Treachery is the third episode of the second season of Vikings. It is the twelfth episode of the series overall. It first aired on March 13, 2014. It was written by creator Michael Hirst and directed by Ken Girotti.
The Wessex Viking raid is in full swing and King Ecbert finds himself facing an entirely new kind of foe. While Ragnar races to dominate in the West, Jarl Borg has his own plans in store for the future of Kattegat.
Meanwhile, King Ecbert gives his son Aethelwulf the assignment of building an army and scouting the Northmen to seek out their numbers and intentions.
Lagertha, now married to Earl Sigvard of Hedeby, is displeased with her new husband for insulting her son Bjorn. Sigvard says he loves her son, but Lagertha replies he doesn't know how to love anyone, and he hits her.
Ragnar and his raiding party moves towards Winchester. They are spotted and the townspeople hide inside the church, while defending soldiers take their stand against the Northmen. They are easily defeated by the Vikings. Inside the church, the Northmen find no treasure, but Athelstan reveals that they are hidden underneath a table on the altar. Besides treasure, they find parts of the skeleton of a saint. The Vikings continue seeking other buildings for treasure and killing any civilians they come across. Athelstan enters a room where holy papers are kept. When he is about to write on one with a feather and ink, he is confronted by a monk which Athelstan kills in fright, much to his shock. The bishop of Winchester, Bishop Swithun, enters and Athelstan tells him to hide before the Northmen discover him. The bishop recognizes him as one of their own and says he will be punished for his betrayal of Christianity. Floki enters and takes the bishop with him. The Northmen under King Horik's command take off his clothes and torture him by shooting arrows at him, to Athelstan's disgust.
Ragnar and the other Vikings are searching another building when he discovers a boy hiding. He conceals him with a blanket before the others see him to spare his life.
When the Northmen are about to finish off Bishop Swithun, Athelstan intervenes by standing in front of him before killing the bishop himself out of mercy, while Ragnar looks ashamed about the behavior of King Horik and his men.
In Hedeby, Bjorn tells his mother that he will kill Sigvard if he beats her again. She assures him it will not happen again. He says he misses his father, and she tells him it is logical to be proud of being his son. Bjorn replies she should be proud of being Ragnar's wife.
King Ecbert is informed about the raid on Winchester. One of his companions asks why nothing was done to protect the important site. Ecbert coldly replies that his kingdom is very large and he cannot defend all of it. He also says it was more important to know where the Northmen would strike first. Wessex's bishop, Bishop Edmund, asks if the bishop of Winchester was sacrificed in martyrdom, to which Ecbert replies he can have the same honor very soon.
In the camp the Northmen set up in Wessex, Floki gives Athelstan the Bible the monk he killed earlier was holding. Floki does not believe that the former priest has renounced his faith. He mockingly gives Athelstan the skeletal hand of the saint. Ragnar tells King Horik that if their people were to live in England, they would never be hungry as the earth is fertile enough for farming. King Horik expresses his doubts about the Saxons allowing them to live there.
In Götaland, Jarl Borg has been married to his new wife Torvi. At a feast, he tells his people they will attack Kattegat in revenge for Ragnar breaking their agreement of raiding together, as it is left undefended. He says that he will "pay Ragnar's treachery with the axe."
The camp of the Northmen in Wessex is visited by King Ecbert's bishop and a general of his army. The bishop asks Ragnar how long they intend to stay, to which he replies it depends on what King Ecbert is willing to offer them to leave or to stay. Ragnar says he wants to make peace with King Ecbert. King Horik notices the general is scouting out the number of the Northmen. Before they leave, Horik kills the general, to Floki's amusement and Ragnar's dismay.
Sigvard notices Bjorn is not happy. He asked what he can do to make the boy happy. Bjorn says he wants to live in a cabin in the mountains all by himself so he can test himself, learning what is essential and important to life. Sigvard declines, mocking Bjorn by saying he cannot allow his beloved stepson starve and die all alone.
In Kattegat, a fisher spots several longships approaching the village. Siggy wakes up Rollo, who deduces it must be Jarl Borg and rallies everyone who can fight to mount a defense. He instructs Siggy to take Aslaug and her children to safety in the mountains. The defending townspeople, including women and children, are forced to retreat to higher positions. An old man tells Rollo he should not be ashamed to flee, as his first duty is to bring Ragnar's family to safety. From a distance, Rollo and Aslaug witnesses Jarl Borg's forces seizing their village. Borg walks into Earl Ragnar's hall and revels in his victory, despite the fact that he did not have his revenge on Ragnar or Rollo.
- Travis Fimmel as Ragnar
- Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha
- Clive Standen as Rollo
- Jessalyn Gilsig as Siggy
- Gustaf Skarsgård as Floki
- George Blagden as Athelstan
- Alexander Ludwig as Bjorn
- Alyssa Sutherland as Aslaug
- Donal Logue as King Horik
- Linus Roache as King Ecbert
Additional Cast (in order of appearance)
- Jefferson Hall as Torstein
- Edvin Endre as Erlendur
- Moe Dunford as Prince Aethelwulf
- Duncan Lacroix as Ealdorman Werferth
- Alan Devine as Ealdorman Eadric
- Philip O'Sullivan as Bishop Edmund
- Fionn Foley as Bell Monk
- Chris Gallagher as Monk
- Edmund Kente as Bishop Swithun
- Georgia Hirst as Torvi
- Cormac Melia as Ubbe
- Cathal O'Hallin as Hvitserk
- Mark Lewis as Old Warrior
- Unknown Baby Actor as Sigurd
- Robert MacDomhnail as Viking Warrior
- Eimear O'Grady as Shield-maiden
- Aaron Lee Reed as Viking
- Andrea Scholer as Wet Nurse
- This is the first episode that Alexander Ludwig appears in as Björn.
- Saint Birinus, to whom the skeletal remains found in the church at Winchester belonged, was the "Apostle to the West Saxons," when he converted King Cynegils of Wessex in the 630's CE.
- Bishop Swithun, who was present at the church in Winchester, was likely based on the Christian Saint Swithun of Winchester (lived 800-862 CE).
- The torture of the bishop is based on how Ivar is said to have killed King Edmund of East Anglia.
- Missing from this episode and the subsequent portrayal of Hedeby is the Danevirke (Dane Work); an approximately 30 kilometer long wall running from Hedeby's coast to the River Treene, cutting off Denmark from the rest of Scandinavia. The wall was built between 650 and 737 AD. A second, complementary wall was built in 808 AD, in the timeframe of the series. A reconstruction and extension was made around 940 AD. The wall was reenforced and strengthened several times until the 14th century when advancements in siege engineering made it mostly obsolete as anything but a symbol.
- King Ecbert's anecdote about Charlemagne weeping when imagining the Viking Age, is taken from a late 9th century biography about the emperor. It was written with the hindsight of the nearly 100 years of destructive Viking raids that shook Frankia from the early 9th century and was probably an invention by the writer. During Charlemagne's time, the Danish King Gudfred invaded the then Frankish province of Frisia. By the time the then elderly Charlemagne had gathered his army and reached Frisia, the Danes had plundered Frisia, fought amongst themselves, Gudfred had died, and his army had gone home. This demonstrated how defenseless the Frankish coasts were against seaborne raids.