Vikings & Ragnar Lothbrok
“Gyda, I have come to say goodbye to you properly. I have been thinking about you, about when you were small. You were so lively. You could run as swiftly as the wind. You were like quicksilver. But then, before I knew it, you stopped running here and there and everywhere, and you became still.”_Ragnar Lothbrok, Vikings.
Lemme tell how madly I’m in love with the History Channel show Vikings, which returns this week for its third season. A LOT. A lot madly. You guys I love it so much. And I loved it even before I recently found out I’m 16% Scandinavian which basically makes me a Viking Princess. (FULL DNA reveal coming next week, complete with recipes and pretty flags *cue week-long drumroll*)
Rich, full characters and lots and lots of drama and beauty. The show is delightfully fetching—the colors, the shield maiden braids, the eyeliner, the jewelry…Google Lagertha braids and this whole wonderful world of Viking braids and jewelry opens up, just remember to hydrate first! Also, the boats, the weapons, the big warm furs they drape over their beds, their shoulders. The candlelight and fires, the music and opening credits: “If I Had A Heart” by Fever Ray. There is also a lot of blood and water; it is cold cold cold and life is brutal. What I think: Vikings should win sound editing awards and costume awards and writing awards. And as you will see, I get randomly, surprisingly and very adverb-y when I talk about Vikings.
Everylittlebit of it is lovely to behold on top of the fact that when I watch, I learn something new about that time period, the people, the countries and kings and religions. Vikings begins at the birth of the Viking Age, 793 AD. Even the name Ragnar Lothbrok (based on the real Viking man/Norse ruler Ragnar Lodbrok) sounds strong, warrior-ish, like a bucket of rocks spilling out, rolling down. Look up the term blood eagle if you don’t already know what it is. Horrific. When it happens in one episode of the show, it is gorgeous. They make something so horrifying, so beautiful. Ragnar is wearing a white tunic in the scene. They put him in white to perform a ceremonial, ritualistic killing; they put him in white to cover him in sticky-scarlet.
Without spoiling you too much in case you’re not caught up on the show and oh how you should watch the show, there is a part where Ragnar, our leonine main character played by Travis Fimmel—who is devastatingly handsome AND also, fascinatingly sleepy or stoned or boring in most of his interviews if you ever wanna look him up…I believe this is because Our Good Lord doesn’t always give with both hands—is still by the water, talking out loud to his daughter who is not there. It is a beautiful scene. You can watch it here. (Spoilers even in the caption of that video if you aren’t caught up on the show/your Viking history!)
They do a lot of subtle special effects on the show, blue-glowing Ragnar’s eyes when he has a deep connection with the gods or a new idea. There are fuzzy, streaky camera effects used in really beautiful ways. In this scene, they do that. While Ragnar is talking, the blue-grey air around him almost smears next to his face, stretches behind him. It gives the whole thing a sleepy-dreamy feel, isolates him, connects him to both water and sky. Parts of it are blurry, probably because they knew half of the viewers would be sobbing at this point anyway. The lens is tear-smudgey. The camera is telling us this is a tectonic moment and we should watch, listen. Ragnar tries (and fails) not to cry as he’s speaking and continues:
“At 12-years-old, you had the stillness and the calm of a fine woman. What children you would have produced! What joy that would have brought to all of us.”
I have seen the scene over and over and over because that’s what I do when I love something a lot. I also have the audio and I listen to that too, because that’s what I do when I love something a lot. I love that the women/girls on the show are held in such esteem. I adore both the depth and simplicity of a parent telling a child I love you. I miss you. And no matter where you go, you will always be with me.
“Dear child, Gyda. You are not gone because you are always in my heart.”
The women on the show who fight alongside the men are shield maidens. In life, in death, in battle, a lot of Viking women held their own. In this tiny scene with Ragnar, he sets his daughter aside as special. I love how he says Dear child and then her name. Gyda.
“They say that a man must love his sons more, but a man can be jealous of his sons, and his daughter can always be the light in his life.”
What I love so much about this scene is he’s alone and not shy about showing his emotions, telling the truth. They say that a man must love his sons more, but a man can be jealous of his sons, and his daughter can always be the light in his life. To actually admit that sure, he should want more sons, revel in his sons, but she was his daughter…and she was the light in his life. I love that.
“I know very well that you are with the Gods. But I will wait here awhile. And if you want to come and talk to me, then come and talk, and I will gently stroke your long and beautiful hair once again with my peasant hands.”
Ragnar has his moment of quiet here, before something else pops up that he must attend to. Viking life is rough and everything keeps going and going. The world doesn’t stop for anyone, but in this scene it feels like it does. And it feels like it should. When we lose someone or need a break, how I wish the world would stop spinning for a second, just so we could catch our breath. I can’t do that. What I can do when things are going going going going: make an effort to pause my brain and take a breath and listen and dreamy-connect to things and feelings and feelings and things.