EW – Vikings recap: ‘Crossings’
Season 4, Ep. 16 | Aired Jan 4
Words travel slowly from the lonely ground in Northumbria, where the great, legendary, cursed Ragnar Lothbrok lies buried beneath earth and snakes and ambition. In Kattegat, his first wife Lagertha cannot believe he is dead. But her responsibility is clear. She must pick up the burden of rule, no matter the cost. “Ragnar hated it,” she tells her lover Astrid. “It weighed him down, perhaps it even killed him.” But she cannot disappoint her women: Not Astrid, not Torvi, not the shieldmaidens who fought and died for her. And she thinks Ragnar is watching her.
In Wessex, Ecbert mourns his friend, while his son Aethelwulf fears the worst. Ecbert had an agreement with Ragnar, a promise the Viking’s sons would seek vengeance only against Aelle. “Ragnar and I were alike in many ways,” says Ecbert, suddenly looking like an old man, or like a man who has begun to outlive his own time. He agrees Aethelwulf should raise an army; he will stay right where he is, at the seat of his power, teaching young Alfred the ways of this cruel world.
Lagertha assumes her own seat of power, sitting in the high throne at the center of Kattegat. She sat up there once before, next to Ragnar — and, briefly, next to Aslaug, Ragnar’s second wife. Lagertha, in charge, has some new ideas. Kattegat has become large, “the largest, richest trading center in Norway.” Others will be envious; the time has come to fortify, to dig ditches, to turn this small overgrown village into a true defended city.
Thanks to our friends at Far Far Away, I have some new stills from Episodes 4×11-4×15 as well as the upcoming episode The Great Army.
Characters have died on Vikings before — main characters killed by other main characters, major political figures cut down to make way for a new generation, and great warriors dying brilliantly in battle. But this week, the show cut down its most legendary figure. King Ragnar Lothbrok – who sailed across the sea to raid Northumbria and Wessex, who brought ships to the great walls of Paris, who wandered the world for long years after his humiliation and returned to his home to complete one final quest – is dead. Held high in a cage in the forest, he was dropped into a snakepit, his death witnessed by his nemesis King Aelle and his slightly-more-friendly nemesis King Ecbert.
Anyone familiar with the sagas from which Vikings derives its narrative knew that Ragnar would die eventually. You might be surprised, though, to hear that this death was originally going to happen much earlier. “I was meant to die at the end of the first year,” says Travis Fimmel, the Australian actor who played Ragnar. “I ended up staying around for three more!”