'Vikings' Recap: Blood Eagle
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"Blood Eagle" is the seventh episode of the second season of Vikings. It is the sixteenth episode of the series overall. It first aired on April 10, 2014. It was written by creator Michael Hirst and directed by Kari Skogland.
RecapHorik and Ragnar agree that additional ships and warriors will be needed if they hope to return to England. Horik persuades Ragnar to delay killing Jarl Borg lest the execution scare off any potential allies. Helga reveals that she is carrying Floki's child and the two agree to finally wed. When Helga wishes to get Ragnar's blessing, Floki claims they do not need it. Ragnar visits the seer who reveals that Athelstan is physically alive but spiritually torn over which path to embrace. In England, King Ecbert proposes an alliance with King Ælla against both the weak English kingdom of Mercia and the expected return of the Viking raiders. To alleviate the hesitant Ælla, Ecbert weds his son to Ælla's daughter, sealing their alliance. Ragnar's call for an ally is answered by a mysterious Earl, who is revealed to be Lagertha. Rollo forces Siggy to admit she is sleeping with Horik. Horik allows Jarl Borg, to the very end, to harbor hope of escaping his fate, but when the jarl emerges into the center of Kattegat, the entire population is in attendance to witness his horific death. Ragnar performs the Blood Eagle on Jarl Borg, who endures the torturous, horrific death without crying out, proving himself worthy of Valhalla.
- Travis Fimmel as Earl Ragnar
- Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha/Earl Ingstad
- Clive Standen as Rollo
- Jessalyn Gilsig as Siggy
- Gustaf Skarsgård as Floki
- George Blagden as Athelstan
- Alexander Ludwig as Bjorn
- Alyssa Sutherland as Princess Aslaug
- Donal Logue as King Horik
- Linus Roache as King Ecbert
Additional Cast (in order of appearance)
- Edvin Endre as Prince Erlendur
- Jefferson Hall as Torstein
- Sarah Greene as Princess Judith
- Cathy White as Queen Ealhswith
- Moe Dunford as Prince Aethelwulf
- Philip O'Sullivan as Bishop Edmund
- Maude Hirst as Helga
- Georgia Hirst as Torvi
- Barbara Griffin as Sorceress
- Noni Stapleton as Priestess
- Mark McAuley as Envoy
- Jarl Borg
- The title is a reference to the fabled execution method of the Vikings. It was performed by slicing open the back of the victim, then hacking the ribs away from the spine, causing them to spring apart to resemble bloody wings, then drawing the lungs out of victim's back and draping them over the shoulders. Salt was often thrown into the wound. The victim would most likely have died before the process was finished. Some have suggested that the blood eagle was never actually practiced, arguing that such accounts are based upon unsupported folklore or upon inaccurate translations.
- Kings Ecbert of Wessex and Aella of Northumbria were not exact contemporaries in real life. Ecbert of Wessex lived from 769 until 839, while Aella lived as late as 867, around the time that the Great Heathen Army invaded Northumbria.
- The marriage between Judith and Aethelwulf of Wessex took place in 856 CE, more than fifty years later than depicted in the series. Also, Judith was Aethelwulf's second wife, whom he married many years after becoming king of Wessex. And Judith was a daughter of the Frankish King Charles the Bald, not the Northumbrian King Aella.
- The blood eagle was possibly for a specific set of capital crimes. In other settings, convicts had been beheaded or stabbed. It's possible that the blood eagle is reserved for very egregrious crimes, such as displacing Ragnar's family and taking his Earldom. Ragnar possibly was thus within his right in Norse tradition to "draw the blood eagle" on Borg's back.
- The song played during the carving of the blood eagle is "Loeyndomsriss" by Wardruna. The song is part of a larger invocation of Thurses.