History Channel's Vikings Season 5 kicked off with last week's two-hour premiere, which properly set up all the stories for the season by sending the majority of our characters away on several different journeys in various locations. Their missions were not only to try and enrich their coin purses but achieving success on a spiritual level and as men establishing legacies to be talked about for ages. With only Ivar (Alex Hogh) and his brothers Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) and Hvitserk (Marco Ilso) staying behind because their ambitious thirsts still have not been quenched.
After taking the town of York last week, Ivar sits in a room deciding that he needs to indulge in some of the spoils of conquering the town. He has a slave girl brought to him and his first intentions had been to toy with her for his amusement but then something changed-she didn't fear him. When he questioned her as to why, she would tell him that since he is a cripple, it must mean the Gods favor him. She would go on to tell him that she has always known he is special and that he is "destined for great things." Now, whether he was planning on killing or just humiliating her, the point is she sees him in such a unique way that he has probably never heard before, he decides to release her from being a slave. The fact that even though Ivar has been growing more confident as a leader, he still has the part inside of him that knows he is physically inadequate. This woman has just done a major step in bringing up the self-confidence in himself that will only make Ivar more dangerous.
Meanwhile, on the outside of the town's walls, Bishop Heahmund (Jonathan Rhys Myers) and Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford) are planning their attack as they have found a weakness in the structure of the walls surrounding the town and this will be their point of entry. The fact that they say the Northman haven't bothered to fortify these walls and are just leaving them should seem like a red flag but they see it as an opportunity.
The next day, they gather their forces and do attack the town by breaking through the crumbling walls with ease and proceeding to bring all of their soldiers inside. Only thing is Ivar is ready for them and he has the Great Army sitting and waiting with anticipation for the Saxons to fall into their grasp. After setting off many small fires that cover the town in thick layers of smoke they are able to hide from their attackers and ambush them once they are well within the center of the town. As the Saxon soldiers try to flee and gain better ground they fall into many man-made pits with spikes every time they turn to run from the flying arrows of the Great Army. After they have picked off some of their numbers, the Great Army is unleashed and go full strength into hand-to-hand combat with the Saxons.
Ivar watches from a ledge high above as his men cut into the confused and disarrayed soldiers that thought they would take his new fortress. He wears a black-hooded cloak and his piercing sinister gaze upon the battle has every look of an evil Sith Lord from the Dark Side. He sees the son of King Ecbert, Aethelwulf and his son fighting together and as he notices them continue to succeed without falling so he looks to his battle helmet next to him and decides it's his time to enter the attack. He rides his horse-drawn chariot into the fray but is taken down by a Saxon soldier who knocks him off and to the ground. Even laying on his back, Ivar is still able to attack the soldier and carve him up with an ax.
In what might seem like a perilous moment for Ivar, he finds himself in the open with a large group of the Saxon army staring, ready to strike and he is defenselessly sitting on his ass. Even with his outlook seemingly bleak, Ivar stills shows no signs of fear and screams at the Saxon army "Don't you know who I am? I am Ivar the Boneless!" Even with an obvious advantage, the rage coming from Ivar still puts looks of doubt on the faces of the Saxon soldiers. And it's in those few moments that his brother Ubbe shows up with a group of their men and comes in to fight off the Saxons and ensure Ivar's safety.
During all of this sword-wielding we get our first look at Heahmund being the trained warrior, he is as he takes out every heathen (as he calls them) that comes at him and tries to take him down. He is not soft and merciless like a preacher but dishes out the punishment in the name of the Lord that he feels all of these enemies of Christ deserve. He spies Ivar on the ground and they lock eyes as adversaries but when Heahmund tries to approach him the chaos of the battle keeps them apart. Finally once Aethelwulf's son gets wounded and the battle is clearly not going in their favor the new king has his men retreat. Before he rides away, Heahmund raises his sword at Ivar and says "God reigneth over the heathen!" and we know that these two will meet again.
After the battle is well over and Ivar is bathing in the victory, Ubbe tells him that now is the time to go claim their land that Ecbert gave them and make peace with the Saxons. It comes as no surprise that Ivar is very against this idea and warns Ubbe against approaching their adversaries to negotiate. But Ubbe chooses to NOT listen to his younger sibling and gathers Hvitserk and a few men to ride out to the Saxon camp.
They arrive and have a meeting with Aethelwulf, his sons, and Bishop Heahmund to discuss their desire to claim their land and live in peace. While Aethelwulf seems to be possibly leaning towards accepting their offer, the bishop has a different plan in mind. He kills their entourage and sends Hvitserk and Ubbe back with nothing but bruised and bloody faces. So I guess that's a no on the negotiation?
Back at York, Ivar enjoys laughing at Ubbe for his poor decision but then turns angry and also scolds him for his foolishness. Ivar uses this huge mistake in judgment to assign himself the sole leader of the Great Army. While Ubbe still protests citing he is the older brother and he is the one truly looking out for their people, Ivar cites that he has not been doing much of a good job lately. In fact, when Ubbe threatens to take the army and leave England, Ivar encourages him to try since he knows they will stay and be loyal to him instead.
The next morning it would prove to be true as only a handful of men decide to go back to Kattegat with Ubbe and Hvitserk. As they prepare to sail away, Ivar sits on the shore and mocks Ubbe for thinking that he was in control. Ubbe still seems confident in his decision and at least has his brother by his side. But just as they are about to leave and Ubbe looks at Hvitserk for reassurance in their solidarity, his brother steps off the boat and stands next to Ivar to watch him as he sails away. You can see Ubbe's shock even with just his one opened eye as this betrayal cuts really deep. At the same time, Ivar's smile of satisfaction with Hvitserk joining him seems to make it that much easier to watch Ubbe leave.
Back on the other side of the ocean, King Harald (Peter Franzen) has returned to his home with Astrid (Josefin Asplund) to a huge welcoming from his people. All this time that we've seen this character he's just been a part of helping out the Vikings in their battles (or being a snake) and now we get to see him home back in his own element. His people seem to have much love and respect for him and he says that his dream is to make their town to be the capital of Norway. Of course, all of his people cheer in approving of this dream. He introduces Astrid as "part of his dream" and has her sit on her own throne right by his side.
Later on, as they have a celebratory dinner welcoming him back he notices Astrid still has not joined him even though he sent her many fine dresses as a grand gesture. After some time she does come out, wearing one of the dresses he sent her, and sits down next to him at the table.
After the feast, she thanks him and retires to her room without asking him to come with her. This is met with many laughs from his people at the table so he follows her back to her room to show he's the king. He is very drunk and tries to come off confident that he's a great catch for her. As he sits next to her on the bed and tries to make a move and kiss her, Astrid lets him get in close enough just so that she can punch him the face. Realizing that she still has yet to come around, he returns to the dining hall where his people are still eating. He sits down, blood coming out of his nose and just laughs. He tells his people in front of him, "I have no luck with women!" This gets a huge laugh from everyone and seems like he has properly saved face in their eyes.
We check in on Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) and Halfdan (Jasper Paakkonen) who are currently sailing in the Gulf of Cadiz. Bjorn is asking Halfdan why he decided to come with him and he responds that he has something to prove to himself. Then he starts sounding like one of those survival guides shows when he says he wants to "feel alive" over having fame. As they seem to be approaching their destination soon, one of Bjorn's men Sinric (Frankie McCafferty) suggests sending most of his fleet home and just continuing with three ships so as to seem like "traders not raiders." Bjorn doesn't seem comfortable with this idea but Sinric tells him it's better than ending up dead. Strong words from this random guy who has just shown up. Why is this guy supposedly all-knowing?!
Finally, we check in on Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) as he continues to discover his own version of Gilligan's Island. He has a wound on one of his hands and soaks it a rag in this bubbling water he discovers from the ground. I'm not sure that's very hygienic but I guess he thinks it's a good idea? Well, it would appear to not work out well because later on when he is next to a river he looks at the wound and now it is full of gross pus. So thankfully he dips his hand in the clear river water. Maybe it was already too late because he begins seeing random visions of Valkyries that turn into black ravens and fly at him. I really don't know what's going on here but Floki seems to! He lays back and tells the gods that he realizes this is where he should be and he looks forward to dying there. He looks back at his wounded hand again and now it's all healed up. Miracle river water! He seems to believe he is living on an island with the gods themselves. I'm just going to sit back and wait n' see with this one.
It was great fun seeing Ivar go up against the bishop in this episode. Really looking forward to the next time they meet up. King Harald is trying real hard to win over Astrid and I think in the end he will. What do you think will happen with Ubbe leaving Ivar? What is in store for Bjorn on this journey he is on? And what the hell craziness is going on with Floki and that island? Check back next week for the next recap of this History Channel series.