In an episode that was largely set-up for the bigger conflict to come on "Vikings," the Earl made a preemptive move against the threat he saw in Ragnar. He stormed Ragnar's home, destroying everything and burning it to the ground. His men even managed to shoot Ragnar with an arrow.
To give his family time to escape down the river, Ragnar pretended to be more gravely injured than he was. He knelt in front of the Earl and prepared to accept his fate. But then, he sprung to his feet and managed to ride off on horseback before the Earl's men even knew what was happening. After watching him fall off a cliff into the water, the Earl's men thought Ragnar dead.
IGN appreciated the attack, writing, "The series needed a big move like this to turn the brewing tension into all-out hostility ... It feels more human and real if I know that [Ragnar] can be overpowered." Of the Earl, though, The AV Club wasn't impressed. They described him as "such a stock villain that there’s been little sense of dramatic ramp-up to these proceedings"
In reality, he was holed up with Floki to recover. The Earl captured Ragnar's brother and tried to torture confirmation that Ragnar was still alive --and possibly where he was -- using some rather brutal torture. It was enough to convince Ragnar that he was going to have to move faster than perhaps his wounded body should.
Tune in for war between the Earl and Ragnar on "Vikings," Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on History.
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