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Athelstan drives a wedge between Ragnar and Floki in Season 3

With the return of “Vikings” comes a definite change in tone for one of the show’s strongest relationships. At the end of Season 2, Floki proved his complete loyalty to Ragnar, leading to the death of King Horik. While that was happening, Ragnar was delving further into his fascination with Christianity with Athelstan at his side.

Now, Floki’s loyalty will be put to the test in Season 3. With Ragnar now king, his clan is heading into a war for Ecbert and Princess Kwenthrith in Mercia. In the latest trailer for the new season, Floki makes it clear he doesn’t support this fight, chastising Ragnar, “How many more of us must die for your Christians?”

“There’s definitely a rift being created between Floki and Ragnar due to Ragnar’s religious curiosity,” George Blagden (Athelstan) tells Zap2it. However, while Floki may see the battle as fighting on behalf of the Christians, Ragnar always looks at the bigger picture.

“Ragnar is an opportunist, but he’s a man of loyalty and integrity,” Blagden says. “The assault on Mercia is to make sure his people have a future and he’s trying to find a way to negotiate with King Ecbert.”

That won’t stop the divide between Ragnar and Floki. That rift can do nothing but make the viking king rely on Athelstan even more. “It’s useful to have someone else he trusts who’s probably the most objective of his family,” Blagden says. “Over two seasons we’ve seen Ragnar create fractured relationships with his family and friends, but that hasn’t really happened with Athelstan.”

Instead, Ragnar takes comfort in the religious knowledge he gains from Athelstan. He yearns to know about the rest of the world, with Athelstan serving as his guide. As that happens, Athelstan — a former monk — finds himself more unsure of his beliefs than ever.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, Blagden says: “He’s finding this comfort zone in the discomfort zone, between two religions [Christianity and Paganism]. I think that’s why he chooses to go back to Kattegat and be part of the viking culture and the Lothbrok clan [at the end of Season 2].”

Finding his place between the two faiths is emboldening him. Whereas before Athelstan allowed himself to be led by either whoever was in charge — be it Ecbert of Ragnar — now “we see a much more confident man emerging,” Blagden says.

As that man emerges, the question becomes, how will the rest of the Lothbrok clan react to him? While Floki is loyal to Ragnar, he will stand with the gods above all else. That could be dangerous, should Athelstan’s influence — whether intended or not — lead to more viking deaths.

“Vikings” Season 3 premieres Feb. 19 on History.



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