And how season 4 was influenced by Hemingway, Tarkovsky, and Nicolas Roeg
EW – The midseason finale of Vikings was a bloody, shocking thrill ride. And all that was before – SPOILER ALERT – the massive time jump forward. Ragnar Lothbrok led his Viking warriors into battle against his traitorous brother, Rollo, and despite promising that one brother would die in the ensuing showdown, both great warriors survived the day. But their positions have changed. Ragnar slumped home to Kattegat, defeated. Rollo returned to Paris, triumphant.
Years passed. While Ragnar disappeared, his sons grew to young manhood — and certain revelations about their father’s past led a couple of his sons to declare their intention to kill him. They got their chance when Ragnar returned, older and seemingly waiting for someone to kill him and claim his throne. We caught up with Vikings creator/writer Michael Hirst to talk about the first part of season 4 and what awaits us when Vikings returns later this year.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When we spoke a year ago, you promised a “final reckoning between the brothers” in season 4. Ragnar promises Rollo that one of them will die. Does he want to kill Rollo? Or does he want to die?
MICHAEL HIRST: You can read that in different ways. We know that Ragnar didn’t want power, he didn’t choose power. He’s not going to Paris to raid. He’s not interested in trinkets. He feels deeply that his brother has betrayed him, like a lot of people have betrayed him. He’s a very sensitive guy, and you feel the struggle he has had to stay in power. The drug-taking was a way of masking these psychological problems.
He’s deliberately, it seems to me, focused on the personal. It was always going to be between [Ragnar and Rollo]. But who knew that Rollo would look strong and fit and be really supercharged, and would motivate his people? Ragnar’s not motivating the Vikings, and I think there’s a slightly suicidal sense about going into battle in that way. He wanted to get into a personal battle with Rollo, and I think he would have been happy if they both died. That’s my feeling, that that would have been a good ending for him.