The snow is deep and difficult for Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) to slog through as the son of Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) tries to survive the harsh winter in episode 2 of “Vikings.” But Bjorn’s suffering ends in the Season 4 History Channel installment when he comes across a log cabin.
While things seem to be looking up for Bjorn in “Kill the Queen,” chaos ensues for the people of Kattegat when Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) goes missing. Ragnar isn’t surprised and continues to eat when he is told that his longtime friend has escaped. But unlike the calm and collected Ragnar, the fugitive Floki is overwhelmed with fear as he fiercely sprints away from his home.
Meanwhile, in the Kingdom of Wessex (England), King Ecbert (Linus Roache) reveals “urgent and unexpected news” to his people. According to his son Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford), the people of Mercia have overthrown Queen Kwenthrith (Amy Bailey) and locked her in a tower.
“It may be this time we’ll have to use force to overcome Mercia,” King Ecbert says, hinting at a forthcoming battle.
But the king realizes force is necessary when he receives a box full of dismembered Mercia scouts. Luckily for Ecbert, one scout manages to survive the grim fate and tells his king that a noble man revealed the location of Queen Kwenthrith. Aethelwulf opts to trust his word and heads with the scout and his best warriors to Mercia to save the queen and her son.
Back in Kattegat, Ragnar, who is still very ill, pays a visit to Floki’s wife, Helga (Maude Hirst). He asks her if she was the one who freed Floki from his shackles.
“I don’t blame you. It is your duty as a wife,” he says, reminding viewers that although he may be king, he’s still the same, family-loving farmer we met in Season 1. Before Ragnar leaves, he gives Helga and her daughter a bag of food to keep their bellies full for the winter.
In Paris, Rollo (Clive Standen) works with Count Odo (Owen Roe) on how to prevent the Vikings from raiding their city once again. Rollo suggests building two forts, each of which would hold the end of a chain that rests in the water. When the Vikings attempt to sail through the channel, the chain would be pulled, destroying their boats. He also insists the Parisians build more ships capable of battling the Northmen in the water.
After coming up with a plan of attack, Rollo gets a makeover that transforms him into a Frankish noble. But Princess Gisla (Morgane Polanski) can see straight through his blowout and bellows with laughter.
While Rollo gets a haircut, Ubbe (Luke Shanahan), Ragnar’s eldest son with Princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland), tracks down Floki, who is hiding in the water.
“The great Floki ... captured by my children,” Ragnar muses when he learns his friend has been dragged back to Kattegat. “Why didn’t the Gods protect you? Why didn’t they hide you better from such innocent eyes?”
Ragnar then reveals to Floki that he has “such a wonderful” punishment prepared for his friend — one that will go on and on and on.
After Floki is taken away, Ragnar shares with his wife that he’s frustrated with Floki because his friend refuses to reveal the real reason he killed Athelstan (George Blagden). “This is about loyalty and trust,” Ragnar says, slapping Queen Aslaug to the ground. “Something you can’t understand.”
The brutality on “Vikings” only grows stronger when the camera pulls back to Mercia, where a battle has just broken out. Aethelwulf is determined to save the queen and her boy but he nearly loses his life while doing so. As Aethelwulf fights for his life, Queen Kwenthrith takes on two warriors herself after a guard from Mercia instructs them to kill her.
“What took you so long?” the queen says to Aethelwulf after nearly being choked to death in front of her son.
The episode concludes with Ragnar finding Helga on top of a mountain digging a hole.
“What are you doing?” he asks. She says she’s burying her daughter. Ragnar, weak from disease, picks up the shovel and digs a grave for his friend’s only child. As Floki’s daughter is placed in a grave, he is shown suffering immensely from water torture, unaware that his child has died.
"Vikings" airs on Thursdays nights at 10 p.m. EST on History Channel.