, but walked away.
Back at the lodge, Bjorn came across a small cask of ale, which lifted his spirits. At night, he sat by the fire, drank, and watched the Northern Lights. Bjorn howled at the moon and then promptly passed out. When he woke up, the fire was out and the bear had found him. Bjorn vomited, but once again, the bear left him alone.
Perhaps Bjorn was frustrated, because he went back to the hut, grabbed his weapons, and took off after the bear. When Bjorn found the bear, he grabbed his ax and took off running after it. Bjorn chopped away at the bear, eventually killing it with a strike to the head. Covered in blood, he screamed out…
(…a scream that Ragnar seemed to hear. Back at Kattegat, Ragnar had a vision of young Bjorn running towards him, and got emotional. Then, Aslaug’s new servant came to Ragnar to ask for the fish he was cleaning.)
After skinning the bear, Bjorn tended to his wounds. That evening, he walked out of the lodge wearing only the bear skin. Bjorn disrobed and then jumped headfirst into the ice cold lake, came back up for air, and screamed into the sky.
In Hedeby, Lagertha and Kalf were reaping the benefits of their new joint Earlship. We caught them in the middle of a sexual interlude, where Kalf declared he loved Lagertha and wanted to have a child with her:
“As long as I can remember, I have desired you. And although I thought it was power that I wanted, it’s not true. All I ever really wanted was you.”
Lagertha was a little taken aback at first, but seemed receptive to Kalf. She kissed him passionately after his declarations, but didn’t verbally respond. Kalf left to relieve himself outside, and was immediately joined by Erlendur. He reported that Bjorn had left Kattegat for the wilderness. According to Erlendur, this was the perfect time to assassinate Bjorn. Kalf didn’t respond right away, which caused Erlendur to question his loyalty:
“I thought we came together to destroy the family of Ragnar Lothbrok…for me, I will not rest until my father’s death is avenged.”
Kalf then agreed that it was the perfect opportunity and proposed hiring a berserker to carry out Bjorn’s murder. The next day Kalf and Erlendur met the berserker in the forest and told him of the plan to kill Bjorn. The berserker left immediately, but beforehand, Erlendur gave him his father’s ring as protection. If anyone stopped the berserker, he could show them the ring of King Horik, fashioned by the magic boat builder, Floki. Everyone would let him pass until he reached Bjorn’s location. The berserker didn’t think much of the ring, but Kalf promised gold and silver upon successful completion of the job.
In Paris, Therese and Roland continued their secret affair, but later that evening, they were guests at Emperor Charles’ feast in celebration of the Feast of St. Eulalia. It was clear that Rollo had no idea what was going on. He was very uncomfortable in his new clothes and fidgeted the whole time. At the feast, Emperor Charles sat between Rollo and Gisla, but this didn’t stop Rollo from trying to make eye contact with his wife.
Instead of paying attention to Rollo, Gisla asked Charles about St. Eulia’s history (she had been martyred by the Roman Emperor Maximian after refusing to renounce Christianity). Charles took the opportunity to engage all the guests in the story—Eulia was beheaded, yet her soul ascended to heaven in the form of a dove.
Gisla then likened Rollo to that pagan emperor and said he would probably like to kill her in some vicious way. The nobles were visibly uncomfortable with the turn of the conversation. The room grew silent, and when Rollo realized everyone was looking at him, he reached for Gisla, calling her his woman (it was actually quite sweet!). But Gisla flinched from Rollo and called him an ignorant savage. She said she would never be his woman and then threw wine in Rollo’s face. Before leaving the room, Gisla demanded that her father arrange a divorce. Charles responded by telling the servants to fill Rollo’s glass and asked the for the guests to all be calm. Rollo downed his glass, jumped over the table and starting parading around the room and screaming. Charles turned to Count Odo for advice on what to do. According to Odo, they couldn’t let Rollo leave Paris; his insight was necessary to prevent Ragnar from attacking the city again.
At that point, Odo went to calm Rollo down. He tried to tell Rollo that they were in this together. But what Rollo wanted most was to learn the Frankish language. Odo promised to find him a teacher. This whole time, Roland and Therese observed and plotted.
Later, Rollo met his tutor and tried to learn Old French (beginning with “My name is Duke Rollo”.) He was trying really hard, but having trouble with the pronunciations. Rollo got very frustrated, trashed the room, and thrashed his teacher.
In Wessex, Prudentius continued to teach Judith, teaching her how to make the various paint colors for illumination. She was more interested in hearing about how the Northmen attacked Paris (since Prudentius was a Frank). He had heard details of the siege, but was glad the Parisians had survived. Prudentius believed many of the Northmen who entered the cathedral were struck down by disease, obvious evidence that God was on the side of Christian Paris. Prudentius confirmed for Judith that it was Ragnar who let the Vikings; however, when she asked if and English monk Athelstan was with them, Prudentius wasn’t sure. In any event, the Christians who fought with the Vikings should be crucified.
After that, the lessons continued.
Later, Judith shared the news with Ecbert, once again noting that there was no news of Athelstan. She was worried that he had died. However, Ecbert assured Judith that Athelstan would live on in Alfred and in her: “God’s sacred vessel chosen to deliver the holy man’s child.”
Judith didn’t see herself as more than a sinful woman, even though Ecbert continued to encourage her.
That night, Judith came to Ecbert’s room to negotiate. She would give herself to him freely if he swore on Athelstan’s life to respect her as an equal. Ecbert agreed and swore immediately. Judith then removed her clothing and joined him in bed.
Afterwards, while Judith slept, Ecbert went to the room where Judith had her illumination lessons. As he looked at the texts, Ecbert felt a presence in the room, blowing the pages about. He looked up and saw ATHELSTAN (!!!!!!).
Ecbert was excited, saying he had waited a long time for his friend. Athelstan blessed Ecbert and then disappeared.
On the other side of the world, Ragnar also woke up in the middle of the night and walked outside, searching for something. As he sat on his throne, a cloaked figure approached Ragnar, knelt before him, and washed his feet. When the person removed the hood, we saw that IT WAS ATHELSTAN.
This time, the monk spoke: “Mercy, mercy, mercy.”
When Ragnar reached out to touch Athelstan, he disappeared.
Ragnar took that message and the next day, grabbed his axe, went to the cave where Floki and Helga were, and cut Floki free.
Back in Wessex, the next day, while Judith practiced her illumination, Ecbert came to see her. He told her that he believed Athelstan was dead (since he appeared to Ecbert the previous night). Ecbert comforted Judith as she cried, and they both shared how much they loved Athelstan.
At that time, Aethelwulf arrived from Mercia, after a cold and difficult journey with Kwenthrith and Magnus. Ecbert welcome them…he was especially eager to meet the boy that Kwenthrith claimed was the son of Ragnar Lothbrok. Judith also welcomed Aethelwulf, saying that her tears (from crying over Athelstan) were tears of joy at Aethelwulf’s return.
That night Aethelwulf came to Kwethirth’s bed.
If you missed Thursday’s episode, you can watch “Mercy” online HERE, OnDemand, or on the HISTORY app.
Make sure to get ready for next week’s episode “Yol” with the preview and THREE clips from the episode!
We see preparations of Yol (which drives even more of a wedge between Ragnar and Aslaug), learn more about Yidu (Aslaug’s new servant who has captivated Ragnar), and in Paris, Rollo and Gisla start to see eye-to-eye!