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.
- Vikings > Season 5 > Screencaptures > 5.09 “A Simple Story” Screencaps
- Vikings > Season 5 > Production Stills > 5.10 “Moments of Vision” Episode Stills
EW – A new promo for Vikings seems to be taking a page from the Time’s Up movement.
The topical trailer for the History Channel series sees Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) delivering a rousing monologue that could’ve come straight from a Golden Globes’ acceptance speech.
“What is a woman’s place in this world?” asks the Queen of Kattegat. “Is it to be docile? Compliant? Or simply silent? No. The gods have bigger plans for you, I swear it. You are bold. You are strong. You are cunning. You are wise. You are sharp from keeping constant watch. You are powerful for making your voice heard. Your place may be as a warrior or as queen, but only you hold the reins to that destiny. So, be bold, and the gods will carry you to greatness with no one strong enough to stop you.”
At Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards, women wore black to show solidarity for the Time’s Up initiative, which aims to support female equality and fight sexual harassment. Many of the acceptance speeches also centered on female and minority empowerment.
Vikings airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on the History Channel. Watch the powerful promo above.