I'm just going to start from the best this episode of Vikings, 4.05 'Promised', had to offer: Lagertha is once more Earl Ingstad after she stabs Earl Kalf on their wedding day. Early on the episode, she tells Kalf that she's expecting his child and he promptly asks her to marry him. Although it was hard to actually believe the Usurper's intentions at first, I think it's fair to say Kalf actually came to love Lagertha.
Though I'm also fairly sure his reasons for loving her were exactly the same that led her to eventually kill him and take back what was hers. Kalf may not have had a Viking death, on the battlefield, but he sure had a 'loving' one, what with their final kiss and all after she sends him to Valhala. A true Viking leader herself, Lagertha made it abundantly clear who's boss, walking to the center of Hedeby in her bloodstained wedding dress. What an epic show of girl-power.
There, now we got that out of the way, we may focus on the rest of this seemingly slow-paced episode...
Things in Kattegat continue frisky between Bjorn and Harald, the one who wishes to rule all of Norway. Since Ragnar himself refuses to play his part as the real King - and keeps playing on his '50 shades of Viking' with Yidu - Bjorn seems to be taking Harald's claim and attitude as a truly personal offense. Ragnar's kids aren't exactly modern day role models, which is further proved when little Ivar brings his axe down on another child's head, just because the other boy refused to let him play. Quite the shocking - and should I say upsetting - o
With the arrival of Harald's brother Halfdan - who in real history is actually his father and I hope you see the irony here, History Channel - and his '600 men on 20 ships', the tension is definitely amped up. At least for Floki things are looking up, when he tells Harald and Halfdan about killing "Ragnar's pet Christian" he clearly makes new best friends.
In Paris, Rollo gets his daily war lesson from none other than princess Gisla herself. Yes, I know she's brave and owned that wall like a queen during Ragnar's failed raid of Paris, but it was still interesting to see how layered she actually is. Publicly, she's a strong-minded wildcat of a princess - adjectives that Rollo might say she brings to their bed as well - but in the intimacy of her marriage, Gisla shows her husband that she's ruthless and merciless with her enemies - or simply people she distrusts, like Odo for example.
The same Odo who, by the way, didn't receive much love in this episode. On a private audience with Emperor Charles, Roland and Therese - who happens to be his incestuous sister - make their case against Odo's disloyalty. Charles receives this news in his apathetic - now stuttering - self and orders the two of them to keep an eye on the traitor and report any new information back to him. Surprisingly though, once the 'Game of Thrones' wannabe siblings leave, the Emperor smiles, showing us he's not as weak as everyone seems to think. Quite the witty royals, these Parisians.
This was definitely a character driven episode, for in Wessex we discover yet another facet of Ecbert. After Judith and Aethelwulf have a falling out, she runs to her father-in-law for a pick-me-up. She relates that Aethelwulf called her "his father's whore" and Ecbert, all love and care, offers Judith his late wife's ring as a symbol of his devotion to her. I wonder what Aethelwulf will have to say about that...
Maybe not much, since he and Queen Kwenthrith carry on acting as newlyweds, all glances and smiles to each other. And the Queen of Mercia is given a great reason to be smiley about, when King Ecbert and King Aelle decide to invade Mercia to regain her crown for her. Of course, she has her doubts when it comes to believing Ecbert really means to help her because, as she nicely put it, they're much alike. The King of Wessex responds with the episode's best line, advising Kwenthrith not to "judge herself too harshly". He'd know!
'Promised' offered, if nothing else, a break from the cemented plot in the beginning of the season. It seems everyone has more or new places to be now. From Floki to Ivar, from Lagertha to Judith, a whole set of pathways have been opened plot-wise, which is exactly what a mid-season episode should offer.