TV Club: All stories end in another’s beginning on a somber, shocking Vikings

In the end, I found myself thinking about Tostig. If you remember, Tostig was the aged Norse warrior who begged the young Ragnar Lothbrok to take him along on Ragnar’s initial English raids, if only so he could die in battle, as all good Vikings desire to do. Getting his wish at the hands of King Aelle’s troops, the old man dies smiling, “Valhalla” on his lips.

In the moments before Ragnar dies, dropped with shocking abruptness from his dangling cage into his historically florid fate in a pit full of snakes, Ragnar, too, proclaims his faith in the Norsemen’s afterlife. Sparing no detail, he speaks of Odin preparing his welcoming feast, of drinking from curved horns, of the Valkyries summoning him home to feast, and fight, and fuck for all eternity. Except that Ragnar is lying, his final breaths—before he lies shattered and grunting amidst …

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