Vikings – Lagertha is dead… and we killed her

Vikings Season 6 Episode 7 “The Ice Maiden” sees Lagertha quite dead and the focus shifts to her funeral preparations.

As demanded countless times in ancient and medieval history, a human sacrifice is required so someone may attend to Lagertha in the afterlife. To me, this is the most interesting part of the extended sequence.

Question is, did actual historical victims die willingly or was some form of direct or subtle coercion involved?

The TV show makes it all look pretty grand. Only the scary eyes and weird smile of the Angel of Death – the woman who regulary kills ceremonial victims – makes us wonder just how healthy the whole process really is.

Otherwise, the victim ‘joyfully’ goes to her grave, in this case via the blade (she had the other lovely choice of being strangled by a rope).

Hmm. History or TV history?

Human Sacrifice: A Practice as Old as Time – The Daily Beast

So why did we kill Lagertha, as I say in the title?

Well, apart from sounding Nietzschean cool, I think to some extent we did. Our skewed cultural love of youth often necessitates putting older characters out to pasture.

Let’s not forget that TV is primarily about ratings, art second. If there is no succession of fresh, nubile and/or hot male bods for viewers to fantasize or perhaps just dream over, well most shows just won’t last too long.

Sad but true.

So again, Lagertha is dead… and we killed her.*

Ironically, we see her youthful appearance one last time only after she’s dead. Underwater… and just before turning to sand.

* God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? — Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Section 125, tr. Walter Kaufmann[1]


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