Vikings season 6, episode 16 recap – what happened in “The Final Straw”?

By Daniel Hart
Published: December 30, 2020 (Last updated: January 18, 2023)
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Amazon series Vikings season 6, episode 16 - The Final Straw


“The Final Straw” feels like a good filler chapter, with the characters all experiencing a halfway house in their decision making. The episode delves into purpose, and how the characters are desperate to feel worth in the world.

This recap of Amazon’s Vikings season 6, episode 16, “The Final Straw” contains significant spoilers.

We recapped every episode of season 6b — check out the archive.

The opening

Ivar and Hvitserk return to Kattegat, and angry crowds heckle them. Ivar wonders if returning is a mistake — Erik offers to take them to King Harald, and Ivar is shocked at who is king. They bow to the king and queen. Hvitserk reminds Harald that they are Bjorn’s legitimate line and that the townspeople will warm to them eventually. King Harald seems to welcome this and invites them to a feast. There’s a glimmer in Harald’s eye — he senses opportunity as part of his new reign.

Welcoming them home

At the feast, all eyes are on Ivar and Hvitserk. King Harald wants to celebrate their return home. He highlights how some people are not in favor of their return — he reminds them that the Gods forgive each other and regrets killing his own brother. King Harald brings up their mistakes but states they are sons of Ragnar and that they should enjoy their future in Kattegat. One of the people asks Ivar if he is truly a God — Ivar stands up and throws down his walking sticks and falls to the floor and laughs. The people laugh with him. It does not take long for the brothers to be welcomed back.

Later in the night, Ivar tells his brother that he’s not sure where his destiny is. He feels no purpose or meaning. Hvitserk responds that he’s been lost for so long that he isn’t sure of the alternative. At this stage of the chapter, both brothers are lost — they are desperate to find their purpose.

Ubbe is becoming irritated with Othere

Ubbe and the voyage are struggling. The water is rationed. Late in the night, Othere tells Ubbe that he hated everything about his childhood. Ubbe is growing tired of Othere’s games and his refusal to be honest. Othere asks Ubbe if he’s losing his faith. The next day, another man has died on the boat — he tried drinking seawater. “The Final Straw” shows how blind faith for a better life has put Ubbe in this situation, and the result is a genuine risk to his life and his family.

The Seer visits Ivar

The Seer speaks to Ivar and tells him he is connecting ‘nothing with nothing’. He tells him to look in his pocket. He takes out a chess piece from a game he played with his father. Hvitserk visits Bjorn’s tomb and speaks to the dead King — he lists all his failures and mistakes and believes the Gods despise him. Both brothers are feeling unaccomplished. A woman named Eden offers to spend the night with Hvitserk as he sits at the tomb.

An illusion of power

King Harald tells Ivar and Hvitserk that he returned to Kattegat as he wanted to reinvent himself and rule. But he remarks that there is an illusion of power that induces madness and asks Ivar if it is true. Ivar agrees. Harald then wants to talk about love, but Ivar doesn’t wish to talk about it, stating that their dead ones are all around us, listening to them. Harald hopes the Gods forgive him, but he doesn’t feel it is possible. It seems all three men in this story are trying to find meaning.

A goddess

While spending time with Eden, Hvitserk realizes she is the goddess who is blessed with eternal youth. He believes Odin has sent her to him. Eden tells Hvitserk that she has watched his life and seen his pain. She tells him to weep no more. They sleep together. Meanwhile, Ivar remembers his father’s words and how he predicted great things for him.

The next morning, Hvitserk wakes up, and Eden is not there. He puts his hands out and into the rain and breathes in the air. He kneels in the rain and cries, which eventually turns into a laugh. Meanwhile, Ivar enters the King’s hall and smashes his chess piece on King Harald’s table — he announces that they still have a purpose and they need to go for Wessex. It looks like the brothers have done some soul searching and have found meaning.

Torvi asks Ubbe to control himself

With a storm hitting the boat, Ubbe loses control and attacks Othere. Torvi stops Ubbe from killing Othere and tells him they must not be the same people they were in their old lives, and that the Gods have spoken.

The ending

King Harald gathers his people and talks about their successful trading routes and influences. He suggests that they need to win more battles and take more territory. King Harald talks about Wessex in England and how they must fight for it. Ivar then speaks and tells the people that they should not grow comfortable. He brings up how his father died, and how he did not need any pity. Ivar tells them that the Christian plague is spreading and that they should conquer. The crowd erupts in agreement. This whole scenario sees three men unable to find purpose, and in their own comfortableness, they’ve decided to do what they are only familiar with — fighting.

Vikings season 6, episode 16 feels like a good filler chapter, with the characters all experiencing a halfway house in their decision making. The episode delves into purpose, and how the characters are desperate to feel worth in the world.

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