Vikings: Valhalla – Season 1 Episode 8 Recap, Review & Ending Explained

The End of the Beginning

Episode 8 of Vikings: Valhalla begins with Emma banished and forced back to Normandy. She doesn’t have a choice, given Aelfgifu’s influence.

What is Aelfgifu’s plan?

The potential coup is not going to go ahead after all, as she’s escorted out the room. Aelfgifu agrees not to send the troops to Olaf’s aid, but she refuses to divulge their position.

Of course, all of this is the doing of Godwin, who continues to spin his political mischief in court. Aelfgifu decides to ride to Mercia and convince them to join forces.

Which side does Harald fight on?

Meanwhile, Harald shows up to see Jarl Kare, warning him that there are armed men and women waiting for him in Kattegat. He makes his decision, and that’s to fight alongside his brother.

There are a lot of men following Kare; a whole legion of men waiting to attack. However, he’s also waiting for Olaf’s forces to strengthen.

Harald decides to lead a parlay to sacrifice Kattegat and allow Haakon to surrender. That way, it won’t condemn them to Hell. The parlay goes about as well as one would expect, as the two groups prepare for the worst.

How do Godwin and Emma outsmart Aelfgifu?

Aelfgifu shows up at Mercia and presents herself as an advisor in court to represent their troubles and relay that on to the King. She manages to align their causes and the negotiations are over as quickly as they started – Aelfgifu has been successful.

Only, when she returns to London, Emma happens to be on the throne. It turns out, this whole charade was a play to bide them some time to find Aelfgifu’s fleet she has hidden. It’s worked, they’ve found them and as a result, her power is gone; Emma is back on the throne while Aelfgifu is left with nothing.

What happens in the battle for Kattegat?

Kare’s forces mass and march on Kattegat, ready to fight. The Shield Maidens stay in the battlements but this attack comes from two sides. The foot soldiers attack on land while Olaf’s naval fleet arrives.

Trebechuts are there to try and stop their threat, while Kare heads in on foot, intending to kill Freydis and bring her head back as a prize. The thing is, the boats out by the shore are almost completely empty save for a few people. It turns out this was a big coup, orchestrated by Olaf. He used Kare to split the Kattegat forces, deciding to use Harald’s emotions against him and hold his forces back on purpose, leaving himself as the most powerful Jarl.

Who dies in the battle? What happens to Jarl Kare?

In the ensuing skirmish, Haakon is killed, as are a number of the Shield Maidens. Arne is also killed in the heat of battle, as the gates are breached and Kare watches from the tower. He notices Haakon being taken away by the Shield Maidens on a stretcher and decides to follow with his loyal men. Of course, this is where ‘The Last Daughter’ prophecy comes from – the last daughter of Kattagat left.

In Haakon’s court, Kare decides to fight one on one with Freydis for… reasons? Anyway, he squares off against her and meets an untimely fate, stabbed in the stomach and then beheaded. Outside, Harald rides back, is injured, and fights for his life.

What happens with Harald and Freydis?

Olaf soon shows up to clean house, stabbing Liv and killing her. She asks Leif to follow her to Valhalla before fading from this world. Leif promises to join her in the afterlife, as Freydis heads outside and helps a very injured Harald onto a horse to safety.

How does Vikings: Valhalla end?

In the wake of all this, Olaf takes Kattegat for himself and seizes the throne. Only, Forkbeard shows up on the shores with his men, frightening Olaf’s forces who run and flee. Olaf is left alone with no support. Realizing Forkbeard is en-route, he too turns and runs.

As Forkbeard shows up and begins marching through Kattegat, the episode ends with Leif killing several men, enraged over the death of his beloved.

The Episode Review

So Vikings bows out with an exciting final chapter, full of action, bloodshed and political power plays. It turns out Godwin was working with Emma after all, and this clever switch and bait works to oust Aelfgifu and cement Canute as the ruler of England alongside Emma.

The inclusion of Forkbeard is a nice nod to history, while the final battle and the cliffhanger ending set everything up nicely for a second season, which has already been green-lit.

However, everything here is left on a precarious knife-edge with the fates of both England and Denmark hanging in the balance.

There’s a consistency with this story now, and a renewed focus after a bit of a meandering tone for the past 2 or 3 chapters. However, that doesn’t come without its contrivances.

Why did Kare choose to fight Freydis alone? He literally had men with him but decides not to fight with them at least watching from the wings, which seems like an odd move. It’s especially strange because Freydis has been ambushed by him several times, each with the riders lying in wait.

Maybe it’s just me but this seems like a stretch. It may have been more believable had Harald dispatched those men waiting outside, Kare then asks for support, receives none save for Harald’s face and then Freydis kills him.

This series hasn’t been entirely historically accurate and there have been some liberties taken with the real history. Then again, Vikings did that too so I guess we can’t have too many grumbles! Either way though, this was a decent episode and a fitting way to round things out ready for the next season.

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You can read our full season review of Vikings: Valhalla here!


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