Vikings delivered a number of remarkable shocks this season, and the season finale rattled the timbers of the longship even more than usual. The show is taking one major risk, operating on faith that its viewers will stick with the show after major changes to the character lineup. A frank discussion of all of Vikings season four follows, so turn back now if you are unready to face the consequences of destiny.
~Shield Wall! Spoilers ahead~
Where to Now?
Valhalla’s filling up, and the playing field on Earth is wide open. Vikings killed off enough major characters this season that George R.R. Martin might have some catching up to do. The second half of season four kicked things off by unexpectedly killing Aslaug. Ragnar, whose death wish was the size of a polar ice cap, melted away soon after, and his bitter foe Aelle was not far behind. In the finale, King Ecbert and Sigurd followed suit.
Michael Hirst hasn’t confined himself only to the major characters. In the span of two episodes, he injured one of his real-life daughters and killed another. Torvi, played by Georgia Hirst, met the business end of an errant arrow during Egil’s assault on Kattegat, but she survived. Helga (Maude Hirst) found out the hard way that her adopted daughter didn’t love her as much as she thought. At this point, the only characters from the original cast still standing are Floki, Lagertha, and the Seer. You could count Rollo, but he’s busy being a velvety Duke in Normandy and might not be around much in the near future.
All of this death means that season five can and will head off in any direction it damn well pleases – within limits, of course. Many of the Vikings’ exploits are based on historical events, including the raids on Lindisfarne and Paris. If the show will follow Ivar closely, and I think it will, we will be seeing more of the British Isles, and probably some of Ireland, too.
Can Ivar Serve as a Convincing Lead?
We know, thanks to some blatantly expository dialogue, several of the stories we will see next season. Björn will venture further into the Mediterranean, continuing his father’s legacy of conquest and exploration. Harald will continue his quest to become King of all Norway, while his brother will set out once again with Björn. Ivar plans to raid throughout England.
As it stands, Ivar is truly, madly, deeply unlikable. He’s obsessed with violence and vengeance and he has little care for statecraft even though he craves power. Alex Høgh Andersen plays the role brilliantly, seething and snarling whenever he can. But a good performance isn’t enough. For Ivar to really become the center of the show, he’s got to tone down some of his bad-boy, brother-killing tendencies. We need a little less Ramsay Snow and a little more Chuck Bass.
One thing we can certainly look forward to in the coming season is Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Bishop Heahmund. He has a brief appearance in the end of the finale, doing what he perfected as Henry VIII; being partially undressed in the company of a woman. Preview clips of the coming season, though, show him to be a formidable field commander and warrior. The sword-swinging holy man will be a perfect final boss for Ivar’s first solo quest. The question is does Ivar deserve the chance to prove himself?