'Vikings' season 5 episode 17 review: Murder and suicide may not be 'The Most Terrible Thing' in love and war
'The Most Terrible Thing' picks up immediately after the murder of Aethelred, as King Alfred rises from his bed and realizes it was his mother who killed his brother
The only thing more terrible about an act of a mother killing her own son for the sake of another is the consequences of it and the reason for it. 'Vikings' season 5 episode 17, aptly titled 'The Most Terrible Thing,' begins with a funeral and ends with a suicide, with violent murder in between. In the last episode, Queen Judith (Jennie Jacques) poisoned her eldest son, Aethelred (Darren Cahill), for the safety of her younger son, King Alfred (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). She loved both her sons, but she loves Alfred more, and that is evident as he is made king instead of Aethelred.
As one is laid to rest, the other rises from his sick bed and attends the funeral, questioning who is the one getting buried in "such a fine style?" The revelation of his brother's death comes with a shocking confession from his mother, that it was she who poisoned him because he had chosen to betray his younger brother.
King Alfred does not know how to process the news so he rages with anger and throws things around him. His mother strictly tells him he is behaving like an "ordinary person," and the king is "not an ordinary person." Guilt is the last thing Queen Judith has, she packs his widow, Ethelfled's, belongings and kicks her out of the castle, casually saying she has no purpose staying there unless she is with child.
As for the one with child in Kattegat, Freydis (Alicia Agneson) tells Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen) it is preferred to be loved than feared, to which he replies "I don't know." As we all know, he prefers to rule with fear. In the episode, he renders his great oratory skills as he declares to his subjects enemies ought to be squashed even if it's a brother or a son or a relative.
Ivar has threatened, one too many times, to kill his brother Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø) and Freydis tells him to be merciful towards him. Ivar, who loves Freydis, lets his brother go and tells him to leave Kattegat for his own good as he may soon kill him. At first, Hvitserk resists leaving, but Ivar, who loves to rule with fear, threatens to burn the girl Hvitserk is lying naked with. Hvitserk sets off early next morning.
The most appalling twist of the season comes in Iceland. Just when you thought things were starting to look good for Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård), who, at least, arranged a peaceful gathering after banishing the family that started the series of murder, things take a wild turn. Floki had a vision of living harmoniously in God's land; Asgard, but despite meeting the gods, Floki found no god and no Asgard, as his people began turning against one another, killing and seeking revenge.
As it turns out, the vengeance was not over and the arrangement of peace was shortlived when a family favored by Floki, murdered the family banished by Floki while pretending to help them. A sad episode indeed. But what was even sadder was the suicide of a young girl, Aud (Leah McNamara), after she learns her father committed all the aforementioned murders.
The only two good things to come out of this episode was Ubbe (Jordan Smith) asking King Alfred to make him the head commander of his army. We never thought the day would come when a Viking would lead forward the Saxon army.
The other good thing is Bjorn's (Alexander Ludwig) confession of falling in love with shieldmaiden Gunnhild (Ragga Ragnars). Bjorn has been a heartbreaker throughout the series, he confesses that he's broken a lot of hearts but has never been in love, he finally lets out "I love you." However, I fear, that may not be a good thing for him. Love triangles are never a good thing, especially in 'Vikings.' Could that be the most terrible thing out of the many other terrible things?