VARIETY – If you haven’t seen the first episode of the second part of Season 4 of History’s “Vikings,” read no further.
Rather than ending the first part of “Vikings” Season 4 with Ragnar’s defeat, showrunner Michael Hirst decided to show us what happens after one of the most famed Viking warriors in the world is defeated: He disappears for years, then suddenly shows up at home to find his beloved sons grown. In Wednesday’s premiere, Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) got to know these boys — now men, really — and laid his plans for avenging the destruction of his settlement in England by King Ecbert (Linus Roache). Hirst called up Variety from rainy Oxfordshire to discuss Ragnar’s suicide attempt and what’s coming down the pike for his crippled son Ivar (Alex Høgh Andersen).
The conversation between Ragnar and Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) at Hedeby feels like a very long time coming. What was it about this moment in time that felt right for that conversation?
Ah yes, “No regrets. And every regret”? This comes up all the time at places like Comic-Con: “When are Ragnar and Lagertha going to get back together?” As much as you want that, I want that, too. That would be perfect. But I could never manage it. Their lives have taken different trajectories. And through it all, like Ragnar’s relationship with Floki, these relationships are so deep and abiding, we know that there are deep emotional bonds. In Viking terms, they would be expected to continue in Valhalla.
Although, as he tells Floki just before trying to hang himself, he doesn’t know if they’ll meet in Valhalla. Was that a genuine suicide attempt, or more of a dare to the gods to send him a sign?
There are many answers to that question. In one way it was genuine. Ragnar has come back, and though I’m sure he didn’t expect to be welcomed back with open arms, most of his children have rejected him. He’s sort of out of time now. He’s depressed. But at the same time, you could perfectly well say he’s looking for a sign. Because if he does hang himself? If you don’t die in battle, you don’t make it to Valhalla. He’s testing his destiny, he’s testing his fate. What he really has to do is go to England and check out the wreckage of his settlement and have some sort of conversation with Ecbert. The two things that brought him back were that he loves his sons and wanted to see what becomes of them. But there was unfinished business in England. In some ways he knows that’s his destiny — whatever it is, it will be deiced in England. In one way I don’t take it too seriously, it’s a momentary thing that’s brought up by meeting with Lagertha and Floki. Feeling lonely and isolated and wanting to do something about that, but also kind of knowing the gods will not allow Ragnar Lothbrok to die that way.