Vikings Valhalla Season 2, Episode 2 “Towers of Faith” Recap

Caution:SPOILERS

The second episode opens with a series of brief scenes, catching us up with our key players. Olaf and Svein have chased down some Heathens, questioning one about the Jomsvikings, before Olaf tells Svein that to be King, he must bloody his sword. Svein kills the man.

Freydis arrives in Jomsborg where she is recognized by several people there and introduced to Harekr and Gudrid, a married couple who are the leaders of Jomsborg.

Leif and Harald arrive in Novgorod. Leif learns about opium and Harald finds his uncle Yaroslav. When Yaroslav’s guards won’t let Harald speak to him, Harald jumps into the fighting arena, and yells that the fight needs “a Viking named Prince Harald Sigurdsson, great-grandson of Harald Finehair and blood relative of Yaroslav the Wise.”

And in London, Earl Godwin is torturing a man who tried to assassinate Emma to find out who else was behind the plot. When the man says he knows nothing more, Godwin has them burn out his eye as the man says he heard someone call his contact “Bear.”

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Murder Or Banish? Decisions Abound On The Traitors (Review)

NO SPOILERS

In my recent review on “Pressure Cooker” I mentioned how I disliked it during the early seasons of skilled competition shows when people made decisions based on “game strategy” rather than on merit. It may surprise you, then, to learn that I absolutely loved Peacock’s “The Traitors.” On “The Traitors” “game strategy” is the whole point.

The show is set in Scotland, ostensibly at the castle of our host, Alan Cumming, who was born to play this role. He has invited 20 people – 10 who have been on other reality shows (most of them from Peacock’s corporate sister, Bravo, but a few others as well) and 10, well, normal people to join him at his castle for a little game. Not being a big watcher of reality shows, I didn’t really know who anyone was, and in all honesty, it didn’t make a difference as far as enjoying the program went. There are some references to their previous stints, but nothing you can’t follow just by the dialog on this show.

Traitors players Michael Davidson, Anjelica Conti, Cirie Fields, Brandi Glanville, Rachel Reilly, Kate Chastain, Robert “Bam” Nieves, Ryan Lochte, Arie Luyendyk Jr., Christian de la Torre, Cody, Calafiore, Kyle Cook, Amanada Clark, Azra Valani, Stephenie LaGrossa Kendrick, Reza Farahan, Geraldine Moreno, and Quentin Jiles (Photo by Euan Cherry/Peacock)

Each day, the contestants engage in a mission of some sort. One day, they may be trying to blow up wood frame Scottish beasts, another, they’re struggling to roll barrels through the castle grounds. The point of the missions is for them to collectively earn money toward the prize pot of up to $250,000.

The contenders have been divided into two groups, but not everyone knows who’s in which group. Some have been selected by Cumming to serve as the titular Traitors, who’s job is to get rid of as many of the other players as possible without getting caught. The rest are known as the Faithful.

The Traitors all learn who’s on which team because each night, they don heavy cloaks, sneak through the castle carrying a lantern and meet in a creepy castle turret to decide who they’re going to murder. Once the victim is picked, their judgement is delivered to the victim, who is now out of the game.

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No Host? No Judges? No Problem. Everything Else…? “Pressure Cooker” Review

I love skilled competition shows. By that, I mean I enjoy competitions that focus on a specific vocation, such as cooking/baking, fashion design, forging, pottery making, glassblowing, applying make-up and so forth. Most of them use the same formula: You have celebrity or semi-celebrity hosts and judges, 10–12 contestants, and there are one or two rounds. On programs with two rounds, the winner of the initial round gets an advantage in the second, or the loser of the first round receives a penalty, while the second round determines who’s going home.

“Pressure Cooker” is one of the first shows I’ve seen really tinker with this formula. There are no hosts and no guest judges. The challengers all live in a large loft with a huge professional kitchen. There’s one challenge per episode that is judged either by the contestants themselves or by former participants, with a couple of exceptions. One brings in the contestant’s family members to rate the food, and one uses professional critics. Challenges are sent to the kitchen via a ticket printer, such as is used in a restaurant, to let the cooks know what dishes are on order.

CAUTION: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD

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It’s 3 AM. Do You Know Where Your Violent Protest Is?

Earlier tonight on his FoxNews show, Tucker Carlson said we need to be afraid of Antifa again because they’re organizing “violence” across the country tonight. He even cited comments by the head of the “Fredericksburg, Maryland chapter” to buttress his claims. But at 3AM, all appears to be quiet in our major cities – or they’re at least not being disturbed by violent hordes of anti-Fascists. The FoxNews webpage has no stories on violent protests happening this evening, nor do CNN’s or MSNBC’s. So, what happened? Where did the protests go?

As may be obvious, there never were any protests planned. The threat was a lie. Antifa isn’t organizing anything. It can’t. Why not? Because Antifa isn’t an organization in any normally understood meaning of the word. There’s no organizational structure, no leader/president/CEO, no headquarters or local/regional chapters (not even in Fredericksburg, Maryland). There’s no way to apply to be a member, no membership fee or donations, no member roster, no membership list, no meetings and – sorry Tucker – no organizational plans. It can’t be a militia, and it can’t be mobilizing to commit violence because it doesn’t exist in that form.

Antifa is a portmanteau used to indicate that someone or something opposes Fascism. It literally means “anti-Fascist” and came into vogue to describe the tactics employed by people protesting Fascism. Some right-wing leaders and broadcasters, however, have made it one of their biggest boogiemen, casting it as an mysterious, violent group dedicated to ruining our way of life (and by their reckoning, “our” means “white people’s”.)

There are sufficient genuine threats in the world that we don’t need either side creating imaginary ones. While it’s possible that some people opposed to Fascism are plotting to engage in violence, “Antifa” as an organization is not. Rather than telling scary stories about large groups planning to riot “on both coasts and in the middle,” wouldn’t it be better to focus on any actual, known threats? The problem with that, of course, is that focusing only on real threats doesn’t scare nearly enough people, and history has shown that one of the most effective ways to get communities to accept an authoritarian, totalitarian, or Fascist government is to keep them afraid, and offer authoritarianism as the best way to protect everyone.

By morning, most who saw Tucker’s breathless fear-mongering will have forgotten there were supposed to be violent riots overnight, but the bit of fear he inflicted upon them as they watched his show will still be there. They’ve been given another reason to fear “Antifa” – whatever that may be – and have subconsciously absorbed it. And that’s how an imaginary “political militia” engages in imaginary “violence” and becomes another reason for people to think they need a strongman government to protect them.

The Five Scariest Words I’ve Heard This Week…

Here’s a phrase that should send shivers down just about anyone’s spine: Vice-President Marjorie Taylor Green.

Don’t laugh. Well, not too much, anyway. She’s serious about this.

NBC News says, MTG wants to be Trump’s running mate in 2024.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., is angling to be Donald Trump’s running mate in 2024, according to two people who have spoken to the firebrand second-term congresswoman about her ambitions.

“This is no shrinking violet, she’s ambitious — she’s not shy about that, nor should she be,” said Steve Bannon, the former top Trump aide who hosts the War Room podcast, where Greene has been a guest.

“She sees herself on the short list for Trump’s VP. Paraphrasing Cokie Roberts, when MTG looks in the mirror she sees a potential president smiling back,” he added, referencing Roberts, the late political reporter who worked for NPR, ABC News and other outlets.

A second source who has advised Greene said her “whole vision is to be vice president.” The source, who has ties to Trump but spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations, said he also believes Greene would be on Trump’s short list.

This ambition explains a few things she’s said and done lately, such as distancing herself from the “Q-Anon” conspiracy. Speaking to Howard Kurtz on FOX News, she claimed that “like a lot of people” she “had easily gotten sucked into some things I had seen on the internet.”

Snopes notes that this is similar to an earlier remark she’d made about her following Q-Anon.

Back in 2021 when she was stripped of her House committee assignments, she said her past comments about QAnon “do not represent me” and she was “was allowed to believe things that weren’t true […].” She added that she regretted that she “would ask questions about them and talk about them.”

[She was “allowed” to? Who do you go to to get permission to believe in crazy conspiracy theories?]

She has also bound herself tightly to Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who is rewarding her help in recruiting representatives to vote for his Speakership by giving her a place on two choice committee seats. “I will never leave that woman,” McCarthy told a friend, according to the New York Times. “I will always take care of her.” And taking care of her means assignments to high-profile, powerful committees – the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability and the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Two years is a long time, and loyalty among Republicans is highly volatile, but if McCarthy, trump and Green can maintain their bonds until the election, don’t be surprised if you hear Greene’s name floated for the Vice Presidency.