Ragnar and Rollo lead the Vikings and Franks into war, with unexpected consequences for both sides. Photo stills, clips, and recap of “The Last Ship”, which aired Thursday, April 21 at 10:00pm ET|PT on HISTORY.
“The Last Ship” began with both the Vikings and Franks preparing for battle.
Ragnar led the Vikings as they sailed down the river towards Paris: “This is your doing Rollo.”
Lagertha, Bjorn, Floki, Finehair, Halfdan, and all were ready to face the traitor. As they sailed upriver, the Frankish ships came towards them and Rollo was at the head.
Rollo ordered the Frankish standards to he raised, further announcing their arrival. He planned for them to ride alongside the Viking ships and board. Rollo blessed his men, asking that God would be with them.
In response, Bjorn called for the Viking horns and they all chanted in time with the sound. This time, the Vikings sailed with giant wooden flatbeds attached to their boats. This provided a steady surface for their archers. Bjorn ordered the archers to prepare their arrows (lit with fire) and release them against the Franks. Lagertha and Torvi (with Erlendur’s crossbow) were part of this contingent.
The Franks tried to use their crossbows and also shield themselves from the onslaught, but many were hit. This made their advance difficult, but eventually the Viking and Frankish ships clashed. As commanded, the frontline Franks tried to board the Vikings’ boats but were beat back viciously. Ragnar watched as Bjorn, Floki, FInehair, Halfdan, Lagertha, and the others fought.
Rollo watched this and a commander suggested that they call off the attack to regather their forces. Rollo killed the man and kicked the dead body into the water. He then gave a battle speech to the rest:
“All of my life, and all of your lives, have come to this point. There is nowhere else to be but here. Nowhere else to live or die, but here. To be here now is the only thing that matters. So gather yourselves, gather all of your strength and sweetness into an iron ball. For we will attack again and again. Until we reach and overcome their king, or we die in the attempt. Attack! Attack! Attack! Blow the horns! Beat the drums! And have courage! For there will be no turning back, only victory or death!”
Back on the Viking side, Bjorn speculated about what Rollo would do. As Ragnar took the rest of Yidu’s Chinese medicine he said that his brother would do what he always does…attack.
Floki called out to Rollo, beckoning the traitor forward. Floki promised to kill him with his axe.
Lagertha then asked Ragnar if there was anything else they could do to make sure the gods favored them. Bjorn was confident–he didn’t believe the gods could support Rollo after his betrayal. But Lagertha wanted to hear it from Ragnar. He said nothing.
Rollo ordered his men to row faster so they could reach the Viking ships. Bjorn then let loose an arrow that hit the beam right next to Rollo’s head… a promise. Eventually Rollo’s ships breached the Vikings and the fighting started again. This time, Ragnar and Rollo came face to face and sword to word. They exchanged words:
Ragnar: “Look at you, you look like a bitch. Not my brother. You never have been. One of us will die today.”
Rollo: “And it won’t be me, brother.”
They fought viciously, punching each other, back and forth.
Floki was struck with a sword in the abdomen, Halfdan was hit with an arrow, and Lagertha was stabbed with a sword in her shoulder.
Finehair cried out for Odin. (Back in Kattegat, presumably at the same time of this conflict, the Oracle wailed and wept.)
In the end, Bjorn carried Lagertha and escaped with Torvi to the boat. Just as Ragnar was about to go after Rollo again, another Viking pushed him into the retreating boat. Rollo called off the rest of the men and dropped to his knees as the Vikings retreated.
In Paris, the bells tolled and priests and people gathered in the streets prayed for victory against the Vikings. Inside the chapel, Gisla prayed to Mary asking for Rollo to be forgiven for his past paganism. He was now a Christian, she carried his Christian child: “…so I ask you in all humility to forgive and protect my beloved husband, who at this hour is also trying to protect this place of worship and all these Christian people.”
Water dripped out of the Mary statue’s eyes and this seemed to encourage Gisla, who also sobbed. She left Rollo’s metal cuff as an offering.
Elsewhere, Emperor Charles ate with Could Roland and Therese. Roland assured Charles that if Rollo failed, he would protect the city.
Roland: “Your highness should be assured that you are not completely dependent on a Northman.”
But Charles had faith in Duke Rollo’s ability to defeat the Vikings. Therese then spoke, reminding Charles that his own grandfather, Charlemagne had warned of the Viking threat. No Northman could be trusted. And yet, Charles said he trusted Rollo completely: “I have his heart, and he has mine.”
When Therese called Charles stupid, he took this time to carry out his true plan. Charles had decided that Roland and Therese weren’t really his friends and ordered them strangled to death, right there at the dining table.
Later, Rollo rode back into Paris and was greeted as a victor. He was badly beaten up but insisted on walking. Parisians hugged and kissed Rollo. There was even confetti! Gisla then ran to Rollo and kissed him. She presented her husband to her father as the savior of Paris and the hero of Frankia. Rollo fell to his knees, but Charles came to him and lifted him up. Charles kissed Rollo and placed a crown on his head, calling for the people to hail Rollo as Caesar. Rollo spoke in Old Frankish: “God bless Paris!”
Eventually we found there was a significant time jump into the future, by six to ten years.
In Kattegat, an older Bjorn was fishing when Aslaug came to get him. A visitor (Thorhall) had arrived, a Viking who just returned from raiding England. Thorhall spent time in Wessex, fighting and eventually making a treaty with Ecbert. The Englishmen told the Vikings about Magnus, Ragnar’s son with Kwenthrith. Magnus was 12 and living in Ecbert’s court. Bjorn was doubtful, but according to Thornhall, why would they lie? But Thornhall had more news. When the Vikings had asked about the settlement in Wessex, they were told that it was destroyed almost as soon as Ragnar left. However, some of the Vikings were allowed to escape to issue a warning to Ragnar… who of course never mentioned it.
When Thornhall told Bjorn to ask Ragnar about it now, Aslaug revealed that they had no idea where Ragnar was. He left shortly after the failed attack on Paris and had been missing for years. Bjorn then left to meet his brothers to tell them the news (they were at the cabin hunting).
Bjorn met (a much older) Ubbe, Hvitserk, Sigurd, and Ivar, and there were mixed responses. They all seemed to believe Ragnar knew the truth about the Wessex settlement. Ubbe, Hvitserk, and Sigurd said Ragnar should have told everyone the truth. But Ivar understood Ragnar’s justification. If he had told his people, they would have demanded revenge, instead of sailing to Paris.
Ivar: “He [Ragnar] wanted to be famous. Isn’t that more important?”
The other boys still felt betrayed about Ragnar’s betrayal and promised that if their father returned, they would kill him.
Ivar continued to defend Ragnar: “Screw you. All of you. He never did anything wrong. He is our father and that is the end of it. You all sound like a bunch of Christians.”
Bjorn seemed to agree with Ivar: “I don’t think he is ever going to come back. I think what happened in Paris finally broke him. You can all say whatever you want, but he was a human. People started to talk as if he was a god. He was not a god, he was a man! A man with many dreams and many failings. I’ve learned that in the years since he went away. If I was him, I wouldn’t come back. Despite all his failings, he’s still the greatest man in the world to me.”
Bjorn then left his brothers to visit Floki and Helga. Floki confessed to knowing about the settlement in Wessex and how Ragnar killed the farmer who escaped so no one else would find out. Floki was also working on boats for Bjorn to sail to the Mediterranean Sea (though he doubted that Bjorn’s map was real). Bjorn would sail to this “imaginary” land and Floki and Helga would join him.
Sometime later we watched Ragnar enter Kattegat (now a bigger and bustling city). As he walked, people stopped, started, and then surrounded him. Ubbe, Hvitserk, Sigurd, and Ivar cut through the crowd to see their father. Ragnar recognized Ivar (because he was crawling) and said hello. He then addressed the crowd, speaking about how his return was likely not welcome. But Ragnar was still king until someone killed him. Who would it be? Maybe it would be one of his sons. Ragnar even dared Hvitserk to kill him and put him out of his misery.
The episode ended with Ragnar drawing his sword, jamming it into the ground, and demanding to know “Who wants to be king?!”
If you missed Thursday’s episode, you can watch “The Last Ship” online HERE, OnDemand, or on the HISTORY app.
What did you think of the mid-season finale and Season 4 so far? Were you expecting to end with this much of a time jump, and with Ragnar’s sons all grown up!
When Season 4 returns, do you think any of the boys will really kill Ragnar? I don’t know if you noticed, but it looked to me like Ivar was eyeing that sword real hard and with a big smile on his face!
I wonder if we’ll learn more about where Ragnar has been all these years? I’d also love to travel with Bjorn and the others on their own adventures… And Lagertha better be alive!
Share your thoughts in comments!