Warning: Major spoilers from the most recent episode of Vikings Season 5B, "The Buddha," are discussed below.
Proving that its ability to continue dishing out death shockers is far from over, Vikings was at it again in its latest installment. As the episode wound down, it seemed that most of Vikings' characters would walk away unscathed. Or at least live to die in another installment.
Well, Judith had other things in mind. With Alfred being stricken down by illness again, his mother worked overtime to keep him from being overthrown. Those involved in the recent conspiracy against Alfred were executed. Aethelred, on the hand, enjoyed his brother's mercy.
Judith was still wary of Aethelred. As the two worked to quiet down concerns following Alfred's health crisis, her suspicions were only heightened. At the gathering, Aethelred went to talk in private with a concerned attendee. When Judith confronted her son, he pulled her down and pretty much told her he would say whatever he wants.
By the end of the hour, Judith was reeling with concern that Aethelred would not stop his campaign against Alfred. As they partook in a meal together, Aethelred began to feel ill. Judith had poisoned him. In a prolonged bout of suffering, he ended up dying as she held him.
Judith cried yet seemed to feel no remorse for what she had done. She had chosen one son long ago, and she was willing to kill the other to protect him.
The bloodless coup that Aethelred had originally partaken in against his brother seemed like a stretch. It is unlikely those wanting Alfred neutralized would have settled for him being left alive.
One question raised was whether Aethelred was actually up to his old tricks again. He did save Alfred in the previous episode's big battle. That seems like something a guy wanting his brother gone would not have done.
Judith's concerns that he was conspiring had a sound foundation. He had done it before. When given a chance to put those fears to rest with a few assuring words, his actions did nothing to dissuade her suspicions. You would expect an innocent person to have at least made an effort.
In a scene closely preceding his death, Aethelred lay in bed with his wife. She openly hoped that Alfred would die so her husband could be king. Aethelred did not object to her menacing wish. He just lay there contemplatively.
It was a more solemn scene than he received at the hands of his mother. Speaking of mothers, Lagertha was still missing when Vikings' latest episode ended. As for the most recent death on Vikings, King Alfred lived to reign another day. His brother is no longer a threat.