“Treason” capably sets the stage for the finale’s big battle, as a wedding leads to an alliance that could topple the Roman empire.
This recap of Barbarians season 1, episode 5, “Treason”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
There’s a wedding to get on with in Barbarians episode 5, as Thusnelda returns to the village to happily announce that she and Ari are to be wed. Just a couple of scenes later, the ceremony takes place, much to the chagrin of Segestes, who is annoyed Ari didn’t ask his permission, more annoyed that he himself is no longer Reik, and seemingly unable to do anything about either of these things. Folkwin watches from afar as his missus weds another man, presumably thinking of the long game and the pending decimation of the Roman empire.
Immediately, Ari’s army begins to grow thanks to wedding day gifts and tributes, but there’s still dissent among the ranks, especially with Ari’s prior service to the Romans. Hadgan’s gift lightens the mood, at least — it’s just a pile of horse sh*t. Folkwin, perhaps understandably, isn’t entirely keen on this union, and you can’t blame him given that tradition dictates a lot of nakedness. Very drunk, Folkwin gets into it with the men of the legion and gets himself knocked unconscious.
Talio presents Folkwin’s wolf’s-tooth necklace to Ari and Thusnelda, and leads them into the woods to the charred corpse of who they presume to be Folkwin. But Folkwin has been captured, which is explained to him by a fellow captive, Raskild. The skewered head of “Folkwin” is still mounted in the camp, so Folkwin backpeddles a bit and says his name is Berulf. He’s there when Ari and Thusnelda arrive to meet with Varus. The language barrier makes for some good gags until the interpreter turns up. Ari has been bestowed a knighthood by the Emperor — he’s now Gaius Julius Arminius, a Roman knight, and has a very fancy sword to prove it. Varus lays out that their patrols are being ambushed and that he needs Ari to keep the peace, so he tasks him with delivering him a child from each of the Reiks.
This doesn’t go down well with anyone, from Thusnelda to the parents of the children being forcibly taken away. Thusnelda is forced to question Ari’s ultimate motives and his seemingly unswerving devotion to Varus, but he insists he wouldn’t willingly destroy the Germanic tribes. In the meantime, though, he has to maintain favour with Rome so that he can ally the tribes into a single host, one strong and large enough to decimate the legions. In fact, Ari wisely uses it as leverage. He reveals that he never actually sent their sons away to Rome, but to his village, where they’re all safe, proving his loyalty and helping to unite the tribes. He proposes attacking the three legions, insisting — with Thusnelda alongside him — that he can lead them to victory. It’s a motivating speech. Clanging and cries fill the air. The tribes are united, and Thusnelda will lead them. Ari will return to Varus and will lead the Romans into the woods, right into the planned ambush. As a farewell gift, Thusnelda sleeps with Ari, which will inevitably complicate matters when they discover that Folkwin is still alive.
Folkwin, meanwhile, uses a slave to pass on a message to Thusnelda, but that message ends up with Segestes and Irmina, who recognize they can use it to overthrow Ari and install themselves at the head of the tribe.
Ari, having laid out the plan of attack for the barbarians, returns to Varus and tells him that the tribes refused to give up their sons, proposing to lead the legions on a detour to teach the barbarians a lesson. The Tribune is skeptical, but Varus is all for it, at least until Segestes arrives claiming that Ari will betray Varus. The two men lock eyes as “Treason” ends.
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