Episode 2 of Vikings: Valhalla begins with Leif and Freydis talking about their fate while in shackles. Freydis feels like justice has been done. For Leif, he’s more concerned about their impending death. However, he is proud of her.
The pair are eventually brought before the enraged Vikings, frothing at the mouth and with an enraged Olaf desperate for justice to be done.
So naturally, Freydis suggests a trial by combat to settle matters. Olaf scoffs at this notion, pointing out that Gunnar was a valuable asset to their war and with him gone, they’re a man short.
Step forward Harald. Sensing an opportunity, he decides to make a case for Leif and force him to fight for the life of Freydis. He’s going to have to join their cause now, putting his boating and fighting skills to good use. Freydis is taken back into her cell while Leif prepares for battle.
On Leif’s boat, there are tensions between the Pagans and Christians, who struggle to see eye to eye. Leif senses this could cause trouble and demands they all hand over their weapons. Jalf Gorn is the only one reluctant to do this, but eventually he succumbs and hands over his axes. Unfortunately, he also has another, smaller axe tucked in his cloak he doesn’t turn over.
Over in England, Aethelred arrives at the site formerly known as the Danelaw following the slaughter. A year has passed since then and he declares the place a sanctuary once more. However, his men are worried. Specifically, the rumblings that Viking forces are massing in the North. Of course, the King has started a war and that is coming right to his doorstep.
With Aethelred’s cough worsening, he sets to work plans to try and pay off the Vikings with gold. That’s not going to work though and instead, Queen Emma enacts alternate plans set into motion to fight them back.
Her plan involves sending young Edmund over to Mercia, in a bid to enlist Eadric Streona and Mercia’s aid. She knows this is a risky play, with the throne at stake. There’s a chance that Eadric could propose alternate terms but Emma urges Edmund to stand firm and not be drawn into negotiations. As he rides off, the Queen’s face paints a look of concern.
At Tamworth Castle in Mercia, Streona agrees to send 5000 men and 1000 horses to help with the cause. However, he believes that the Vikings will attack from the North and that means they’re go through Mercia first.
Emma is of a different opinion, convinced they’ll attack from the South – something Edmund is quick to point out. Unfortunately, Streona sees through Edmund’s words and believes the King is of ill health.
So Edmund decides to play a game of his own, challenging Streona over disobeying the future King. With a wry smile, Streona eventually agrees to send his men forth.
On the way back, bells toll in the distance as Edmund implores the men to listen. As they all drop to their knee, they bow to the new King as it signals that his father has passed away.
Out at sea, Jarl Gorn believes they’re lost and despite Leif quelling his doubts, a laugh from one of the Christians onboard sees him turn and slice the man’s neck with his axe.
Leif keeps the men in-line, killing Jarl Gorn outright. Of course, this causes a fair few concerned looks when Harald and the other Viking ships catch up with them, as they manage to make it to the shores of Kent. Harald heads aboard Leif’s ship and whispers in his ear, “Viking”.
Meanwhile, Jarl Haakon grows ever-more fond of Freydis. After talking to her out at the market about her past, she hands over Freydis’ knife. She decides to send her on to Uppsala to seek out her destiny.
The Episode Review
With Freydis off on a mission of her own, chewing up more screen-time and allowing her to develop as a character, most of the drama here stems from the Vikings heading across the open water to England.
It’s a perilous journey and as we’ve seen from the first episode, tensions are high between the fractured group.
The ending of Jarl Gorn is probably obvious but it’s a significant one, especially as Harald accepts Leif as a Viking.
There’s undoubtedly going to be an interesting conflict when Leif eventually does reunite with Freydis and I’d imagine the two characters will be very different when they finally do join together again.
However, for now there’s a new King in Edmund and war is about to rock up at his doorstep. Will he be ready for this onslaught?