The Breakdown

The episode begins as Ragnar and Rollo meet with a group of Vikings to recruit them on a raid west. He tells them of a boat designed for the trip, and promises them a chance to find their fortune. The Vikings remind him of the Jarl’s ruling against going west, but Ragnar tells them that Jarl Haraldson doesn’t know about it. He challenges them to go for it, and many of them choose to go.

Meanwhile, the Jarl’s spy reports back about Ragnar’s meeting. Instead of going after Ragnar, the Jarl decides to be patient and watch for the time being. He also gives his spy permission to sleep with his wife. The spy then finds the Jarl’s wife, Siggy, waiting for him in her bed chambers. He quickly disrobes and jumps into bed with her. Siggy rolls on top of him and hits him just when it seems that the two of them were going to make love. The Jarl enters the chambers and tells the spy that he has proven himself untrustworthy. He then has the man killed.

At Ragnar’s farm, Lagertha pleads with him to let her go on the journey with him. The two lovers bicker back and forth with no resolution. Later, Lagertha attacks her husband in anger over his refusal to let her go with him. The two scuffle until broken apart by their son, Bjorn.

The following day, Ragnar’s group meets to set sail. Prior to beginning their journey, they hold a ceremony to bless their maiden voyage west. While the group prepares to castoff, Rollo rapes the woman who oversaw the ceremony. The ship gets underway and moves quickly, which leaves Ragnar with a satisfied look on his face.

The ship hits a major storm on its journey, and the crew is left to fight for its life. During the storm, Floki celebrates his belief that Thor is celebrating the fact that he can’t destroy the ship.

At Lindisfarne Monastery in the Kingdom of Northumbria, England, a group of monks are startled when they look outside and see the raging storm. One monk, Athelstan, runs to his master and claims that God’s judgment is at hand. The head priest dismissively sends Athelstan back to his work.

Meanwhile, Jarl Haraldson approaches the blacksmith who forged the anchor for Ragnar’s ship. The Jarl questions the man about the anchor, and the blacksmith denies any involvement. However, after seeing his daughter threatened, the blacksmith confesses to forging it. The Jarl has him executed on the spot.

Back on the ship, one of crewmen loses hope and begins to question Ragnar. The other members of the crew warn the man to stop, but he continues to curse Ragnar and the boat. Ragnar finally has enough and kills the man. They soon find seagulls flying overhead and realize that they are close to making landfall, which calms the men.

At the monastery, the monks are praying as the ship draws near land. One of the monks sees the Vikings’ ship and sounds the monastery’s warning bell. Ragnar rallies his men on the beach, and they lay siege to the monastery, killing almost everybody in sight.

He eventually locates the monastery’s coffers and finds Athelstan, who speaks Ragnar’s language. Athelstan pleads for his life, and Ragnar spares him after the monk explains why his book, “The Gospel of John,” is more valuable than the other treasure found there. Rollo enters the room and attempts to kill Athelstan, but Ragnar stops him. He claims that they can sell the monk as a slave. The Vikings then set sail for home with the surviving monks and their treasure.


This episode proved to be a bit more organized than the series premiere. It had a clear objective, and it kept the audience interested far more than last week’s disjointed episode. It’s also significant to note that the show’s writers did an excellent job integrating history into the show, which is what should happen in a History Channel production.

One of the coolest scenes in the episode was when Floki found a sheet of paper and set it on fire. The look of amazement on his face illustrated that he was seeing something new and exciting. This is important because the plot of the show centers on the Vikings’ discovery of the west.

There really is only one issue to be concern with right now. The show has spent so much of its time focusing on the journey west and the Jarl’s opposition that we really aren’t getting to know the main characters very well. We don’t understand why Rollo is cruel, nor do we see why the Jarl is so paranoid. I know we’re only two episodes into the series, but people tend to lose interest when they don’t care about the characters. I don’t feel an attachment to Ragnar, Rollo, or Lagertha. Hopefully, that changes before the show becomes a failure. “Vikings” has a lot of potential, but it’s a bit unbalanced at the moment.