Barbarians season 1, episode 3 recap – “On the Edge” face turn

October 23, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, TV Recaps
3.5

Summary

“On the Edge” finds the Romans trying to snuff out rebellion as the barbarians decide they’ve had enough, and a last-minute twist promises that the back half of the season is going to be interesting.

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3.5

Summary

“On the Edge” finds the Romans trying to snuff out rebellion as the barbarians decide they’ve had enough, and a last-minute twist promises that the back half of the season is going to be interesting.

This recap of Barbarians season 1, episode 3, “On the Edge”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.


Barbarians episode 3 opens by directly comparing the ideologies of the Romans and the barbarians through flashbacks to Segimer and then Varus explaining to Ari and his brother about wolves; first that they will eventually devour the world, from the perspective of the barbarians, and then the story of Romulus and Remus, from the perspective of the Romans. This is symbolic of Ari’s dual education, the warring sides of his identity. And it’s reflected in the present-day with Centurion Mettalus tormenting Ari about his barbarian backstory. Whether he has Varus’s favor or not, he’s still an outsider.

Segimer is taking the deaths of Folkwin’s family hard, turning to drink and rage in response to Thusnelda’s insistence that they should be cut down from their crosses. Folkwin himself is in the woods with Berulf, who reveals a little of his own backstory, stuck between two worlds much like Ari, but he’s stuck between two Reiks; he’s a barbarian through and through. It’s nice that “On the Edge” is giving this one-note character some more dimensions.

Back at the village, Segestes watches Thusnelda and Segimer cut down the crosses, having finally had enough of self-pity. The Romans arrive to interrupt, led by Ari. Segimer takes responsibility, but Ari says they should cut all the crosses down and bury the dead whatever Varus said — he even makes Segestes participate so he can stop being a little snake and insisting he played no part. Ari, it seems, isn’t quite as Roman as Varus would like him to be.

Later, Ari asks Segimer where Folkwin is, but he doesn’t know. What he does know, though, is that Folkwin has probably suffered enough. But Ari knows that if Folkwin’s head doesn’t roll the entire tribe’s will roll in its place. This should be a viewpoint that Segimer can understand.

Thusnelda is left in the middle here in “On the Edge”. At home, bathing the now severely compromised Ansgar, she’s reprimanded by her father’s wife for still clinging to Folkwin when she could have a husband she can control. Folkwin and Berulf, meanwhile, meet with another tribe and discuss her, her true warrior nature, and her role as a “seer”, someone with a direct connection to the gods. The show continues to position her as a central and important character, but circumstances are keeping her stuck in place for now. But that means to change here in Barbarians season 1, episode 3, as she overhears a snitch from the tribe Folkwin met with telling Ari that he’s in their camp. As she’s about to head out to warn him, she’s grabbed by Segestes and held captive.

In that camp, Folkwin is betrayed and attacked, but he’s able to get away thanks to Berulf’s Hodor-style sacrifice. In the aftermath of their betrayal, the barbarians worry about Thusnelda’s supposed connection to the gods and how that might backfire on them. But her wrath is going to be directed at Segestes’s wife before anyone else since she takes Ansgar to “put him out of his misery” by blindfolding him and leading him straight off a cliff. “You wouldn’t let an animal suffer so,” is her justification, but it isn’t going to hold much water with Thusnelda, who arrives in the nick of time to grab him from the edge. She chokes Segestes’s wife and curses her, but doesn’t throw her from the cliff as it seems she might. She’s left alive to return to the village, where she finds Hadgan looking for his bride.

His bride is in the woods with Ansgar, where she encounters an eerie older woman, possibly in her imagination. Folkwin, too, is venturing into the land of the undead from which no human has apparently ever returned, and he says “f*ck the gods of the underworld” to make the point clear. Are we venturing into supernatural territory here?

Ari has also made camp in the woods, where he bonds with Mettalus. As it turns out they served in the same campaign; Ari’s cavalry even saved Mettalus’s life. Interestingly, Mettalus says if Ari knew those who had been crucified in the village, he was right to bury them — and he seems to mean it. Just then, a captive barbarian is brought into the camp. Under Ari’s gentle interrogation, he reveals that Folkwin has gone to the Dark Land, the “place of the dead”, where, in a cutaway, we see him sacrificing his first-born son in a blood ritual. Having learned what they wanted, Mettalus executes the barbarian, quoting Julius Caesar: “I love treason, but I hate a traitor.”

With this information, the Romans are able to catch up with Folkwin and his men in the Dark Land, ambushing and killing all but Folkwin. But when it comes time to take his head, Ari kills Metallus and the other men of the legion. We have a face turn, folks, and the back half of this show looks like it’s going to get very interesting.


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