Vikings season 5, episode 16 recap: The Buddha


On an all new Vikings, Hvitserk finds a fascination in a new God, Bjorn forms a new path, and a mother proves she’ll do anything to protect her son.

Bjorn decides to leave

The war has passed and Lagertha has gone missing since witnessing Heahmund’s death in last weeks episode of Vikings. No one really searches for her and Bjorn can’t find her. He frees Gunnhild, the woman who finished Heahmund and the wife of the recently deceased Jarl of York. It’s obvious Bjorn has the hots for this woman, as he does for any female with a pretty face.

As with most events in Vikings plot, this relationship is extremely rushed and Gunnhild’s already Bjorn’s woman. As promised, Alfred grants the Vikings their land and Ragnar’s vision of a thriving settlement begins to come true.

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Ubbe, unlike Bjorn, embraces what he believes to be his father’s dream and continues to honor his pact to both Alfred and Christianity. Bjorn feels he belongs elsewhere and decides to retake Kattegat.

Gunnhild wonders how and he tells her that they will align themselves with King Harold. Bold plan teaming with a guy who was just allied with Ivar and definitely hates you, but we’ll see how it plays out.

Bjorn uses Vikings teleportation and ends up in York. Harald already teleported to York earlier in the episode, made Magnus his new righthand man, and absolutely slaughtered a group of men who tried to deny him access to the settlement.

Harald agrees to Bjorn’s alliance and a battle with Ivar for Kattegat appears to be upon us. Harald watches from afar as Bjorn and Gunnhild flirt. There were hints that he wanted the woman for himself in episode 14. One guaranteed betrayal coming up…

Hvitserk gets something to do

Hvitserk has spent most of his time rolling his eyes at his lunatic brother, Ivar. This week, he ran into an Asian man who gave him a small statue of Buddha and explained to him (offscreen) all about his God. Hvitserk becomes fascinated with Buddha. It kind of reminds me of Ragnar’s relationship with his Asian slave and her culture… before he drowned her.

Ivar taunts him as usual and even calls him crazy–the funniest moment of the week. Ivar thinks he’s a God, blah blah, Freydis is having his deity child, blah blah blah. Hopefully, Bjorn and Harald obliterate Ivar.

Floki’s plot still seems misplaced

Floki’s lackluster Iceland plot is back. A good chunk of time has passed and the peace has prospered since Eyvind’s expulsion.

Eyvind’s son returns during a snowstorm, frostbitten fingers and all, and informs Floki that most of his family is dead and Eyvind is very ill. Floki is conflicted as to whether he should save a man who doesn’t really deserve it, but Flatnose, Eyvid’s rival, convinces him to go. The group goes in search of Eyvind’s group in the middle of a horrible rainstorm.

I don’t necessarily hate this storyline, it just doesn’t really go anywhere. Floki’s a good character and I’m a fan of Adam Copeland (Edge–who plays Flatnose), so I hope it gets more interesting in Iceland.

Judith takes drastic measures 

While Judith’s son, Alfred, seems to be one of the kindest hearted characters on the show, the king’s mother is starting to stir up some trouble. Alfred has all of his conspirators hanged for treason except for Aethelred, who he has forgiven without even speaking to. This doesn’t sit well with Judith, so she confronts her other son, who confesses the exact truth viewers already know: he was part of the conspiracy and then changed his mind. He’s sorry.

It’s true that Aethelred has lusted to be king. It’s basically been the entire story arc of his character and so a betrayal was always in the cards, but I believed that he had given up this ambition due to his love for his brother and country.

The council, however, continue to doubt Alfred due to his frequent illnesses and friendship with the Vikings.

I don’t really get this, as Alfred has proven to be a good leader, just coming off a major victory as a young king and he just sentenced the last group of his haters to death. It takes some brave souls to call him out.

Aethelred settles these men down, much to Judith’s dismay. She wants to know why Aethelred is so close with these men and what he’s saying, but he aggressively puts her in her place, telling her not to stand in his way.

This naturally, results in Judith poisoning him with wine at the dinner table. She honestly just murdered her own son because she believed he couldn’t be trusted to not kill Alfred OR because he was the head of the failed conspiracy to murder him.

Either way, Aethelred is dead, English characters are dropping like flies, and Judith is nuts. She’s always been pro-Alfred but anyone capable of murdering their own children is a new evil, even for this show.

That’s too bad. I actually liked Aethelred and was hoping he’d redeem himself as Alfred’s loyal right hand, but this is Vikings and I knew he was doomed the second he stood up to Judith.

The leftovers:

  • It should be noted that Lagertha isn’t found nor even shown in the episode. Where that story is headed, I have no clue, and I’m not really intrigued by it, either.
  • There’s a lot about Vikings I love and a lot I don’t really understand. The Aethelred poisoning was far too predictable, characters move from points A to B so fast that it makes York and Wessex seem like they’re just an hour or two away, and Bjorn has had way too many lovers on this show I can’t even keep track.
  • I will point out that I enjoyed his farewell to Torvi where he thanks her for staying loyal to Lagertha and raising their children (I forgot they had children) despite him being a horrible father.
  • Ubbe remains my favorite of the brothers. He’s the most level-headed for sure. I like how loyal he’s been to Alfred, including taking over as commander of his army in the teaser for next week.

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Where is Lagertha? Will Ivar retain Kattegat? How long–if ever, will it take for Alfred to realize that his own mother poisoned his brother? These are all things I hope to see answered next week.

It was a decent episode which fits in nicely with the average rate of quality that’s been an okay season 5.