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‘Vikings’ Ben Robson on the tragic events of ‘Promised’

ZAP2ITWarning: The following contains spoilers to the March 17 episode of “Vikings,” “Promised.”


All hail Earl Ingstad! At long last, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) is back in power on “Vikings,” but not without shedding the blood of the man she had come to love — at least in part — who also happens to be the father of her unborn child. “Promised” was a heavy episode of “Vikings,” as Kalf (Ben Robson) learned that Lagertha was with child and got her to agree to marry him.


Of course, anyone who remembers the shield maiden’s Season 3 promise of revenge on Kalf for usurping her Earldom should have see what was coming next. On their wedding day, in a beautiful gown, she stabbed Kalf in the gut, allowing him to bleed out as she held and kissed him. When all was said and done, Lagertha was once again in control and ready to lead her army of shield maidens to war against any foe.


However, before taking his final bow on the series, Robson spoke with Zap2it about saying goodbye to Kalf, when he learned he was being killed off and what his character’s actual goals in the Viking world were. It turns out, it wasn’t wealth and power Kalf was truly after.


Zap2it: Way back before you debuted on the show, we were chatting on the set in Ireland and you were so excited to be diving into this world.


Ben Robson: I remember!


Now we’re here at the end of your stay on ‘Vikings,’ sadly. When you signed on to play Kalf, did you know this is how his story would play out?


Not at all! You know, I think that’s the thing with any job. You don’t know where you’re headed, I guess. [Creator Michael Hirst] has a piece of paper in front on him though, and he doesn’t know where the pen is going to take him.


So when he approaches you with the direction of Season 4, what goes through your mind?


A whole lot. You’re obviously disappointed because it’s an amazing production to be a part of and such a great character to play. I thought there was such potential for Kalf to continue, but I also think that’s what makes the whole series exciting. It has so many twists and turns. The unexpected is to be expected.


So you’re disappointed, you make great friends and enjoy the project. But at the same time, you have a strong storyline and I understood where it was all coming from. Kalf knew what he was into when he stole Lagertha’s kingdom.


That’s one of the almost poetic things about Kalf’s demise. Firstly, there was so much character development for him in this episode — between plotting with Erlendur and finding out he was going to be a dad — that it made his death become even more important to the very core of the series than it would have been otherwise. How did learning Lagertha was carrying his child change his mindset?


You’ve got to bear in mine, in Season 3 when he says he wants to be recognized by the gods, he wants the poets to sing about him like Ragnar with the gods in Valhalla. For him it was pure ambition to getting that recognition. Being Lagertha’s second-in-command, that was never a position to be known or respected or recognized by the gods.


Paris definitely changed him in terms of, he came back wealthy and managed to sort of become attached to Lagertha — somebody he’s been in love with his whole life. I think the problem is he still had the pressure of knowing he had to retain his army, because he didn’t have an army to himself — he aligned himself with Erlendur and Einar to bring in as much power as as he could, which is obviously a phenomenal amount.


However, he also had to keep those people happy. As much as he wanted to do as he wished, there was this pressure from others. So I think his actions were him trying to maneuver the best way he could.


I think there’s a phenomenal amount of stuff going on in his head and Kalf was a very calculated and intelligent character, there was just a lot to carry.


And yet once Lagertha stabs him, there’s this level of peace. He’s not angry. Instead he’s almost calm spending the final moments with the woman he loves. Then again, chances are he should have seen this coming. When Kalf usurped Lagertha in Season 3, she told him revenge would come.


I think anything any viking says has to be taken very seriously. I think we all know and love the fact that Lagertha is someone to be taken very seriously as well. [laughs]


I think he knows full well what she’s capable of, especially being her second-in-command for so long. However, I think love blinds us in many ways. I think he could well of underestimated how she felt about the usurping, even though he gave her the level to share in the Earldom with her.


But I think in any life, you look to share your last breath with the person you love. At that point it’s hard to be angry when you feel responsible for a situation you created.


Vikings didn’t lead a long life anyway, but I think Kalf had an incredible arc where he achieved and the amount of time he did it. He actually accomplished pretty much everything he set out to do. So I think at that point it’s all about taking in those last few breaths with her.


It’s just a strong moment where he wanted to connect with her and prove it was never about the Earldom, it was always about her. Would she have recognized him if he’d always been the second-in-command?


It was only when he became an Earl himself and had that power and wealth that he was able to woo her to a certain extent. I think that’s what he wanted to prove to her. It was always about her, never the money and power. I don’t think even he realized it for a long time, though.


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