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 8, “Portage.”

This week in Ragnar Sass

When tattoo-faced Harald challenges Ragnar (“Nobody here understands what you’re saying, King Ragnar”), and Ragnar shuts him down with a verbal swipe and some off-kilter body language, aided by his spot, standing on a hill: “Well then maybe they ought to listen.” Mic drop.

This week in ass-kicking

This is not a sentence I ever thought I’d write, but Judith kicked ass this week. Continuing her Season 4 streak of becoming vaguely interesting, she nearly does away with the “vague” part. Murdering Kwenthrith is an unexpected, glorious, and downright savage act from milquetoast Judith.

This week’s most interesting choice

Ragnar’s murder of Yidu is a major turning point for his character. I’ve previously been disappointed with Vikings seeming inability to cast him in a negative light and challenge our inclination to root for him. So in one regard, this is a positive development: The show is willing to actually show some shades of grey. Progress!

But Vikings also set her up as a new Athelstan — an outsider for Ragnar to befriend, in whose presence he could escape the demands of his life and learn about the outside world. Removing her so quickly once again leaves a gap in that area, which is not an auspicious sign for the show. Ragnar and Vikings both need that outsider character place by his side.

Worst person of the week

Once again Habard is the Manson of Kattegat, wooing unsuspecting women in droves. There was something particularly creepy about his proclamation that he loved Sigurd. Paired with his self-conviction, he’s essentially a cult leader. Ragnar and Bjorn better return before everyone drinks his old-school Kool Aid.

This week in “oh no”

Season 4 is really not learning that nobody in the audience cares about campy Medieval BDSM which does nothing to advance the plot. However, its one redemption is the (historically innaccurate) murder of Count Odo. Let’s hope that’s a farewell to this plotline.

Aslag’s temper tantrum also does her no favors with regard to becoming a more convincing or interesting character — though most have given up long ago on that. Between that and Torvi’s vision of Bjorn’s death, Vikings is becoming soapier and more melodramatic by the episode. Before long, the series will be unrecognizable from the charmingly minimalist slice-of-life oddity it was in during the first two seasons.

Stray Loot

  • Ragnar’s kids are going to become even more messed-up than he is after everything they’ve seen
  • Not enough Lagertha this episode, but she still gets in a nice burn to those who doubt Ragnar. She might find herself eating her words, though.