Ragnar develops a new relationship; Bjorn returns from the Wilderness; and Rollo and Gisla finally see eye-to-eye. Photo stills and recap of this week’s Vikings “Yol”, which aired Thursday, March 10 at 10:00pm ET|PT on HISTORY.
Across the Viking and Non-Viking worlds, celebration was in the air as the Yol and Christmas seasons arrived.
“Yol” opened up with an interesting conversation between Ragnar and Aslaug’s new slave from Frankia (we later learn her name is Yidu). Ragnar sat in a tub, taking a bath and speaking about how he was consumed with thoughts of death—the death of children of friends—all intrigued him. Sadly, his own death continued to elude him. Ragnar explained that in his culture, the day of one’s death was fated. While he talked, Yidu gathered water in a pail. When Ragnar asked her in she wanted to know the day of her death, Yidu responded, saying “In my world, you must have a life worth living before you can even consider death.”
Ragnar emphasized that he was constantly torn between killing himself and killing everyone around him (YIKES!) Interestingly, Yidu said that since she was a slave, she had the same feelings.
Ragnar: “A king and a slave. It is both our duties to serve others, whether we like it or not.”
Then Yidu brought more water for Ragnar’s bath and spilled it all over him and the floor. Ragnar tutted as Yidu cleaned the water and then asked her for her name. She told him her name was Yidu. Aslaug (creepily) watched this exchange between Ragnar and Yidu from another room in the bath house.
Later in the evening, the Yol festivities were in full force. There was lots of music as the men carried in a large Yule log into the main hall. The crowd cheered blessings to Ragnar and his family and then started decorating.
In the midst of this, Yidu came to get Aslaug; Ivar had woken up and was crying for her. Ragnar tried to intervene by encouraging Ivar to hang decorations with his brothers, but Ivar didn’t want to. Aslaug chastised Ragnar for trying to make Ivar be like the other boys. Besides, Ragnar didn’t act like he really loved Ivar, so Aslaug would take responsibility for their son. However Ragnar insisted that he loved Ivar and wanted more for him. So Aslaug should stop treating him like a cripple.
Even though Floki was free, he wasn’t taking part in the Yol celebration. Instead he went to visit with the Oracle. Apparently, the Oracle had been waiting a long time, waiting for hundreds of years. He wanted Floki to show who he really was. (Well what did this mean?) Floki put out his hand and the Oracle licked it. This triggered something in Floki, who started giggling.
That night, as everyone slept, Aslaug spoke to Ragnar about Yidu. She gave him permission to spend time with her. Aslaug would even arrange it for him, with no jealousy or ill feelings. (What is she up to???)
Ragnar’s response: “If that is what you want.” (Because it’s certainly what he wants!)
The next morning, Ragnar found Yidu as she was tending to the pigs. He demanded to know the story of how she became a slave.
Yidu told the emotional story of being kidnapped by pirates while sailing with her family. When Ragnar asked if she was raped, she denied it, saying the pirates did not dare to rape her. (Interesting choice of words!) When Ragnar asked why they didn’t dare, Yidu deflected. Instead, she spoke of the long journey to Frankia and being sold into slavery. Now she was “here” with the Vikings, yet, she had no idea where she was and where she belonged. But maybe it was foolish to share her story, after all, a slave didn’t really exist. Ragnar wrapped Yidu in a coat and lead her away.
He took her to his private lodge, somewhere he’d never brought anyone else. Ragnar then told Yidu that she was dismissed as a slave and free to come and go as she pleased. Yidu was skeptical, but Ragnar assured her that, since he was king, he could make it so. In fact, she could walk away at that moment if she wanted. However, Yidu didn’t leave. She made Ragnar an ancient Chinese medicine to take away the lingering pain from his illness. To prove she wasn’t poisoning him, Yidu took the medicine first. It must have been something very potent because both Yidu and Ragnar started acting strangely and hallucinating. There were snakes, dancing acrobatics with fire, and serious tripping.
Elsewhere, Aslaug brought Ivar to Floki and Helga. She wanted Floki to teach her beloved son the ways of their gods and to reject Christianity. Aslaug didn’t believe Ragnar could do it; only Floki could teach Ivar to be a real Viking. (Is this why Aslaug encouraged Ragnar to spend time with Yidu? While he was distracted, she could take Ivar to Floki!)
In the Wilderness, Bjorn packed up his belongings and prepared to go home. As he was treking through the woods, he came face to face with Kalf and Erlendur’s hired assassin–the berserker. If Bjorn could kill a full grown bear, he could definitely take the berserker. And he did! They fought, and Bjorn was eventually able to disarm the berserker and tie him to a tree. Bjorn questioned the berserker about who sent him. The berserker didn’t respond, but Bjorn noticed King Horik’s ring (though it didn’t seem he knew the ring was from Erlendur). Bjorn killed the berserker with a knife to the gut and left him tied to the tree…
…then Bjorn went to Hedeby!
Lagertha was happy to see her son, while Kalf and Erlendur were wary. Kalf questioned Bjorn about why he went into the Wilderness, and Bjorn responded by saying he went to find someone… himself.
Why was he in Hedeby? He came to see his mother and to take Torvi with him to Kattegat. (Remember, Torvi is Erlendur’s wife, but before they left for Paris, she and Bjorn slept together; Season 3, Episode 6.)
Since Torvi was free to make up her own mind, she decided to go with Bjorn. When Erlendur said their son Gurthrum would stay with him, she second-guessed her decision. She couldn’t leave her child behind. However, Lagertha encouraged Torvi to go: “If you want to go with my son, then go with my son. I will look after your child. We have one life Torvi, so go and live it.”
In Wessex, Ecbert, Aethelwulf, Judith, and Kwenthrith sat down to dinner with a guest, Judith’s father King Aelle of Northumbria, visiting for Advent. Aelle was concerned about Mercia and the process for restoring Kwenthrith to the throne. Why should he and Ecbert take such risk by invading Mercia when it meant that, eventually Magnus, Ragnar Lothbrok’s bastard son, would be King. Aelle swore that after Ragnar attacked Northumbria, he would kill Ragnar in revenge. When Kwenthrith asked if Aelle meant to kill Magnus as well, Aelle said nothing.
Later on at a holiday celebration, Aelle was still distressed. He noticed the romantic attachment between Aethelwulf and Kwenthrith AND Judith and Ecbert. Aelle was particularly disappointed that Judith was practicing illumination. “My god, to think that you are my child! For what are you but a bad wife and a bad mother. The very worst example of womanhood. If Aethelwulf asked my permission to beat you into submission, I would allow it!”
But Judith clapped back at her father, saying no man owned her. She was free.
In Paris, Gisla brought a Papal delegation from Rome to see Rollo (who was with his French tutor, Abbot Lupus). The Cardinal presented Rollo with papers of annulment. Since Rollo and Gisla hadn’t consummated their marriage, there was no basis for it to continue. But Rollo surprised them all! He could understand AND speak their language. And Rollo rejected the annulment. He spoke directly to Gisla: “I beg you not to do this. I know my destiny is to be with you. And I swear that, like you, I am prepared to defend Paris to the death.” (I swooned SO HARD!)
Gisla was surprised, but impressed. She asked to be left alone with Rollo, and expressed being touched that he learned her language. But Gisla still wasn’t sure what was most important to Rollo, their marriage, his new title of Nobility, or being a Viking. Rollo assured Gisla that he took his commitment to her and Paris seriously. He’d killed all of the Vikings that remained in Paris because of it. Rollo gave Gisla is armband, something that meant a lot to him. Now the ball was in Gisla’s court. And let’s just say, their marriage didn’t remain unconsummated for long! Gisla came to Rollo, and it was a very sweet and passionate moment.
A time later at an Epiphany feast, Gisla walked into the dining room and demanded to speak to her husband alone. Rollo and GIsla left, hand in hand and giggling. They ran to the nearest room (the kitchens) and had loud sex. Charles and the dinner guests were embarrassed, but wished one another a Happy Christmas.
The end of Yol celebrations brought a stranger to Kattegat’s shores, Harald, King Finehair. Aslaug welcomed King Harald and his men and asked why he had come. Harald had heard stories of Ragnar and his raids from the Wanderers and wanted to meet him in person. (Ragnar was away, probably with Yidu.)
At a welcome feast later, Harald proposed playing a board game with Ubbe, hnefatafl (it looked like chess). Aslaug asked Harald one more time when he came to Kattegat. He told a story of making a promise to a princess. He wanted to marry her, but she rejected him because he wasn’t important enough. Instead of just taking the princess, Harald decided to become worthy of her. If he were the king of all of Norway, then the princess would marry him.
Aslaug noted that in order to become king of Norway, Harald would have to kill Ragnar. Harald just smiled…
…at this point, Bjorn, Torvi, and Ragnar arrived, and Ragnar was not pleased to see another man (Harald) sitting on his throne.
If you missed Thursday’s episode, you can watch “Yol” online HERE, OnDemand, or on the HISTORY app.
Make sure to get ready for next week’s episode “Promised” with the preview and sneak peek below. It looks like King Harald is sticking around and planning to make Floki an ally.