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!”
Vikings recap: ‘The Vision’
Ragnar sets sail for Wessex
EW – Season 4, Ep. 12 | Aired Dec 07
Ragnar’s story began with England, or a dream of England: That land across the water, a single ship carrying Ragnar and a group of young men to glory in the land of the Christ-God. Now, to England will Ragnar return. “I’m looking for brave warriors,” he announces in the town square. “Like you! Like you!” The response is muted. A man tells Ragnar his brother’s family went to England to found the Viking colony. “We never did find out what happened to them,” the man says. “But it seems you knew all along, and didn’t tell us.” He spits on King Ragnar the once-great, who once sailed with ships beyond number.
Now, Ragnar must beg his son Bjorn for ships. Bjorn will grant them — but he has his own plans. He will travel down the coast to Frankia, where it is said his Uncle Rollo has a new kingdom on the coast. Bjorn’s plan, bold and perhaps mad: He will send messengers to Rollo. Can family bonds, once broken, be fixed?
The sons of Ragnar are bonded yet with their mother. Aslaug wants them to settle down: “You should already be married,” she tells her three older sons. “You don’t have to love the woman,” she explains. “You need one to breed with.” Did Aslaug ever love Ragnar? Her sons have their own legends about their parents. One son says Aslaug bewitched their father; another recalls the wanderer Harbard, who Aslaug so loved, who so betrayed her trust. “She has always loved me,” says Ivar. Sigurd disagrees. “She feels pity for you,” he says. “We all feel pity for you. But sometimes, we wish that she’d left you to the wolves.” Ivar tries to attack him, slithering across the floor like a snake.
VINE REPORT – The midseason finale for season 4 of History Channel’s hit periodical drama series “Vikings” has just wrapped up. Although the follow-up will not air until fall, the network has already released the sneak peek for episode 11 suggesting that there will be a time jump in the narrative.
In the clip, Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) tellw his son Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen), “One day, the whole world will know and fear Ivar the Boneless.” Meanwhile, Bjorn Lothbrok (Alexander Ludwig) states, “I no longer know who I am.” Rollo (Clive Standen) also reveals, “Part of myself is still Viking.”
Meanwhile, Lagertha Lothbrok (Katheryn Winnick) states, “There could only be one queen in Kattegat” to which Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) quips, “Forget Lagertha, I am the queen.” A montage of more bloody wars and battles then ensues as the video ends with a person saying, “This is a time of war, this is the time to hate!”
According to Deadline, young Danish actor Andersen made his debut during the spring finale. His character Ivar who is more dangerous than he appears, was featured as a child before they make their transition in the widely speculated flash forward in the plot. His brothers will also be shown as grown-ups such as Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith), Hvitsek (Marco Ilsø), and Sigurd (David Lindström).
Based on history, it is expected that Ivar will become one of the leads as he is a prominent Viking leader and a commander of the Great Heathen Army.
Show creator Michael Hirst previously teased that the second half of season 4 will focus on Ragnar and how he tries to get back on his feet following his first loss against Rollo. “What happens to him is unbelievable. Prepare to shed a lot of tears, I think,” he hinted.
He further teased that with Ragnar’s four sons appearing to be older, they will have different reactions to their father’s return. “Some of them are bitter about it. Some accommodate it. But when Ragnar comes back, they’re confronted by a lot of issues,” Hirst added.
One brother rises, one brother falls
Entertainment Weekly – Season 4 has been a transformative period for Rollo, brother of Ragnar. Having long grown used to living in his brother’s shadow, Rollo betrayed his Viking brethren, allying with the Franks and defending Paris against a new attack from the Northmen. In Thursday’s midseason finale, Rollo met his brother in the field of battle. And the results were bloody. We talked to actor Clive Standen about what led up to this — and what the finale means for his Rollo.SPOILERS, natch!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It feels like the whole show has led up to the moment when Rollo faces off against Ragnar. What do you think is going through Rollo’s mind, in that moment?
CLIVE STANDEN: It’s never been about betraying Ragnar. It’s about existing. Michael [Hirst] and I always held onto this old Swedish proverb: “One wants to be loved, in lack thereof admired, in lack thereof feared, in lack thereof loathed and despised. One wants to instill some sort of emotion in people. The soul trembles before emptiness and desires contact at any price.” We talked about that in season one. He just wants to fit in. He just wants to be acknowledged by his brother.
VARIETY – After three seasons of simmering jealousy, Ragnar Lothbrok’s (Travis Fimmel) rivalry with his brother Rollo (Clive Standen) finally came to a head in a brutal battle in the April 21 epiode — but the long-awaited clash had an unexpected result, with Rollo and his Frankish forces defeating Ragnar and his Viking warriors. The episode then jumped forward several years, revealing that Ragnar left Kattegat after his loss, leaving his sons — Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig), Ivar (Alex Høgh Andersen), Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith), Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø) and Sigurd (David Lindstron) to grow up without their father, curious about his fate and (in some cases) resentful of his absence.
Variety spoke to “Vikings” creator Michael Hirst about the events of the midseason finale, the introduction of Ragnar’s adult sons and what’s ahead in the back half of Season 4. This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Why did now feel like the right time for Ragnar and Rollo’s confrontation, and why was it important for Rollo to win?
It was always going to happen. Rollo had rebelled before, when he tried to creep out from under Ragnar’s shadow — the Viking idea is that fame is everything, to be remembered for things, and he just felt that he was never going to be remembered. And then the Seer had told him that if he went to Paris that something extraordinary would happen. And I remember telling Clive that, and Clive was very excited by the idea, because Clive had thought himself that his character was always put upon and always beaten. But I said, “if you look at history, history tells you something different; the character you’re playing becomes one of the most impressive people in Dark Ages Frankia and establishes an empire, basically,” so I’m only following history. Whatever the psychology is and whatever I’m supposed to do myself, I’m actually trying to follow a historical line, because I knew that Rollo became a Count, and that was going to happen because I try to be as truthful as I can be.
Ragnar is comprehensively defeated by Rollo and his comprehensive defeat changes everything. It changes the nature of Ragnar’s life, what he chooses to do afterwards, and it has this wonderfully unexpected texture, that Rollo is victorious. Someone told me, “whatever I thought about Rollo, I didn’t expect him to be triumphant, but when this happened, I kind of liked it. I could respect it, because I expected to be sympathetic to Ragnar and yet when Rollo is victorious I kind of liked that.” And I understand that; I feel that myself. I feel good for Rollo — he deserves it.