‘Vikings’ Season 5: Episode 17 Recap, “The Most Terrible Thing”

History Channel's 'Vikings,' Season 5, Episode 17, The Most Terrible Thing, King Alfred, Judith

[Image via Jonathan Hession / History Channel]

If you thought that the History Channel was going to calm down with the killing, you might want to guess again. This week’s episode is bought to you by the letter “S.’

That’s S for slaughter.

Here’s what went down in Episode 17, entitled “The Most Terrible Thing,” of History Channel’s Vikings Season 5.

Wessex Is The Worst

You know how sometimes you wake up from a terrible dream and you’re relieved that all the bad things were just that, bad things?

Well, in Wessex there is no waking from a dream. The reality is that Judith (Jennie Jacques) is murdering one son to save the other and poor Alfred (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) awakes from his illness to discover it is the day of Aethelred’s (Darren Cahill) funeral.

While he his still dealing with the grief, he gets a pep talk from his mum. It goes something like this:

Judith: “Alfred dear, drink this cup of concrete and harden the fuck up.”

Also Judith: “Oh, and I poisoned your brother.”

Alfred: *tips over a table and has a right royal tantrum*

Judith: “Are you done now? Because you are the king and need to stop getting all emotional about shit and make the hard decisions regardless of who it involves.”

Please, oh, please, can Alfred heed Judith’s words and have her hanged for filicide?

Aethelred’s wife, Ethelfled (Ann Skelly) is also throwing shade at Judith for being a bitch of a mother in law. However, unlike Alfred, I actually fear for Ethelfled’s safety because Judith looks set to poison her too rather than send her back home to her family.

Also in Wessex, it appears that a fleet of Danes are arriving and Alfred thinks he can just show up and scare them merely by heading his own army.

Um, fuck no, says Torvi (Georgia Hirst), The sight of Alfred on a horse is not about to frighten the Danes. And, let’s face it, after watching how King Harald (Peter Franzen) riles up his army before battle compared to the prayer Heahmund (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) gave, I am guessing the sight of Alfred will just make the Danes laugh heartily before they kill them all.

Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) suggests he is made the head of the army. It’s a bold move and I’m pretty sure the English are just assuming Ubbe is pulling something underhanded. But, the reality is, Ubbe is the son of a Viking legend. Alfred is not.

History Channel's 'Vikings,' Season 5, Episode 17, The Most Terrible Thing, Bjorn Ironside, King Harald Finehair, close up

[Image via Jonathan Hession / History Channel]

Bjorn And Harald Manipulate Each Other

Meanwhile, in York, Bjorn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig) is asking Harald Finehair for a fleet to attack Kattegat. Harald tells Bjorn to wait, that it is the wrong time of year to be setting sail. Bjorn argues that he had a vision from his dad, Ragnar (Travis Fimmel). He then swears on his armband, promises Harald first dibs on Gunnhild (Ragga Ragnars), and says Harald can be king in Kattegat if Ivar is defeated. It’s pretty obvious that this gives Harald a boner, not only because he likes Gunnhild but because he hates Bjorn Ironside and his legendary dad.

Harald pays Gunnhild a visit after that. When Gunnhild asks him if he still wants to be the king of all Norway and Harald says yes, she announces that she would like to be a queen.

Bjorn also admits to Gunnhild that he is a manwhore but that he might finally be able to say the L word to her because he is feeling things he has never felt before. So, Gunnhild admits that Harald might be pestering her and that he still wants to rule the world. Considering that it appears Bjorn is finally falling in love, I am putting money down on Harald winning this battle for Gunnhild.

History Channel's 'Vikings,' Season 5, Episode 17, The Most Terrible Thing, Ivar the Boneless, Hvitserk

[Image via Jonathan Hession / History Channel]

Ivar Changes The Rules Because That’s What Dictators Do

Over in Kattegat, Ivar the Boneless (Alex Hogh Andersen) is sounding more and more like a dictator as he makes the decision that there are too many people in Kattegat now and that asking everyone to weigh in on decision-making is now too time-consuming. He offers to do them all a favour and make some decisions himself, rather than asking for the opinion of others.

Everyone cheers.

Ivar then moves in to not only make life easier for everyone in Kattegat but to make them all a little more paranoid too. He suggests that everyone needs to keep an eye on everyone else and report back to him if they see anything suspicious.

Hvitserk (Marco Ilso) and his girlfriend, who finally gets a name this week — Thora (Eve Connolly) — look on in horror.

Later, Ivar pays Hvitserk a visit. Previously, he had decided to do his brother in but Freydis (Alicia Agneson) tells him to be the sort of god that people love not fear and now Ivar is sending Hvitserk on a diplomatic mission.

When Hvitserk asks if he has a choice in whether he goes or not, Ivar says no.

And, threatens his girlfriend.

So, Hvitserk decides the mission sounds like fun. But, he leaves Thora behind in Kattegat. I’m not sure why he made such a stupid decision there but I guess it gives Ivar the chance to really blackmail Hvitserk if he so desires later on.

History Channel's 'Vikings,' Season 5, Episode 17, The Most Terrible Thing, Ketill Flatnose

[Image via Jonathan Hession / History Channel]

Iceland Hits Dismal On A Nuclear Scale

Finally, in Iceland, the shit has hit the fan so badly that it has turned in to a blizzard of a shitstorm as Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) and Ketill (Adam Copeland) go to help Eyvind’s (Kris Holden-Ried) group.

Except, surprise! Ketill has been nurturing a slow burn when it comes to revenge and, like the quote, it turns out that it is a dish best served cold.

Ketill kills all of Eyvind’s group and that smile that we were all so glad to see on Floki’s face in last week’s episode of Vikings is well and truly gone now.

Then, to make matters worse, when they return home and Aud (Leah McNamara) finds out about the slaughter, she takes her own life and I am left wondering if this is the worst side plot ever invented in the history of TV.


Vikings returns on Wednesday, January 16, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. History Channel provides the following synopsis for Episode 18 (titled “Baldar”).

“Hvitserk is severely tested. Floki makes an amazing discovery. Freydis gives Ivar a surprise. Ubbe negotiates with three Danish kings that have massed their armies in Reading, but the negotiations may have a perilous outcome.”

You can purchase episodes of Season 5 of Vikings here. Season 4, Volume 2 (Episodes 11-20) of History Channel’s Vikings is now available for purchase here. Volume 1 (Episodes 1-10) is available here. (These are affiliate links.)

Also, if you have watched tonight’s episode and are missing the old tales of Lagertha and Ragnar, why not check out my current series, Vikings Secrets. This is a fictional retelling of the classic Viking sagas surrounding Ragnar and the women who loved him.

You can find out more about this exciting series here.

[Featured Image by Jonathan Hession / History Channel]

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