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To kill a queen… or not

The title of this Vikings episode is a bit misleading in that no Queen actually meets her death in this episode! Ohhh, so sorry for that spoiler. And, on that spoiler note- if you have not watched the current season yet and do not want spoilers, please exit the page immediately! This page as well as most of the other Vikings episode related pages here does contain spoilers. There, that is your warning!

This article is a look at the darker side of attempting to kill a queen and my personal thoughts on all of it. We’ve already looked at the lighter moments and now we must visit the usual harsher, darker facts with all of their possible underlying meanings or future consequences.  Before we get into my thoughts, I want to suggest another article regarding the history involved in this episode. Patricia Bracewell has shared her views here and it is well worth reading! 

http://www.patriciabracewell.com/2016/02/vikings-4-episode-2-kill-the-queen/

I mentioned that the title is misleading because no Queen actually dies. There is great attempt and thought of killing one Queen outright, and then there is underlying and possible wishful thinking of killing a Queen- or at least wishing she were dead… 

I am going to talk about that wishful thinking first because that is the one that bothered me the most and left me conflicted once again. This underlying thought or wish involves Ragnar and Aslaug. Please keep in mind that I am not really a fan of either one of these two and am generally critical of both their behaviors. While I am not a fan of Aslaug, towards the end of last season I did see some redeeming attributes to her character in her dealings with Porunn and in the way she dealt with the Christian priest. Aslaug may be sneaky, manipulative, loose moraled and power hungry but she is a firm believer in the old ways and beliefs. That being said, she stood her ground in defense of those beliefs and suffered for them. In the first episode, when Bjorn arrested Floki, you could see the doubt and concern on her face.  Bjorn is arresting Floki for the murder of Athelstan, a Christian that many of those villagers-Bjorn included had expressed the exact same feelings and fears about as Floki did. 

even aslaug is not too sure about bjorn's decision

even aslaug is not too sure about bjorn’s decision

There a great number of fans out there who feel that Aslaug is the evil incarnate equivalent of Rollo and that she got exactly what she deserved in this episode. What is conflicting for me is that these are generally the same people who take a moral high road, condemning Rollo and the Christians while praising Ragnar and all things Viking.  In this instance, Aslaug took a stand for the old beliefs, for the threat to those beliefs and she gets condemned for it.  Fans who are so outraged by Rollo’s behaviors such as “raping” a slave girl and treating Siggy so badly, applaud Ragnar’s treatment of Aslaug in this instance with their voices of “she deserved it”.  I guess she “deserved it because she had the nerve to question Ragnar’s authority, his rule and thus proved herself once more disloyal to him because she placed her loyalties to the Gods above that of her King. Realistically, there are so many other offenses that she could have been justifiably  punished for had they been public knowledge (and, I think that with Ragnar’s habit of keeping tabs on everyone, he does know of those offenses). To me this event just shows that Ragnar is losing control of his well maintained facade of calmness under pressure. 

Floki had a valid point when he made the statement that he was loyal to the Gods first and foremost and would continue to put his religion above his loyalty to Ragnar. I am not necessarily condoning Floki’s action either in killing Athelstan. He knew it was wrong, he knew what the consequences would be. If he felt so strongly that Athelstan and Ragnar’s involvement with the Christian were such a threat to his personal beliefs and his loyalties, then he should have chosen to walk away from Ragnar right then rather than resort to the secretive killing that he did.  

aslaug stands up to ragnar for floki because he's right what did he do so wrong he killed a christian.

aslaug stands up to ragnar for floki because he’s right what did he do so wrong he killed a christian.

Ragnar is correct when he makes the comment, “This is not about religion, this about loyalty and respect…” Ragnar has chosen personal power and control over the more moral and ethical reasoning of what is good for the people. He has brought this debate or issue over Floki down to the most personal of levels- a dispute between two one time friends who now differ in their most basic core belief systems. Neither of them will back down from their belief that they are right and because of that, everyone else will be dragged into the dispute and suffer for it.   The problem with Ragnar’s current thinking and method of leadership is that it as turned to one more of fear than anything else. These people have experienced his better side of ruling for the good of all of them and now thrust into a position of following him not so much because they trust his judgement but because they most likely fear they will suffer the same fate as Floki.  There are times when instilling fear is necessary, but that sort of thing generally happens in the beginning of one’s rule as a means of gaining some control over a situation or group of people. It usually does not play out so well to use the fear tactic against those who originally on your side and assumed that you were on theirs.  

As floki mentions, there comes a point in one’s life when one must make a decision on whether or not to follow a leader based on one’s personal ethics, morals and beliefs. In a way, Floki’s decision to follow his own conscience speaks of what others will have to decide in the future. Do they follow Ragnar blindly without question just because he is their leader no matter what he decides to do… or do they at some point begin to question his motives, his personal agenda and his methods? This is much the same position that Ragnar and his followers were in when they questioned King Harald’s rule and Horik’s rule… Ragnar is now putting himself close to that same category as those two leaders that he fought to bring down. 

ragnar is losing control this is not about christians this is about loyalty!

ragnar is losing control this is not about christians this is about loyalty!

Ragnar is outraged that Aslaug would even think of taking Floki’s side in this. He is determined that he is King and he is right no matter what and anyone who would question his actions is guilty of disloyalty or treason. His rage causes him to lose control and he strikes out at Aslaug, knocking her down… the look on his face is one of utter contempt and that underlying thought of wishing he could do more to her, wishing her dead. To be honest, I was waiting for him to add a final blow or kick to her while she was down on the floor. 

ragnar takes his anger out on aslaug

Ragnar takes his anger out on Aslaug

Realistically, the situation between Ragnar and Aslaug comes down to them both wishing the other was dead! The rather sad part about Aslaug’s story direction in the show is that in the Sagas, Aslaug remained loyal to Ragnar and went so far as to sew him a magic shirt to protect him against the Snakes she foresaw for him in England. Unfortunately, I do not see Aslaug sewing him anything in the future other than possibly a shroud!

I guess this pretty much rules out that majic shirt to protect from snakes

While Aslaug’s treatment did not sit well with me, the even more disturbing event was the fallout of this personal quarrel for others, mainly Helga and her daughter. Her situation apparently did not sit too well with Ragnar either because he did appear genuinely bothered by her situation.  It could be said that Helga brought about her situation on her own by helping Floki to escape in the first place. While that might be a fair assumption, it does nothing to detract from the true emotional torture that Helga was enduring by being caught in the middle of this argument. She has to stand by and watch her husband tortured for his refusal to give up on his personal beliefs, his denial of any wrongdoing, and his unwillingness to compromise those values even in the face of suffering to his family. In fact, he goes so far as to use Helga’s emotional tie in still loving him as a means of saving himself. He is as guilty and as stubborn as Ragnar in this situation and is only thinking of himself. 

helga tries to stop the children a difficult reunion to watch

I do have to mention here that as much as I feel for Helga’s pain and the suffering she endures, she does bear some responsibility and some blame for the events that brought her so much pain and grief.  First of all, my one frustrated thought with her actions began when she subjected little Agriboda to that visit with Floki tied to the stake? Was she perhaps hoping that the sight of his child seeing him like this might spark some balancing thought in Floki’s head? Some thought of “What am I doing to my family, should I not have some care about them above my own needs or thoughts?” If that was her intent, then of course it failed miserably and Floki used Helga’s feeling to manipulate her into doing something she knew was wrong.  When Ragnar asked her later why she did it, she made a comment about love… She allowed her love of Floki to take precedence over her love of her child. Perhaps this is why she must suffer a torture far greater than that of Floki. 

My other thought is one of Why is Helga living down here in the cold, in a way at the edge of nowhere… Has she been shunned by the others or has she set herself apart from everyone because she feels some guilt for the part she has played? Her present circumstances also bring us back to Aslaug. Aslaug who stood up and defended Floki’s actions yet apparently felt no concern for Helga’s situation. What ever the reason, Helga is living a destitute life and her child is suffering because of it. 

helga and abrigoda living in cold at the edge of nowhere

helga and abrigoda living in cold at the edge of nowhere

agriboda is sick and coughing helga tries to comfort her while ragnar says I don't blame you...

agriboda is sick and coughing helga tries to comfort her while ragnar says I don’t blame you…

Ragnar does show some concern for her welfare and leaves a bag of food for them.

ragnar does take pity on helga and leaves a bag of food for her

ragnar does take pity on helga and leaves a bag of food for her

Later we see how the actions of everyone, including Helga have played a part in the greatest torture and pain… the loss of an innocent child. While Floki may be suffering extreme physical torture at the hands of Ragnar, Helga is experiencing the far greater torture of having to bury her child and probably coming to the understanding or realization that she must share some guilt in this senseless death brought about mainly because two men were too self involved and egotistical to waiver on their mindset, and because she put her feelings for Floki above the needs of her child. It was a sad, painful event to watch and there was a moment when it seemed that even Ragnar might have some feelings of his own complicity in this death.

burying an innocent child

does this death have any affect on ragnar well he does step in and dig the grave...

does this death have any affect on ragnar well he does step in and dig the grave…

a few moments of compassion

a few moments of compassion

The one thing I did not understand was when Ragnar asked Helga if she had told Floki… How could she have told floki when Ragnar has him already enduring his own personal torture???

floki is enduring his own punishment so really how could helga have told him of agriboda's death

 

In contrast to Helga’s actions and the result of them, on the other side of the sea in Wessex we see a far different version of a Mother’s struggle to keep her child alive. And, it comes from the one woman you would probably least expect it of given her previous behaviors. From what we’ve seen of Princess Kweni in the past, I have to say that I did not expect her to have much Motherly instinct or concern for her child other than for how she might use said child to her own advantage. 

In our return to Wessex, we saw an outright attempt to kill Queen Kweni- and not an attempt from those in Wessex… though I have some doubts or suspicions on who might have actually instigated this overthrow and ousting of her. Ecbert’s response to the event was along the lines of “save the child, just be sure to keep the child alive no matter what” He had no concerns for Kweni’s survival.

There was the usual disagreement between Ecbert and Aethelwulf over how to put down this rebellion and rescue those being held hostage- Kweni and her son. There was also dispute and dissent from the local Noblemen over having to call their troops up for this event. Ecbert does take note of those balking at the deployment and actually gives them some foreshadowing sound advice…

Ecbert and Aethelwulf have some disagreement over how to proceed.

Ecbert and Aethelwulf have some disagreement over how to proceed.

I am quite certain that this Nobleman and the one next to him may eventually feel some pain of retribution for their dissenting remarks… As we’ve seen in the past, Ecbert does not forget who made what comment.

wessex noblemen balk at having to raise their armies

wessex noblemen balk at having to raise their armies

Ecbert must explain the necessity of keeping a standing army ready because Ragnar and those Northmen will most assuredly return to our shores!

ecbert must explain the necessity of keeping a standing army

ecbert must explain the necessity of keeping a standing army

Aethelwulf is in charge of leading an army into Mercia to rescue Kweni and child.

Ecbert and Aethelwulf present a united front despite their differences.

Ecbert and Aethelwulf present a united front despite their differences.

aethelwulf is in charge of training the army.

aethelwulf is in charge of training the army.

As Aethelwulf trains and prepares his forces, in Mercia a damsel in distress awaits rescue…

a damsel in distress in a tower...

a damsel in distress in a tower…

The battle was intense and brutal but despite some minor problems and setbacks, Aethelwulf held his own in this battle. He is not the only one that held their own. Locked in the tower with armed guards, Kweni proved her warrior spirit and her Motherly instinct!

and it's aethelwulf to the rescue... maybe?

and it’s aethelwulf to the rescue… maybe?

 Aethelwulf is having a few problems defeating his foe...

Aethelwulf is having a few problems defeating his foe…

aethelwulf I should have ate breakfast

why waste arrows when rocks work just as well

why waste arrows when rocks work just as well

While Aethelwulf was battling the tower, Kweni waged her own defensive attack against foes who meant to harm her and her child. She did it armed with nothing but a seriously scary needle, a blanket and a human shield. This woman was in a life and death battle for the life of her and her child and she was determined to win!

A seriousl scary looking needle!

A seriousl scary looking needle!

well that needle is good for something anyway

well that needle is good for something anyway

kweni's found her battle mode

Kweni shows her warrior battle mode

kweni must have heard about Einar's tactics of using a human shield

kweni must have heard about Einar’s tactics of using a human shield

Kweni fights back with the rage of a Mother

Kweni will fight to the death for her child

Kweni does have a motherly instinct after all nobody messes with her baby

Kweni does have a motherly instinct after all nobody messes with her baby Magnus!

Eventually Aethelwulf does come to her rescue and her response is perfect!

Aethelwulf finally makes it to the top of the tower to rescue damsel kweni

Aethelwulf finally makes it to the top of the tower to rescue damsel kweni

kweni's response... what took you so long!

kweni’s response… what took you so long!

In a way, Helga’s story and Kweni’s have that parallel contrast that Hirst loves so much. We have Helga as one who has basically lost her way, her will and seems in some way to have given up the fight. On the other hand, we have Kweni who against all odds, has lost none of her fighting instinct to survive and keep her child alive.

A mother's will and way

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Vikings: The Madness of Floki

Floki's inner turmoil

First of all, I want to give my appreciation and my complete praise to Michael Hirst and everyone involved in the production of the Vikings Saga for such an incredible enactment this past week of the initial battle for Paris! I can not even begin to describe how awesome it was! Of course as usual I have countless pictures of it but that in no way begins to describe the realness of this epic confrontation. If you have not watched last week’s episode, The Gates of Paris, you need to go do so now!  I will make my attempts to deal with all of it later.

In this post, I need to finally address the one person whom I have been putting off dealing with in more depth. That person is of course the eccentric, often extreme and easily agitated Floki.  In the past, I have commented on some of my feelings about him as a religious zealot in his own way. I have also touched on his states of agitation and over the top bouts of excitement and panic… much of which could be attributed to some extensive use of mild altering plants such as the mushrooms that he does seem to know a great deal about. We saw this in his earlier years when he used them to imitate death in Torstein and forced them down a barely conscious Rollo. We also saw an affect of them on him when he was asked to go retrieve a head for Princess Kwentirith.

 

my friend torstien has been murdered

my friend torstien has been murdered

floki calling the gods to rollo

floki calling the gods to rollo

floki go get the head

floki go get the head

floki gets his head

floki gets his head

 

We’ve all witnessed his extremes in behaviors, his over the top excitement that could border on manic in some ways. If we go back to his earliest years, we also saw a fascination with fire…  We have seen his devotion to the old ways, the old beliefs and the Gods. And, how many times have we heard him speak of his hatred for the new ways, the Christians and Athelstan? Floki has always been open and honest about his view that Christianity will be the death of their ways and he is adamant in his belief that Athelstan was a direct cause of this death because he influenced Ragnar so much in his thinking of new ways. None of this is new, this is all part of Floki’s character, his belief system that he is so immersed in. Over the years however, we have seen Floki progress further and further into some deeper belief in his Gods. His progression has bordered on that same zealotry that he condemns the Christians for. His rigid way of thinking causes him to cross from the boundaries of normal dissent and opposition to the darker corners of hatred, extremism and total intolerance for anything not within his narrow belief system.  Unfortunately, it all culminated in a complete mental breakdown for him at the walls of Paris.

floki1

floki1

floki flies Floki sit down remember you can't swim floki seething inside Paris Floki  The Gods want us to attack Paris

floki paper and fire

I have not addressed his more recent extreme behaviors such as his outright killing of  Athelstan and claiming it as a sacrifice to the Gods because, frankly and honestly it was so disturbing to me that I found it difficult to delve into the subject.  Now, though with the most recent events concerning Floki, I think it is time to go back and look at all of it. What led to this break with reality, and were there other causes than just the voices in his head- his Gods speaking to him, telling him to do it?  I do not want this to turn into some lengthy, deep psycho-babble analysis of his character and his early flaws so I will try to keep this brief and basic.  Floki was not always this far off, this far over the edge in his thinking. Yes, he was always eccentric but in the early years, he was a good eccentric. He was a builder, a dreamer, a visionary of sorts, and he was a true friend to Ragnar and his family… until the arrival of Athelstan, the Christian.

He was a happy man, his face full of sheer joy in life and adventure.

floki flies

floki flies

floki loves his boat

floki loves his boat

As I said, he was a true friend to Ragnar and his family.

floki and bjorn I joke about many things but never about ship building

floki and bjorn I joke about many things but never about ship building

When Ragnar was near death, it was Floki who took the family in, hid them and healed his friend.

I must speak with floki

I must speak with floki

desperately seeking floki bjorn meets Helga

desperately seeking floki bjorn meets Helga

 

hidden away at floki's cabin ragnar heals.

hidden away at floki’s cabin ragnar heals.

Floki was ever loyal to Ragnar , Rollo nearly killed him for it in battle but he eventually forgave Rollo…

floki brought home to helga floki near death due to Rollo floki spits upon Rollo

Floki showed his loyalty to Ragnar by putting his life on the line and playing a dangerous game with King Horik.

kill someone someone who matters Floki thinks about what he must do Horik is surrounded and floki enters the room floki also plays the dangerous game of politics trying to gain horik's trust

Over the years, Floki’s loyalties and friendship with Ragnar were unquestioned for the most part, other than his dislike for Athelstan and the Christian beliefs. He was however, questioning his own thoughts and beliefs more and fears were beginning to creep into his thoughts. His fears were of his Gods being angry with him, he also began to have serious fears about the Gods revenge on him, and on their people… These fears came as he began a married and settled life with Helga- a time that was at first filled with such happiness. After the birth of their daughter though, he  feared that the Gods would take notice or revenge for them being too happy and content with their lives.

lokie's helga

floki meets his daughter Floki and Helga's daughter floki and helga floki must leave

Floki’s fears, distrust of the Christians and hatred of them became even worse after the battle in England to defend a Christian took so many of his friends lives, such as that of his good friend Torstein.

floki no you're right it's some one else's fault  it is that priest's fault he is the cause for all of this

floki no you’re right it’s some one else’s fault it is that priest’s fault he is the cause for all of this

I want floki to do it

I want floki to do it

It was after Torstein’s death that Floki’s thoughts turned more toward the extreme hatred of all things Christian, and his fears for his friend Ragnar became even more pronounced. By the time they all returned to Kattegat, Floki’s extreme views became far more apparent and he was vocal in his hatred of Athelstan, whom he felt was responsible for everything wrong in their lives. His behaviors became more erratic as he sought his own guidance from his Gods. It was during this time as well that he became less able to control his emotional outbursts with even Helga, the one person who loved him without question. He turned on her in violence, then quickly realized the wrongness of his behavior and swore to her that he was sorry and it would never happen again.

floki's madness begins floki's purpose is clear and not for helga to know floki's vision floki's vision2 floki's vision3

floki loses control and threatens helga floki threatens helga2 floki swears he didn't mean to hurt her

It was after this incident when he made her swear not to tell anyone about his whereabouts, that he carried out his plan to make sacrifice to his Gods and killed Athelstan. It was not so much a sacrifice though as a secret assassination of the man. It was in no way a ritualized sort of killing or sacrifice, he snuck into Athelstan’s room and killed in cold blood. He planned to do it, he knew it was wrong and it would in a way be a betrayal of his friend Ragnar. Floki knew all of this, he threatened Helga not to tell anyone where he was or had been. He did not make some public statement of calling for Athelstan’s death but he had turned all of the men of Kattegat against Athelstan. Of course, it could be said that Athelstan did as much himself by announcing his renewal and rebirth to the Christian faith, by throwing away his arm ring… but, the men would not have known this fact had Floki not made them all aware of it.   Floki knew that he was setting Athelstan up for at least banishment from their community if nothing else.  Athelstan knew this and had already accepted his fate so I am not going to go more into the event here.  Floki reasoned that his action was warranted in order to save Ragnar from the perils of Athelstan and Christianity. In his erratic and irrational thinking, he truly believed at the time that he was saving Ragnar from the wrath of their Gods for turning away from them. The one other thing we need to consider in Floki’s killing of Athelstan is the fact that it may have had just as much to do with Ragnar’s deep friendship with Athelstan, with the fact as that friendship grew stronger, Ragnar sought out Floki’s company and advice less and less. So, Floki’s act may well have been spurred on by a more common sin or violation than any religious reason.. Floki was jealous of losing Ragnar’s friendship and attentions. He feared loss of his own notice by Ragnar and the Gods. He felt a desperate need to call attention once again to himself in the eyes of the Gods, and be looked on with favor again by his friend, his King, Ragnar.

What ever Floki’s reasons for killing Athelstan in secret are aside the point now because, as always, Ragnar was suspicious of who would have done the deed. Ragnar’s mind went immediately to Floki as the evil doer, and his thoughts turned to vengeance for his friend Athelstan.

This personal vendetta and vengeance is what brought about part of the disaster that was our first battle of Paris.  Rather than deal with Floki directly, Ragnar chose instead to set the man up and use him in his ongoing agenda for this raid of Paris. My personal thought is that this personal vendetta had no business being played out in such a way as to put everyone’s lives in such danger, sacrifice so many good warriors all in a ploy to bring Floki down because of a personal grudge against him. This was wrong of Ragnar and showed just how much more corrupt he has become.  Floki may have killed Athelstan, but he was not the only one guilty of a cold blooded murder done to save his faith, his reputation or what ever his reason was… Ragnar was just as guilty of such action when he killed the lone survivor of the English massacre so that the man would not tell of that disaster and cause anyone to question Ragnar’s actions!

ragnar kills the survivor and sends him to his family and the gods.

ragnar kills the survivor and sends him to his family and the gods.

By the time they arrive in Paris, Floki’s fears had begun to take a firm hold of his thinking. He was not thinking clearly at all, otherwise he would have immediately questioned Ragnar’s suggestion to put him in charge of this all so important raid. Floki was well aware of Ragnar’s devious plots and plans… he had been a part of them before- such as in his deceptions with King Horik for Ragnar. All we have to go on is the reactions and behaviors of Floki during this time so we can not truly know what exactly was going through mind… and to give Floki some credit, I do not think even Floki was all that sure of everything racing in mind!  My thought is that Floki was so desperate to cover his murder of Athelstan and be in Ragnar’s good graces that he did not question Ragnar’s decision.  He was in fact, surprised and ecstatic about it. In his altered mind, it must have looked as though his sacrifice had been seen with favor by the Gods and they were now repaying him with greatness….

He says as much to Helga when he is in the process of building his towers. His elated excitement is such an extreme as to cause Helga more concern about his behavior. He is so excited that he tells Helga of his great sacrifice to the Gods.

I appeased them I delighted them I filled them with great joy do you know what I did Helga

I appeased them I delighted them I filled them with great joy do you know what I did Helga

it is the gods working through my poor hands and helping me do you know helga because I gave them great sacrifice

it is the gods working through my poor hands and helping me do you know helga because I gave them great sacrifice

I killed athelstan helga is frightened again floki is going over the edge again helga runs to escape floki's bout of madness

After Helga leaves, Floki delights in his joy and his favor from the Gods.

floki communes with the gods as helga runs away in fear communing with the gods

Floki believed that the Gods were speaking to him and were acting through him in his creation of the towers. Again to Floki’s credit and defense, the towers were a truly genius creation. Floki was a dreamer and a visionary with his creations- both of the boats he built earlier and in these new creations. It is sometimes said that in every creative genius, there lies some bit of madness that allows them to step outside themselves and see some greater vision of picture.  I think was true in Floki’s case. Having no other way to explain or describe his creative process, he assumed that it was the Gods speaking to him, that he must have some divine or direct connection to the Gods.

While Floki may have been a creative genius and visionary, there was one thing Floki was not… and that was a leader! Floki did not have that certain ability to so easily convince others to follow him. If he had that ability, everyone would have followed his preaching early on and he would have convinced all, including Ragnar to avoid the Christians at all costs. This did not happen because Floki did not have that instinctive and inborn quality to inspire others to his way of thinking. Very few people have that quality which is sometimes referred to as the Leadership gene. I will explain this gene more in a future post as some of our people do have this gene… Ragnar for instance has it, Athelstan had it, as well as Ecbert of Wessex.  Floki is not a born leader and most of those around him realize this. So, when Ragnar put Floki in charge, it caused some suspicions from the others immediately!

others look at floki with some doubt the news of floki taking command causes a wtf moment with rollo rollo wonders at ragnar's mind with floki in charge They already have their plan made  no real need for floki ragnar tries to hide his smug amusement at floki's flustered unease

The only person not wary or suspicious of this action was Floki himself. This would be a fairly typical reaction from one who is not thinking so rationally, always the last to realize what is in front of them all along…

floki pretends to be in charge  All those who agree say Aye floki still looks confused and flustered throughout the discussion Floki  The King my oldest friend has asked me to take command I will make something truly astonishing just wait and see

The discussion ended and Floki was left to go off and do what Floki did best, build a magnificent creation. And, his creation was indeed awe inspiring. Everyone was duly impressed with the towers and all assumed that they would work. There was no reason no to assume they wouldn’t. None of these people had experienced siege warfare before or battle with such entities as the Frankish Warriors. The only one might have had any knowledge regarding this would have been Ragnar, and that would have been based on what Athelstan may have shared with him. If he had any prior knowledge of such tactics he remained silent and allowed the group to ahead with their battle plans. Now, he did state later that he had some other plan or agenda in mind and this initial battle was part of his plot to set Floki up. If he had any knowledge or premonition of such devastation and still allowed it to go forward all in a plan to make Floki look bad, then he is far more corrupt and guiltier than Floki could ever think to be!

I am not going to go into all of the horrific details of this failed attempt to enter Paris right now. I will deal with the rest of it later. Right now I am only going to concern myself with Floki’s involvement in it and his resulting massive mental breakdown because of the failure. 

As I mentioned, in the beginning it appeared to be an awesome and excellent plan of attack, his siege engines built to scale the walls of Paris.

floki conducts the symphony of the towers

floki conducts the symphony of the towers

floki and his dragon boat approach the walls Floki gives his signal

It all started well, if you discount the heightened emotions of Floki in his delirious excitement over this coming battle… Ok you know you might have a slight problem when your leader giggles in glee floki summons his inner berserker Floki's a tad over excited as usual

As the time drew near to actually implement the plan of the towers, Floki did seem a bit nervous… and Ragnar’s thought was most likely one of, “Thank the Gods Rollo is really in charge!”

Floki looks a little nervous  Ragnar just thinks Thank the Gods Rollo is there

forget Floki we know who is really in charge

Rollo and Bjorn quickly took charge of the wall scaling while Ragnar and Floki initially watched from the sidelines…

Look Rollo I got a souvenier already

Aside from the initial expected first casualties, the towers seemed to work as promised?

aside from all the initial casualities the towers work like they should

There was some difficulty in getting from the boats to the towers while arrows rained down on them, but the warriors took that in stride and proceeded with their plan to climb the towers…

Rollo at his finest  Look at gisla the french aim is deadly precise masses of men make the climb

What the warriors had first assumed to be a doable feat suddenly became a nightmare when the wall archers took deadly precise aim at the climbers who could not defend themselves while climbing. The water filled with dead and wounded warriors and soon the men had to be convinced by what ever means possible to make the climb. Floki did his part in trying to inspire the warriors to climb for Odin, The Gods are with us.

Floki sees the dead piling up and begins to realize the drawback of his idea Floki tries to inspire the men Floki's fear is starting

Rollo, on the other hand used what ever means necessary to get men up the wall, including threats… which he carried out to convince them all that he was serious!

What ever you do don't show fear or cowardice in front of Rollo rollo uses what ever works including threats Rollo has his own way of convincing them get up the damn ladder or else Now does anyone else want to refuse Now show me how fast you can climg go ahead tell me again you don't want to climb the ladder

Bjorn proved his worth and his leaderships qualities in his attempts as well to convince them to get up the ladders.

one man tries to dodge the tower and Bjorn stops him

one man tries to dodge the tower and Bjorn stops him

Bjorn pushes his men up the ladders saying Where are you going  Vallhalla is that way

Bjorn pushes his men up the ladders saying Where are you going Vallhalla is that way

The fatal flaw to this plan came when the Frankish warriors brought forth their secret weapon….

Floki and Ragnar watch as the French bring out their secret weapon

Holy fuck moment when boiling oil rains over the men

Holy fuck moment when boiling oil rains over the men

In addition to the buckets of boiling oil, flaming arrows rained down on them. Despite this terror, warriors still made the climb up the ladders.

climbing the towers brave warriors still attempt to climb the towers

Rollo knew that he had to join his men on the wall and he made the climb…

Rollo watches his men fall all around him Rollo staring up to the top of the wall Rollo looks up at the tower and knows that he needs to join his men at the top

While all of these brave warrior were facing death in the eyes, making the climb up the ladders knowing that Valhalla was most likely their destiny, Floki made a fateful and disgraceful choice… whether on purpose or not he chose to climb into the tower instead of up it.  What would probably seal his fate was the fact that Ragnar watched it all.

floki seals his fate

Ragnar was distracted then by the sight of his son Bjorn climbing the ladders… He must follow Bjorn and be by his side, but make no mistake, he would not forget this act that he had just witnessed.

Bjorn's on his way to being a leader of men  if he survives today Bjorn watches Ragnar's arrival balancing the planks and dodging arrows

While others faced their deaths and their destinies on the wall, Floki descended into a final hellish nightmare within the tower. His fear turned to terror, madness and insanity, which he admitted while talking to himself.

Hiding in the tower, Floki began to voice his madness and his fear…. His first reaction was to immediately put the blame for all of this on Athelstan personally. Then his mind wandered to the words of the Gods…

Floki's first thought is to blame Athelstan for all of it

Floki’s first thought is to blame Athelstan for all of it

Floki  Athelstan has done this floki  a wolf stands by the western door

floki recites his gods predictions

His thoughts go from the Gods back to Athelstan and to Ragnar…

Floki is consumed with his fear floki how he trusted Athelstan floki ragnar is betrayed

One thing to remember in the middle of all of Floki’s madness is that in a way he was right all along. Their way of life, their beliefs and their Gods would all fall and be forsaken to the Christian God. What he was not able to differentiate between was the difference between one sole person such as Athelstan and the entire religion of Christianity.  What he was never able to grasp, understand or accept was the fact that Athelstan was not trying to convert any of them to his religion.  During his entire time with the group, he never sought to force his beliefs on anyone else.  Ragnar was the curious one, the one asking the questions and wanting to know more about everything. Floki could not separate Athelstan the man from Athelstan the religion. In his eyes it was one and the same thing so therefore Athelstan was the one he held personally accountable for all of their ill luck.

Somewhere during this mental breakdown, something did occur to Floki and he then questioned the Gods why, why have they turned on him when he performed such great sacrifice and loved them so much. Floki suddenly realizes that his actions, his ultimate sacrifice of Athelstan really made no difference.

floki begging the gods I have performed great sacrifices I have loved you

floki begging the gods I have performed great sacrifices I have loved you

floki inside the tower while it burns

floki harsh are the gods

It’s then that Floki sinks to what looks to be his final despair, having given up on the Gods answering him, he first thinks to end his life here and now by slitting his throat. He is then distracted from that final act by his own voices in his head…

we will all die floki can not slit his throat but watches as a body on fire descends on him

floki thinks to finish it and end his life with a slit of his throat floki talks to himself

floki's answer to himself You poor fool you are insane floki I will be flayed by fire

 

floki is trapped in an inferno of flames

floki is trapped in an inferno of flames

Floki’s fear, his terror and his descent into the hellish  madness of the flames and his own mind was compelling and heart wrenching to view. Whether one is a fan of him or not, you would have to be somewhat cold hearted to not feel anything as you watched this man break and shatter so totally.  I myself have had no great fondness for the man over the years and considered him to be as bad at times as the Christian Priests that he so hated. Many have commented on how they feel he got what he deserved, that he was a coward at the very least and deserved the punishment of burning within those towers. Perhaps Floki felt the same way about himself, that he deserved this fiery death of flames as so many of the others had suffered. Did he go into the tower purposely to hide as a coward, or did he go- as some have mentioned- to pray to the Gods for deliverance and intervention? That fact is not, nor may never be,  fully clear to us… or to Floki as muddled as his mind was becoming in watching the terror unfold around him and feeling his own guilt for it.

The Gods were listening to him, whether to save him or to punish him more is not yet certain. He did survive the inferno of the tower and the next sight of him was some time after the battle. He was immersed in the water. For those who pay close attention to details and symbolism, the water has frequently come into play as death, rebirth or renewal. This event was almost as difficult or even more so to view as his previous break down in the fire. The fire was his breaking down and this water is what feels like the final result or finish to his life and fate with his family and his people.

Floki's turn for the water

He is found by Helga who asks, “What are you doing here?”

Helga confronts Floki What are you doing out here

Helga confronts Floki What are you doing out here

 

As far as we know, no one has accused him of any cowardice, nor  any guilt or blame for the failures of the battle. But, Floki feels those things for himself. He is consumed with guilt and yes, perhaps shame for possibly being a coward…

floki admits  I can't bear to face the others

floki admits I can’t bear to face the others

Helga as usual is confused by his ramblings but she has finally had enough and confronts him. “This is not about you Floki!” Floki’s response to her is “Yes, Yes it is about me, I am responsible, I am guilty.

because all of this disaster is my fault

because all of this disaster is my fault

When she accuses him of being selfish and not thinking of anyone but himself, he responds with, “No, No that is not true, I think of everyone, every person in Midgard!”

floki No that's not true that's not true Helga  I think of everyone in Midgard

No that’s not true that’s not true Helga I think of everyone in Midgard

Helga as usual is confused by Floki's ramblings

Helga as usual is confused by Floki’s ramblings

 

 

He begs Helga not be angry with him…

don't be angry with me helga

don’t be angry with me Helga

And, Helga’s final response to his pleas is “Why not? How am I suppose to live now knowing what I know about what you have done?”

 why not  How am I supposed to live knowing all I know about what you have done

why not How am I supposed to live knowing all I know about what you have done

As Helga turns her back on him and walks away, Floki is desperately pleading with her to come back… Floki is broken and shattered, the one person in his life that loved him unconditionally is turning her back on him. It is not as though she does not have good reason to do so, but is sad to watch him lose everything, including probably his faith in his Gods.

Helga can take no more of floki's rantings and madness she turns away

Floki is completely broken now as Helga walks away

Floki is completely broken now as Helga walks away

In a way, Helga is the one constant, the one person who keeps him connected to reality and sanity right now. His pleas to Helga felt like those of a drowning, dying man is losing his last hope, his last connection to life.

 

Helga don't go Don't leave me Helga I need you

Helga don’t go Don’t leave me Helga I need you

And, perhaps that is exactly what is happening to him… Later Ragnar is alone in the woods having his own rather odd conversation with his beloved and departed friend, Athelstan. Ragnar talks about his agenda and his having set  Floki up to take such a fall.

ragnar talks to athelstan  What  you think I went too far with Floki  Imagine him thinking I would actually let him lead without my having an agenda to it

ragnar talks to athelstan What you think I went too far with Floki Imagine him thinking I would actually let him lead without my having an agenda to it

Ragnar  If I was him  I would worry less about the gods and more about the wrath of a patient man

Ragnar If I was him I would worry less about the gods and more about the wrath of a patient man

Ragnar to athelstan  And as well you know I can be very patient

Ragnar to athelstan And as well you know I can be very patient

Ragnar is determined to see Floki pay for the death of Athelstan in some most painful way possible. Whether he is killed or just banished from the group, it seems that either way, Floki’s time with our group is limited as it stands right now.

Some wish for Floki’s death, they insist that he deserves nothing less for having killed Athelstan and for being a coward.  My personal thought is that I do not wish him death, he will have to live with his conscience for the rest of his life. If one could wish Floki death for his killing of Athelstan, then why should Ragnar not pay in the same way for the secret death of an innocent survivor who did nothing more than return home to tell Ragnar of what happened in England…

No matter what, it does feel like Floki can not remain here with us, so where then will he go, what will become of him?

floki and iceland

I mentioned in a previous post, information regarding a historical Floki who sailed to Iceland in the ninth century. There has been mention that our Floki is possibly based on this historical Floki in some way.

Settlement_of_Iceland

Flóki Vilgerðarson (b. 9th century) was the first Norseman to deliberately sail to Iceland. His story is documented in the Landnámabók manuscript. He heard good news of a new land to the west, then known as Garðarshólmi.

He wanted to settle in this new land and so he took his family and livestock with him. From Western Norway he set sail to the Shetland Islands where it is said his daughter drowned. He continued his journey and landed in the Faroe Islands where another of his daughters was wed. There he took three ravens to help him find his way to Iceland, and thus, he was nicknamed Raven-Floki (Norse and Icelandic; Hrafna-Flóki) and he is commonly remembered by that name.

A few of the people Floki was accompanied by on his journey were a farmer named Thorolf (Þórólfr) and two men named Herjolf and Faxe (Herjólfr and Faxi). After sailing for a while from the Faroes, Floki set one of the ravens free. The first raven flew back to the Faroes; later, the second flew up in the air and back on board, but the third flew northwest and did not return. Floki now knew they were close to land, and so they followed the third raven.

After sailing west past Reykjanes they spotted a large bay. A man named Faxe remarked: “This seems to be a great land that we have discovered here.” Since then, the bay has been called Faxaflói (—lit. Faxi’s bay) in his name.

Floki set up a winter camp in Vatnsfjörður at Barðaströnd. The summer was very good, so Floki was ill-prepared for the cold winter that followed. Waiting for the spring, Floki hiked up the highest mountain above his camp, now believed to be Nónfell. From there, he spotted a large fjord; Ísafjörður, then full of drift ice. Thus, he named the entire land Ísland (—Iceland).

When Floki and the other men returned to Norway, they were asked about the newly found land. Floki believed it to be worthless. Herjolf believed that the land had both good and bad qualities. Thorolf claimed that butter was smeared on every straw on the land that they had found. Thorolf was then nicknamed Thorolf Butter (Icelandic; Þórólfur smjör). Despite speaking ill of the land he later returned and settled to live there to his death. His wife was named Gró and his children Oddleifur and Þjóðgerður.

In order for this idea of Floki moving on to Iceland to make sense to you or be a valid guess as to what his future might hold, you need to understand a bit more about the early history of Iceland and why Floki might choose to head there. You also need to work from the premise that Michael Hirst will indeed take members of our group in different directions in the future. He has mentioned in interviews that he would like to explore more of the many contributions and events of the Viking age. He has already started with this invasion of Paris and Rollo’s probable future there with Gisla. Hirst has also mentioned that in the next season, there will be a progression to future generations of our group. While Mr. Hirst has begun this saga with Ragnar, I do think he intends for it to encompass much more than just the adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok and family.

Please remember too that this idea of Iceland in Floki’s future is merely my personal guess. No one truly know what lies ahead for us except of course, Michael Hirst!

So, with all of this in mind, let us suppose that Floki does indeed choose to leave on his own before Ragnar can do him grave bodily harm. In a sense, he would be an outcast from his society. He would be in need of a new place in which to live his life according to his beliefs in his Gods. His search would be for a place that he thought safe from both Christian interference and the wrath of one Ragnar Lothbrok. This is where the history of early Iceland becomes of importance.

The settlement of Iceland is generally believed to have begun in the second half of the 9th century, when Norse settlers migrated across the North Atlantic. The reasons for the migration may be traced to a shortage of arable land in Scandinavia, and civil strife brought about by the ambitions of the Norwegian king Harald I of Norway. Unlike Britain and Ireland, Iceland was unsettled land, and could be claimed without conflict with existing inhabitants.

The following excerpts from  Medieval Iceland: Societies, Sagas and Power by Jesse L. Byock give a basic idea and understanding why Floki might choose Iceland. It was remote, unsettled as yet and would remain un-converted by the Christians for some long length of time.

http://books.google.com/books?id=A4S6Bnw3HnkC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_navlinks_s#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

history of iceland

history of iceland2

Even as late as the year 1000 when most areas had been much completely converted to Christianity, Iceland remained a non-Christian bastion and was still maintaining the old Norse beliefs and laws.

King Olaf I of Norway sends the missionary priest Þangbrandr to Iceland to convert the inhabitants to Christianity. He has some success in baptizing chieftains but also meets opposition and ends up killing two or three men who had composed libellous poetry about him. He returns to Norway after one or two years with a litany of complaints and tells the king that he has little hope that the country can be converted. The king is furious at hearing the news and threatens to hurt or kill Icelanders in Norway. Two of the Icelandic chieftains previously converted by Þangbrandr meet with the king and pledge their aid in converting the country.

In the summer of 999 or 1000 the issue of religion reaches a crisis point at the Alþingi. The Christian faction and the pagan faction do not want to share the same laws and the Christians choose a new lawspeaker for themselves, Hallr á Síðu. He reaches an agreement with Þorgeirr Ljósvetningagoði, the pagan lawspeaker, that Þorgeirr will find a compromise acceptable to everyone.

Þorgeirr goes to his camp and stays under a skin for the remainder of the day and the following night. The day after he gives a speech at Lögberg. He says that the only way to maintain peace in the country is for everyone to keep to the same laws and the same religion.

Þat mon verða satt, es vér slítum í sundr lögin, at vér monum slíta ok friðinn.
“It will prove true that if we tear apart the laws we will also tear apart the peace.”  

Before reciting the compromise he has come up with Þorgeirr gets his audience to pledge themselves to a solution with one set of laws for all the country. Þorgeirr then decrees that everyone not already baptized must convert to Christianity. Three concessions are made to the pagans.

  1. The old laws allowing exposure of newborn children will remain in force.
  2. The old laws on the eating of horsemeat will remain in force.
  3. People can make pagan sacrifices in private.

Some years later those concessions are abolished.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%8Dslendingab%C3%B3k

 

As I have stated earlier, I do not know what the future holds for troubled Floki.  I do not want to see his death, I want him to find his peace of mind. My hope is for him to make this journey to Iceland where he can live his life with a somewhat calmer and clearer head and heart. I would hope too that he can find that part of him that became so lost, that part of him that found the true joy in life. Perhaps if he could manage this, he might be able to make amends and some fresh start with Helga and his daughter. I do not think he will find peace again while surrounded by constant reminders of his previous actions… or in constant fear of Ragnar Lothbrok turning on him. It is my hope that Mr. Hirst does send him and Helga off on this new adventure, and new life. I want Floki to be in some way, the man he used to be, the man that Helga loved so unconditionally no matter how quirky and eccentric he was. Ohhhh, and I would also like for him to kick any mind altering mushroom addiction that he may be suffering from as well!

Lastly, I just want to give my huge praise to Gustaf Skarsgård for his most awesome performance yet as Floki! He deserves our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for such an incredible portrayal of this unique character every episode, but he outdid himself this past week!

gustaf skargard2 gustaf skarsgard Gustaf+Skarsgard+Vikings+ATAS+Panel+Hollywood+WQWE5iUjdSwl

No you're right it is my business look at them huddled together  it sickens me floki recites his gods predictions floki can not slit his throat but watches as a body on fire descends on him they would sneak into the fish huts many times Helga said she smelled like fish when she returned Paris Floki  The Gods want us to attack Paris