Barbarians season 2, episode 4 recap – “The Oath”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: October 21, 2022
View all
Barbarians season 2, episode 4 recap - "The Oath"


Festivities turn to tears and bloodshed in “The Oath”, as a big, brutal cliffhanger raises the stakes for the final two episodes.

This Barbarians season 2, episode 4 recap for the episode titled “The Oath” contains spoilers.

In Barbarians season 2, episode 3, Ari named Marbod the king of the united Germanic tribes. It’s not quite official yet — there needs to be a Thing for that — but it should be cause for some degree of jubilation. Absolutely nobody, though, seems especially happy about it. Why? Well, it’s complicated.

Barbarians season 2, episode 4 recap

Marbod’s problem is that, since Ari defeated him in single combat, he has suffered some reputational damage. Marbod might be the token leader, but everyone now knows that if push came to shove, Ari is the alpha. That’s not a great look for a barbarian leader. And it’s not even his biggest problem in “The Oath”, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

For Ari, the problem is that he has had to bestow kingship on a traitor. But what was the alternative? Rome wants the barbarian tribes to eradicate each other. If he killed Marbod, he’d be playing right into their hands — but Marbod would never kneel to him. Thusnelda doesn’t understand this, but then again she’s not a political strategist, she’s a fighter through and through. But her conflict with Ari is becoming more serious, and reconciliation seems increasingly unlikely.

And then Flavus arrives. He has been dispatched as an envoy of Rome with a gift from Tiberius, but he also has another function. To prove his loyalty, Marbod has to kill him, which is easier said than done since the two of them are in love, but becomes easier when he is snootily dismissive of Marbod’s life and people. Eventually, Marbod gets drunk enough to make an attempt, but Gaius, having figured out something was amiss because of Odarike’s loose lips, has already freed Flavus. He’s able to whack Marbod over the head with a hunk of metal and flee. He heads right to the nearby Roman camp and tells Germanicus that he will lead him to the Thing so that Rome can remove all of the unarmed Reiks’ heads in one fell swoop.

None of the barbarians suspect this, of course, because they’re pretty sold on the idea of peace. But Gaius knows, which is why, at the Thing, he makes himself scarce before the festivities start. And, by chance, Folkwin knows, since he happens to run into Thusnelda’s mother and brother, who encountered a horde of Romans on the road, heading west. He sets out on his horse to intervene, leaving behind a now healed Dido, whom he earlier sacrificed his life to save.

To be clear about that, he made the sacrifice in a magical sense, which means it hasn’t come to pass yet. But it was either that or sacrifice his firstborn. To avoid damning Thumelicus he had to renounce him, making his own life the only viable alternative. Thusnelda appreciates that gesture so much she gives him a kiss, but distancing himself from Thumelicus also means distancing himself from his mother, so it’s more of a farewell than anything else. We’ll see how this shakes out when Folkwin makes it to the Thing.

And there will definitely be some chaos to deal with, as “The Oath” ends with Marbod being crowned king… until an arrow pierces the back of the head of the Reik crowning him, and comes right out his eye on the other side. The Romans have joined the party. And something tells me they aren’t looking for peace.

Additional reading:

Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Recaps
View all