"Brother's War" is the first episode of the second season of Vikings. It is the tenth episode of the series overall. It first aired on February 27, 2014. It was written by creator Michael Hirst and directed by Ciarán Donnelly.
The battle begins between Ragnar and King Horik's forces against Jarl Borg. Borg is joined by Rollo, and this Viking clash pits brother against brother. There can only be one victor. Meanwhile, Princess Aslaug makes her way to Kattegat and brings with her a surprise that leaves Ragnar in a difficult predicament.
In Scandinavia, 796 A.D., Earl Ragnar, King Horik and their men await the return of Rollo from his stay with Jarl Borg. Everyone believes that Rollo has chosen to betray Ragnar to fight with Jarl Borg, but Ragnar refuses to believe it. Soon after, Rollo arrives, along with Jarl Borg and his myriad of men. Floki, who warned Ragnar that his brother was a traitor, rubs the fact in Ragnar's face.
Jarl Borg and Rollo perform a ceremony in preparation for battle as Arne rides towards them. Jarl Borg lets Arne speak to Rollo, but not in private. Arne tries to persuade Rollo to return to them and not betray them, which Rollo refuses. Much to Ragnar's dismay, the two forces soon face each other in battle. However, both sides take up the same defensive and offensive stance and are equally matched.
In the ensuing bloodbath, several lives are lost. When Rollo jumps through the wall of the Northmen, Floki engages him in battle and is overpowered, even more so when Rollo is joined by Jarl Borg. Floki is gravely wounded but saved from the battle by Ragnar, Torstein, and Arne. Arne stays behind and fights Rollo. Rollo impales Arne on a spear and is raised in the air to be seen by his comrades. It is at the moment when Rollo kills Arne that he begins to realize the gravity of his actions. Along with a few others, Ragnar rushes over. Rollo takes up arms against him as the others watch one, but realizes that he cannot bring himself to fight Ragnar. Rollo drops to his knees in defeat.
The battle ends, and both sides meet at a camp in a more civil manner. King Horik discusses his terms with Jarl Borg, and Jarl Borg still rejects his offer. Frustrated, Ragnar exclaimed that they should all focus on raiding the West together instead of fighting. All sides come to an agreement, and Jarl Borg finally accepts King Horik's offer. Ragnar faces Rollo and tells him that his niece Gyda has passed away, before stating that it was time to go home. A recovering Floki spits blood in Rollo's direction.
They sail back to Kattegat and are greeted by their usual crowd of anxious family and followers. They are grief-stricken to see the wounded Floki and the crowd jeers at the tied-up Rollo. In the Earl's hall, Ragnar tells the select few of recent events. Lagertha lectures Ragnar, and the pair begin to argue until Bjorn stops them. Lagertha then questions Ragnar about Aslaug, and Ragnar walks out, infuriated. Lagertha follows him and, while throwing things at him, continues to aggressively question him about Aslaug. Ragnar comes clean about having sex with Aslaug but tells her that he does not love her. Ragnar promises that he will never see her again, if it means Lagertha will let it go. The couple then proceed to make love to each other.
Bjorn expresses his concern for their relationship to his father, and Ragnar says he has nothing to be concerned about. Bjorn then asks about Rollo, and Ragnar says that since he is his brother, he cannot judge him himself, so a Lawgiver will be the judge, and Rollo's fate will be decided at Law Rock. Elsewhere, the restrained Rollo, guarded by Torstein, is visited by Siggy, who tries to warm him. Rollo tells her that she "cannot warm up a dead man," thinking he has no chance.
Rollo is then brought up to Law Rock, where the citizens of Kattegat, most of whom see him as a traitor, await to watch him be brought to justice. The Lawgiver, although agreeing that Rollo deserves to die, decides that Rollo be set free, much to the dismay of the spectators, believing that Rollo's surprising behavior proves that the gods themselves have made their judgment and chose to spare him from death in the battle. Torstein tells Ragnar that, as Earl, he can still have Rollo killed. Ragnar refuses, saying the lawgiver is the law when he stands on the Sacred Stone. In truth, Ragnar had bribed the lawgiver with a gold coin from England.
At the docks, Rollo tells Ragnar that he merely wanted to step out of his shadow, but upon doing so, realized that their was no sunlight beyond it. Siggy returns home and finds Rollo packing his things. Rollo tells her that he is leaving, believing that it would have been better for everyone if he had been executed. Siggy tells him that the lawgiver was right, that the gods wanted him alive, offering him a chance at redemption and Valhalla. Siggy convinces him to stay.
Ragnar sits on the shore of his land and mourns for Gyda, wanting to properly bid her farewell, reminiscing about her youth and energy. While usually appearing obsessed with having sons, it becomes evident that Ragnar dearly loved his departed daughter, and is heartbroken as he sits alone in the spot where her funeral pyre burned on the shore of the fjord, speaking of her as if she were physically present.
Meanwhile, a very pregnant Aslaug sails towards Kattegat. Bjorn awakens Ragnar, who is surprised to see her, but evidently pleased by her baby bump. Ragnar tells Lagertha that he did not know she was coming, and Lagertha is surprised to see that Ragnar had impregnated the woman.
Lagertha and Aslaug discuss their parents over a meal, and when Aslaug tries to talk to Bjorn about having a bond, Bjorn retorts that they have none. Later, Aslaug is picking out food from the marketplace, and Bjorn tells Ragnar to let her leave. Ragnar refuses because Aslaug is carrying his child. When Bjorn says she brings "unhappiness and difficulty", Ragnar tells him that unhappiness is a part of life, and that he is of age to accept that. Elsewhere, Lagertha is weaving, and Siggy tries to talk to her about Aslaug and what is to come.
Ragnar and Bjorn visit a recovering Floki, who is pleased when Ragnar tells him that he must regain his strength if he is to build a fleet of boats for their journey. Floki gleefully tells them that he had dreamed of the places they were to sail to.
At a banquet later that evening, Floki arrives with Torstein and Helga. At the head table, Ragnar is seen holding the uncomfortable Lagertha. They are soon served with food cooked by the lady servants of Aslaug, who joins them and sits on the other side of Ragnar. Seemingly drunk, Ragnar awkwardly suggests to Lagertha that the three of them be involved in what is a common marriage arrangement for Earls in the country, when the Earl can live with more than one woman, implying that he wants to live with both her and Aslaug, for the benefit of the children. Lagertha is appalled, and Aslaug agrees. Ragnar continues to try to appease Lagertha into agreeing.
The conversation only continues in their chambers later that night. Ragnar insists that she must accept so he can take care of Aslaug and their child, not wanting the incident with their unborn child to be repeated. Lagertha remains silent, her decision made.
The next day, Lagertha prepares to leave, and Floki arrives to find out himself. Torstein takes Bjorn to the side to tell him that he must stay with his father, else he will regret it. Bjorn is torn between his parents. As Lagertha is almost ready to leave, she calls for Bjorn and asks him about his choice. He chooses his father, and she painfully bids him farewell. Lagertha bids Siggy goodbye, and mounts her cart. The townspeople watch and gossip, Lagertha's friends look on sadly, and Bjorn tearfully walks away with Torstein. They come across Ragnar, unaware of his wife's departure, and chases after her on horseback.
Ragnar stops Lagertha, hurt that she would abandon him without warning him. Lagertha confronts him, saying he left her no choice. She has been insulted and humiliated, and she will now leave and divorce him. Ragnar tells her to stay, and Lagertha tells him it is fate. Moments later, Bjorn arrives, changing his mind and choosing his mother. Ragnar despondently accepts their decision, telling Bjorn to look after Lagertha. Bjorn mounts the cart with Lagertha, and the mother and son leave as a tearful Ragnar looks on. Ragnar, dejected and forlorn, woefully comes home to Aslaug and their unborn son.
- Travis Fimmel as Earl Ragnar
- Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha
- Clive Standen as Rollo
- Jessalyn Gilsig as Siggy
- Gustaf Skarsgård as Floki
- George Blagden as Athelstan
- Alyssa Sutherland as Princess Aslaug
- Donal Logue as King Horik
Additional Cast (in order of appearance)
- Tadhg Murphy as Arne
- Jefferson Hall as Torstein
- Alvaro Lucchesi as Pagan Priest
- Maude Hirst as Helga
- Morgan C. Jones as The Law Giver
- Pagan McGrath as Woman
- Carrie Crowley as Elisef
- Alexander Ludwig and Linus Roache are not credited and do not appear in this episode.
- The chanting heard during the battle is taken from Darraðarljóð, a Norse poem about twelve valkyries weaving the fate of the warriors at the Battle of Clontarf. The translated lyrics are: Let us now wind the web of war, Where the warrior banners are, forging forward, Let his life not be taken, Only the Valkyries can choose the slain!
- This episode marks the beginning of the collaboration between composer Trevor Morris and Norweigan composer Einar Selvik.