Ragnar and Floki execute a brilliant plan to get the Vikings to Paris. Photo stills and recap of “Portage”, which aired Thursday, April 7 at 10:00pm ET|PT on HISTORY.
“Portage” opened with the Vikings sailing downriver, waiting for further direction from Ragnar. Finehair was particularly upset and expressed his anger to Lagertha. He and his men had bought into the Ragnar’s hype and now Finehair totally regretted ever going on this raid. He couldn’t abide this failure and someone needed to take responsibility. Of course Harald should have known better than to badmouth Ragnar in front of Lagertha.
L: “If I were you, I wouldn’t talk about Ragnar Lothbrok like that to my face.” (LOYALTY!)
In another boat, Bjorn spoke to his father. He was concerned that this loss in Paris weakened Ragnar’s position in every way.
Later, while everyone else was depressed, Ragnar got some inspiration. He looked out towards the cliffs and called for Bjorn. Initially, Finehair and Halfdan complained; shouldn’t they be looking for other settlements to raid? But Ragnar finally revealed his plan…and attacking Paris was still very much possible. They would lift the boats up the cliffs, carry them across the mountains, past the Parisian forts, and slide the boats back into the river, upstream.
R: “You can do that, can’t you Floki? Or am I wrong?”
F: “No. I can do it Ragnar. I can do it for you. Everything I do Ragnar is for you.”
And so the Vikings started emptying the boats to get to work.
Under Floki’s instruction, they constructed ladders and created a pulley system with ropes. Slowly, but surely, the Vikings were successful in lifting the boats up the cliffs.
Eventually, Finehair and Halfdan came to see Ragnar again.
Finehair: You’re insane Ragnar Lothbrok! You’re insane. Because this is beautiful. It’s beautiful. After everything we heard and thought, we still underestimated you. We feel stupid.”
As the Vikings continued their work, Bjorn helped to oversee the lifting of one of the boats. Torvi came to watch him and then turned around to see Erlendur lifting his crossbow and shooting Bjorn in the neck. Bjorn fell into the water, dead. But then we realized Torvi was having a dream/premonition/hallucination! Bjorn was still alive.
Ragnar came to see Yidu who was down by the water. He asked her to give him the remainder of the Chinese medicine. Yidu said it was all finished, but Ragnar didn’t believe it. The only reason he allowed Yidu to come is for the medicine. This didn’t mean she was free. Yidu called Ragnar a liar and threatened to tell the others about the secret of how the families in Wessex were slaughtered. Ragnar grabbed Yidu and held her underwater until she drowned. He then took the medicine from the dead body. Ubbe and Hvitserk saw the whole thing. Ragnar told the boys it was alright and gave them the assignment of hiding the boats from the Franks and taking care of Helga. He came back and pushed Yidu’s body further down the river.
Meanwhile, once almost all the boats were out of the water, the Vikings now set about pushing/pulling them across the mountains on top of wooden, railroad-like planks.
In Paris, Emperor Charles praised Count Odo for saving the city. Odo accepted the thanks and also spoke highly of the soldiers who executed the plans. When Charles asked Odo what he would like for his reward, the Count shared his concerns about having Rollo in such a trusted position. It was likely that Rollo would revert to his pagan ways and take Paris for himself. Roland, who was also in the room, agreed with Odo, saying that Rollo had served his purpose and couldn’t be trusted. Besides, with Rollo gone, Gisla could enter into a more “civilized” marriage. Charles seemingly agreed to reflect on Odo’s comments.
At dinner that night, Charles, Rollo, and Gisla ate together. Charles and Gisla thanked Rollo for saving Paris. But according to Rollo the celebrations were premature. “As long as my brother is still alive, he is not defeated.”
Paris still needed Rollo to protect them. Gisla also took this opportunity to say that she was pregnant. Charles was thrilled–their alliance would continue.
Elsewhere, Odo and Therese met in his chamber. She was upset that he hadn’t made an attempt to see her. In the meantime, Therese had an idea to mix things up–she would bind Odo and strike him with the whip. The Count found the idea very appealing. Odo took his shirt off, then Therese tied his hands up and began to hit him with the whip. At first Odo enjoyed it, laughing and asking Therese to hit him harder. But unbeknownst to Odo, Roland had entered the room. Therese gave her brother/lover the whip and he stuck Odo very hard. When Odo realized what was going on, it was too late. Roland gagged Odo and then whipped him so brutally, blood splattered on Therese as she watched. Roland eventually killed Odo.
Later, Charles announced to his court that Odo had been executed for high treason. Charles entrusted Rollo with the Iron Hand of Frankia as a symbol of the Emperor’s favor. Now the defense of Paris was totally in Rollo’s hands. When the room cleared out, Charles asked Therese to remain. He wanted to know why she looked at him with pity. Therese expressed sympathy for Charles’ great burden of being emperor (obviously an attempt to slide into his good graces…).
In Kattegat, Aslaug was still very much taken with Harbard. On the other hand, Sigurd was suspicious of the man. When Aslaug and Harbard asked what was wrong, Sigurd said that he wished his father was there. “Everything is strange.”
Harbard seemed really distressed about Sigurd’s disdain. He wanted to tell the boy that he loved him. “I love all of you.”
Later, Sigurd took his mother to show her where Harbard was having sex with other women (two at the same time). While the two women saw Aslaug, Harbard didn’t seem to notice, and the three continued while Aslaug left.
When Harbard returned to the main hall, he found Aslaug in the kitchens breaking everything in sight. When she saw Harbard she beat him. But he didn’t understand why Aslaug was so angry. Harbard only slept with the women who needed him, only to help them and take their pain. He didn’t love those women like he loved Aslaug. Harbard was only concerned with doing the will of the gods, to take on the sins of the world upon himself. But then Aslaug slapped Harbard.
A: “I have broken my life for your sake. I do not know if you are a god, but all I longed for was your presence and your caresses.”
H: “I will always be with you, little one, always. But do not try to possess me, hmm? Because possession is the opposite of love.”
Harbard then left (but gave Sigurd a pendant to give to Ivar).
In Wessex, Ecbert returned from Mercia and was welcomed by Judith, the Bishop, and Kwenthrith. Ecbert enthusiastically announced that he had won great victory in Mercia–the ruling council was dead and Wigstan had renounced the throne. Kwenthrith was thrilled! Interestingly, when she exclaimed “Then I am Queen again!”, Ecbert made NO comment. Instead, Ecbert approached Judith to ask after Alfred and Aethelwulf’s pilgrimage to Rome. Judith was worried because there was no word, but Ecbert reassured her. They would hold a special mass to pray for Alfred; furthermore, Athelstan was always beside Alfred, walking with him and guiding him.
Later, Kwenthrith went to see Ecbert and shared the news that she was pregnant, and Aethelwulf was the father. She also wanted to return to Mercia to resume her duties as Queen. At that point, Ecbert revealed that Kwenthrith was no longer ruler of Mercia. Waefaerth entered the room and brought documents, signed by the ruling council and Wigstan, confirming that Kwenthrith had abdicated and Ecbert was now King of Mercia and Wessex, together.
Kwenthrith was livid. She pushed the documents off the table and called Ecbert a monster.
“I always knew, but until this moment I never realized how truly monstrous you are! My own sins seems to trivial, so unimpressive!How do you sleep at night, Lord Ecbert?! How do you sleep?!”
Eventually, Waefaerth was able to wrestle Kwenthrith out of the room. She went to go see Judith where she was practicing her illumination and confessed that she was pregnant with Aethelwulf’s child. And Judith forgave them. Kwenthrith was encouraged by this and asked for Judith’s help to escape Wessex. Judith agreed to the plan.
Instead Judith went to confront Ecbert about how he was now king of Mercia. He asked her to forgive him for the deception. Ecbert then confessed that he loved Judith
“I have lied about many, many things, both to others and to myself,. But I find to my surprise that I cannot lie to you, nor escape your judgement. Please Judith. Don’t forsake me.”
When Kwenthrith did try to escape with Magnus, Waefaerth and other soldiers stopped her and brought to her Ecbert. According to Ecbert, it was important that Magnus to stay with him. When Ragnar returned to Wessex, Ecbert wanted to show him how he’d taken care of his son (do we know, for a fact, that Magus is Ragnar’s kid???). Ecbert was also concerned with the child Kwenthrith carried, his own grandchild.
That night, Kwenthrith was clearly desperate. She put Magnus to bed and then snuck out to Ecbert’s chambers. When Waefaerth tried to stop her, she stabbed him in the neck with a dagger. Kwenthrith entered Ecbert’s room and held the dagger to his throat while he slept. When Ecbert woke up, he tried to talk Kwenthrith out of killing him…if she went through with it, his guards would kill her.
Kwenthrith started laughing, then crying.
“Do you know what would have been better for me? Can you even imagine? To have been born a man.”
Then Judith came from behind and stabbed Kwenthrith. As Kwenthrith died, so did the child she carried.
Judith’s hands were covered in blood, and as she dropped the knife, she said (to Ecbert): “Look what you have made me become.”
If you missed Thursday’s episode, you can watch “Portage” online HERE, OnDemand, or on the HISTORY app.
Take a look below for a preview for next week’s episode “Death All ‘Round”. It looks like our Bjorn might be in trouble!