The events of season three, including the climactic battle in Paris and Floki’s betrayal of Ragnar, have major repercussions for the characters in Vikings: Season 4. Big decisions will need to be made, and a lot of soul searching.
Spoilers follow, but if you haven’t seen season three of Vikings, then why in Valhalla are you reading about season four?
Following the murder of his Christian friend
and confidante Athelstan (George Blagden) by Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård), Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) is not the same man this season. He’s not exactly broken – Vikings are a tough bunch – but he’s certainly damaged.
“It changes Ragnar forever,” says Fimmel of Floki’s betrayal. “He feels like everyone around him has betrayed him at some point and he really feels alone in the world now.”
Moreover the murder of Athelstan and Ragnar’s own brush with death in Paris leaves him unhealthily obsessed. “A lot of this year is his fascination with death,” offers Fimmel. “But he’s not scared of dying. He questions the gods and the Seer; can you make your own fate or is it predestined? I really like where [creator] Michael Hirst has taken the character this year.“
Further treachery comes at the hands of Ragnar’s brother, Rollo (Clive Standen), who has switched sides in the past. Electing to remain in Paris and abandoning his clan and Kattegat drives the final wedge between the siblings.
“The reason Rollo stays is that there’s nothing in Kattegat for him anymore,” explains Standen. “They’re not his people anymore. He always goes forward without thinking. The Seer tells him there’s something waiting for him in Paris; that’s all he knows, and he has to make it work. He has to embrace their culture and the people of France, and they become his people.
“He’s a man that just wants to be accepted,” he continues. “Bjorn is probably the only person he has an affinity with, but he finds a father figure in [Emperor] Charles, the first person who thinks he has some kind of worth, which is enough to invest in these people.”
Rollo also finds an unlikely partner in Princess Gisla (Morgane Polanski), and what begins as a fractious marriage of convenience soon becomes something more.
Fan favourite Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) also has a compelling story arc this season, facing a threat to her earldom. “What’s great about this character, and how Michael Hirst writes her, is that there are so many different layers in playing a strong woman,” says Winnick. “She can fight, she can defend herself, but she can also be a woman and stay in touch with her femininity, and that kind of balance can be hard to find in a role.
“But I love fighting,” she laughs. “When you’re on set and pick up that sword and shield, and you have the body armour and get the braids on, and there’s blood… you just get going!”
With the attention shifting to Paris this season, where does that leave King Ecbert (Linus Roache) and Wessex? “He’s going to continue to pursue his own ambitions, which is to be king of kings,” offers Michael Hirst. “He’s a fascinating character and a good foil for Ragnar – there are many things they have in common which they both recognise, and they may ultimately get the chance to talk about those things.
“Wessex continues to be alive in the show. What I like about the show is that we do have different places and cultures. And we’re probably the only show on US network TV that has four dead languages in it. The academics are excited about it because the language they speak in Frankia hasn’t been spoken or heard for thousands of years.”
Own Vikings Season 4, Part 1 on Blu-ray and DVD October 12.