#Vikings has amped up the graphic violence once more with yet another horrific blood eagle ritual. If anything, Aelle's butal death was even more unbearable to watch than the one Ragnar performed on Jarl Borg in Season Two. Even Floki looked pretty shocked.
But the torture might not be over just yet. Viking sagas tell us that there may just be another blood eagle in store for one of the show's characters. So who could it be?
Was The Blood Eagle A Real Ritual?
First of all, it's important to note that the viking sagas aren't an entirely accurate account of history. Vikings liked to blend truth with myth in order to better tell their stories, which means a lot of information we have about their culture is best taken with a grain of salt.
The blood eagle ritual is no exception to that rule. There are only a few mentions of the ritual being performed in viking lore, with some scholars going so far as to say they were never actually performed. Which sort of makes sense— after all, if you're trying to inspire terror in your enemies, then massively exaggerating your tales of torture is a pretty good way to ensure a badass reputation.
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However, Vikings bases its narrative on Michael Hirst's most creative interpretation (and appropriation) of the sagas, rather than what might necessarily be closest to the truth. That's why in the show, Ragnar only had two wives, Rollo is there, and Harald and Halfdan are brothers. He's trying to entertain, not write a research paper. And it certainly seems to be working.
The Blood Eagle, According To The Sagas
As far as the viking sagas go, the blood eagle was said to have been performed on two historical figures represented in the show. The first was Aelle, who was blood eagled by Ivar as revenge for the death of his father, Ragnar. Sound familiar?
Jarl Borg, who was killed by Ragnar using the blood eagle technique in Season Two, was not taken from the sagas. But hey, it was early days for the show, and they were competing with Game of Thrones— they had to up the violence somehow.
The second person to get blood eagled in the viking sagas was also a victim of "parent murder revenge". His name? Halfdan Long-Leg.
The Same Halfdan?
We've all gotten to know Halfdan, the brother of the conniving wannabe-King of Norway Harald. But who was he in real life?
In the sagas, Harald was related to two Halfdans: his father, Halfdan the Black, and his son, Halfdan Long-Leg. His son burned down a building containing a man named Rognvald; Rognvald's son avenged his father's death by performing the blood eagle on Halfdan.
Interestingly, the Halfdan we see on Vikings is called Halfdan the Black. But there are a lot of elements in the show that seem to be setting up Halfdan Long-Leg's narrative.
First of all, let's look at the whole pyromania thing. The promo for next week's episode (see video at the end of this article) clearly shows a lot of fire at Kattegat. Will this be the work of Halfdan?
Secondly, we know that Harald and Halfdan are planning to overthrow Lagertha, and the attack on Kattegat will be their doing. The Seer has predicted that Lagertha will be killed by a son of Ragnar, so that pretty much rules out Halfdan and Harald.
But failing to kill Lagertha doesn't mean their attack won't go unpunished. Björn will return from England eventually, and he'll be none too pleased if he hears that someone attempted to burn his mother alive.
The Perfect Revenge
Vikings are always coming up with exciting new ways to get revenge. From being castrated in front of your entire village to getting a surprise stab on your own wedding day, there's always some creative murders going on. What a time to be alive!
In Episode 18, we saw Harald confess to Halfdan that he was one of the only people he loved. Considering the second person is a Danish princess who ditched him for a less "important" man, Halfdan definitely has a very special place in Harald's heart.
So what better way to get back at the treacherous Harald than to blood eagle his brother right in front of him? Hey, I'm just thinking like a viking. In all seriousness, Björn has just proven that he's quite the hand at performing the blood eagle, and he'd probably have no issue with doing it again to Halfdan. And he's already incredibly mistrusting of Harald, who's made no secret of his plan to take over Kattegat. The perfect revenge, wouldn't you say?
Do you think Halfdan will get blood eagled on Vikings?