The episode picks up with Ragnar’s crew sailing home with their loot. Meanwhile, the Earl’s man takes one of the village’s children as a ransom until Ragnar returns.
On the Vikings’ ship, Ragnar questions Athelstan about England. Athelstan tells him that it was once foretold that God would punish England for its sins, and now it has happened. Ragnar tells Athelstan that the monk is still alive because he spared him.
The Ragnar’s crew arrives back in Kattegat with a ship full of loot. They find a large crowd at the docks waiting to meet them. The crowd congratulates Ragnar for his voyage west. Ragnar also meets with Knut, who informs him that Earl Haraldson is waiting for him in the Great Hall.
Ragnar presents his plunder to the Earl and tells him that Thor was with them on their voyage west. Haraldson replies that all of the riches before him are his, by right. Ragnar argues that he and Floki paid for the boat and surely deserve a cut of the plunder. Haraldson mocks him by repeating Ragnar’s words about the ease in which they plundered the monastery.
The Earl then decides that each member of Ragnar’s crew can keep one piece from the plunder. Ragnar chooses to keep Athelstan as his slave, even though it elicits laughter from Siggy and the Earl.
Afterwards, Rollo angrily confronts Ragnar after the meeting and blames him for his misfortune. Ragnar calms him, but he’s angered when Rollo shows him some stolen goods from the Earl’s plunder.
Meanwhile, Siggy praises Earl Haraldson for the way he embarrassed Ragnar and attempts to seduce him. However, she stops trying to make love to him and hugs him instead.
Ragnar brings Athelstan back to his homestead where he is greeted by his family. He tells Lagertha that his mission was successful, but the Earl took their riches. Ragnar presents Athelstan to her as proof that his warband raided England.
Later, Athelstan is struggling to pray as Lagertha and Ragnar make love on the other side of the wall dividing them in Ragnar’s home. Lagertha and Ragnar invite Athelstan to join their bed, but the monk tells them that he can’t do it because it would be a sin. The couple tries to bait him, and he’s tempted. However, Athelstan finds a way to stay strong.
Meanwhile, the boy who was taken from his village early in the episode digs a hole to hide the Earl’s plunder. Haraldson then has the boy killed so that no one will know where the treasure is hidden. The boy is buried with the treasure.
The story returns to Ragnar who pumps Athelstan for information about England. Athelstan tells him that there are four kingdoms in England and that the Vikings raided the kingdom of Northumbria, which is led by the powerful King Aelle. Ragnar questions how such a powerful king could leave the monastery defenseless. Athelstan replies that there was never a need to protect the monastery until Ragnar’s crew came along. The two debate religion and share a drink of water before meeting with the Earl again.
Ragnar uses the information provided by Athelstan to request another raid on England. The Earl sanctions the raid on one condition: his aid Knut will go with them. Ragnar accepts, and he leaves to prepare for the next voyage. The Earl surmises that Ragnar must have found a way to navigate west and instructs Knut to find out what it is.
Meanwhile, Ragnar cuts Athelstan’s leash and puts him in charge of his home while Lagertha goes with him on the raid. Lagertha privately warns Athelstan that she will kill him if any harm comes to her children.
Ragnar’s warband soon departs for England. They are greeted by the local sheriff’s men when they arrive on Northumbria’s shores. The sheriff guesses that they are traders and tells them that they should come meet the king. Rollo doesn’t trust them and eventually leads the Vikings as they slaughter the Northumbrians. Unfortunately, one of the Northumbrians got away.
There are plenty of things to like about “Vikings.” The show features a strong cast and an excellent setting. The costumes are well-done, and the historical context is accurate, for the most part. However, the problem is the show’s pacing needs to improve quickly.
There is a lot going on in each episode, but for whatever reason, “Vikings” seems to move at a snail’s pace. Perhaps the script is too light, or maybe the show’s producers are stuffing too much into each episode, but something needs to change or “Vikings” will eventually lose its viewers.
That said, when the action does pick up, “Vikings” is fun to watch, especially the action scenes. It’s simply a question of balance, and right now, “Vikings” doesn’t have it.
As for the story itself, this episode was basically a table-setter. Ragnar puts together another crew, and the Earl plots his next move. Hopefully, next week’s episode moves the plot along a bit faster.