Recap: ‘Vikings: Valhalla’ Season 3, Episode 2 Offers A ‘Game of Thrones’ “The Winds of Winter” Moment

By Daniel Hart
Published: July 11, 2024
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Magnus Olafsson turns up to Kattegat in 'Vikings: Valhalla' Season 3, Episode 2 - "Honour and Dishonour" (Credit - Netflix)




Season 3, Episode 2 raises the stakes and tries to bring Game of Thrones moments, and that’s OK, as it sets up the rest of the final chapter.

The writers for Vikings: Valhalla Season 3 have not held back. They’ve seen the notes that this is the final season and decided to go all-in. OK, this is no Game of Thrones with the level of shock value, but why not give the audience as much as possible until you bow out? Season 3, Episode 2, teasingly titled “Honour and Dishonour”, escalates the tensions in Syracuse, creates a tragedy in Jomsborg, and brings an unwanted visitor to Kattegat. Of course, we can’t forget King Canute’s impatience with the Pope.

I’ve broken down and analyzed the main moments in Episode 2 for you readers:

Harald fights the Emir for Syracuse, which ends in deadly circumstances

There’s nothing better than a wager, but there’s nothing worse than a promise broken, which is why “Honour and Dishonour” follows a specific theme. The Emperor expects the Emir and the Saracens to surrender Syracuse, but they refuse, insisting more armies will be arriving to help them fight. Leif cruelly reminds them that regardless of whether they hold out, they’ll eventually run out of water as they’ve cut off supplies.

Eventually, it’s agreed that both armies should not needlessly battle and a warrior from each side should fight in single combat for Syracuse: whoever wins gets Syracuse. And so, it’s Harald vs the Emir, and a further agreement is in place that no people will be harmed afterward.

It’s a great fight, and the Emir holds his own, but let’s face it, he is not going to defeat Harald, who eventually kills him. It was a good effort, though, and he at least died respectfully.

Everything looks done and dusted from here, and the Emperor makes it law that the people of Syracuse should be respected, and he leaves. Unfortunately, his main guard, George Maniakes, is fuelled by hatred for the Saracens and fears the end of Christianity; after he raids Leif’s tent, he finds scientific research to create a deadly weapon.

Maniakes fools the people of Syracuse by forcing them outside the castle walls and providing them with food. Then, he douses them in a yellowish powder that turns out to be flammable.

Before Harald and Leif can stop the terror that unfolds, Maniakes sets all the people on fire, burning them all to death. There’s nothing they can do to help because the gates are locked.

Despite a peace agreement in place, George Maniakes uses a deadly weapon against the people of Syracuse in ‘Vikings: Valhalla’ Season 3, Episode 2 (Credit – Netflix)

The guilt and trauma etched on Leif’s face are there to see, especially when he learns that George Maniakes used his military ideas against the Saracens. Episode 2 presents unfair warfare and what happens when power breaks promises. It’s a pivotal moment in Season 3, which has proved to show its hand early.

The townsfolk of Jomsborg are poisoned, inciting fears of biological warfare

In my recap of Episode 1, I discussed how the storyline of Freydis and Jomsborg makes me anxious. It’s far too peaceful and idealistic, putting me on edge. I don’t want anything bad to happen to Freydis and her people, but Vikings proves that nothing is fair in life.

A sickness spreads around Jomsborg after a wedding party the night before. Stigr, a new character, and Freydis’s current lover, figures out there are poisonous fungi in the flour. Of course, suspicions are aimed at Stigr, as he’s new to the area and doesn’t help himself when he randomly leaves.

However, when he returns, he has herbal medicine that he spruced up from rummaging in the forest. The town is suffering badly at this point, and people have already died. He gives his herbal medicine to Freydis and her son Harald II. Unfortunately, the newly married Kolr is dead, leaving Hrefna devastated.

An attack on Jomsborg will be personal to Freydis, who has agreed peace with Kattegat after the death of Olaf. This particular event leaves plenty of doubt of whether Jomsborg will remain at peace.

Freydis and her son Harald II are poisoned in Vikings: Valhalla Season 3, Episode 2

Freydis and her son Harald II are poisoned in ‘Vikings: Valhalla’ Season 3, Episode 2 (Credit – Netflix)

Son of Olaf, Lord Magnus Olafsson, unexpectedly arrives in Kattegat

Sometimes, a character walks into a room, and you know there’s trouble afoot. That’s how I felt when Magnus Olafsson wandered into Kattegat without fear of resistance from the people. He meets King Svein of Norway, Canute’s son, and declares he wants a shrine in Olaf’s name. Queen Aelfgifu maintains a resting bitch face about the situation and is skeptical about his intentions.

Then Magnus pivots and claims that Jarl Olaf appeared to a blind monk in a dream and then woke up with sight. This is declared a miracle; he states they must make Jarl Olaf a Saint.

Conversations then turn to Magnus being reminded that Freydis offered Kattegat peace after the death of Olaf, which Queen Aelfgifu wants to maintain, but Magnus claims he only wants to retrieve Olaf’s body from Jomsborg.

When Magnus leaves, Queen Aelfgifu and King Svein give Magnus a gift to give to Freydis. Queen Aelfgifu privately explains she does not want Magnus to return, as she knows full well that he wants the throne of Norway, as he’s entitled to it if Svein dies. Svein is not worried at this stage, but he should be.

That was not a routine visit at all.

King Canute shows he’s a savage to the least likely person – the Pope

(L-R) King Canute and Queen Emma continue to negotiate with the Pope in ‘Vikings: Valhalla’ Season 3 (Credit – Netflix)

Yes, King Canute and Queen Emma are still roaming in Rome, wanting to advance negotiations with the Pope, as they are unhappy with Godwin’s diplomatic ways. However, the Emissary of the Pope continues to talk on behalf of the religious figure, calling Canute a savage for the way he attacked England. Canute reminds the Emissary that the institution should be happy that they have a powerful ally and that they are not as clean as they think, as they accepted riches from Godwin. The Pope wasn’t aware of this transaction.

King Canute and Queen Emma can sense a chink in the armor of the Pope’s mind, and they continue negotiations for a third meeting. This time, they offer him a personal gift, but the Emissary is not there to talk on his behalf. Why? Well, because the gift is the Emissary’s head in a box. Canute once again reminds the Pope, who sees the severed head, of the benefit of an alliance. The Pope accepts the offer.

It’s wild — in Episode 1, King Canute was seemingly frustrated by religious procedures with the Pope. In Episode 2, he’s cutting heads off to make a point. The game’s the game at this point.

Notable Moments

Here are other noteworthy moments for reference:

  • Leif visits the library in Syracuse and sees it being destroyed. Knowing the importance of history and documents, he tells the soldiers to leave. He wants to reserve and save the library. He finds the librarian there and asks for the “Book of the Unknown,” which gives him a torn-off map from Corfu.
  • Canute sends Godwin to Denmark to relay his agreement with the Pope to his father.

Read More Season 3 Explanations: Episode 3

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