‘Vikings: Valhalla’ Season 2, Episode 4: Recap & Ending, Explained: What Was Harekr’s Plan? Did Freydis Survive?

The third episode of “Vikings: Valhalla” Season 2 ended with a new journey Harald is about to embark on, Freydis feeding the idea of equality to the people of Jomsborg, and Queen Emma hell-bent on finding out if Godwin was the one behind the attempt on her life. As these three plots move forward, it will be interesting to watch in episode four what all of them are destined to know and learn in the bigger scheme of things.

Spoilers Ahead

Harald And The Group’s Journey

As Harald and the whole group embark on the journey to reach Constantinople, they start to get along with each other. Except for the slave trader, who is nothing but sleazy and is worried about the value of the women with him. No one tries to reason with this trader, for they know that he won’t understand common sense and logic. They take break in their journeys so that the horses are not tired out, and because they don’t want to put any unwanted pressure on the frozen river. Leif begins to learn various subjects from Mariam. He helps Harald with their orientation using the astrolabe, which helps them navigate. The team has been careful so far on the frozen river because they have heard of the ice dam breaking, which will break the frozen river beneath them.

Queen Emma’s Growing Suspicions

Queen Emma has now turned her attention towards Godwin and strongly believes he is the one who attempted to murder her in the church on that fateful day. Though Emma has confronted Aelfwynn about the same, she knows nothing of her brother being an assassin, for he has not been in touch with her or her family for years. Queen Emma does not believe her. Aelfwynn and Godwin know she will be questioned ruthlessly, and Godwin, at one point, wants to take the fall for the love of his life. Aelfwynn maintains that  she has already informed the Queen about her connection to the assassin and she has further nothing to hide. Aelfwynn is confident that the Queen won’t harm her much. But Godwin does not trust Emma at this point. He knows she will go to any extent to find the conspirator behind the assassin.

Freydis’s Road To Seeking Equality

Freydis is teaching the kids of the refugees and the kids of the tribe that lives in Jomsborg how to practice the faith of the old gods and not abandon them. Freydis truly believes this is the place where she has found herself closer to the gods than she has ever been. She takes it upon herself to mingle with the refugees who live in the forest and push them to get along with the tribe living on the port side. When Harekr’s ship does not show up with the other ships after the voyage, Freydis, as a priestess, offers a sacrifice for their safe return. Gudrid understands what Freydis is projecting through the teachings of the old gods, and so does Jorundr. At this point, Jorundr is in love with a singer from the refugee camp. Freydis believes what she is doing is the god’s work, bringing people closer to their faith so that none of them will ever pick Christianity.

Olaf is having an affair with Queen Ælfgifu, to his joy. Olaf is made aware of Harald’s sighting at Novgorod. Olaf plans to begin his journey north, hoping to meet his uncle and hopefully capture Harald and Freydis. Olaf will not stay still or quiet until his brother is killed. Olaf and his legitimacy on the throne are in danger so long as Harald and Freydis are alive. Olaf again takes King Svein of Norway on the journey toward Russia, hoping to gain some positive results.

What Is Harekr’s Big Plan? Does Freydis Survive?

Harald and the entire group on their ship realize their trip is not going to be all smooth sailing. Harald also feels a little upset about the fact that maybe he won’t be able to reach Constantinople after all. Leif makes sure to uplift his mood and lets him know that Harald’s high morale will help keep the group’s morale up. As they restart their journey, Mariam is busy helping Leif learn new languages like Arabic. The rest of the group is busy getting along with each other and hoping they can sustain this long, cold journey without being harmed. Their boat, unfortunately, gets dragged into the cracked ice, and all of them try to get the boat out before anything worse happens. With strenuous efforts, the boat is out with the help of all of them, only for them to see the ice dam has finally broken. One by one, they let the horses loose. Unfortunately, Vitomir, the trader, cannot be rescued by anyone, as he gets drowned in the ice-cold water from the dam, and his daughter Elena is left all alone with the rest of the gang. All of them have now seen the second casualty of this trip and are visibly shaken by how things turn out. Vitomir was the nicest of the men, and Elena will probably never get over her father’s untimely death.

Emma begins torturing Aelfwynn. Aelfwynn repeatedly tells her Queen that she is not aware of anyone named Bear. The only truth Aelfwynn knows is about her half-brother, who had tried to assassinate her Queen and he paid for the crime. Aelfwynn also informs her of Godwin’s complicated past and his relationship with his now-deceased father. Emma, at this point, is not getting the answer she desires. Emma feels Aelfwynn is guarding Godwin, and that’s why she is bound not to say anything that would affect his life in court. Aelfwynn, on the other hand, tries hard to resist the pain, but soon she is unable to. Godwin, on the other hand, knows the torture of Aelfwynn is directed at him so that he can reveal his truth just to get Aelfwynn out of pain. Aelfwynn, unfortunately, reveals that Godwin always dreamed of having a child who could sit on the throne of England. Emma is disturbed by this revelation. Emma believes she is close to knowing the truth behind Godwin’s actions, but Aelfwynn succumbs to Emma’s torturous interrogation. Queen Emma is shocked to see someone so close to her die because of her. Godwin has been informed of the same, and he has plunged himself into enormous pain. He lets Queen Emma know that God might forgive her, but he will not. Godwin is in no state to speak about his pain. Emma feels guilty, but she assures herself that she did it for her own good. Her suspicion has not been proven right yet, but her quest will not end with Aelfwynn’s death. Emma is sure Godwin was the mastermind behind the assassination attempt.

At Jomsborg, Harekr returns from the expedition only to see his people mingling with the refugees. He is upset to see such changes that have come across in his town, thanks to Freydis’s inclusive preaching. He blames his wife, Gudrid, and his stepson, Jorundr, for letting Freydis take control of his land. Harekr finally reveals his plan for the refugees. In return for the shelter his town of Jomsborg is providing, he wants the refugees to work as slaves for him and the town, which makes him no different from the Christians. He will persecute those who speak against them. Harekr also confronts Jorundr for falling in love with a woman from the refugee camp, which Harekr considers to be a “mixed breed” of people who they should not mingle with. Harekr and his men attack the refugees and Freydis; plenty of the refugees die, and Freydis is kidnapped and shut into a hut so that she does not run away. Freydis, at this point, is heavily pregnant, and she tries to save herself. Thankfully, the massacre did not affect her or her unborn child. Harekr is a typical leader who wants to be the superior group in the town and makes the refugees do menial jobs in the name of letting them keep their faith. The refugees won’t be granted any freedom or any choice on how they will live or who they will form a bond with. Harekr is a racist leader who is no different from leaders who forcefully convert people to Christianity. Their consent is never asked for, nor are they given any liberty to choose how they want to live. Harekr hopes to bring Freydis under control, but only time will tell if she will survive this ordeal and if she will take revenge on him for treating her people the way he did.

Final Thoughts

“The Thaw,” the fourth episode of “Vikings: Valhalla” does not let the audience understand what is happening. The story and screenplay are unevenly structured, and the editing is shoddy. The narrative does not explain how Harekr can suddenly attack refugees who were brought under his shelter with the promise of safety and security. Won’t the refugees who survived question his actions? Won’t the refugees speak about this incident with other refugees who have been making a long, strenuous journey to Jomsborg with the hope of staying in peace? The narrative is not clear on what the characters’ intentions are, and they are not executed properly. The performances of the actors again do not help an already sinking screenplay. The cinematography and the audience’s curiosity about wanting to know the history of the Vikings during the 11th century AD are the only endearing qualities of the show so far. “The Thaw” could have been a lot more engaging, keeping in mind the kind of story the makers are selling.

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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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