Vikings returns to HISTORY Channel amid blood, dirt and magic.  Time has passed, our beloved characters have grown older, things have happened in their absence, and the world is changed. This isn’t the first time the series has jumped ahead in time, creator/writer Michael Hirst wanted the jump to “be bolder”, to show the lurch Ragnar left his people in after his defeat in France.

Season 4's GORGEOUS promo image setting the first half of the season
Season 4’s GORGEOUS promo image setting the first half of the season

A lot has happened to our favorite Vikings characters in the massive time jump.  You may recall at the end of the first half of season 4 LAST YEAR, there was a 10 year (give or take a few) jump from the invasion of Paris.  Rollo is STILL there, as a lord and war hero, happily married to Princess Gisla. Ragnar never returned to his home and kingseat in Kattegat, where his second wife Aslaug rules (kinda).

Floki and Ragnar
Floki and Ragnar

Floki has continued with his true passion, building ships, and Helga remains as ever at his side. Bjorn has been leading the military side of Kattegat, leaving the rest to Aslaug. Ragnar’s many sons have ALL grown up, and we get much more of them in this season.  Lagertha has returned (alive, whew) to her Earldom, and continues to rule there but with a new companion, Astrid. The end of season 4(a) had Ragnar returning, and urging his sons to “take him on” if they wanted to be king.  Therein lays our scene for the beginning of season4b, episode one, “The Outsider”.

Ragnar’s sons with Aslaug; Ubbe, Hvitserk, Sigurd, and Ivar the Boneless

We get a crash course in the personalities of the younger sons, all of which are interested in the same serving girl after Ivar (The Boneless) points out his interest.  We see his darker side, his violent side, and it gives me chills for the future of his character.

Astrid (Josefin Asplund) and Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick)
Astrid (Josefin Asplund) and Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick)

Ragnar visits Lagertha, for the first time in what we assume is 10 years, and meets Astrid, Lagertha’s lover.  They change pleasantries, Astrid not backing down at all in the presence of the former king. Lagertha greets him cordially, and Astrid leaves the former married couple to catch up. Lagertha doesn’t pull any punches, asking him why he left his duty as king, left their people in the lurch.  He answers pretty truthfully, that he just didn’t want to be king anymore.  This is both the right and wrong thing to say to the woman who really SHOULD be leading the kingdom, but she understands him enough to know it’s his truth. They share a beautiful moment, stating “no regrets” about their past, and share a kiss.  (Katheryn Winnick said in our interview with her that she and Travis added in the kiss, it wasn’t scripted.)

Still suffering with depression, even more so as everyone has been turning him down, Ragnar attempts to hang himself, but a raven (shocking) intervenes and cuts the rope.  Odin’s way of saying “Not yet, Lothbrok”.

Michael Hirst said of the attempt: “I think this is one of the few occasions when pagan religion and Catholicism are as one. I’m sure that the Viking who commits suicide will not get to Valhalla, just as a Catholic suicide does [not go to heaven]. The despair that Ragnar feels when he comes back… he’d like to right the wrongs of what happened to his settlement in England. It’s very hard for him to recruit people to go with him. Viking leaders have an aura about them, of success. When he loses that, there’s a big superstition about the gods having turned away from him.”

The episode ends with Ivar, the son Ragnar has spent the least time with, agreeing to accompany his father on the return to England.

While yes, the episode isn’t the strongest of Vikings season openers, it stands to reason it’ll pick up quickly with the groundwork in “The Outsider”. Obviously, Lagertha has now been shaken by Ragnar’s return, Aslaug is completely distant and doesn’t really care, Ragnar’s sons are both elated and cautious, and Floki is Floki. We know there will be some bloody battles, we know there will be death. Only time will tell, and I’m ready for the journey.

Ok and I know it’s not a REAL one (as in from the History Channel) but this freaking trailer gets my EVERYTHING excited for the rest of the season.

ABOUT >> Mary Anne Butler
  • BIO >> Mary Anne Butler (Mab) is a reporter and photographer from San Francisco California. She is a lifelong geek, huge music nerd, occasionally cosplays at conventions, does Renaissance Faires, and in general lives the life of a True Believer. She may be short, but she makes up for it with a loud voice.
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