“Vikings” aired its most intense episode of the series yet on Thursday, April 10. Come on, we couldn’t have been the only ones holding our breath for the last five minutes of episode 7, right? During the seemingly never-ending scene, fans got to see just how cruel Ragnar can be when the Earl of Kattegat axed away of Jarl Borg’s back.
The execution he performed is called Blood Eagle and is said to be the most painful death a human can experience before it's complete.
“But [it's] truly astonishing to those who watch,” Jarl Borg said to King Horik in his prison cell. The brutal punishment “figures into the historical Ragnar’s story,” TV Line said.
Still confused about what a Blood Eagle is? Who better to explain this gruesome ritual than Ragnar himself.
Bjorn’s father told him that it’s when a prisoner “gets down on his knees and his back is opened with knives. And then with axes his ribs are chopped away from his spine. And then his lungs are pulled out and laid upon his shoulders so they look like the folded wings of a great eagle. And he must stay like that, suffering, until he dies.”
The craziest part of this ritual, as if it couldn’t get more shocking, is that the person enduring Blood Eagle must remain silent throughout the execution for fear of being exiled from Valhalla. In Norse mythology, Valhalla is a majestic hall ruled by the Gods. Those who die in battle are allowed to enter -- that is, if they greet death heroically.
After Ragnar brutally disfigured Borg’s back, the Jarl of Götaland was left there to suffer and die in silence.
According to the show’s creator, Michael Hirst, the worst part of the execution wasn’t the physical pain but the mental anguish he underwent after being given false hope from King Horik.
Fans were misdirected to think that King Horik might betray Ragnar by setting Jarl Borg free. The reason why? King Horik is desperate to seek vengeance against King Ecbert and the only way he can sail to Wessex is if he uses Borg’s boat and warriors. King Horik expressed his concerns to Ragnar but the Earl of Kattegat promised that he would find a new alley to aid their mission. And he did: Lagertha.
Prior to Ragnar and Lagertha’s agreement, King Horik, unaware of the future alliance, promised to free Borg from imprisonment. He claimed he had men who weren’t fond of Ragnar assisting in the jail break. But when the time finally came for Borg to be freed by King Horik, he found himself welcomed by raging flames and Ragnar dressed in white cloak. So, what’s the deal? Why did King Horik lie to Jarl Borg?
“We’d shot a scene, which isn’t in there in the end, where someone asked him, ‘Why did you say that you would save him?’ and Horik says, ‘I never would have saved him.’ [Horik] once said, ‘Unless someone has hope, they don’t really suffer,’ so he went in to give him this false hope, and I liked that scene. He made Jarl Borg believe for a moment that he was going to get out of there,” Hirst explained.
Who knew “Vikings” could be so vicious? What did you think of Jarl Borg’s execution scene? Let us know in the comments section below!