EW – Warning: This article contains spoilers for Wednesday’s episode of Vikings, “Moments of Vision.”
Vikings has always been a violent show, and past seasons of History’s epic have featured massive battle scenes full of character fatalities. But Wednesday’s midseason finale, “Moments of Vision,” takes an unexpected approach to the climactic showdown between the forces of Ivar (Alex Hogh) and Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick). The episode tracks multiple characters in a nonlinear fashion, cutting from the fighting to preparations for the battle. There are flashbacks, and sequences that could either be spiritual visions or dying hallucinations. “I was quite determined that we would just do a unique thing,” says Vikings creator Michael Hirst, who wrote this episode (and all the others.) “A battle scene told from different points of view, including points of view of people who died.”
EW talked to Hirst about the bloody, poignant episode, and what it means for the show going forward.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: “Moments of Vision” saw a lot of long-running characters die, including Jasper Pääkkönen’s Halfdan and Josefin Asplund’s Astrid. How much did you plan out these character exits before working on the episode? In the writing process, did you save some characters, or write deaths you weren’t expecting?
MICHAEL HIRST: At one stage, I was sure that a son of Ragnar would kill another son of Ragnar. So that would probably be between Hvitserk and Ubbe. And I went into that final scene thinking that that was gonna happen. And then it didn’t happen, which was mildly surprising to me. A mirror image of that was Harald and Halfdan, and I wasn’t sure what was gonna happen, but then [Harald] killed him. I knew that Astrid was going to die, even though I didn’t want her to die! I loved her.
What I want to show, as well as cool action, is psychological damage. A bigv thing is to try to humanize the Vikings, try to show they were just like you and me. They’re fighting battles every other year, or whatever it is. And it’s gonna wear them down. With Lagertha, I wanted to start showing the psychological impact of continuously being between life and death.
There were interesting moments near the end of Ragnar’s time on the show, when he would have visions of his past life or younger days on the farm. It felt like a lot of characters had moments like that in this episode.
I had a lot of friends who were gay who died in the early AIDS epidemic of the ’80s and ’90s. They died in their 30s, essentially. That is the typical lifespan of a Viking. They didn’t live for very long. So Halfdan’s death, and the death of Torvi’s first son in the battle, and Astrid’s very young. Young people dying is a very powerful part of that episode.
CARTERMATT – As we start to look ahead towards Vikings season 5 episode 11, it seems as though it’s going to be an interesting, emotional time for Katheryn Winnick’s character of Lagertha. She just lost one of the people she cared about the most in Astrid, and to go along with that she has to face the other side of a battle that she thought at one point would kill her. She’s a survivor, but is there a sense of survivor’s guilt that goes along with that? There could be different, interesting dimensions coming for this character in the season half of season 5 and CarterMatt is very interested in diving into some of that.
So how will Lagertha recover — or will she ever recover? This is something that show boss Michael Hirst details to TV Guide in the aftermath of the big midseason finale:
“I think it’s hard and in the long term, she suffers for what happened in that battle. Without giving anything away, it’s not as though she just takes it in her stride and it’s another battle. It’s been a life change, basically. [She killed] someone she loves and it won’t be long before you see how deeply and how profoundly that’s affected her.”
What is so important about this story is the concept of breaking down the walls and understanding a little bit more of what lies underneath. We know Lagertha to be a powerful, imposing figure; yet, she feels jsut like anyone else. One of the interesting elements to her story moving forward now is seeing if there are ways that she can be vulnerable. Part of her challenge with this, in turn, could be finding a way to channel this vulnerability. When you are someone in her position, how do you channel this? How can you illuminate this struggle? Is there a way in which to make that happen? This is a challenging story that is coming up for Lagertha but, for Winnick, we imagine that it has to be appreciated. It’s a chance to play another different dimension of an extraordinary character.
Of course, in the midst of her grief more problems will come Lagertha’s way. This is Vikings, and this is not the sort of world where characters often have a moment to breathe – especially with Ivar’s army pushing forward towards Kattegat.
TV GUIDE – Since Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) and Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) split, the Queen of Kattegatt has had her share of romantic troubles. There was her abusive second husband Sigvard (Morten Sasse Suurballe), whom she was forced to kill; her manipulative fiancé Kalf (Ben Robson), whom she was forced to kill on her wedding day, and then Astrid (Josefin Asplund), her trusted advisor who married one of her greatest enemies and whom she may just be forced to kill if they come face-to-face in Wednesday’s season finale.
So overall, not a great track record for Lagertha over the years, but that doesn’t mean she should stop searching for love, by any means. However, it does mean that we’re fairly skeptical her latest relationship — an unexpected and impulsive coupling with the Christian warrior bishop Heahmund (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) that began in this week’s episode — is going to end with a happily ever after, something Vikings creator Michael Hirst all but confirmed to us.
CARTERMATT – The Vikings season 5 midseason finale is coming on History in just a matter of days now, and given that this is Vikings you are probably well aware of one thing that is absolutely going to be coming out: Violence. War is brewing, and it’s a war that could end up eventually leading to a massive loss of life. We’re definitely intrigued to see how this story wraps up, and we can only hope that there is a way in which it happens that surprises us.
Also, we hope that nobody else dies via bee. That has to be one of the most unfortunate ways possible to go.
The characters of Lagertha and Heahmund are absolutely in the spotlight coming up with this battle, but with their new-found relationship, they actually have something to fight for. They have an understanding that has evolved already into something more, and it’s something that could be explored if they each manage to survive what lies ahead.
ET CANADA – Fans are anxiously awaiting the upcoming fifth season of “Vikings”, and the History channel had some phenomenal news to announce on Tuesday by revealing the show has been picked up for a 20-episode sixth season.
Season five of “Vikings” will kick off with a two-part premiere on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on History, followed by eight episodes airing each Wednesday after that. The second half of the season is scheduled to air in 2018.
Meanwhile, production of the sixth season is slated to begin this fall in Ireland, and fans of shieldmaiden Lagertha will be in for a special treat with news that Canadian-born star Katheryn Winnick will go behind the camera to make her directorial debut with a season-six episode.
EW – Ragnar Lothbrok died last season on Vikings, and while his fractious family avenged him by the finale, the great king’s presence is felt strongly in the trailer for the show’s fifth season. Debuted at the epic History series’ Comic-Con panel on Friday, the preview promises a full-blown civil war amongst Ragnar’s family, with devious Ivar announcing “a war between brothers” as he plots to overthrow Lagertha’s rule.
The fifth season will debut on Nov. 29. As Entertainment Weekly exclusively revealed, the new batch of episodes will send characters all over the map. Bjorn will ride a camel through the desert. Ivar will battle Bishop Heahmund (played by new series regular Jonathan Rhys Meyers) in England. Floki will set off on his own journey, which will take him to Iceland. But many of the characters will also join together for a climactic battle. How climactic? As Lagertha says at the end of the trailer, “The end of our world is here.”
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – San Diego Comic-Con took a somber turn late Friday when History’s Vikings staged a first for the massive pop culture confab: a funeral.
The marketing stunt came after the drama parted ways with leading man Travis Fimmel as his Ragnar Lothbrok was killed off in season four, with Friday’s traditional Viking funeral offering die-hard viewers a chance to say a proper goodbye to the former king of Kattegat in style. The service featured History setting a Viking ship on fire as the cast and attendees looked on and celebrated the show’s upcoming rebirth.
“I remember the first year we were in a small room at the convention center with just a few hundred people and now it’s utterly staggering,” creator and showrunner Michael Hirst said before the ship was set ablaze. “It’s beyond comprehension, really.”
Katheryn Winnick, who plays Queen Lagertha, agreed. “This is a show that I think grows by word of mouth. Friends tell their friends to watch, family members tell their family members to watch,” she said. “I’ve really seen a big shift in the last few years of die-hard fans, they get tattoos of our characters on their bodies. It’s crazy!”
That faithful fan base was out in full force, with many in cosplay as various characters, showing off their unique body art and trumpeting their Viking blowing horns as they paid their respects to the character. Finally, when the time came, the crowd was led in a chant that sent Ragnar off to Valhalla once and for all and the ship erupted in flames.
The flames raged on while the audience cheered. For Alex Hogh Andersen, who joined in season four as Ragnar’s son Ivar the Boneless, it was the perfect end to his first Comic-Con experience.
MONSTERS AND CRITICS – History’s Vikings returns for the second half of Season 4 on November 30, and the “soul” of the show — as creator Michael Hirst described her to Monsters & Critics — is still Lagertha, played by Ukrainian-Canadian actor Katheryn Winnick.
Winnick is stunning and athletic, and gives her Norse shieldmaiden warrior an incredible presence on screen.
She’s also a fighter who began martial arts training as a young teen, and all that training is serving her well on the Vikings set where she says that the blood you see on camera is likely the actors’ own.
Yesterday Winnick spoke to reporters and answered questions that have all fans on the edge of their seats for the coming Season 4B.
One of the main ones involved a twist in her love life.
In Vikings, Winnick’s character is maternal, both to her children (her daughter Gyda died in Season 1) and to the people of Kattegat and Hedeby where she lives.
This proud mother said no to her husband Ragnar Lothbrook when he proposed she be a second wife to Aslaug, who in later seasons allowed Lagertha’s granddaughter Siggy to perish by drowning.
THE STAR – Series is a less costly, less complicated Game of Thrones.
The Show: Vikings, Season 1, Episode 5
The Moment: The sexy mythology
Snuggled around a crackling fire, bold Viking chief Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), his fierce wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), his best pal Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) and Floki’s wife Helga (Maude Hirst) teach Athelstan (George Blagden) — a monk Ragnar captured on a raid in England — about Valhalla.
The mood is boozy, sexy, sleepy. They all touch one another as they talk and each sentence is uttered dramatically.
“The roof is made out of shields,” Floki intones. “The rafters are spears. It has 540 doors and, when Ragnarok comes, 800 warriors will march out of each door shoulder to shoulder.”
“What is Ragnarok?” Athelstan asks.
CARTERMATT – Today marks the final edition in our Emmy preview series among dramas, and we certainly have saved one of the most-competitive categories for last in Supporting Actress. There are an almost-endless list of great candidates out there for this particular award, but we’ve managed to narrow down our personal list to just six names who were exemplary in the past year. Some of these may be included on many other lists; however, we also think there are a couple of names in here that may not be that prevalent elsewhere, but these performances are worthy of a nod to us. That excites us, since some of these performers are being tragically overlooked.
To go along with our personal picks below, we’re also including a poll at the bottom of this article for you to pick your own favorite! We’re keeping this poll open until July 13 (the day before the actual Emmys are announced), so you are going to have plenty of time to choose your favorite and we announce the winners among our readers. You can vote as many times as you wish and remember that this poll is just for fun.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Katheryn Winnick, “Vikings” (History) – If you are watching Vikings then you know that Winnick’s portrayal of Lagertha is one that deserves Emmy recognition (and if you’re not watching “Vikings” you really should be, because it’s one of the best shows on TV right now). Lagertha is a hero that everyone wants to root for as she breaks the barriers of women in period pieces on TV right now that seem to want to put women in positions of weakness. This character is a warrior, a mother and a ruler, three very different layers of a woman that Winnick threads together with perfect grace.
Now, we’re turning this over to you! Vote for your favorite here, and head over here to see some other entries in our Emmy series right now!
Vikings is also on their list for drama series that should be nominated:
Outstanding Drama Series
Vikings (History) – Speaking of under-appreciated series, we conclude here with what is one of the best shows currently on TV that few people are putting in awards consideration. What “Vikings” does from an acting, writing, and set design perspective is remarkable. It throws you into this world, makes you care about its characters (even the awful ones), and also incorporates enough universal themes to have these stories and relationships be applicable to present day. It’s an epic like no other.
You can vote for it here.