“What Happened to the Nice, Old Lady?” features some aggressively silly plot developments as the war between gods and giants gets rolling.
This recap of Ragnarok season 2, episode 2, “What Happened to the Nice, Old Lady?”, contains spoilers.
Following the revelations of the previous episode, particularly those surrounding Laurits’ parentage, there’s a slight shift of the balance of power in “What Happened to the Nice, Old Lady?”. It wasn’t long ago that Vidar was pretty obviously worried about Magne’s burgeoning powers, but now he sees an opportunity to sway the most important person in Thor’s life to the side of the giants, even if Ran is pretty visibly upset by the idea of him bedding Turid. With Laurits already feeling lost and alone, his desire for connection and purpose makes him perfectly susceptible to Vidar’s father-son bonding activities, which are juxtaposed here with Magne acquiring Mjolnir, or at least a version of it, and practicing with it to mixed success.
The speed with which Laurits completely ingratiates himself with Vidar doesn’t ring true to me. “That’s my boy!” laughs Vidar, ridiculously. The show is really bending over backward to accommodate this development, and it isn’t taking yet, despite some groundwork already having been laid about how adrift Laurits feels. The patriarch’s focus on his new “son” leaves Saxa to handle all of the backlash about the state of the drinking water, which is being thrown in at the deep end and then some.
With the way Fjor and Gry are carrying on, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that there’s a mythical war between gods and giants going on right next door. The show’s awkward fusion of teen drama with fantasy action continues to undermine both elements in Ragnarok season 2, episode 2; Magne goes from throwing Mjolnir in the mountains to arguing with Laurits about his “father”. As I said, it’s preposterous that Laurits has bought what Vidar is selling after one motorbike ride. None of this drama is convincing, and there isn’t anywhere near enough hammer-tossing to offset it, but at least we seem to be moving away from the high-school vibe a bit.
It’s also a bit ridiculous that the town of Edda is so small that these ancient warring factions get burgers in the same diner. But in the midst of all this is Saxa, who is quickly emerging as the best character by far. She’s intelligent, capable, has an air of otherworldly danger about her, openly rises above all the petty tit-for-tat family politicking, and enjoyably delights in all of these things. She’s virtually the only person in the story who isn’t gratingly self-serious.
And Ragnarok season 2, episode 2 gets super serious to a frankly ludicrous degree. Magne being lectured by Wenche about being unable to craft the fabled Mjolnir in some random Norwegian dude’s garage is unintentional comedy and then some. Vidar taking Laurits home to drink from a horn and eat an animal’s heart is a really rapid escalation of events, and it’s hard to know what to make of the fact he sees a much more androgynous version of himself in the mirror as a result. Is Ragnarok tying his struggles with his sexuality into his embrace of the giant lifestyle? Are we to understand that by joining this supernatural clique he’s now suddenly freed from all social proprieties and can wear makeup and nail polish and dye his hair? This character arc really is wonky.
Case in point: Immediately after embracing the dark side, Laurits just blithely tells Magne that Ran is on her way to kill Wenche since she saw the two of them together and has assumed — rightly, as it happens — that they’re conspiring to craft Mjolnir. Magne sprints to intervene and arrives just in time to see Wenche transform into a bird and flap off, which is an aggressively dopey move considering that Ran is armed with a bow and arrow. She’s able to make it all the way to Wotan, whom she tells to protect the humans before crumbling into ash, just as Magne arrives. “What happened to the nice, old lady?” Wotan asks, not exactly instilling much confidence. The same can be said of the show itself.