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#101 : Rites Of Passage ... Cap à l'Ouest

 

Résumé : Au VIIIe siècle en Scandinavie, Ragnar Lothbrok, jeune et charismatique guerrier viking, rêve de découvertes et de conquêtes. Frustré par le manque d'ambition du chef local, le puissant Haraldson, qui s'entête à attaquer les régions pauvres de l'Est comme le veut la tradition, Ragnar décide de construire en secret un nouveau type de navire. Plus légers et plus rapides, ces vaisseaux devraient lui permettre de traverser la mer en direction des civilisations prospères de l'Ouest. Malgré la réprobation de son chef, Ragnar, se fiant aux signes et à la volonté des dieux, se lance dans une entreprise qui va changer le destin de son peuple. 

 

Popularité


5 - 6 votes

Première diffusion
03.03.2013

Première diffusion en France
10.06.2013

Vidéos

Recap de l'épisode Rites of Passage (vo)

Recap de l'épisode Rites of Passage (vo)

  

Bande Annonce Saison 1 (vo)

Bande Annonce Saison 1 (vo)

  

Diffusions

Logo de la chaîne W9

France (inédit)
Dimanche 23.11.2014 à 20:50
0.55m / 2.0% (Part)

Logo de la chaîne History Channel

Etats-Unis (inédit)
Dimanche 03.03.2013 à 22:00
6.21m / 2.0% (18-49)

Plus de détails

Titre VO : Rites of Passages (trad litt. : "rites de passages").
Titre VF : Cap à l'ouest.

Première diffusion US : Dimanche 3 mars 2013 sur History (Canada et USA).
Première diffusion FR : Lundi 10 juin 2013 sur Canal+. 
Écrit par : Michael Hirst.
Réalisé par : Johan Renck.

 

Invités :

Eddie Drew – Odin
Ruby O'Leary – Gyda
Gerard McCarthy – Brondsted
Billy Gibson – Ulf
Eddie Elks – Olafur
David Wilmot – Olaf Andwend
Connor Madden – Eric Trygvasson
Donna Dent – Femme
Cian Quinn – Olaf, fils d'Igolf
John Kavanagh – Le Voyant
David Pearse – Svein

Critique :

A.V Club (en anglais)
Critictoo (en français)
Dailymars (en français)

Ragnar Lothbrok et son frère Rollo achèvent une bataille lorsque Ragnar aperçoit Odin et les Valkyries.

On le retrouve plus tard alors qu'il emmène son fils de 12 ans, Bjorn, à Kattegat afin qu'il prenne part aux rites de passages de leur peuple. Il laisse à la ferme son épouse Lagertha et sa fille Gyda, que deux hommes essaient bientôt de violer. Mais Lagertha, jeune femme au bouclier, n'a aucun mal à se débarrasser d'eux.

À Kattegat, Ragnar retrouve son frère Rollo. Il lui montre un cadran et une pierre solaires qu'il a eu d'un voyageur et qui doivent leur permettre de naviguer vers les terres inconnues de l'Ouest. Ragnar espère pouvoir convaincre leur chef, le Jarl Haraldson, d'envoyer les expéditions d'été vers l'Ouest au lieu de l'Est, où les butins sont maigres.

Mais avant de parler d'expéditions, Haraldson rend la justice. Il condamne à la décapitation un homme accusé de meurtre. La sentence est exécutée le lendemain, néanmoins Haraldson ne s'en contente pas : il maudit l'homme, ce que Ragnar prend pour un signe qu'il s'agissait d'une vengeance plus personnelle.

Plus tard, Haraldson remet à Bjorn et à un autre jeune garçon les bracelets qui le désignent comme des hommes. Il souhaite festoyer avant de parler des expéditions d'été mais Ragnar proteste et suggère d'aller à l'Ouest. Haraldson refuse de risquer ses bateaux et sa réputation sur un tel coup de dés et met fin à la conversation. Il convoque plus tard Ragnar dans ses quartiers pour le menacer car il n'a pas apprécié de voir son autorité remise en doute devant l'assemblée.

Cette nuit-là, Haraldson revoit en rêve son pire souvenir : la découverte des corps démembrés et déshonorés de ses deux jeunes fils. Sa femme Siggy tente de le réconforter.

Pendant ce temps, Ragnar emmène Bjorn rencontrer le Voyant, qui est supposé être capable de parler aux dieux. Mais c'est de son destin que Ragnar veut en réalité discuter. Il cherche à savoir s'il doit ou non désobéir à Haraldson. La réponse du Voyant est très ambiguë : s'il assure à Ragnar que les dieux désirent pour lui un avenir glorieux, il l'avertit également que leur faveur peut lui être retirée à tout moment.

Ragnar et Bjorn se mettent ensuite en route pour la demeure de Floki, un ami de Ragnar qui construit de bons bateaux, et que celui-ci a chargé de lui construire une embarcation capable de naviguer sur les hautes mers comme sur les fleuves, afin d'aller vers l'Ouest.

Père et fils prennent enfin le chemin de la ferme familiale. Rollo les y rejoint peu de temps après. Une fois les enfants couchés, Ragnar et Rollo discutent de leur voyage vers l'Ouest. Rollo désire avoir l'assurance qu'ils seront tous deux égaux, ce que Ragnar lui promet. Il doit s'absenter un moment et Rollo en profite pour tenter de séduire Lagertha, qui le repousse avec mépris.
À l'extérieur, Ragnar aperçoit une corneille qu'il prend comme un signe. Il annonce la bonne nouvelle à son frère sans remarquer l'atmosphère tendue qui règne dans la maison.

Quelque temps après, Ragnar, Rollo et Floki testent le bateau que ce dernier a conçu. Le bateau fonctionne très bien et les trois hommes en sont très heureux.

Mais l'un des hommes d'Haraldson les observe depuis les hauteurs.

Terres baltiques de l’est, 793 après Jesus Christ.

Un jeune Viking, Ragnar Lothbrok, s’est engagé dans un combat à mort avec deux guerriers lettons. Ragnar se bat depuis un long moment, son torse est couvert de sang, tout comme son épée et les corps sans vie qui l’entourent.

Les lettons sont plus grands et forts, mais très vite, on se rend compte de l’habilité et la rapidité de Ragnar avec une épée. On voit également que le guerrier letton est bien amochi, surtout à ses blessures et au sang qui coule. Au final, Ragnar lui plante son épée dans le ventre.

Mais au même moment, un autre guerrier letton attaque Ragnar de derrière avec une hache. Mais Ragnar pivote d’un coup et c’est son bouclier qui prend le coup. La hache reste coincée dans le bois du bouclier.

Incapable de retirer son arme, le letton l’abandonne et s’en va en courant. Ragnar attrape une lance sur le corps d’un des cadavres et la lance en direction du guerrier qui se la prend dans le dos et tombe au sol.

Ragnar et son frère Rollo, ayant survécu au combat, se serrent dans les bras en riant.

RAGNAR : Merci mon frère

Des corbeaux les survolent et viennent se nourrir des cadavres au sol. Les bruits des corbeaux se font plus importants et Ragnar voit un homme habillé en noir au loin.

RAGNAR : Odin!

Il ramasse les cadavres des Vikings tombés au combat et les emmène dans le ciel.

ROLLO : Ragnar.

Ragnar se retourne. Quand il regarde de nouveau dans la direction de l’homme, il n’est plus là. Il est surpris.

Générique

 

Scandinavie

EXT. RIVIERE – JOUR

Une femme et sa fille sont en train de pêcher avec des lances. Il s’agit de Lagertha, la femme de Ragnar et leur fille Gyda.

GYDA : Raté.

LAGERTHA : En voilà un.

Lagertha attrape un poisson.

LAGERTHA : Allez, viens. On rentre.

EXT. MAISON DE RAGNAR – JOUR

Ragnar et son fils Bjorn s’entrainent au combat avec des épées en bois. Ragnar désarme le jeune Bjorn.

RAGNAR : Les yeux.

Bjorn ramasse son arme et Lagertha frappe son bouclier avec poigne. Il frappe Bjorn à la tête avec son propre bouclier. Bjorn fâché contre-attaque. Ragnar rit.

INT. MAISON DE RAGNAR – JOUR

Lagertha et Gyda rejoignent Bjorn et Ragnar.

LAGERTHA : Qu’est-ce que vous manigancez ?

RAGNAR : J’emmène Bjorn au Thing demain.

LAGERTHA : C’est trop tôt, il est encore trop jeune.

RAGNAR : Non, il a déjà 12 ans.

LAGERTHA : L’année prochaine. Ça viendra bien assez vite.

RAGNAR : Trouve lui un ruban de soie Lagertha. (à Bjorn) T’es un bon petit, même si t’as de drôles d’oreilles.

Il lui tire les oreilles en riant.

INT. MAISON DE RAGNAR – NUIT

Ragnar et Lagertha sont au lit.

LAGERTHA : Évite de coucher avec trop de femmes à Kattegat

RAGNAR : J’arrive à m’en passer pendant quelques jours.

LAGERTHA : Est-ce que c’est ta façon de me dire que tu m’aimes ?

Il rit.

LAGERTHA : EUH ?

RAGNAR : Tu es dans tous les rêves. La nuit dernière j’ai rêvé que tu me servais du boudin noir.

LAGERTHA : Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire ?

RAGNAR : Ca veut dire que tu m’donnais ton cœur.

Ils se regardent avec amour.

EXT. MAISON DE RAGNAR – JOUR

RAGNAR : Tu t’occupes de ton chien bonhomme.

BJORN : Rudy, allez viens mon grand.

Ragnar et Bjorn s’éloignent.

EXT. MONTAGNES – JOUR

BJORN : Comment ça se passe le THING ?

RAGNAR : Tout d’abord le Jarl va rendre la justice. Ensuite on parlera des expéditions d’été.

BJORN : Et toi, où tu iras ?

RAGNAR : C’est le jarl qui décide. C’est à lui qu’appartiennent les bateaux. Il va nous envoyer à l’est, dans les terres baltes. Comme d’habitude. Moi j’aimerais bien savoir ce qu’il y a à l’ouest. Connaitre les cités et les Dieux de ces peuples. Je ne me contente pas de … de ça.

Il s’arrête. Il regarde Bjorn dans les yeux.

RAGNAR : Odin a donné un œil pour acquérir le savoir. Moi je donnerais beaucoup plus.

BJORN : Le jarl Haraldson te laissera faire ?

Ragnar rit.

INT. MAISON DE RAGNAR – NUIT

Lagertha et Gyda sont n train de tresser une toile.

LAGERTHA : Vas-y. Comme ça, en rangs très serrés. À trois. Un … deux … trois. C’est très bien.

Deux hommes armés entrent dans la maison.

LAGERTHA : Gyda, vas nourrir les chèvres. Dépêche-toi.

Gyda sort de la pièce. Sans peur, Lagertha s’approche des deux inconnus.

LAGERTHA : Qu’est-ce que vous voulez ?

JEUNE HOMME UN : On sait que tu es seule. Les hommes sont partis.

LAGERTHA : Si vous avez soif, je vous donnerai à boire. Si vous avez faim, je vous donnerai à manger. Sinon, vous devez partir.

JEUNE HOMME DEUX : On boira et on mangera quand on étanchera notre soif.

Lagertha fait mine de les inviter et leur ouvre la pas. Les deux hommes la suivent. Elle prend un bout de fer qui se trouve dans le feu de la cheminée.

JEUNE HOMME DEUX : Ne m’oblige pas à te tuer femme.

LAGERTHA : Tu n’y arriverais pas même si tu essayais pendant cent ans.

Son regard change et se fait plus menaçant. Ils commencent à se battre. Lagertha brûle l’un des hommes au visage. Il hurle. Elle le met à terre. Elle s’engage dans le combat avec le second homme. Elle saisit un crochet au mur et lui plante dans le cou. Il hurle également. Elle le jette à l’extérieur de la maison. Elle saisit l’autre et le jette également à l’extérieur.

Lagertha respire, soulagée. Elle court à l’extérieur.

LAGERTHA : (inquiète) Gyda !

EXT. MAISON DE RAGNAR – JOUR

Gyda est assise dans l’abri à chèvres, effrayée.

LAGERTHA : Chérie

Elle la serre dans ses bras.

EXT. MONTAGNES – NUIT

Ragnar et Bjorn sont dans les montagnes. Les loups hurlent. Les deux hommes sont assis autour d’un feu.

RAGNAR : Je suis allé lui déclarer mon amour. Mais j’ai été attaqué par un ours et un énorme chien qui gardait sa maison. J’ai tué l’ours d’abord, avec ma lance.

Il mime l’acte. Bjorn l’écoute avec attention.

RAGNAR : Et ensuite, j’ai réussi à étrangler le molosse, à mains nues. Voilà, c’est comme ça que j’ai obtenu sa main. Elle t’a raconté la même chose ?

Bjorn se couche au sol.

BJORN : Oui, à peu près.

Ragnar rit.

RAGNAR : Tu es prêt à recevoir ton bracelet et à devenir un homme ?

BJORN : Oui.

RAGNAR : C’est quoi le devoir d’un homme ?

Bjorn réfléchit un instant.

BJORN : C’est de combattre.

RAGNAR : Et … ?

BJORN : C’est aussi de s’occuper de sa famille.

RAGNAR : C’est bien. Tu saurais t’occuper de notre famille ?

Bjorn se relève.

BJORN : Oui. Pourquoi tu me pose cette question ? C’est toi qui t’occupe de nous.

RAGNAR : Imagine que je ne sois plus là. Je vais devoir prendre une grande décision. Ça pourrait changer bien des choses. Maintenant essaie de dormir. Faut que tu sois en forme pour demain.

Ils se couchent. Ragnar regarde au loin, pensif.

EXT. KATTEGAT – JOUR

Ragnar, Bjorn et d’autres hommes arrivent à Kattegat. Des gens sont au marché. Sur le ponton, des prisonniers attachés marchent au pas. Des enfants jouent.

Ragnar prend Bjorn par l’épaule.

RAGNAR : Tu restes avec moi.

Un homme saisit Bjorn par derrière. Il grogne. Il s’agit de Rollo, le frère cadet de Ragnar.

ROLLO : Bjorn.

Ils rient tous les deux.

ROLLO : Content de te voir mon frère.

RAGNAR : Rollo.

ROLLO : Par Freya et tous les Dieux ce que tu as grandi.

BJORN : Bonjour Rollo.

ROLLO : Tu es là pour le Thing ? T’es un homme maintenant. Suivez-moi, on va fêter ça.

Il prend Bjorn par l’épaule.

INT. TAVERNE – JOUR

Bjorn boit un verre d’alcool cul sec. Il est clairement bourré. Ragnar rit.

ROLLO : Dis donc, t’es tout palot Bjorn. Tu veux qu’on te trouve une fille ?

Ragnar rit encore.

ROLLO : Il y a de belles femmes à Kattegat. Et elles ne font pas toutes payer.

RAGNAR : Il a encore des joues de bébé. Euh mon grand ? Allez, vas de reposer.

ROLLO : Où tu crois que le jarl va nous envoyer cette année ? Ces pauvres gueux de l’est sont aussi misérables que nous.

RAGNAR : Je sais.

Il se rapproche de Rollo et chuchote.

RAGNAR : C’est pour ça qu’il faut aller vers l’ouest. J’ai entendu des récits fabuleux. Il y a beaucoup de villages et de cités. Des trésors, des coffres pleins d’or et d’argent. Et il y a un nouveau Dieu.

ROLLO : Moi aussi on m’a raconté ça. Qu’est-ce que ça peut faire. Personne ne peut naviguer en pleine mer.

RAGNAR : Je pense connaitre un moyen. Pour aller vers l’ouest.

Rollo le regarde circonspect.

RAGNAR : J’ai trouvé un objet. Un outil qui va tout changer pour nous.

ROLLO : Quoi ?

Ragnar saisit un objet dans un bout de tissu dans son sac.

ROLLO : Qu’est-ce que c’est ?

RAGNAR : Tais-toi. Écoute. J’ai rencontré un homme il y a plusieurs mois. Un voyageur. Il m’a dit que c’était possible de naviguer vers l’est. De traverser la mer. Grâce à ceci.

Il sort une sorte de boussole. Rollo sourit.

RAGNAR : C’est un compas solaire. Il faut le poser sur de l’eau.

Rollo rit. Ragnar saisit un bol.

ROLLO : Encore un voyageur.

RAGNAR : Mais cette fois c’est différent.

ROLLO : Ecoute-moi Ragnar. Ton soi-disant voyageur, il a navigué vers l’ouest lui-même.

RAGNAR : Bon, écoute, vas me chercher de l’eau.

Rollo verse de l’eau dans le bol. Ragnar pose la boussole dedans.

RAGNAR : Regarde. Cette bougie c’est le soleil. (Il saisit une bougie sur la table). Tous les jours, il se lève et monte dans le ciel jusqu’à midi. Tu vois l’ombre qui se raccourcit ? À midi, c’est là qu’elle est la plus courte.

ROLLO : Et plus elle est courte, plus on a navigué vers le sud.

RAGNAR : Tu veux bien m’écouter ? La veille du départ, tu trace un trait autour de la pointe pour repérer où se trouve l’ombre la plus courte de midi. Le lendemain, en mer, tu replace ton compas de mer dans l’eau vers midi, et tu regardes l’ombre. Si cette ombre touche juste le cercle …

ROLLO : Tu as gardé le bon cap.

RAGNAR : Oui. Et si l’ombre dépasse du cercle, comme ça…

ROLLO : C’est que t’as dérivé. Tu dois remettre le cap vers le sud.

RAGNAR : Ouais. Et si l’ombre n’atteint pas le bord du cercle…

ROLLO : C’est que t’as dérivé trop au sud et que tu dois remonter vers le nord.

RAGNAR : Voilà. Si tu maintiens l’ombre du midi sur le cercle, Tu sais que tu gardes le bon cap. Ouest.

Rollo éteint la bougie.

ROLLO : Et si jamais il n’y a pas de soleil ? Ton compas ne te sert plus à rien. Alors comment tu navigues ?

Ragnar se lève. Il saisit un autre objet emballé dans du tissu. Il le tend vers Rollo.

RAGNAR : Grâce à ceci. Viens avec moi dehors.

Ils sortent.

EXT. DEVANT LA TAVERNE – JOUR

RAGNAR : On appelle ça une pierre de soleil.

Ragnar tend la pierre vers le ciel couvert pas les nuages. La pierre récupère la lumière et la renvoie.

RAGNAR : Tiens, regarde. Le soleil est là. On peut naviguer vers l’ouest.

Il pointe le soleil du doigt.

INT. THING – JOUR

Plein d’hommes et de femmes sont rassemblés. Ils sont dissipés. Ils crient, boivent …

Un homme mime une poule pour faire rire la foule.

HOMME : Silence !

Il frappe plusieurs fois le sol avec un bout de bois.

Tout le monde se tait. Jarl Haraldson arrive accompagné de ses hommes de main et de sa femme Siggy. Les deux s’assoient sur un trône.

SVEIN : Olaf Anwend, tu as plaidé coupable à l’accusation de vol.

Un homme acquiesce.

SVEIN : Demain tu seras soumis à l’épreuve des pierres et des ordures. Ce sera ton châtiment.

OLAF : Bien monseigneur. Merci monseigneur.

Il fait une courbette. Le jarl ne le regarde même pas.

SVEIN : Sachez tous qu’une amende sera infligée, à quiconque ne jettera rien sur ce misérable.

Il rit. Tout le monde se met à rire.

SVEIN : Faites entrer le prochain accusé.

Un homme entre.

LA FOULE: C’est lui … Assassin … Au bûcher … Il et coupable … Tuez-le.

SVEIN : Eric Trygvasson. Tu es accusé du meurtre de Sygval Strout au mois de janvier. Que plaides-tu ?

TRYGVASSON : Ce n’était pas un meurtre monseigneur. J’ai été obligé de le tuer pour me protéger.

LA FOULE : Menteur … Il l’a tué.

SVEIN : Si tu ne l’as pas tué, pourquoi n’as-tu pas signalé ton crime à la première personne que tu as vue juste après les faits, comme nos lois t’y obligent ? D’ailleurs tu es passé devant plusieurs maisons sans t’arrêter. Sans avertir personne.

TRYGVASSON : Je me suis dit que c’était sûrement la famille du mort qui habitait dans ces maisons.

La foule fait du bruit.

SVEIN : La loi te permet de passer deux maisons dans ces circonstances précises, mais jamais une troisième.

UNE FEMME : Tu as tué mon frère de sang-froid sale meurtrier.

TRYGVASSON : Non c’est faux. On se querellait pour une affaire de parcelles de terrain, et il m’a attaqué avec un couteau.

LA FEMME : Avoue que tu cherchais à voler notre terre. Tu es un menteur. Et un lâche.

Trygvasson se retourne vers la femme.

TRYGVASSON : Je ne me laisserai pas insulter, jamais je n’ai été lâche.

La foule fait à nouveau du bruit. Le jarl s’agace.

JARL HARALDSON : Silence !

Tout le monde se tait.

JARL HARALDSON : Puisque les règles ancestrales n’ont pas été respectées, l’assassin ne saurait expier cette mort en payant le prix du sang à la famille. Le meurtre est un grand déshonneur pour notre peuple. Quand il reste secret, quand il est inavoué, il risque d’d’amorcer tout un cycle de vengeance sanglante qui finirait par toucher ta propre famille.

TRYGVASSON : Monseigneur, vous saviez que nous nous disputions ce terrain. Vous saviez qu’il me revenait de droit …

Le jarl et sa femme sont offusqués.

JARL HARALDSON : Ça suffit !

Il se tait.

JARL HARALDSON : Je vous demande à tous de regarder l’accusé. Si vous le croyez coupable, levez la main.

Tout le monde lève la main sauf Bjorn.

JARL HARALDSON : La décision ne peut être qu’unanime.

Ragnar cherche surpris qui n’a pas levé la main. Il donne un coup à Bjorn qui lève aussi la main.

JARL HARALDSON : Eric Trygvasson, tu es reconnu coupable de meurtre. Quelle mort choisis-tu ?

La foule est soulagée, la sœur de la victime souffle.

TRYGVASSON : La décapitation seigneur.

JARL HARALDSON : Ton souhait sera exaucé, tu seras exécuté demain.

Le jarl se lève.

JARL HARALDSON : Après quoi nous partagerons un festin et nous parlerons des raids d’été.

Le Jarl et sa femme quittent la pièce.

La foule applaudit, satisfaite.

EXT. KATTEGAT – JOUR

Le voleur de la veille est jeté dans un bain de foule, tout le monde lui jette des pierres et des légumes. Ragnar tend un chou à Bjorn.

RAGNAR : Tu dois le faire.

Bjorn prend le chou et le lance sur le voleur. L’homme se prend une pierre dans la tête et tombe au sol. La foule déchainée continue de lui en lancer.

UN HOMME : Allez debout, c’est fini.

On lui lance un seau d’eau sur la tête et il se relève.

Le Jarl, SIggy, Svein et les autres apparaissent. Svein fait signe à la foule de se taire. Trygvasson arrive.

BJORN : Pourquoi il sourit père ?

RAGNAR : Il veut mourir dignement, sans peur, pour expier ses fautes.

Trygvasson s’agenouille. Le bourreau le décapite avec une hache.

Bjorn détourne le regard.

RAGNAR : Tu dois regarder. Pour son salut.

ROLLO : C’est son seul moyen d’accéder au Valhalla.

Bjorn effrayé regarde alors la scène. Il est choqué.

La foule applaudit et hurle de joie. Le bourreau saisit la tête et la brandit. La famille de la victime est soulagée.

JARL HARALDSON : Jette-le aux pourceaux.

Ragnar est choqué. La foule se tait.

Le bourreau balance la tête au sol.

JARL HARALDSON : Je le maudis. Que jamais il ne puisse entrer au Valhalla.

La famille de l’accusé fond en larmes.

JARL HARALDSON : Que jamais il ne festoie avec les Dieux.

Le Jarl se lève et rentre. La foule est choquée.

BJORN : Pourquoi est-ce qu’il il a fait ça ?

RAGNAR : Il n’aurait pas dû.

ROLLO : Il parait que le Jarl voulait s’approprier sa parcelle. Il savait de Trygvasson ne voulait pas la vendre.

RAGNAR : T’as entendu mon fils ? C’est comme ça que les choses se font pas ici.

INT. THING – SOIR

Bjorn et un autre enfant se tiennent devant le jarl.

JARL HARALDSON : Olaf fils d’Ingolf, Bjorn fils de Ragnar, je soumets deux offrandes. Le goût du sel et le goût du sang.

Le jarl met un peu de sel et de terre sur une épée.

JARL HARALDSON : Pour vous rappeler que vous appartenez à la fois à la terre et à la mer. Ces bracelets sont le symbole de votre loyauté envers moi, votre seigneur et chef de clan. Les serments que vous ferez sur ces bracelets, doivent être honorés à jamais. Le comprenez-vous et donnez-vous votre parole ?

Il leur tend deux bracelets.

BJORN et OLAF : Oui monseigneur.

JARL HARALDSON : Acceptez-vous de vous soumettre à moi votre seigneur et chef de clan ?

BJORN ET OLAF : Oui monseigneur.

JARL HARALDSON : Bien, vous pouvez mettre vos bracelets.

Il leur tend les bracelets. Les deux jeunes mettent les bracelets. La foule fait entendre sa satisfaction.

Le jarl fait signe à sa femme.

Siggy : Approchez.

Les deux jeunes garçons se lèvent et s’approchent de Siggy. Elle les embrasse les deux sur les lèvres.

UN HOMME : Oh ça lui plait.

Tout le monde se met à hurler et boit à la santé des deux garçons qui sont maintenant devenus des hommes.

JARL HARALDSON : Apportez le festin.

UN HOMME : Ce sont des homme maintenant … On va fêter ça, ouais !

RAGNAR : Monseigneur ! On est impatients de festoyer, mais, on veut aussi savoir où iront les expéditions cet été ?

La foule acquiesce.                          

JARL HARALDSON : Ca ne peut attendre, Ragnar ?

ROLLO : Non, dites-le nous. On veut savoir. On a le droit de savoir.

JARL HARALDSON : Très bien, nous attaquerons à nouveau à l’est. Dans les terres baltes et en Russie.

La foule semble déçue et agacée.

Ragnar se lève énervé.

RAGNAR : Tous les ans, on attaque les mêmes endroits. Mais il y a une autre possibilité. Si vous le voulez.

JARL HARALDSON : (agacé) Ah oui ! Oui si nous le voulions. J’ai moi aussi entendu ces rumeurs, ces histoires sur les voyages vers l’ouest. Nous pourrions, parait-il, accoster des terres de richesses et d’abondance.

La foule rit.

JARL HARALDSON : Mais je refuse de mettre en péril mes navires et ma réputation sur la seule foi de fantasmes ridicules. Ces navires m’appartiennent, c’est moi qui les ai payés. Je choisis le cap qu’ils suivent. C’est décidé, la discussion est terminée.

Ragnar a un rire sarcastique. Il hoche la tête.

JARL HARALDSON : Place au festin.

La foule est contente. Ragnar retourne s’assoir. Des hommes apportent de la viande.

RAGNAR : Montre. C’est un très beau bracelet.

Un homme s’approche de la table de Ragnar.

L’HOMME : Ragnar Lothbrok, le jarl souhaiterait s’entretenir avec toi. En privé.

RAGNAR : Reste avec ton oncle.

Il se lève et suit l’homme.

Ragnar arrive dans une autre pièce. Le jarl mange.

JARL HARALDSON : Ragnar Lothbrok, assieds-toi.

Ragnar s’assoit.

JARL HARALDSON : Tu as faim ?

RAGNAR : Oui monseigneur.

Il tend sa main pour se servir à manger mais le jarl retire l’assiette.

JARL HARALDSON : Tu veux festoyer dans mon grand scali, tu veux naviguer sur mes navires. Tu veaux autre chose de moi ?

RAGNAR : Écoutez …

JARL HARALDSON : Tu parles sans cesse de ces terres à l’ouest. Qu’est-ce que tu en connais ? Comment peux-tu être sûr qu’il y a une contrée si puissante et si riche ?

RAGNAR : Je ne peux pas en être sûr, mais je pense qu’elles sont …

JARL HARALDSON : Je me moque de ce que tu penses. Tu m’as insulté devant tout le clan.

Il devient menaçant.

JARL HARALDSON : Ce n’était pas la première fois, mais crois moi, ça sera la dernière.

Il continue de manger. Ragnar se lève.

SVEIN : Qui t’a dit de t’en aller ?

Ragnar se rassied.                                                  

JARL HARALDSON : Toi Ragnar, tu es un fermier. Tu ferais mieux de te satisfaire de ton sort. Les fermes sont rares et très convoitées. De nombreux membre du clan aimeraient posséder tes terres. J’espère que c’est clair. Est-ce qu’on se comprend ?

RAGNAR : Oui c’est très clair.

JARL HARALDSON : Et ne t’avise plus jamais de me provoquer Ragnar.

Le jarl se remet à manger. Ragnar se lève et quitte la pièce.

JARL HARALDSON : (à l’un de ses hommes) Je m’en méfie, gardes-le à l’œil.

EXT. KATTEGAT – NUIT

Ragnar et Bjorn marchent

BJORN : Où est-ce qu’on va encore ? Je suis fatigué.

RAGNAR : On va parler aux Dieux. C’est la coutume.

INT. CHEZ LE VOYANT – NUIT

Le voyant mange.

LE VOYANT : Je vous attends, ne restez pas à la porte.

Ragnar et Bjorn entrent. Bjorn semble effrayé par l’apparence du voyant.

RAGNAR : Assieds-toi.

Ils s’asseyent. Le voyant gémit.

LE VOYANT : Que voulez-vous ?

RAGNAR : Je veux savoir ce que les Dieux ont prévu.

LE VOYANT : Pour toi ou pour le petit ?

RAGNAR : C’est mon propre destin qui m’intéresse.

LE VOYANT : Les Dieux te réservent un avenir glorieux, je le sens. Mais ils peuvent te retirer leur soutien en un instant.

RAGNAR : Si je dois avoir cet avenir glorieux, je dois enfreindre la loi ?

LE VOYANT : Tu dois convaincre les Dieux de modifier les runes de ton destin, afin qu’elles jouent en ta faveur. Les lois des hommes sont bien futiles au regard des œuvres et des desseins des Dieux.

RAGNAR : Je dois plier les lois à ma volonté. C’est bien ça devin ?

Le voyant reste silencieux.

RAGNAR : Je veux une réponse.

LE VOYANT : Tu la sonnais déjà Ragnar.

RAGNAR : Non, dis-moi.

LE VOYANT : Pourquoi ne vas-tu pas demander toi-même aux Dieux ? De quoi as-tu peur ?

RAGNAR : (à Bjorn) Attends-moi dehors.

BJORN : Oui père.

Il sort.

RAGNAR : Tu ne m’as pas vraiment aidé vieux sage.

LE VOYANT : Peut-être as-tu posé les mauvaises questions.

Il tend sa main vers Ragnar. Il en lèche la paume et y pose son front. Le voyant sourit, satisfait.

EXT. CHEZ LE jARL – NUIT

Le jarl arrive en courant. Des hommes avec des torches se sont amassés.

JARL HARALDSON : Où sont-ils, où sont mes fils ? Vous les avez vraiment trouvés.

Il s’arrête choqué et regarde par terre. Les corps de ses deux fils coupés en morceaux s’y trouvent. Le Jarl tombe à genoux et fond en larmes.

INT. CHEZ LE JARL – NUIT

Le jarl se réveille en sursaut. Il faisait un rêve. Il semble effrayé. Sa femme est réveillée. Il se lève et s’assoit sur le lit. Elle le rejoint et pose sa main sur son épaule.

EXT. MONTAGNES – JOUR

Ragnar et Bjorn sont dans une barque.

RAGNAR: On va voir quelqu'un de très particulier. Il s'appelle Floki.

BJORN: Floki! Comme Loki, le Dieux.

RAGNAR: Oui, à un petit détail prêt.

BJORN: Qu'est-ce que c'est ? 

RAGNAR: Ce n'est pas un Dieu.

Bjorn rit.

BJORN : Et pourquoi est-ce qu’il n’est pas venu au Thing ?

Ragnar sourit.

RAGNAR : Parce que … parce qu’il est timide.

Un homme avec un masque de bois sort de la forêt et cri comme un fou pour effrayer les deux marcheurs. Il s’agit de Floki. Bjorn le regarde ébahi. Floki enlève son masque.

RAGNAR : Floki, je te présente mon fils Bjorn.

FLOKI : Bonjour, comment vas-tu ?

Bjorn le regarde surpris.

BJORN : Bien. Merci monsieur.

FLOKI : Laisse-moi voir.

Il prend le visage du garçon dans les mains.

FLOKI : Ah ! Tu as les yeux de ton père tu sais. Malheureusement.

Ragnar est surpris.

RAGNAR : Pourquoi malheureusement.

FLOKI : Ca veut dire que ton fils va être comme toi, donc il voudra être mieux que toi, et tu vas le haïr pour ça.

Ragnar le menace avec son bâton pour rire. Floki rit.

BJORN : Comment vous pouvez voir ça seulement en voyant mon visage.

FLOKI : C’est pareil avec les arbres. Je peux te dire quelle arbre va me donner les meilleures planches tien qu’en le voyant. Je suis capable de voir à l’intérieur même de l’arbre.

RAGNAR : Floki construit des bateaux, et il a bien d’autres talents. (à Bjorn) Vas-y regarde.

Floki scrute les arbres. Il s’approche d’un arbre, le touche, pose sa tête dessus. Bjorn l’observe.

FLOKI : Ah, en voilà un beau. À l’intérieur de cet arbre, il y a deux planches presque parfaites. Elles seront souples, incurvées, tout comme le corps d’une femme des cuisses aux reins. Quand j’abattrai cet arbre, je les trouverai.

Il commence à frapper l’arbre avec sa hache. Bjorn est perplexe.

BJORN : Tu peux voir ce genre de choses ?

Floki s’approche du garçon. Il ne rit plus.

FLOKI : Tu crois que je plaisante ? Je plaisante sur beaucoup de sujets, fils de Ragnar, mais pas quand je parle de bateaux. Tu crois que les bateaux sont des objets sans vie ?

RAGNAR : Justement, si on parlait de notre bateau ?

EXT. CHEZ FLOKI – JOUR

Ragnar inspecte un bateau inachevé ?

FLOKI : Il sera plus léger et sa voile sera plus grande. Toute la conception est différente. Je l’ai bâti autour d’une pille très solide. Les deux virures les plus basses, seront clouées directement sur les membrures, mais les autres abordages, regarde, ils sont à clin et rivetés aux poupes pas cloués, comme ça, ils peuvent bouger les uns par rapport aux autres, dons le bateau ne buttera pas aux vagues comme une pierre. Il va pouvoir glisser dessus comme un oiseau.

RAGNAR : La coque est plus profonde ? Comment mes hommes feront pour ramer ?

FLOKI : Je percerai des sabords dans la virure comme ça on pourra les fermer quand on sera en pleine mer.

RAGNAR : Tu crois qu’il supportera de longues traversées ?

Floki rit, confiant.

FLOKI : Je l’ai construit pour ça.

RAGNAR : Mais tu penses qu’il sera assez solide ?

FLOKI : On ne pourra le savoir qu’en l’essayant.

RAGNAR : Et il sera prêt quand ?

FLOKI : Je voulais t’en parler.

RAGNAR : Quoi ?

FLOKI : Il y a qu’on a plus d’argent. Il faut encore payer l’ancre et puis la voile. Et tu sais comment sont les forgerons, saloperie de voleurs.

Ragnar lui donne des pièces.

RAGNAR : Voilà pour l’ancre. C’est tout ce qu’il me reste des raids de l’année dernière.

FLOKI : Ne t’inquiète pas, on aura bientôt un trésor digne du roi des nains.

Il Rit.

INT. CHEZ RAGNAR – JOUR

Alors que des loups mangent à l’extérieur, Ragnar et Lagertha sont au lit. Ils s’embrassent.

RAGNAR : Tu m’as manqué. Il ne s’est rien passé pendant qu’on était parti ?

LAGERTHA : (hésitante) Non.

RAGNAR : Est-ce que moi je t’ai manqué ?

LAGERTHA : Je brûlais d’un amour inassouvi. Tout mon corps avait soif de rire.

RAGNAR : C’est ça dont tu as envie. Tu veux que je te fasse rire ?

LAGERTHA : Non je n’ai pas envie de rire pour l’instant.

Elle lui monte dessus.

LAGERTHA : J’ai envie de te chevaucher comme un auroch. Comme un auroch furieux.

Ils commencent à s’embrasser et à faire l’amour.

EXT. CHEZ RAGNAR – JOUR

Bjorn taille un bout de bois au bord de la rivière. Rollo arrive au bord d’une barque.

ROLLO : Salut jeune Bjorn.

BJORN : Bonjour Rollo.

ROLLO : Où sont tes parents.

BJORN : Ils font l’amour.

Rollo sourit.

ROLLO : Dans ce cas, on va devoir patienter.

Il s’assoit aux côtés de son neveu.

INT. MAISON DE RAGNAR – SOIR

ROLLO : Alors Gyda, ta mère t’as enseigné le maniement du bouclier ?

GYDA : Oui, je sais me servir d’un bouclier.

ROLLO : Ta mère était une fameuse guerrière au bouclier.

LAGERTHA : (vexée) Était ?

ROLLO : C’est toujours une fameuse guerrière au bouclier. On faisait partie de la même phalange, contre les clans de l’est. Tu combattais comme une Valkyrie.

LAGERTHA : Allez les enfants, au lit, on laisse parler les hommes.

BJORN : Mais je suis un homme moi aussi, j’ai eu mon bracelet.

RAGNAR : Ah, laisse-le veiller un peu.

LAGERTHA : (hausse le ton) Obéis.

Bjorn s’exécute.

LAGERTHA : Dis bonne nuit.

RAGNAR : Dormez bien les enfants.

Il serre ses deux enfants dans les bras.

BJORN et GYDA : Bonne nuit Rollo.

ROLLO : Bonne nuit.

Lagertha accompagne les enfants dans leur chambre.

LAGERTHA : Dormez bien.

ROLLO : Eh bien je t’écoute. Où en est le bateau ?

RAGNAR : Il est presque prêt.

ROLLO : T’as confiance en Floki ? Il devrait être fou du roi.

Ragnar rit.

RAGNAR : Il fabrique de bons bateaux, j’ai confiance en son talent.

ROLLO : Il n’est pas question que je t’obéisse. Je ne te suivrai pas si nous ne sommes pas égaux.

RAGNAR : Nous sommes frères, nous serons toujours égaux toi et moi Rollo. 7

Un silence.

ROLLO : On n’a plus qu’à trouver des hommes. Il n’y en a pas beaucoup qui oseront défier Haraldson. La plupart aura peur. Certains risquent même de nous trahir et de le prévenir.

RAGNAR : Faut que j’aille pisser.

Ragnar sort de la maison.

Lagertha revient dans la pièce. Rollo l’observe. Il lui remplit un verre.

ROLLO : Hier j’étais avec une femme de la ville.

LAGERTHA : Merci.

ROLLO : Elle était très jolie. Mais quand je l’ai fait crier de plaisir, je ne voyais pas son visage, je voyais le tien. Lagertha.

LAGERTHA : Je te défends de dire ça.

ROLLO : Pourquoi ? Je pense à toi tout le temps.

LAGERTHA : C’est dommage.

Rollo saisit son bras la faisant sursauter.

ROLLO : Attention, guerrière au bouclier, ne m’insulte pas.

LAGERTHA : Non, jamais je n’oserais t’insulter, tu es un bien trop grand guerrier. (elle se lève) Mais tu es loin d’être un grand homme.

Elle s’éloigne.

EXT. JARDIN DE RAGNAR – NUIT

Ragnar fait ses besoins. Sur la barque avec laquelle Rollo est arrivé, il voit un corbeau. Celui-là même qu’il avait vu en Lettonie. Il s’envole et Ragnar le suit du regard. Il revoit Odin comme dans l’est. On entend le bruit des corbeaux.

L’homme disparait aussitôt.

INT. MAISON DE RAGNAR – NUIT

La tension est palpable entre Rolle et Lagertha. Ragnar le sent bien.

RAGNAR : Je viens de voir quelque chose.                                               

ROLLO : Qu’est-ce que tu as vu ?

RAGNAR : Un signe. Maintenant je suis sûr qu’on a fait le bon choix. Dors bien mon frère.

Il emmène Lagertha dans la chambre.

EXT. CHEZ FLOKI – JOUR

Le bateau que Floki a construit pour Ragnar est prêt. Il est amarré. Ragnar marche dessus, content.

RAGNAR : Il est …

FLOKI : Pas la peine de le dire. Je le lis dans tes yeux.

RAGNAR : … Magnifique.

Floki sourit.

FLOKI : Il sera vraiment magnifique que s’il tient l’eau.

Il semble un peu inquiet.

Ragnar, Rollo et Floki ont mis le bateau à l’eau et il navigue bien. Les trois hommes semblent ravis. Floki est inquiet.

Ragnar et Rollo pagaient.

RAGNAR : Déploie la voile. Floki … la voile.

Floki s’exécute.

FLOKI : Il va couler.

RAGNAR : Dis pas de conneries.

FLOKI : J’aurais pas dû avoir la prétention de construire un tel navire. Ca dépassait de loin mes humbles compétences.

RAGNAR : Je vais déployer la voile.

Il le fait.

FLOKI : Je suis désolé Ragnar, j’ai dépensé tout ton argent pour rien, c’est une vraie folie.

RAGNAR : Tais-toi Floki.

La voile se déploie, le bateau prend de la vitesse. Floki est ravi.

FLOKI : Regarde-le se dresser sur sa quille. C’est une merveille. Pourquoi tu voulais pas me croire ? Je t’avais dit que j’y arriverais.

Ragnar et Rolle rient.

FLOKI : Maintenant c’est à toi de jouer, Ragnar Lothbrok.

Sur la rive, on voit un homme à cheval qui les observe. Il s’agit de l’homme que le jarl Haraldson avait engagé pour surveiller Ragnar.

 

FIN DE L’EPISODE 1.

TEASER

A young Viking, RAGNAR LOTHBROK is engaged in a fight to the death with two LATVIAN WARRIORS, distinguishable by their eastern-looking clothing. Ragnar has been fighting a long time. His torso is smeared with blood, like his sword, and the bodies of the dead lie scattered around.

The Latvians are bigger and heavier but we quickly appreciate Ragnar’s weapon skills and speed of thought, blocking the blows of the axes with sword and shield and weaving out of range. We also see that one of the Latvian’s is already badly wounded, with blood streaming from a wound in his head.

Ragnar concentrates on him for a moment, thrusting, turning him, twisting away so the warrior wastes his diminishing energy slicing thin air with his axe and bellowing angrily. Finally he stumbles and Ragnar drives his sword into his chest.

But at the same moment the second Latvian attacks from behind, swinging down his axe for a mighty blow. Ragnar pivots round, his shield taking the full force of the blow, leaving the axe-head embedded in the wood.

Aghast, unable to free his weapon, the Latvian abandons it and starts to run. Very calmly, Ragnar pulls a spear out of the body of one of the dead and hurls it after the running man. Speared clean through the back the warrior falls.

Ragnar, suddenly as weary as death, trudges a few yards up the slope and surveys the rest of the battle field. In the gathering gloom an eery silence has fallen. Scores of bodies, hacked, mutilated and speared lie on the ground. And everywhere flocks of crows and ravens flutter down and feast upon the corpses. And there is not one living human thing moving over that field of death - except a solitary figure. A TALL MAN with a long cloak and a wide-brimmed hat, holding a spear, he moves slowly between the bodies of the Viking dead, seeming to note and inspect each one. He is a spectral figure, strange, disturbing, powerful, with ravens sometimes perching upon his shoulders...and Ragnar watches him like one transfigured, like one who has come face to face with his god.

The tall man pauses by one of the Viking dead and points him out with his spear. At that moment the air around appears to shimmer and two or three almost transluscent, almost naked YOUNG FEMALE VALKYRIES appear and gather the slain warrior into their arms. In great brightness the young women lift into the liquid air...and vanish.

Ragnar watches this miracle in silent awe, then looks over again at the tall man. For a brief moment the tall man lifts his head, revealing his face beneath the wide-brimmed hat. The face is indescribable - except for its single eye, which stares back at Ragnar with a pitiless and terrible intensity. And then he is gone, as if he had never been, leaving Ragnar to survey the darkening, mysterious scene.

END OF TEASER

These words appear on the screen: NORWAY, LATE 8TH CENTURY.

The wooden and turf house is dark and almost window-less, the rooms lit by tallow candles. From outside comes the dull rumble of summer thunder.

Somewhere in the darkness a WOMAN is breathing heavily and groaning. We hear the sound of other WOMEN’S VOICES, low and sibilant, almost chanting.

A YOUNG MAN - RAGNAR - fretful and anxious, crosses the place where the colored war shields are fixed to the wall like eyes, and looks into the chamber where his wife, LAGERTHA, the shield-maiden lies upon their bed giving birth, surrounded by three or four OLDER WOMEN, one of them ancient.

ANCIENT WOMAN: What do you want?

RAGNA:R Isn’t it here yet?

The ancient woman doesn’t bother to respond, spits on the floor and places her hands again on Lagertha’s swollen stomach and resumes her low, strange chant.

One of the other MID-WIVES speaks more kindly.

MID-WIFE: Not yet, Ragnar. Go away and do something useful.

Outside the storm breaks, the thunder louder and rain hissing on the ground.

RAGNAR moves away, into another chamber, and crouches down beside a small wooden statue set in a niche beside the fire, very crudely carved from a piece of wood: a statue of a nude female figure,wearing just a necklace, with large breasts. 2.

Ragnar picks it up.

RAGNAR: Freya, make everything go well today. Make sure Lagertha lives, and is delivered of a healthy child.

A beat. The thunder cracks again. Then Ragnar shrugs and puts the figure down.

RAGNAR: I know you can’t really change anything.

ANCIENT WOMAN: It’s time.

Ragnar hurries back through.

His wife’s legs are spread wide open and something is emerging between them: a head, with a halo of bright hair. The ancient woman continues her sing-song chant and the younger women help with the birth, one of them holding the baby’s head as the rest of its body slithers out in an abrupt rush of blood and afterbirth...and Ragnar gasps at the wonder of it. Stares at the bloody bundle even as they cut the chord and begin to wash it.

RAGNAR: What is it?

LAGERTHA (with a laugh): It’s a boy.

RAGNAR: How do you know?

LAGERTHA: What are you talking about? Didn’t I promise you a son?

Ragnar looks at the ancient woman.

RAGNAR: Is it a boy?

ANCIENT WOMAN: Look for yourself, Ragnar Lothbrok.

Ragnar looks. Satisfies himself.

LAGERTHA: Give him here. I have enough milk for a herd of boys.

The baby is lifted to her breast, where it suckles.

EXT. VIKING SETTLEMENT - DAY

Ragnar emerges from his house carrying the baby, wrapped in a blanket. The storm has passed. The wood and turf building is one of several in the small hamlet perched on the edge of a deep fjord. It’s a vision of stillness and utter tranquillity. The thickly wooded slopes of the fyord drop down sheer to the water, and above them the bare rocks are still capped with snow. The whole landscape has a strange, magical luminosity - a heightened, almost unnatural beauty.

Ragnar takes his son to the water’s edge and holds him out in his arms, like an offering.

RAGNAR: Look Odin. Look, I have a son. Thank you, lord. Thank you for my son.

We move in CLOSE on the baby’s face - then the camera tilts up towards the sky. And suddenly the sky begins to darken...

EXT. THE HEAVENS

Darkness - and out of the darkness a noise like no other, of horns and hooves and the shrill cry of birds and the roaring of men and women. And over the dark fields, fringed with fire, high in the darkling sky flies a tumultuous host: thousands of Viking warriors and Valkyries packed together and riding plunging horses, armed with spears and swords, and half-naked shield-maidens with bows and shields, sweeping across the heavens in a wild hunt amidst thick flocks of wheeling ravens.

And in the midst of this vast ghostly army the huge figure of Odin, the god of dead warriors, lord of Valhalla, riding his eight-legged horse Sleipnir, carrying his spear, two ravens perched on his shoulders, his cloak streaming out behind him, his single-eye surveying this great, ecstatic, thundering host of the risen dead.

INT. HOUSE - NIGHT

Winter. The embers of the fire still glow in the centre of the floor. We are close again on the baby’s face...as he sleeps in the crook of Ragnar’s arm.

Ragnar is awake, staring up into the darkness and the play of shadows across the rafters, a look of profound awe upon his face.

EXT. HOUSE - DAY

Now everything is in the fierce grip of the deepest winter. Icy winds blast across the fjord, heaping the water into wild, foaming waves, and the mountains above are thick with snow. Even at mid-day the sky is almost dark, like a perpetual twilight.

But through this dark desolation a solitary FIGURE can be seen, a black smudge against the snow, wrapped in furs against the icy winds, struggling towards the hamlet.

INT. HOUSE - DAY

Lagertha plays with her two CHILDREN. Her son BJORN is about ten and daughter GYDA about eight years old.

Ragnar appears, gestures to her.

RAGNAR: Come.

Ragnar leads Lagertha into the main room.

RAGNAR: Here is the man I told you of, Lagertha.

He indicates the figure standing beside the fire: a tall MAN of uncertain age, his craggy face heavily lined, his hair and beard both long and matted, as if his journey has been long and arduous.

LAGERTHA: Welcome, stranger, to our house.

The strange man bows a little. Lagertha pours a drink of sweet, strong mead and hands it to him. The stranger empties the cup.

LAGERTHA: Sit by the fire, warm yourself.

The stranger nods again, and sits, Ragnar and Lagertha doing likewise.

RAGNAR: This man is a wanderer. He has been on a boat that travelled to the west.

This is clearly a shock to Lagertha. She stares at the man.

LAGERTHA: Is it true?

Once more the stranger nods, but does not reply. Lagertha suddenly realizes that he is glancing towards his cup, and she quickly re-fills it.

And once more he empties it, then belches, and wipes his hand over his mouth.

WANDERER: We sailed north up the coast, to the rock formation which looks like a skull. And then, when we were out in the open sea, we turned due west. And I was frightened.

LAGERTHA: What happened to you? Where did you get to?

Behind her, we see Bjorn and Gyda peeking into the room, and listening.

WANDERER: After two days and nights we saw land. Someone said it was a land called England, for they had been there before. But I don’t know if it’s true. I was only told that in this land there was great treasure. We went ashore, found a big house there, and took some things from it.

From his bundle of discarded furs he retrieves an object: a small but very beautiful ivory crucifix.

WANDERER: In England, they worship a strange god called Jesus Christ. They say he died in a tree.

RAGNAR: Like Odin. Only Odin came back to life.

Lagertha examines the glittering prize.

RAGNAR (CONT’D) Tell us how you crossed the open ocean - once you lost sight of land? How did you know you were sailing west, not north or south?

WANDERER: We had a board. It belonged to a Swede.

LAGERTHA: A board? What kind of board...?

WANDERER: A sun-shadow board. Here is one.

Again he reaches into the thick pile of animal furs and this time produces a “solskuggerfol” board. It is a smallish wooden board with a pin or gnomon in the centre (which can be adjusted up or down) and with circles drawn around the pin.

WANDERER: To show you how it works, I need to float it in a tub of water.

Ragnar goes off to fetch one.

Once more the wanderer looks at his empty cup, and once more Lagertha re-fills it.

And once more he empties the cup in one gulp. Outside the wind blasts against the house and makes the candles inside flutter and almost gutter.

Ragnar returns with the tub of water and the wanderer places the board in the water, where it floats.

Then he takes a candle.

WANDERER: This candle is the sun.

He holds the candle over the board.

WANDERER: Each day the sun rises, and climbs in the sky until noon. (he arcs the candle across the board - the shadow shortens) See how the shadow shortens. At noon it will be at its shortest as the sun is at its zenith.

RAGNAR: But this only tells me how far south I have travelled -

WANDERER: Now listen. The day before you sail, mark a circle around the pointer on the board at the place where the shadow is shortest at noon. The next day at sea, place the board in water again around noon and watch for the shadow. If it only touches the circle, your course remains true. If the shadow passes outside the circle, like this, you have drifted and must steer further south. If the shadow never reaches the circle you are to the south and must steer more north. Keep the noon shadow on the circle and your course will be true.

Ragnar and Lagertha stare at the board and the shadow as it moves across it.

LAGERTHA: Is it really true, wanderer, that you crossed the ocean using only this...this children’s toy?

WANDERER: Yes, I swear to you. I swear on my sacred ring. Of course, we also used ravens to show how far we might be from land, but the board took us across the open sea.

LAGERTHA: I cannot believe it.

Ragnar looks at her.

RAGNAR: But if it’s true, Lagertha, just imagine! In just two days and nights we can reach the coast of England. We can find out for ourselves if what people have said is there really is there: rich lands, buildings made of stone, places filled with treasures. Don’t you want to go and find out? I do.

A long beat.

Lagertha looks at the board, then at the wanderer.

Then she blows out the candle, plunging the board into darkness.

RAGNAR: Why did you do that?

LAGERTHA: Because there is something I want to know. I want to know what happens if there is no sun? How can the board help you then? How can you find your way.

WANDERER You use this.

He holds something out in his hand, but they can’t see what it is. Ragnar brings another candle closer - and it shines upon a piece of semi-transluscent rock (actually a form of calcite).

RAGNAR: What’s that?

WANDERER: A sunstone.

LAGERTHA What good is it?

The wanderer smiles.

WANDERER: I’ll show you. Come outside.

Ragnar leads them outside.

EXT. HOUSE - DAY

They look up at the sky - even now, around noon, it’s a leaden grey, with no sign of the sun.

WANDERER Watch.

He holds up the sunstone. A beat. (The calcite works by polarizing light).

The sunstone glows faintly, and an equally faint beam seems to bounce back from it and illuminate a spot in the sky, behind the thick clouds.

WANDERER: You see? There is the sun.

It seems like a miracle. Neither Ragnar nor Lagertha can speak as they bear witness to it.

EXT. SETTLEMENT - SPRING - DAY

Time has passed. Watched by her ten-year old daughter GYDA, Lagertha draws water from the well. Despite her reputation as a shield-maiden, Lagertha remains a slim, slight figure, with long braided hair.

It’s still cold enough for her breath to steam, but the icy blasts of winter are over and the landscape breathes and greens.

As she carries the bucket back towards the house we see various animals in timbered pens, for this is a working farm. And down by the water, a couple of small wooden boats.

Two large and hairy hunting dogs shamble around the yard.

Lagertha looks over at a neighboring property, where the HOUSEHOLDER is leaving, riding a small, wiry horse up the steep trail behind the houses. Glances back at her daughter.

LAGERTHA: Gyda, feed the goats.

INT. RAGNAR’S HOUSE - DAY

Lagertha, carrying the bucket inside, finds Ragnar putting a thick woollen coat over the shoulders of his son, BJORN, now twelve years old, and a handsome, strong-looking youth.

Lagertha stops and looks at them.

LAGERTHA: What are you two doing?

RAGNAR: I’m taking Bjorn to the Thing.

LAGERTHA: Not yet. He’s not old enough.

RAGNAR: He’s twelve years old.

LAGERTHA: Take him next year. Next year is soon enough.

Ragnar smiles at her.

RAGNAR: He’ll need a silk ribbon.

INT. HOUSE - EVENING

BJORN “spies” on his mother as Lagertha washes her long blonde hair in the tub of water. The water seems to flow in slow motion from the ends of her hair like mercury as she kneels over the tub.

His eyes are full of love for her.

BJORN (quietly): Mother.

Lagertha looks up, flicks back her hair so she can see him, and smiles tenderly.

INT. BEDCHAMBER - HOUSE - NIGHT

Ragnar and Lagertha in bed together, cradled close after lovemaking. She stares into his eyes.

LAGERTHA: Don’t sleep with too many women in Kattegat.

RAGNAR: Are you crazy? I won’t sleep with any of them. I don’t want to. I can do without it for a few weeks.

LAGERTHA: Is that another way of saying you love me?

She teases him.

RAGNAR: I always dream of you. Last night I dreamt you were feeding me blood pudding.

LAGERTHA: What does that mean?

RAGNAR: It means you were giving me your heart.

And they close in, and kiss passionately.

RAGNAR: I love you so much I could feed you the whole sky.

EXT. YARD - HOUSE - DAY

Father and son are ready to depart on their small, tough horses, both wearing heavy woollen coats, tight leather trousers, cloaks and leather boots.

Lagertha and Gyda bring out some food for the journey, putting it into their saddle-bags.

Bjorn kisses Gyda.

BJORN: Goodbye, little sister.

GYDA: Goodbye, big brother. Don’t get drunk.

LAGERTHA: Wait. I have something for both of you.

She takes out two thin strips of colored ribbon, and ties one around Bjorn’s head and the other around her husband’s.

LAGERTHA: There. Now everyone will know you are free men on your way to the Thing.

Ragnar kisses her.

RAGNAR: Goodbye my shield-maiden.

LAGERTHA: Look after your son - and when you come back, just tell me the truth. I don’t care about anything else.

And then she and her daughter watch Ragnar and Bjorn set off up the rough trail towards the trees, accompanied by one of the hunting dogs, Ragnar armed with a spear, a sword and knife and Bjorn with his hunting knife.

Bjorn looks back once, and raises his arm in farewell, and then they are swallowed up into the trees.

EXT. TRACK - DAY

They ride slowly on together through a landscape of forest, scrub and rock. There is no-one else in sight, no farms or dwellings, for the rocky earth here is clearly unfit for agriculture or ploughing. Is even too barren for sheep.

There are signs of spring everywhere, however, the trees a brighter green, the gorse in flower.

BJORN: What will happen at the Thing?

RAGNAR: Earl Haraldson will deal, as usual, with some criminal offences that have happened since the last meeting. And then everyone will discuss the summer raids.

BJORN: Where will you go?

There’s a long beat. Ragnar glances at his son, then away again, with a shrug.

RAGNAR: It’s not up to me. Earl Haraldson decides. I wish it was not so...but that is the law.

But Bjorn can see that the question has affected his father’s mood.

They splash through a stream.

RAGNAR: All the ice has gone. Spring is here again, thanks to Frey.

EXT. CAMP - NIGHT

They have camped in the open. A fire is burning and they have cooked some small animal over it and eaten it. The dog gnaws at the bones.

BJORN: There’s something I want to ask you.

RAGNAR: Then ask me.

BJORN: How did you meet mother?

Ragnar’s smiles.

RAGNAR: Hasn’t she ever told you?

BJORN: Of course. But I want to know if your story is the same as hers.

A beat.

RAGNAR: Well, it occurred when a Swedish chieftan invaded our part of Norway. I went off to fight him and many of the local women dressed up in men’s clothing and joined our camp. Lagertha was amongst them. I was impressed by her courage and courted her from afar.

BJORN: How far is that?

RAGNAR: Hush. Listen. After a while I went to confess my love for her - but when I arrived I was set upon by a bear and an enormous hound who guarded her home. I killed the bear with my spear and managed to strangle the hound with my bare hands. (beat) And that’s the way I gained her hand in marriage. (glances at his son) What did she tell you?

Bjorn smiles, then lies down, pulls the blanket over himself.

RAGNAR: Did she tell you the same story?

A long beat.

BJORN: Just about. And he closes his eyes, still smiling.

EXT. KATTEGAT - DAY

They ride into Kattegat, a sizeable town and a trading station, set on the bank of a river. It’s a busy place with open carts and covered wagons, horses and boats bringing people and goods to the local market, as well as delegates to the Thing, wearing ribbons around their foreheads.

At the market place, TRADERS - several of them of Arabic appearance, and dressed in totally different costumes - are examining the pelts, furs, ropes and bear-skins for sale.

The ARABS are also examining the handful of SLAVES for sale, most of Slavic appearance, checking their teeth, hair and nails, as if they were horses.

There is a lot of good-humored banter and loud haggling.

All of this Bjorn has clearly seen before, and is not fazed by.

But then a large group of YOUNG MEN, clearly drunk, come swaggering through the market place, shouting out insults to the traders and laughing, grabbing at the pelts and furs, creating a disturbance.

The traders reclaim their goods and drive them away, angrily. Ragnar watches the incident with a heavy heart.

BJORN: Who are they?

RAGNAR: Young men with nothing better to do. These days they regard the old ways, of trading and farming, as too tame. They think it’s stupid to acquire by sweat and toil what they can easily win by blood.

BJORN: Blood?

RAGNAR: In battle. (beat) It’s a real problem. There seem to be more and more of them every year. And it’s a great waste. Those young men are our future. Someone should harness their strength and their anger.

They move on. Then a great bear of a man steps out before their horses, grabbing the bridles and laughing.

BEAR MAN: Ragnar Lothbrok!

Ragnar and Bjorn dismount. Ragnar embraces him.

BEAR MAN: Do my eyes deceive me? Is this your son? How he’s grown!

RAGNAR: Bjorn, this is your uncle Rollo. We sail in the same boat.

BJORN: Uncle.

Rollo looks him up and down.

ROLLO: So you’re here for the Thing? You’re a real man now. Let’s have a drink.

INT. TAVERN - EVENING

A long gloomy room, with a fire in the centre and benches arranged on either side.

The men drink ale from horned cups. Rollo watches Bjorn sip from his horn, and laughs.

ROLLO: You won’t get drunk like that.

Bjorn smiles uneasily, then tips back the horn and drinks deeply.

ROLLO: Are you ready for a woman? There are some good-looking women in Kattegat. And they’re free.

RAGNAR: Of course he isn’t. He can’t even grow a beard.

Rollo laughs again, empties his horn, and holds it out to be refilled by a WOMAN with a jug. He stares at her wolfishly.

ROLLO: So - where do you think he’ll send us this year?

RAGNAR: Probably to the Eastlands again - the same as last year. The same as always.

ROLLO: Those bastards up there are as poor as we are. What do they have left to give us?

RAGNAR: Only themselves.

A beat. He glances round, lowers his voice.

RAGNAR: We should go west. I’ve heard such tales, Rollo. Great towns, cities and treasures; hordes of gold and silver. And a new god.

ROLLO: I’ve heard those stories too. But what does it mean? We can’t sail across an open ocean.

A beat. Ragnar glances carefully at Bjorn, who has fallen asleep on his thigh. Lowers his voice again, despite the loud, drunken voices around him.

RAGNAR: We can. I believe there’s a way.

Rollo looks at him.

Then Ragnar picks up his son.

ROLLO: Where are you going?

RAGNAR: To sleep.

ROLLO: I don’t understand you, Ragnar Lothbrok, everyone else comes here to get drunk in the company of good friends and to fuck beautiful women.

Ragnar smiles.

RAGNAR: I’ll see you in the Great Hall.

He carries his son away.

INT. RAGNAR’S HOUSE - NIGHT

Outside, a cold wind whips across the waters of the fjord. Lagertha settles her daughter to sleep, telling her a story.

LAGERTHA: The giantess opened her rotting cavernous mouth and yawned. “Go away!” She said. “I want to sleep again. I’m not doing you any more favors.” She gave Freya a withering look. “My noble goddess,”she said, “you leap around at night like Heidrun cavorting with a herd of goats.”

Gyda, warm beneath a bear skin, smiles sleepily.

A beat.

GYDA: Go on!

LAGERTHA: Freya slowly raised her arms - like this! (raises her own arms) “I will girdle you with flame so you cannot leave this place without catching fire.” Hyndla laughed. “You’ve gone running to Od, who always loved you; and many another has wormed his way under your apron.”

She pauses, checks the girl again...whose eyes are now closed. She is nearly asleep.

LAGERTHA: (more quietly) There was fire in Asgard, dancing in the air. A band of flame, a quivering halo, surrounded the giantess. Her limbs tightened; she pressed her arms against her side.” Flames about me,” she cried. “The earth is on fire, and I must pay the full price or forfeit my life.”

She stops, listens for a moment to the sound of her daughter’s easy breathing. Then leans down, kisses her forehead, and pulls the bear skin up to her neck.

Lagertha moves through to the other chamber. The fire (in the centre of the room) is dying down. But its flickering flames illuminate the war shields hung from hooks on the wall. She stares at them - and then unhooks one, and holds it to herself...as if remembering all the times she used it, in the heat of battle.

Now she stands proud with it, in the empty room, with only the crackling of the logs and the moaning of the wind.

INT. GREAT HALL - DAY

A large and impressive chamber with a lattice of high beams and some wall coverings. It’s crowded. On a raised dais at one end, sat on a carved chair, is EARL HARALDSON, late forties and still a formidable-looking warrior, dressed in wide trousers and fur-trimmed coat. The Earl is flanked by some of his HOUSECARLS - his private, elite bodyguard - by SLAVES and several (mostly male) members of his FAMILY. His striking WIFE wears a sleeveless dress which reaches to the ground, and over it a sleeveless cape which is thrown back, revealing the whiteness of her arms. She is adorned with necklaces and oval brooches.

Filling the rest of the hall, and obliged to stand, are FREEMEN like Ragnar and Rollo.

In the small space between them a rather pathetic FIGURE is standing, shifting from one foot to the other, his eyes downcast. He’s almost a figure of fun and everyone is grinning at him.

EARL HARALDSON: Olaf Anwend...

OLAF: Yes, sir.

EARL HARALDSON: You have pleaded guilty to the charge of stealing. Tomorrow you will run a gauntlet of stones and turf as punishment.

OLAF: Yes, lord. Thank you, lord.

EARL HARALDSON: Don’t thank me. And let it be known that a fine is to be paid by anyone who fails to throw something.

There’s laughter - as Olaf is led away. Bjorn tries his best to peer through the men blocking his view of events.

EARL HARALDSON: Bring in the next accused.

Bjorn actually catches a glimpse of the YOUNG MAN brought into the hall in chains by the housecarls. The young man has a pleasant expression, keeps his head high and does not avert his eyes.

EARL HARALDSON: Eric Trygvasson, you are accused of the murder of Sigvald Strut this January. How do you plead?

TRYGVASSON: It wasn’t murder, lord. I killed him in self-defence. It was he who attacked me.

WOMAN: (shouting) LIAR!

The WOMAN is part of the dead man’s family, standing in a group close to the defendant.

EARL HARALDSON: If it wasn’t murder, why did you not declare your crime to the first person you met afterwards, as the law obliges? In fact, you passed by several houses before you reported it.

Trygvasson looks over at the woman and the dead man’s family.

TRYGVASSON: I...I thought the relatives of the dead man might be living in them.

EARL HARALDSON: The law allows you to pass two houses in such circumstances - but never a third.

FAMILY MEMBER: You felt guilty. You went to his house and murdered my brother in cold blood.

Fresh uproar. Bjorn struggles to keep an eye-line on the accused. Ragnar notices, lifts him up.

TRYGVASSON: It’s not true. We argued about some land. He pulled out a knife...

WOMAN: You’re lying! You wanted that land for yourself. You’re a liar and a coward.

TRYGVASSON: Who says I’m a coward? I’m no coward.

More people join in the shouting. The Earl bangs his fist on the table.

EARL HARALDSON: Silence! All of you - show some respect.

They fall silent. Earl Haraldson looks at Trygvasson.

EARL HARALDSON: As the normal procedures were not followed, this killing cannot be atoned for by compensating the victim’s family.

The family shout their approval, raise their fists aggressively towards the defendant.

EARL HARALDSON: Murder is a dishonorable act among our people, Eric Trygvasson, committed in secret, unacknowledged and very likely to set in train a cycle of revenge killings, which would also involve your own family.

He looks up at the assembly.

EARL HARALDSON: I ask all of you how you find the accused. If you think him guilty, raise your arms. Your decision must be unanimous.

Quickly, everyone raises their hands. But the Earl hesitates, for someone has not. Ragnar realizes who it is and squeezes Bjorn’s thigh. Bjorn raises his hand.

EARL HARALDSON: Eric Trygvasson, you have been found guilty of murder. How would you like to die?

A beat. Trygvasson looks round the room in that same cool way, as if he was above it all.

TRYGVASSON: By beheading, lord.

EARL HARALDSON: Granted. Your execution will take place tomorrow. And afterwards we shall feast and discuss the summer raids.

EXT. KATTEGAT - DAY

To jeers and shouts, Olaf Anwend runs the gauntlet of stones and turf. He staggers down the line of people, women as well as men, throwing the missiles at him.

Bjorn watches with Ragnar, at first enjoying the comic aspects of the scene - then wincing slightly as Olaf is struck by stone after stone, staggers, and starts to bleed.

Ragnar offers the boy a stone. Bjorn looks uncertain.

RAGNAR: You have to.

A beat. Ragnar turns and throws the stone himself at Anwend, hitting his leg. Anwend struggles on, everyone still enjoying the comedic aspects. With a laugh Rollo throws a large rock at Anwend, which hits his head and makes him cry out with pain.

Bjorn grabs a handful of turf and throws it, missing easily and deliberately.

Bleeding heavily, but alive, Anwend crawls the last few yards to the end of the line, where with renewed hilarity a bucket of cold water is poured over his bleeding head, and he emerges - grinning like a madman.

Then Earl Haraldson and his entourage appear, the housecarls bringing Eric Trygvasson to his execution. Trygvasson’s hands, unlike at the trial, are now unbound, and he walks resolutely up to the wooden block on which he will be decapitated.

He smiles at the crowds gathered around him, and acknowledges the dead man’s family.

BJORN: Why is he smiling, father?

RAGNAR He wants to die well, of course, without fear. To atone for his sins.

Bjorn looks puzzled.

ROLLO: Cattle die, kinsfolk die, we ourselves must die. But one thing I know will never die - a dead man’s reputation. Remember that, young Bjorn.

Trygvasson kneels on the grass and puts his head on the stone. A HOUSECARL with an axe approaches, first lays the blade of the axe flat on his head, then presents the blade for him to kiss. Trygvasson kisses the blade eagerly, and almost tenderly.

Bjorn turns his head away.

RAGNAR: You must watch - for his sake. This is his only hope of reaching Valhalla.

Bjorn forces himself to watch.

The axe falls, striking off Trygvasson’s head, which rolls away into the grass.

Earl Haraldson picks up the head and contemptuously tosses it to the dead man’s family.

EARL HARALDSON: Here. Feed it to your pigs. I curse him. May he never enter Valhalla.

Ragnar looks shocked. He’s not the only one.

BJORN: Why did he do that?

RAGNAR: I don’t know. He should not have done. Not according to our law. He must have wanted that land himself.

And he exchanges a meaningful glance with Rollo.

EXT. BOAT - DAY

The oars of a small boat slice cleanly into the waters of the fyord. Bjorn stares down silently into the water, but the reflections on its surface make it seem like the mountains are in the water.

Ragnar rows, keeping close to the shore, beneath the lee of the overhanging cliffs and slopes of scree which fall sheer to the fyord.

Bjorn drops a smooth round pebble into the water and watches it drop and drop, deeper and deeper into the clear depths. Bjorn watches his father row.

BJORN: Now where are we going, father?

RAGNAR: To visit a friend. BJORN A friend? What’s his name?

RAGNAR: His name is Floki.

Bjorn stares at the high, snow-capped hills, the great, almost overwhelming beauty of it.

BJORN: Like Loki, the god?

RAGNAR: Yes, like Loki. Only... different.

BJORN: How is he different?

RAGNAR: Well... (thinks) He’s not a god.

Bjorn laughs.

BJORN: Why didn’t he come to the Thing?

A long beat. Oars slice through the deep still waters. One could well imagine that the gods were here, among these unnaturally beautiful, silent places.

RAGNAR: Because he’s...because he’s shy.

EXT. BAY - DAY

They’ve pulled the boat onto a narrow beach in a hidden bay. There’s no sign of habitation.

They walk up a steep path through the trees.

When a FIGURE leaps out at them, wearing a fierce mask, and with a hideous screech.

Bjorn is shocked...but still calm enough to draw out his hunting knife.

Ragnar laughs.

RAGNAR: It’s all right. Put your knife away. (beat) Floki, meet my son. Bjorn...this is my dear friend Floki.

FLOKI rips off his mask, and grins. He has a strange, mischievous, almost ageless face, ugly but animated, with bright, piercing eyes.

FLOKI: Hello. How are you?

BJORN: Well, thank you...sir.

Floki stares at his face.

FLOKI: Let me see. You have your father’s eyes - unfortunately.

RAGNAR: Why unfortunately?

FLOKI: It means he will be like you. And therefore he will want to do better than you. And you will hate him for it.

RAGNAR: He’s only twelve years old.

BJORN: How can you tell that by just looking at my face?

FLOKI: It’s the same with trees.

BJORN: With trees?

FLOKI: Yes. I can tell which trees will make the best planks just by looking at them. I can look inside the tree.

RAGNAR: Floki is a boat-builder.

Bjorn stares around at the deeply-forested hill they are on.

BJORN: So - you could tell which of these trees would make the best planks for a ship?

Floki grins...then abruptly walks off the path, and into the trees. They follow him.

For their POV - and from ours - all the trees look the same, virtually identical.

But Floki stares at them with a strange, bewitching intensity....touching the trunks of some of them, laying his cheek against the bark, staring up at the uppermost branches.

Whatever amusement Bjorn might derive from seeing a man staring at trees is quickly confounded by the aura of spiritual intensity which surrounds Floki. He’s no ordinary mortal. It’s not possible to laugh at the way he examines the bark of tress, or caresses them, or simply just looks at them.

Floki is different. Strange but compelling. Authentic.

FLOKI: (suddenly) This is one. He indicates a tree - to the others, just like the rest of the trees...and yet.

Floki strokes the trunk.

FLOKI: Inside this tree are two almost perfect planks. They will bend, then curve, like a woman’s body, from the thigh to the back. When I split the tree I will find them.

He marks the tree with a couple of blows from his axe.

Bjorn laughs.

BJORN: You can see that?

FLOKI: Do you think I’m joking? I joke about many things, son of Ragnar, but never about ship-building. Our boats are our souls.

Bjorn looks abashed - embarrassed.

RAGNAR: So - how is our boat?

Floki looks back at him. And grins.

FLOKI: Ah...

INT. BOAT-YARD - DAY

A secret, turf-covered shed close by the edge of the water.

Gloomy - but slightly “religious” in the way the space is lit by tallow candles.

Watched by Ragnar and Bjorn, Floki uncovers the skeleton of a a new boat. It’s still in a rudimentary shape, its spars naked. Even so, Ragnar is immediately entranced.

FLOKI: What do you think, Ragnar Lothrok?

RAGNAR: It’s bigger! The hull’s deeper.

FLOKI: Yes, but it will be lighter and faster than before, and carry a much bigger sail. The construction is different. It’s built with a strong central plank. The two strakes above it are nailed directly onto the knees of the frames. But the ones below - look! - are cleated and lashed onto the frames, not nailed, so they can move in relation to each other. This means the boat will not butt against the waves like a goat, but move over them like a ripple.

Ragnar continues to study the boat.

Meanwhile, Bjorn studies Floki’s tools with all the fascination they exert upon a young boy’s mind. Planes, spoonshaped bores, small axes and rivets. And then, almost with a shock, he sees the small, strange figure hunched in the shadows, wearing a conical hat and grinning. It’s a wooden statue of the god Loki and the grin is not pleasant, but wicked and somehow disturbing.

Bjorn moves quickly away.

RAGNAR: Why have you cut the oarports into the sheerstrake?

FLOKI: It makes it easier to row, and the ports can be closed when the boat is at sea.

RAGNAR: You think this boat could handle long sea voyages?

FLOKI: That’s why I built it.

RAGNAR: And it will be strong enough?

Floki shrugs.

FLOKI: We won’t know that until we try.

Ragnar looks at him.

RAGNAR: When will it be ready?

FLOKI: Ah, as to that...

RAGNAR: What?

FLOKI: We’re out of money. We have to pay for the sail...and then the anchor. You know what those blacksmiths are like! Such greedy bastards.

A beat. Ragnar reluctantly brings out a leather pouch.

RAGNAR: This is almost all I have left from last summer’s raids.

Floki takes the pouch, with a grin.

FLOKI: Don’t worry, Ragnar Lothbrok. We’ll soon be as rich as dwarves!

And he laughs.

INT. GREAT HALL - EVENING

Great trestles have been set up and the freemen sit around them, drinking and ready to feast. Music is playing. Earl Haraldson, with his wife and family members, sits at high table.

There is much laughter in the hall. Then a horn is sounded - for silence.

EARL HARALDSON: Before we feast, we have an important ceremony to perform. Two young men have joined us for the first time and must receive their arm-rings. Olaf the son of Ingolf and Bjorn son of Ragnar Lothbrok. Both of you come up here.

Bjorn and the other YOUNG MAN approach the high table. The Earl walks round to the front of the dais...and draws his sword.

EARL HARALDSON: Kneel.

They both kneel. A housecarl slips two ornate bracelets of twisted silver, the clasps fashioned as animal heads, onto the blade. Earl Haraldson holds the blade close to the young men’s faces.

EARL HARALDSON: These rings symbolize your coming of age - and they also bind you in loyalty to me, your chieftan. Any oath you swear upon your ring, you must honor and keep, or else lose your honor. Do you understand and do you swear so?

BOYS: Yes, lord.

EARL HARALDSON: And you freely recognize your fealty to me?

BOYS: Yes, lord.

EARL HARALDSON: Then take your rings.

The boys take their rings from the point of the sword and clasp them around their arms. Ragnar looks on proudly. Then sees that Haraldson is staring at him.

But the moment is lost as the freemen shout out their approval, banging their fists on the tables as the boys return, embarrassed but delighted, to their seats.

RAGNAR: Let me look! Ah - it’s a fine ring. Never lose it, my son, or something dreadful will happen to you.

BJORN: I won’t father.

EARL HARALDSON: Now let’s feast.

Ragnar suddenly stands up.

RAGNAR: My lord...we all want to feast: but we also want to know where we will be raiding this summer.

EARL HARALDSON: Can’t it wait?

ROLLO: No, tell us. We’re anxious to know. We have a right to know.

A beat. The hall has fallen silent.

EARL HARALDSON: Very well. Then we shall go raiding to the east again, into the Eastlands, into Rus...

RAGNAR: Every year we do the same thing. We raid people who have nothing more than we have. We have a hard life, and they have a hard life - but we take from them even the few things which they have. But, lord, we have an alternative...a choice...another journey...

There is a groundswell of noise...of some disagreement. The Earl is alive to it.

EARL HARALDSON: Oh yes, I too have heard the rumors. I hear that if we sail west, across the open, fathomless ocean, we shall somehow come to lands far richer and more plentiful. Yes, I have heard those stories. But I tell you now that I will not risk my ships or my reputation on wild, speculative and unrealistic visions. (beat) I pay for the ships. Therefore they go where I tell them to go, and that is the end of the matter. (beat) Now let’s feast.

He claps his hands...and the feast is brought in.

Ragnar looks at Rollo, who shrugs.

Then a HOUSECARL approaches their table. The housecarl has a livid scar which runs from the corner of his mouth up his cheek to his eye.

HOUSECARL: Ragnar Lothbrok, Earl Haraldson wants to speak with you in private.

Ragnar nods, glances reassuringly at Bjorn, follows the housecarl behind the dais, into a small chamber.

INT. CHAMBER - EVENING

Haraldson is flanked by several of his heavily-armed HOUSECARLS. It’s an intimidating atmosphere.

EARL HARALDSON: Ragnar Lothbrok...

RAGNAR: Yes, lord.

EARL HARALDSON: Are you hungry?

A beat.

RAGNAR: Yes, lord.

EARL HARALDSON: You want to feast in my hall? You want to sail in my ship? What else do you want of me?

RAGNAR: Lord, I -

Haraldson slams his fist onto the table. The housecarls close around him.

EARL HARALDSON: I know you question my rule. I know you have big ideas. But you should keep them to yourself, Ragnar Lothbrok. What are you? You’re a farmer. Remember that. You’re just a lowly farmer. And you owe obedience and rent to me. (beat) I warn you. If you dare to stick your nose in my face, I will kill you.

He stares at Ragnar.

CUT TO: EXT. KATTEGAT - NIGHT

Ragnar leads his sleepy son by the hand through the dark settlement. Bjorn trips over something, yowls. Dogs bark.

BJORN: Where are we going now?

RAGNAR: Just to a place. Just to see someone.

BJORN: What place? To see who? (beat) I’m so tired.

Ragnar sees a lamp set outside a low door.

RAGNAR: Here it is. Wake up.

He finds the door open, pushes his son inside, follows.

INT. HOUSE/HUT - NIGHT

A few low tallow candles, otherwise darkness. The shapes of things.

A long beat.

BJORN: I’m frightened.

Ragnar grasps his wrist. Then there’s the sound of a voice, ancient, unsexed.

VOICE: Why don’t you come in? I’m waiting.

Ragnar encourages his son to push aside the curtained wall, and go inside.

The ANCIENT SEER is sitting in the dark. An old man or woman, with withered dugs, sightless, white-eyed. Probably an old woman, it’s actually impossible to tell. But there’s a strange and powerful aura about the figure which makes Bjorn instinctively recoil. Before her is a bowl of dried brown shrivelled mushrooms. She reaches out gnarled fingers and chews one.

ANCIENT WOMAN: What do you want?

RAGNAR: I want to know what the gods have in store.

ANCIENT WOMAN: For you - or for your son?

RAGNAR: I’m more interested in myself.

The ancient hag chuckles.

ANCIENT WOMAN: The gods desire you to have a great future. I see that. But they can withdraw their goodwill at any time.

RAGNAR: To have this great future, must I challenge the law?

This seems to be the nub of it. There’s a pause. The ancient one reaches out and touches his face and her sightless eyes peer into his.

ANCIENT WOMAN: It is always possible for a man to shape his own fate. You must convince the gods to alter the runes, so they work in your favor. But the laws of men are far below the workings and shapings of the gods.

RAGNAR: So I should take the law of men into my own hands?

Silence.

RAGNAR: You won’t answer me!

ANCIENT WOMAN: You already have your answer.

RAGNAR: No I don’t. I don’t have the real answer.

ANCIENT WOMAN: Then go and ask the gods themselves. What are you afraid of?

Looks at her.

RAGNAR: (quietly) Who is not afraid of the gods?

The old hag grins. Looks sightlessly at Bjorn.

ANCIENT WOMAN: I say only this to you: beware of your sons.

RAGNAR: My sons? I have only one son.

ANCIENT WOMAN: I see more.

RAGNAR: Why should I beware of them?

The ancient stares at Ragnar again with her white, blind eyes - and will not answer. Turns instead and stares, sightlessly, at Bjorn, who is afraid of her, looks away.

ANCIENT WOMAN: Look at me, child.

Bjorn steels himself to look back at her. After a few moments, she nods.

ANCIENT WOMAN: I think your son is ready. Take him up to the temple. Let him also see the gods and, if he wishes, speak to them. That’s all I can tell you.

RAGNAR: You haven’t helped me at all, old woman.

A long beat.

ANCIENT WOMAN: Perhaps you asked the wrong questions. In any case, sometimes you should not try to forsee your fate, for it is best not to know it.

EXT. LANDSCAPE - DAY

Ragnar and Bjorn ride their small horses inland, up the side of the mountain. It’s a hard trek. The landscape is harsh and dramatic with huge rock formations and boulders scattered across it.

BJORN: This looks like a place where the giants might live.

Ragnar smiles.

RAGNAR: You know very well that the giants dwell in Utgard, in the outer place. And between Midgard, where we live, and Utgard there is a great sea.

BJORN: Not our sea?

RAGNAR: A bigger sea than that. And the Midgard serpent encircles it and holds the sea in.

BJORN: Don’t the giants ever come here, into our world?

RAGNAR: They try to. They are shapeshifters. They can appear disguised as anything. But the gods look after us. They are forever watching out, in case the giants try to cross the sea and bring their chaos with them.

BJORN: And the dwarves help too?

RAGNAR: Yes, you can’t always trust them of course - but they are a help to the gods sometimes. They bind Fenrir the wolf, so he can’t escape and swallow the sun.

BJORN: If Fennir is so big and strong, how do they bind him...?

RAGNAR: With things you can’t see or hear: like the breath of a fish; the sound a cat makes when it’s walking, and the roots of a mountain.

Bjorn nods, satisfied with the explanation. Takes it in.

BJORN: I’m hungry.

RAGNAR: Then we must catch something.

EXT. RIVER - TWILIGHT

They stand up to their knees in the cold flowing waters, both with spears raised.

They wait, and wait...and then both plunge their spears into the water.

Bjorn extracts a fish on the point of his spear, still flapping. He grins.

EXT. RAGNAR’S FARM - DAY

Lagertha is milking the goats in the milking shed. One of the goat’s is giving her trouble. She tries to coax it gently.

Then Gyda comes rushing in, looking frightened.

GYDA: Mother.

She glances over her shoulder. Lagertha understands that something is wrong.

LAGERTHA: (to Gyda) Stay here.

She walks outside.

EXT. YARD - HOUSE - DAY

Two YOUNG MEN - just like the young men who rain riot through the town, are standing arrogantly in the yard. They are armed.

LAGERTHA: What do you want?

FIRST YOUNG MAN: Where’s your husband, woman?

LAGERTHA: He’s at the Thing - where you should be. You’re old enough.

SECOND YOUNG MAN: Don’t taunt us, woman. We know you’re alone here. All the men are gone.

LAGERTHA: If you’re thirsty I will give you a drink. If you’re hungry I will feed you. Otherwise you must go.

FIRST YOUNG MAN: We’ll eat and drink after we’ve satisfied our other needs. Let’s go into your house.

By way of a threat, he touches the axe head in his belt.

A beat. Then Lagertha nods.

LAGERTHA: All right. (looks over her shoulder) Stay in the shed, Gyda. Do as I say.

She leads the way into the house.

INT. HOUSE - DAY

The young men feel frisky, cocky. They laugh, nudge each other.

SECOND YOUNG MAN: Where’s your softest bed?

A beat.

LAGERTHA: In here.

She leads them into the shield room. Springing forward, she snatches a shield from the wall. They take the axes from their belts.

FIRST YOUNG MAN: We don’t want to kill you, woman.

LAGERTHA: You couldn’t kill me if you tried for a hundred years.

She swoops into a secret place, and pulls out a sword. Now she is a shield-maiden again. Her eyes have hardened. She is changed. For the first time, the two young men are not so sure.

SECOND YOUNG MAN: Before you try anything, think about your daughter.

LAGERTHA: I am thinking about my daughter. Now you will leave my house or I will gut you like fish and cook your entrails.

She attacks them with frightening speed. No sooner has the first young man raised his axe than she has sheared off the handle with her blade. She slashes at the second young man - once, ripping his clothes open, and a second time slashing the side of his face.

He screams. His blood splashes on the floor.

Lagertha fixes her attentions on the first, now unarmed young man...who loses his nerve and bolts for it. His companion, bleeding copiously, bolts after him.

Lagertha takes a moment to compose herself - then hurries outside.

INT. SHED - DAY

Gyda is hiding among the goats. Lagertha takes her into her arms.

GYDA: Have they gone?

LAGERTHA: Yes, they’ve gone.

GYDA: What did they want?

LAGERTHA: They were travellers. They were thirsty, that’s all. (beat) Shall we go on milking the goats?

EXT. PLAIN ABOVE KATTEGAT - DAY

They ride up, through the thinning line of trees, to the edge of the plain.

And stop.

A majestic but also strange sight greets them. In the distance is the golden dome of the temple. It’s surrounded on three sides by a grove of trees which are remarkable, even at this distance, because there are very few other trees on this high plateau.

But dotted around there are some large earth mounds, clearly man-made; burial mounds, but now covered in grass. And also huge piles of stones. Bjorn knows what they are and doesn’t have to ask.

The whole vista is strange, haunting.

RAGNAR: There it is.

EXT. TREES - DAY

They ride towards the temple, between the trees. There’s a strange atmosphere here. Hidden bells chime very softly, sweetly like a sighing wind.

RAGNAR: Keep to the path. The grove is sacred. Every nine years, here in the temple, the priests sacrifice nine of everything and hang them in the trees.

BJORN: Nine of everything? Nine sheep and nine hens?

RAGNAR: Yes.

BJORN: And nine horses?

RAGNAR: Of course. We love our horses.

A beat.

BJORN: And nine of us? Nine humans?

Ragnar looks back at his son, but doesn’t answer. Now Bjorn becomes aware of waif-like creatures flitting between the trees, dressed in pale colored robes.

BJORN: Father, who are they?

RAGNAR: Priests, I expect. Or other things. Who can tell in a place like this? Look, here’s the entrance.

EXT. TEMPLE - DAY

They dismount in front of two large wooden doors, studded with iron.

A PRIEST appears, bows, silently opens the doors. He is a tall, thin, homosexual YOUNG MAN, dressed in a flowing robe

And they step inside.

INT. PAGAN TEMPLE - UPPSALLA - DAY

The golden glow from the roof generates a strange, almost unearthly light. There’s a water-source somewhere...for the sound of water running and splashing fills the great domed space.

The space is dominated by three huge wooden statues, several metres high, made of highly polished wood. But the priest first takes them over to the stone altar on which there is a sacred Viking ring, a wooden bowl filled with blood and a twig.

Ragnar kneels by the altar and Bjorn follows his example. The priest dips the twig into the blood of a sacrificed animal and shakes it over them, sprinkling them with blood.

PRIEST: (sing-song) Hail to the Aesir! Hail to the goddesses! Hail to the mighty, fecund earth. Wit and wisdom may you give us, and healing hands while we live!

They move towards the statues, Ragnar once more sinking to his knees and making his obeisance.

Bjorn looks confused and over-awed. But the priest, with a smile, gently guides him closer.

PRIEST: My son, you have travelled a long way, but now at last you are face to face with our gods.

He draws Bjorn gently towards the first statue: of a massive, muscle-bound, bearded, earthy-looking figure holding aloft his mighty hammer.

PRIEST: This is Thor. You know him, of course. You hear him in the thunder, when he races across the clouds with his goats. He protects all of us. And when he goes forth with his hammer, Mjollni, in his hand, he is irresistible.

CLOSE ON: Thor’s sculpted face, his exaggerated features, peasant-like, wide-mouth, bulbous nose - rather comic-book.

The priest draws Bjorn towards the second statue: a figure with a disproportionately huge and erect phallus.

PRIEST: You know who this is?

BJORN: (tentative) Frey?

PRIEST: Of course it’s Frey. Who else could it be? The god of sunshine and rain, of fertility, of children and crops. Of harvests. Of everything that grows new...but is cut down again each year. Then grows once more. (beat) Come.

He draws Bjorn to the last figure. We have seen this figure before: a tall, thin figure holding a spear, wearing a cloak and a wide-brimmed hat, under which his single eye peeps out. Even carved in wood, there is something magnetic but also something sinister, even terrifying about the image.

PRIEST: And this...

BJORN: ...is Odin.

PRIEST: Odin. god of war, of warriors slain in battle. He lives in his great hall at Valhalla, with all the reborn warriors, feasting and drinking...

Ragnar suddenly cuts in.

RAGNAR: Odin is not only the god of those slain in battle. He is many other things. He is our universal father. He is the god of Skalds; he governs the mystic ecstacy, the great pathos, the passion of the soul. He is the god of thought..of curiosity. He wanted to look into the well of knowledge, guarded by the wise, decapitated Mimi. They told him he would have to lose an eye to gain knowledge...and gladly he did it. You see there, Bjorn? He has but one eye. But with that single-eye he sees everything.

A beat. He takes out two small coins, gives them to the priest.

RAGNAR: Thank you for your time, priest.

The priest is clearly offended, and would like to say something stinging - but manages to restrain himself. He bows, walks out.

A long beat. Bjorn is still staring up at the statue of Odin, as if mesmerized.

RAGNAR: (softly) Bjorn...there’s something you should know. Our family are direct descendants of Odin. Odin was once a man. He fought and made a great name for himself, and when he died he became a god. But he was once a man, with a family and a home. And it is written in the runes that we are directly descended from his family.

BJORN: We are descended from gods? No father. How can it be?

RAGNAR: It is so. Which is why I believe I have inherited the god’s curiosity. He loved knowledge. He wanted to find out about things. And so do I. I want to find out what lies to the west of us...what cities and gods are over there. I’m not satisfied with staying here, in this small country, where everyone has to scratch out a living, unless you’re an earl. Odin gave his eye to acquire knowledge, but I would give far more.

Bjorn stares up again at the giant statue of the one-eyed god.

RAGNAR: Go outside and wait for me.

Bjorn nods, and leaves Ragnar alone with his god.

RAGNAR: (quietly) Lord, O High One, I have sworn my life to you, and I have come to ask your advice. Is it not true that, in the beginning of everything, you led the revolt of the Aesir against the Vanir? Was it not you, Lord, who burned the body of the witch Gullveig three times? And did you not sit in your high seat in Valhalla sharpening your spear and polishing your shield? And when the gods moved against each other, was it not you who cast the first spear into the host of the Vanir? (beat) So I have come to ask, have I your permission to rise in revolt against my earthly lord? Would you give me your blessing, if I cast the first spear? Lord, O High One, if you would forgive or encourage me, I ask only that you give me a sign.

Odin stares back at him with his single eye.

CUT TO: INT. RAGNAR HOUSE - DAY

Ragnar and Lagertha sit on the bed.

LAGERTHA: How was it?

RAGNAR: Good. Earl Haraldson gave Bjorn his arm-ring. Then I took him up to the temple.

LAGERTHA: So many things at once. My poor son.

RAGNAR: He didn’t complain. Then I took him to see the new boat.

LAGERTHA: How is it?

RAGNAR: We won’t know until we sail in her, but she looks good.

He reaches out, touches her cheek.

RAGNAR: I missed you. Did anything happen while we were away?

LAGERTHA: No. RAGNAR Did you miss me?

LAGERTHA: I was too busy on the farm to miss you.

RAGNAR: Is that true? She smiles.

LAGERTHA: No. I ached with love longing. My belly was empty of laughter.

RAGNAR: How can I make you laugh now?

LAGERTHA: I don’t want to laugh now.

She pushes him back on the bed, and gets astride him.

LAGERTHA: I want to ride you, like a bull. Like a wild bull.

She rocks back and forth, her eyes gleaming. Unclasps her hair and leans down to kiss him, her hair falling all around him.

LAGERTHA: Now bull, now.

He starts to make love to her.

In the other room, by the smouldering fire, Bjorn can hear them. His parents make love loudly, shouting, and the bed shakes. Untroubled, he saunters outside.

EXT. HOUSE - DAY

We are struck, again, by the immense, almost overwhelming beauty of this place. A beauty that seems almost unreal.

A small boat is approaching, cutting through the calm waters, dwarfed by the distant mountains.

It reaches the naroow shingle beach and Rollo climbs out, and fastens it to a post.

BJORN: Hello Rollo.

Rollo ruffles the boy’s hair.

ROLLO: Hello, young Bjorn. Where are your parents?

Bjorn is matter of fact.

BJORN: They’re fucking.

Rollo laughs.

INT. HOUSE - EVENING

Ragnar, Lagertha, Bjorn, Gyda and Rollo eat and drink. Rollo drinks copiously. Looks at Gyda.

ROLLO: So, Gyda, tell me: is your mother teaching you how to use a shield?

GYDA: Yes. I know how to use a shield. I know what it’s for.

ROLLO: Your mother was a famous shieldmaiden.

LAGERTHA: Not so much of the “was” please, Rollo. “Is” will do.

ROLLO: Is...a famous shield-maiden. We fought in the same shieldwall. Against the Eastlanders. She fought like a Valkyrie.

LAGERTHA: I fought to protect my husband, my brothers and my father. They, too, were in the shieldwall. I would have died, willingly, for any of them.

Ragnar looks at her.

RAGNAR: You nearly did. (It’s something between them)

She rises.

LAGERTHA: Come on children, to bed. We’ll leave the men.

BJORN: I’m a man. I have a ring.

LAGERTHA: To bed!

BJORN AND GYDA: Good night.

RAGNAR: Good night, my children.

Kisses them. They go off. Ragnar pours more mead for them both.

ROLLO: Tell me your news: what about the boat?

RAGNAR: I’ve seen it. It’s a wonderful thing, Rollo. It’s almost halffinished.

ROLLO: Do you trust Floki? Isn’t he a great joker?

RAGNAR: He’s a great boat builder. I trust him to do that.

ROLLO: And the sun board and the sunstone - you believe they can guide you across the sea?

RAGNAR: I do. (beat) But I have to ask you this: when the boat is finished, will you sail west with me?

There’s a long beat. Rollo drinks, wipes his mouth. Stares at him.

ROLLO: Only if we’re all equal. I won’t go under your command.

Ragnar slips the ring from his arm.

Holds it out to Rollo.

RAGNAR: I swear on my sacred ring, I swear before Odin, that everyone in the boat will be equal, and will share equally what we find. (beat) Will you come?

A beat. Then Rollo reaches out, and also takes hold of the ring.

ROLLO: I will come. I swear. Ragnar grins, embraces him.

But Rollo is still staring at him.

ROLLO: But we must find a crew. Not many men will go against the wishes of Earl Haraldson. Many of them will be afraid, and if we approach them some may even go to him and betray us.

RAGNA:R Leave that to me. I have a good idea where we will find our crew.

Rollo looks at him quizzically, but doesn’t question him.

ROLLO: You’re very determined, Ragnar Lothbrok. How do you know we’ll be successful?

RAGNAR: I don’t know. But what I do know is that our fates are already decided. One way or another, we can’t change them.

A beat. Then Lagertha comes back in.

LAGERTHA: They’re asleep.

She sits down. Ragnar rises.

RAGNAR: I must go and piss.

He walks outside. Rollo pours Lagertha some mead.

LAGERTHA: Thank you.

She smiles at him. He tries to hold her gaze.

ROLLO: I’ve always wanted you. Always.

LAGERTHA: That’s too bad.

She smiles again, but he takes it like an insult - reaches out and grabs her wrist. She spills her drink.

ROLLO: Don’t insult me, shield-maiden.

Looks at him.

LAGERTHA: No. I would never insult you. You’re too great a warrior.

Eyes tight on each other. Then he releases his grip.

LAGERTHA: But not so great a man.

EXT. HOUSE - EVENING

Ragnar finishes his piss. The landscape is bathed in moonlight, which gives everything a mysterious look. Ragnar’s gaze is somehow drawn across to the edge of the woods...as a wolf emerges.

The wolf walks down the meadow a little way, completely unafraid. Then stops, and seems to look back at Ragnar for a few long moments.

And then it turns, moves away among the shadows.

INT. HOUSE - EVENING

Ragnar comes back in. Is immediately aware that something has happened between Lagertha and Rollo - but chooses to ignore it.

He sits down again.

RAGNAR: I saw a wolf in the meadow.

ROLLO: You must kill it.

Ragnar looks at him.

RAGNAR: No. I mustn’t kill it.

ROLLO: Why not?

A beat.

RAGNAR: Because it wasn’t a wolf.

INT. BEDCHAMBER - NIGHT

Bjorn lies in his narrow bed, still awake.

He can hear the adult conversations in the next room. His hand still grips the arm-ring he’s been given, for he will never let it go.

When he closes his eyes he sees the statue of Odin. Odin is staring at him with his one eye. But the eye is alive. And his gaze is terrible. It bores into you.

EXT. LANDSCAPE - DAY

We are in the fjord. Clouds scud across the sky. The mountains soar into the blue air, and fall into the water below.

The water is full of reflections - of the sky, of the forests.

A waterfall cascades down the side of a mountain, foaming over the rocks, sending up a fine mist of spray.

This is nature, raw and elemental.

We hear Lagertha’s voice.

LAGERTHA: A pyre was built around the body of Balder and his wife Nana, dry faggots that needed nothing more than a spark to leap into their own life and consume the lifeless bodies that lay upon them, releasing their bodies to travel on.

INT. RAGNAR’S HOUSE - EVENING

Lagertha recites the saga to her children, who listen, like frozen things listening.

LAGERTHA: Balder’s horse, meanwhile, was galloping along the foreshore and worked into a streaming sweat. Then a servant plunged a short dagger into its throat. It gave a violent jerk and, without a sound, crumpled among the wrack.

EXT. FJORD - DAY

Ragnar is out fishing with his son, Bjorn, in the deep soundless waters of the fjord.

RAGNAR: Now Odin strode through the shallows and gripped the gunwale. He climbed into the boat and stood over the body of his dead son. For some time he gazed at him...

Ragnar gazes at the very alive, very animated face of his son. Then he speaks aloud.

RAGNAR: Then Odin bent down and put his mouth to Balder’s ear. Again he gazed at his son; then he left the boat.

Ragnar looks over at the shore, and points out something to his son.

Someone has kindled a fire on the far shore.

LAGERTHA: At a sign from Odin a servant stepped forward with a lighted brand. He set fire to the pyre and at once a steady plume of smoke, twisting and spiralling, rose into the calm air.

And as father and son stare at the sight on the far shore, this is exactly what they see.

A boat has been set on fire - and the smoke, twisting and spiralling, rises into the calm air.

INT. RAGNAR’S HOUSE - EVENING

Ragnar goes on with the nighttime saga, as the children hover between wake and sleep.

RAGNAR: Thor raised his hammer. Slowly and solemnly he intoned the magic words to hallow the cremation. Then a dwarf called Lit came running along the water’s edge. He passed right in front of Thor, and Thor was so enraged that he put out a foot and tripped him. The dwarf flew threw the air and landed right on the licking and curdling pyre. In this way, he was burned to death beside Balder.

Bjorn bursts out laughing at the thought of the dwarf flying into the fire. He laughs and laughs. And Ragnar smiles, and even his daughter is tickled.

EXT. FJORD - DAY

Father and son watch the boat, now completely alight, drift slowly across the water. It’s a fantastic, compelling image, the fire reflected in the water so it seems to spread out right across the fjord.

RAGNAR: The boat drifted across the water. Sea winds caught at her and tugged her away. First she was more boat than flame, but soon more flame than boat. She was a quivering shape, a farewell on the horizon, moving on under a great cloud of her own making.

And so it is.

And the boat burns on.

INT. RAGNAR’S HOUSE - DAWN

The first brightness in the night sky. A little rill of light.

The moon is still in the sky, pale and diminishing.

The camera travels through the house and its sleeping inhabitants. We see the colored shields, some weapons. The ashes of a fire, a slaughtered beast upon a hook.

The children asleep, like any other children. But Bjorn still clasping his arm-ring in a deathless grip. The small statue of Freya. A sleeping cat.

Ragnar and Lagertha naked and asleep, coiled together.

Then Ragnar opens his eyes.

And the first thing he sees is a horrifying mask. And then he hears laughter, and Floki rips off the mask as he stands over their bed.

Ragnar stares up at him, covering his cock.

FLOKI: It’s ready.

EXT. BOATHOUSE - DAY

The finished boat. It is a thing of such indescribable beauty and latent power that Ragnar strokes the burnished planks with his hands and lays his cheek against it, and shivers.

Freshly oiled and painted. Sinuous, sleek, graceful the hull rising shapely, like the contours of a body, like an organic, living thing.

And the prow standing proud, with its ornately carved dragonhead.

Floki stares intently at Ragnar, watching his reactions.

Ragnar looks at him.

RAGNAR: It’s...

Floki puts a finger over his mouth.

FLOKI: No need to say. I see it in your eyes. (beat) Let’s put her on the water.

EXT. BOATHOUSE - DAY

Floki, his assistant, Ragnar and Rollo pull and heave the finished boat, over wooden rollers, the short distance to the water.

The boat glides into the water and the men climb in.

Threading oars through the oarports they row the boat out into the deeper waters of the fyord, where a strong breeze ripples the surface and sends the clouds scudding across the sky.

Floki is like a man possessed, grunting and groaning, sighing, swearing at, then encouraging the boat, listening intently to its creakings, watching for its listing.

Ragnar ships his oar.

RAGNAR: Now the sail, Floki, the sail!

FLOKI: She’ll sink. Oh, what have I done?

RAGNAR: No she won’t. She won’t sink.

FLOKI: I shouldn’t have pretended to build such a boat. It’s beyond my humble capabilities. I’m a fool.

He looks as if he’s about to cry.

RAGNAR: I’ll set the sail.

Ragnar unfurls the large black sail. It falls. The others fasten the ropes. Nothing happens for a moment. The sail flaps rather uselessly.

FLOKI: I’m sorry, Ragnar. I’ve wasted all your money. It was all a joke.

RAGNAR: Shut up, man.

A beat.

ROLLO: Look!

A breeze catches the sail and it swells out proudly. The boat starts to move. As it moves faster, the motion stabilizes, becomes less choppy. It glides on smoothly, still picking up speed.

And now, suddenly, they’re flying! The boat, still sitting low in the water, cuts through it so easily that the frame doesn’t shudder on impact with the waves. It seems to ride over the waves.

And, after a while, there’s an eruption of joy inside the boat, the men shouting, and hugging, and Floki going mad, laughing, leaping about, hugging them, trailing his hands in the water.

FLOKI: Ha! What did I tell you? Now it runs on its cool keel. It’s beautiful. Why didn’t you believe me?

Then, as they speed on, they calm down. Sober up. Look at the shoreline racing past.

Ragnar doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t need to, his expression says it all. He can see the future now. He is sitting on the edge of his dream.

EXT. CLIFFS - DAY

A HORSEMAN sits astride his horse, at the edge of the cliffs - and watches the black-sailed ship carving through the waves.

We have seen him before. He has a livid scar that joins his mouth to his eye. He is one of Earl Haraldson’s housecarls.

He stares as the boat flies on.

END OF EPISODE 1

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Saison 6
10.10.2019

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601 : Episode 1 (inédit)
Mercredi 4 décembre à 21:00

602 : Episode 2 (inédit) à 22:00

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603 : Episode 3 (inédit)
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juju93, 16.10.2019 à 22:14

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