Vikings season 5, episode 17 recap: The Most Terrible Thing


In Vikings “The Most Terrible Thing”, the tensions in Floki’s settlement hits an all-time high, Alfred reacts to the passing of his brother, and Bjorn and Harald profess their love for the same woman.

Vikings seems to be building to a conclusion involving some kind of war this season. While “The Most Terrible Thing” isn’t the most exciting episode from season 5, it is setting the scene for the final three episodes.

Trouble in Iceland

Last week, Floki and Kjetill set out to rescue Eyvind’s family. Upon finding them, it doesn’t take long for Kjetill to reveal his plot for vengeance (for the murder of one of his sons from the first half of the season). With a crazed look in his eye, he and his family slaughter Eyvind’s family. Kjetill beheads Eyvind himself the following morning.

Floki begs for them to spare Helgi and Kjetill agrees, only to behead him anyways. When they return to the settlement, Kjetill’s daughter (to be honest, I’ve lost track of some of these names, but she’s the blonde who is Floki’s biggest supporter), is heartbroken to learn of the actions of her father and brother. Floki tries to stop her but she goes to the waterfall and jumps off the cliff.

There you go, this storyline has pretty much been resolved as there’s no one left alive. Much like the Iceland story, Floki’s settlement has been a failure. All I wonder now is where this will go from here? Floki killing Kjetill and returning to Kattegat in time for next season’s conflict is my best bet.

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Judith reveals the truth to Alfred

… for some reason. After learning of the tragic fate of Aethelred, Alfred is heartbroken. Over the same dinner table where she murdered his brother, Judith tells Alfred that she poisoned Aethelred and why she did it. His reaction? He throws a temper tantrum, flipping the table and destroying some glasses.

Judith convinces him that it was a necessary sacrifice to be made to keep him alive. She tells him that he mustn’t have feelings like an “ordinary person.” He must act like a true king.

I was really hoping for Alfred to immediately sentence his mother to prison for making such moves behind his back. Yes, Aethelred conspired against him, but he loved his brother and believed he was on his side. Judith is a poison to the crown and the sooner Alfred realizes it, the better king he’ll be.

He doesn’t get a ton of time to mourn, as a large Viking army is on the way. Ubbe convinces Alfred to make him commander of his army. The great English army led by a Dane? Yes, on Vikings, anything is possible.


Ivar considers killing Hvitserk to make his people believe he’d kill anyone to prove he’d do anything for Kattegat. Freydis talks him out of it, posing the question if he’d rather be loved or feared. Ivar doesn’t know.

Instead, he creepily shows up at Hvitserk’s bedside and gives him an assignment. He’ll travel to make an alliance with other Norsemen against York. If Hvitserk refuses, Ivar will burn his new girlfriend alive.

That should be the final straw. Hvitserk, grow some stones.

Bring on the love triangle

Harald loves Gunnhild. That was obvious from the first scene the two had together. Harald wants Norway and he wants a queen, both of which will eventually be his downfall. Bjorn confesses his love for Gunnhild, as well. He says he’s never been in love but she seduces him into admitting it before they sleep together.

While Harald and Bjorn desire Gunnhild, she appears to tell both men what they want to hear. It seems she does actually love Bjorn, but you never know on this show. For now, Bjorn and Harald are working together to take Kattegat from Ivar. They’ll sail in poor weather to catch him off guard.

Harald really gets nothing from this, as the pact he made with Ivar remains the same, just a different brother taking control. Bjorn takes over Kattegat and Harald gets it when Bjorn dies. The major problem with that? Harald is way older than Bjorn. So–that’s a guaranteed betrayal waiting to happen, especially with Gunnhild choosing Bjorn over him.

Bjorn definitely knows this. I don’t see Harald living past this season.

The leftovers:

  • Looks like we’ll get some new Viking characters, which is nice, we really only have the Lothbrok brothers and Harald.
  • Still no Lagertha. I honestly forgot about her. She’s been worthless this season. Maybe the explanation for her absence will redeem her story.
  • Judith really is the most loathsome character on this show. With no husband and no more power, she packs the belongings of Aethelred’s widow and sends her home.
  • No mention is made of the Buddha from last week. It’s okay to take a week off, but if they just drop that storyline completely from Hvitserk’s character, then what was the point of it?
  • In the scenes for next week, Hvitserk instantly does the opposite of what Ivar commanded, rallying the Norsemen to actually take up arms against Kattegat. What happens if they agree? With Harald and Bjorn coming, Ivar has no chance.
  • When Ivar was at Hvitserk’s bedside alone and threatening him nonetheless, I wonder what would happen if Hvitserk killed him. Who would become king? Would it be Hvitserk (things seem to work out very strangely in the chain of power on Vikings)? At the least, he could just flee until Bjorn takes it back. Killing Ivar would be worth it.

Decent episode overall. Nothing to rave about, nothing to really bash. As lackluster as it’s been, the Floki subplot actually had some action. With 3 episodes remaining, we’ll find out where Lagertha has been and have possibly two separate wars.

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Who we lost:

  • Eyvind and Helgi- Both beheaded by Kjetill after he sang a creepy song to them.
  • Kjetill’s daughter- Swan dove off a cliff

What did you think of this episode of Vikings? Be sure to tell us in the comment section below!