Vikings is a show filled with epic battles, sly Ragnar moments, quiet character beats, and copious ass-kicking. Each week, we’ll break down the epic, the weird, and the unintentionally goofy. Let’s dive into Season 4 Episode 6, “What Might Have Been.”

This week in Ragnar sass

Ragnar’s (Travis Fimmel) sass peaks when Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) says, “there’s no sign of Rollo’s camp” and Ragnar replies, with maximum crazy-eyes, “Does that surprise you?” Because Rollo (Clive Standen) is such an inconsistently written character and Ragnar is so consistent, their relationship has always had a tension not just on a character level, but on a writing level. Even after the seer’s words, Rollo’s turn this season has been sudden even for him — but Ragnar’s lack of surprise goes a long way to help to sell it to us. He knows Rollo, therefore we trust him.

This week in ass-kicking

Ecbert (Linus Roache) gets the award for ass-kicking this week — not literally, but figuratively. He continues to delightfully troll everyone from his son to Judith to Kwenthrith. When Aethelwulf expresses his reluctance to go on the pilgrimage, and Ecbert says, “So devout a man as yourself cannot object to taking a pilgrimage to the very center of our faith,” he’s just brimming with oily charm. It’s unclear what his plan is, but he’s so fun it doesn’t matter.

This week’s most interesting choice

Ragnar’s reflective vision most likely happened from a combination of factors — his conversation with Lagetha (Katheryn Winnick), his mind-altering substances — but it almost doesn’t matter why it happened. Ragnar has been at a crossroads all season now: Disinterested in his earthly life and pondering death and the past almost obsessively. Now, when his people are excited about moving forward to conquer more of the world, Ragnar is looking back.

It’s the polar opposite of previous seasons, when he was bright-eyed and bushy tailed to storm the future and his people were reluctant. It seems, for all the world, that Season 4 could be setting up Ragnar’s death. Travis Fimmel’s departure would severely hurt the show, but it would certainly be ballsy. At any rate, the vision is emotional and affecting.

Worst person of the week

Still Erlendur (Edvin Endre), with his child-threatening. His death can’t come soon enough.

This week in “oh no”

Just what everyone wanted — another medieval BDSM scene to show how deviant and evil Count Odo is! Not only is it tiresomely distracting from the plot, but the way it’s depicted looks upon “deviance” with an oddly puritanical view. This wouldn’t be an issue if that was the point of the show, but the vikings culture is relatively open and free spirited. This tonal irregularity between the openness of the vikings and the relative prudeness of the show’s gaze has always been an issue, and it’s only getting worse the more medieval BDSM we see.

Stray Loot

  • When Ragnar, Bjorn, and their men stand with their backs to the camera, looking out at the forest, it’s a nice callback to last season’s Paris siege.
  • Floki is back in full giggle mode.
  • Aslag just keeps getting weirder, and not in a fun way — this time pulling a Lysa Arryn and cuddling her kid topless. Okay then.
  • It remains intriguingly ambiguous whether Lagertha is actually pregnant or whether it’s a lie she told Kalf that has now spread.