Search this Topic:
Apr 12 14 1:02 AM
Jan 3 14 4:54 AM
Apr 13 14 2:00 AM
Befitting its title, “Blood Eagle” is filled with animal imagery. The first image is a spider spinning its web in the snow. When we first see Ragnar, he’s killing and skinning a rat, accepting King Horik’s advice that publicly killing Jarl Borg might scare off other potential allies for their upcoming raid. Ragnar, dismembering the rat with his bare hands, calls, “But at least we are still allies, King Horik,” as the king beats an uneasy retreat. When Ragnar goes to the Seer to inquire about Athelstan, he allows the Seer’s snake to twine itself around his arm. When we first see Athelstan, contentedly at work among King Ecbert’s secret trove of Roman documents, his task is interrupted by a raven staring through a hole in the window. The imprisoned and increasingly desperate Jarl Borg sees his captivity shared by a different snake, and a different rat, which he seems to have befriended. And then there’s the eagle, watching its horrifying namesake enacted on Borg with its cold, pitiless, alien eyes.
What does it all mean? Well, there are some obvious parallels—Horik’s been plotting against Ragnar, hence the rat imagery (plus, his betrayal of Borg at the end is presaged by another). The raven, symbol of Odin, suggests to Athelstan that his time with the Norsemen is not as finished as he thinks. The snakes—you’ve got me. And the spider, weaving a seemingly fruitless winter trap? As the final scene shows, Ragnar Lothbrok, as ever, is going to bide his time—until he’s got his foes right where he wants them.
Which isn’t to say that Ragnar is proving infallible. In fact, this season of Vikingshas gone a fair way toward revealing the weaknesses of Ragnar’s signature approach to any challenge. In some ways, Ragnar has placed himself in a position he’s unsuited for, his ascendance magnifying how much he relies on resolution, prowess, and luck to carry him through, while skills he lacks or neglects such as statesmanship, intrigue, and simple personal interaction may have served him better. Tonight, his planned execution of Borg stalls until a force from the outside (we’ll get to that, believe me) makes his final, terrifying vengeance possible. Ragnar’s always working on a lot of different strands, but there’s always the sense that even he’s not sure how they’re going to come together to achieve what he wants. As a political strategy, it’d be worrisome—if Ragnar’s force of will were ever to falter.
In the strikingly staged scene in the great hall, we see Ragnar looking in through the latticework that surrounds the other characters as they dine. He circles, staring that signature Ragnar stare and giving away nothing as he observes: Horik plotting with Siggy, Aslaug commiserating with Borg’s pregnant wife, Bjorn getting some love advice from Floki. All the while, Ragnar is watching from his web, the understated music building in a steady, rising tension that seems incongruous with the seemingly commonplace things Ragnar sees. It’s effective in conveying that, like always, Ragnar’s catching a lot more than everyone else.
But not everything—“Blood Eagle” introduces the development of a rift between Ragnar and Floki which is worrisome, not least because it seems to come out of nowhere. Gustaf Skarsgård’s Floki has always been a wild card, but his seeming jealousy against his friend here is abrupt. Floki’s always been Ragnar’s ally and advisor—perhaps there’s been some tension over Ragnar’s friendship with Athelstan, against whose Christianity Floki has always had a visceral antipathy. And while it’s not inconceivable that Floki, who built the innovative ships that have been so instrumental in Ragnar’s success, might harbor some resentment at Ragnar’s advancement to Earl, I can’t say this development (which looks to be continued in future episodes) is particularly auspicious. Floki, as he says to the now-pregnant Helga, has always been “the fool,” in the Shakespearean sense—he’s on the outside to a certain extent, which gives him both the perspective to see what others cannot and the freedom to say things others will not. To bring him down to the level of jealous squabbling that’s been the provenance of so many other characters is to rob him of much that makes him so unique, and entertaining.
Which isn’t to say that there’s not a lot of great Floki in “Blood Eagle.” His tearful lament to Helga about the “poor child” in her belly is affecting, especially his sorrowful, “I will be the worst father… I always was a fool.” Brought up short by Helga’s news, it’s as if his outsider’s perspective focuses on himself, and finds himself wanting. As he replies to Bjorn’s later compliment, “I’m not wise at all. I’m just a jokester.” But their wedding, cast in contrast to the dour, political arrangement of British Kings Aelle and Ecbert’s offspring, looks like the best, most joyous Viking party ever, with flowers, white garments, cheers, nature—if I had a choice, I know which one I’d attend. (Skarsgård’s face when he swears to the gods that he wants to marry Helga is the purest expression of joy Vikings has ever seen.)
Speaking of joy, the entire next sequence, with Ragnar playing very dangerous drunken games with Torstein (think Jarts, but you hold the target) is the sort of roistering shenanigans that makes for great Vikings fun. There’s the sense that Ragnar, not asked to bless Floki’s wedding, may be smarting from the slight and acting recklessly, but he’s also clearly having a blast, especially when it comes to scaring the shit out of the poor messenger sent from the mysterious Earl who prefers to meet out in the woods.
It’s Lagertha, naturally, although I didn’t piece it together until just before she appeared, regal and playfully revealing herself to the delighted Ragnar. Their reunion, bantering about Lagertha’s offer to join Ragnar and Horik with her (dead husband’s) four ships and 100 warriors is more delight, as the two slip easily back into the clear admiration they’ve always shared. There’s no one out there who thinks the Ragnar/Aslaug marriage superior to Ragnar/Lagertha, and this scene poignantly underscores how well-matched these exes are—Lagertha’s playful, “Yes, we are equal” encompasses a lot about their shared past, and how their future is altered so irrevocably. When they, terms agreed upon, ride off together, the obvious affection is both heartening and a little heartbreaking.
Like last week’s episode, there’s a fair amount of table-setting going on here, but with the added exuberance of the scenes mentioned—and then the yawning horror of the last. There are some feints toward Borg escaping—and no doubt Horik would have followed through if Lagertha hadn’t shown up when she did—but the way the scene plays out, with Borg walking to his fate at the center of the people he’d conquered, where the white-clad Ragnar awaits, is as stunning a sequence asVikings has ever pulled off. Here the echoes all come together. All the lesser prey animals are gone in favor of the raptor watching over all. Ragnar’s white garment at the center of the gathering parallels Floki’s wedding attire—while Floki attends in his traditional, jokester’s garb. The joyful wedding ceremony becomes this other, more terrifying Viking ritual. When Ragnar explained the blood eagle to Bjorn earlier, telling his son the details while staring balefully over the lip of the tub, it was like a scary bedtime story. (Bjorn even jumps when the door opens behind him.) Here, Ragnar enacts the infamous torture and execution on the kneeling, resigned Borg in intimate, graphic detail. The sequence’s power is reminiscent of the similar ending of the first season episode “Sacrifice”—both end in scenes of breathtakingly photographed, mysterious, ritualized violence.
As he often does, Ragnar had seemed willing to play along with the plans of other, more powerful men so well that he seemed irresolute—overmatched, even. In this last scene, we see the truth of Ragnar Lothbrok. Borg had betrayed him, conquered his people, and threatened his family—so he had to die painfully. If it took everyone else until they saw Borg’s lungs resting on his own shoulders in the town square to understand that, well, that’s why Ragnar’s the one walking away covered in his enemy’s blood while Borg breathes his last. At least he didn’t scream—Valhalla awaits.
Apr 14 14 2:54 PM
Red Eye Chicago
If one thing is true in "Vikings," it's that you
shouldn't cross Ragnar Lothbrok. (Spoilers ahead if you haven't seen Episode
In "Blood Eagle," Thursday's episode of the
History hit, Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) completed his revenge against Jarl Borg
(Thorbjørn Harr), the man who twice challenged his position as Earl of
Ragnar meted out a horrible punishment called the blood
eagle, a real ceremony from Viking history in which a man's back is sliced
open, then his muscles and rib cage hacked apart with an ax. Finally, his lungs
are pulled up and draped over his shoulders like the wings of an eagle.
"The last act of Episode 7 is just the blood eagling of
Jarl Borg," "Vikings" creator Michael Hirst told me earlier in
the week. "It is a totally extraordinary TV event, I think. And one of the
things I'm proudest of."
The episode also surprised viewers with the elevation of
Ragnar's ex-wife, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), to Earl of another village.
Finally, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) got married in Kattegat while over in
England, Wessex King Ecbert's (Linus Roache) son, Prince Aethelwulf (Moe
Dunford), married the daughter of King Aelle (Ivan Kaye) of Northumbria to
solidify their alliance.
Hirst gave a shout-out to director Kari Skogland and talked
about the sense of Viking spirituality, the contrast between Christianity and
Paganism, and the mood on set during the filming of the blood eagling scene.
Wow, this episode is shocking, but profound.
I didn't write the last act of Episode 7 to deliberately
shock anyone. I think it is shocking and it is profound. And it's a profound
experience of suffering and spirituality in the Viking context. And if it
wasn't in a Viking context it would be like watching, I guess, the crucifixion
of Christ. … It is a very profound and a very real experience. In other words,
it actually happened to people. It's not fancy. It's not made up. It's not for
show. It's a profound spiritual experience.
For me this is what Vikings is all about. This is where we
are. This is real; it's honest. It's about spirituality. It's about profound
things. It's not a joke.
And it was incredibly well shot. I think that History
[execs] were very nervous about us shooting it in the first place. They ...
feared there was no way we could actually shoot it. But we had this fantastic
director and she set it up and we shot it all night … and it affected everyone
who was there.
It was like being present at some extremely wonderful,
sacrificial, frightening event. And I just wanted the opportunity to say that.
For me, it's a very, very important moment in television history.
You're not always present during the filming so did you make
sure that you were there for this?
Yes, because I was still unsure [how it would be shot]. ...
But creativity is creativity. We have great people who can do these things. It
was also intense to be there. We had kind of continuous music. We had thousands
of candles. … Ragnar was dressed like a priest. It was very solemn. It was
quite extraordinary. It was absolutely quite extraordinary.
Everyone worked much longer than they were supposed to work.
Everyone was caught in the moment. Everyone felt in the presence of something
incredibly inspiring. And, of course, the guy who plays Jarl Borg [Thorbjørn
Harr] who's this Norwegian actor—he's so brilliant. Jarl Borg can't show he's
in pain because if he does he can't go to Valhalla. But he's in such agony.
Halfway through his martyrdom—his crucifixion, his eagling—his hand falls off
the post that he's resting on. And Ragnar goes in front of him to lift his hand
back. And the actor just nodded. That's all he did, a little nod to Ragnar
like, "I can take this, go on, keep on doing this." It was the most
incredible moment with the actor being in the moment. It was deeply moving.
You could play a lot of the scene off his eyes, off his
expression which is amazing. I think we've been so lucky with the cast of the
show and here everybody delivers. I mean the production crew, the actors,
everybody recognized that we were in a religious moment. … They just kept the
cameras rolling all night and it was extraordinary and it was very powerful.
The blood eagling scene is quite long in the episode. Was
that a concern?
It lasts like seven minutes or something, which is an
unbelievably long time for one scene in TV. ... I think again the European
version will be longer than the American version. And I'm always slightly sad
that, because of commercial considerations the American version is only 43
minutes long. So we cut lots of stuff out whereas in the European version it's
like 50 minutes. So you guys kind of are missing out of part of the experience.
But it's still hugely powerful.
I shouldn't say this but if I died tomorrow I would be happy
to leave that episode for people to watch and talk about ever after. I'm
really, really thrilled with what we did.
Do you think Ragnar in that moment had great respect for
He did. I think that's the moment I was talking about when
he came around the front and looked at Jarl Borg and Jarl Borg nodded his head
like, "You can go on. I'm in this. I can do this." I think that's
when Ragnar realized that he was a guy after his own heart. And Ragnar would
expect himself to do the same thing. And here was another guy who was tough
enough and a believer who was able to transcend suffering ...
For people who believe in something and for those Vikings
who believed in Paganism, it's a moment of belief because how else do you have
an afterlife? He has to suffer this excruciating martyrdom in order to get to
Valhalla and he does it. And there's something wonderful in that. We see the
eagle flying off at the end; that's his soul. I hope that the show has vested
people in a Viking point of view. It does take religious belief seriously. It
takes Pagan belief seriously.
In the previous episode Jarl Borg talks to the Seer, who
tells him the eagle is his destiny. At that point you think he'll soar like an
eagle, like it's a good thing. But no. If we were to think metaphorically about
a lot of this dialogue would we be able to find hints that differ from surface
There are lots of clues always planted by the Seer. If you
were to read them back you might go, "Oh yeah. OK." ... I'm playing around all the time with this
wonderful idea of fate because it interests me so much.
The Vikings believed in fate. They believed the roots of the
tree of life were spinning man's fate and your fate was already written. And
yet I always wonder what it means in human terms when you accept your fate. For
example, I think Ragnar and Rollo have a different attitude to fate. Rollo
absolutely believes in fate and he can rush into battle because it's fated
whether he'll live or die. And Ragnar has a much more nuanced view, a slightly
more contemporary view. It's like, "Well, what does that actually mean? I
might be able to manipulate my fate or interfere with my fate." Especially
if fate is related to a god.
I love playing around with those kind of ideas. We do that
anyway, don't we? Are we fated in some way, are we free? The show I think does
take seriously all these questions. And I'm pleased that it does.
The blood eagle scene was a real parallel to Athelstan's
crucifixion. The blood eagling started as a punishment but became something
more spiritual and everybody sorted wanted him to show no pain so he could go
to Valhalla, die a good death. Whereas with the crucifixion, the Christians
only saw it as punishment.
Yes, I think that's right. I think it's counterintuitive in
a way. With Jarl Borg they're killing someone who has hurt them who they hate.
And yet they get to respect him because he fulfilled something that they
believe in. He's brave enough to go to Valhalla and they all want to be brave
enough to go to Valhalla.
The reason I kind of half-sacrificed Athelstan is that that
actually happened. There is a recorded event of a priest having been captured,
taken over to Scandinavia and coming back in a war party and really being
crucified. And that's the sort of nasty side of religion. That's
unreconstructed fundamentalism. What I've tried to introduce is a lot of
characters who are nuanced about religion and spirituality on both sides. So
you get your fundamentalists--Floki in a way is a Pagan fundamentalist. But you
have these other people who are really sensitized to the questions of faith.
Ragnar is very interested in Christianity, obviously. And
Ecbert is interested in Paganism and Roman Paganism. And so you have an open
dialogue going on about these very important things.
Was King Horik just pretending to be helping Jarl Borg to
There's a missing scene which we shot in which Horik was
asked why he didn't actually go through with the attempt to rescue Jarl Borg.
And he said, "I had no intention ever of rescuing Jarl Borg. He betrayed
me. I just wanted him to suffer. And the only way you can make people suffer is
to make them feel hope. So I went to him to give him hope." ... That was
actually quite a good scene, but people can think what they want about what
Horik actually was up to. Horik never felt that he could team up with Jarl Borg
and overthrow Ragnar because he's throwing in his lot with Ragnar.
Why did Bjorn go to see Jarl Borg?
Oh right. Well, because Bjorn had asked his father what a
blood eagling was. And he, like the audience, was shocked by what he heard. And
he wanted to see what the man was like who was going to be blood eagled. It's
like going into a prison to see the guy who's killed 24 people and he's on
Death Row and you don't know what the fuck makes this person tick. Because it's
outside the normal range of human beings. ... Bjorn's fascinated by him. ... I
think it builds up what's gonna happen to Jarl Borg, you know. It actually
increases the tension about who the fuck is this guy and what he can stand.
The twin weddings. Why was it important to show these together
Why not? I mean this is what the whole show is about,
comparing and contrasting Christianity and Paganism and showing in many ways
Paganism is preferable, that these people actually have fun. We shot a lot more
of the Pagan wedding. We got some real details about how they did this and the
fantastic things that they did and had a great time and it was truly loving and
celebratory. And the Christian wedding by contrast is very much like a legal
contract and rather serious. So I wanted to show that. It was another example
of quickly contrasting these two sets of religious outlooks. ...
I know for a fact that in this country now there are tons of
Pagan weddings. People want to get married on the beach, they want to get
married running around in bare feet. They don't want to be in church in a
gloomy sort of atmosphere. It just amused me to show that and to connect it,
because I love connecting things to modernize my own experience and I think
people will get off on that, on the Pagan wedding.
Michael, are you Pagan?
No, no. I'm not a Pagan. I don't go to Salisbury Plain and
get naked. I don't do that. In fact if I had any religious inclinations I could
constantly want and think about converting to Catholicism. I'm far more
Christian than I am Pagan. But I want people to understand where Christianity
came from. Christianity grew out of Paganism. And people jolly well ought to
Give me a nonspoilery comment about where are we going to go
from this episode?
Well, we go back on the road to Wessex and then the totally
Read more at
ohvaI have tons of friends. They're just all online.
Apr 14 14 6:47 PM
Apr 14 14 6:50 PM
Apr 14 14 7:17 PM
Apr 19 14 9:12 AM
Apr 19 14 12:48 PM
Warning: Full spoilers for Vikings Season 2 though episode 7 apply.
In the opening sequence of Vikings' "Blood Eagle", Ragnar Lothbrok deftly skins a rat as he discusses what is to be done with Jarl Borg with King Horik and his brother Rollo.
The frozen rats were ordered for the scene, in fact, at the instance of Travis Fimmel, who plays Ragnar. IGN had the opportunity to visit the Vikings set in Ireland, where we witnessed Fimmel - a self professed farm boy - mutilate rat after rat as they ran through the various takes.
"I just want to make it Viking," Fimmel said when we asked why it was important for him to have the rats in that scene. "I don't want it to be contemporary, you know? They did all that stuff back then. I just want to show to stay true to that. People had to eat rats; they had to eat whatever they could eat. I want the audience to cringe at that sort of stuff."
Having seen the episode play out in full, it seems that Fimmel's rats also worked to highlight a season long theme: betrayal and its cost.
Why You Should Be Watching Vikings
We've already seen Rollo climb his way back into his brother's good graces after his brief alliance with Jarl Borg. "It had gotten to the point where they'd locked horns for so long that they were just going to have to fight each other on the battlefield and settle their differences that way," Clive Standon (Rollo) said of his temporary turn against his brother.
Perhaps Borg witnessed the forgiveness that was bestowed upon Rollo and assumed that he too would be shown mercy, but Ragnar has no tolerance for his enemies. "I think Ragnar's all about his children and his blood. He has women issues, but he loves his kids to bits and loves his brother," Fimmel said of his character's willingness to accept Rollo back into the fold.
Vikings' Athelstan on How His Character's Journey is Like Walter White's
Ragnar faces potential enemies at every turn these days, though. King Horik, who's very much driven by his own ambitions and as Siggy said, not to be underestimated, is certainly not trustworthy.
"It was very expedient for him to team up with a visionary like Ragnar," Donal Logue, who plays Horik, said of his character. "But at the same time, once Ragnar became really powerful -- and he could see that he was extremely ambitious -- he realized that he was dangerous."
The King is clearly going to use every tool at this disposal to gain an advantage on Ragnar, and that includes as Siggy. "Her ambition is still in place, she isn't satisfied with her status," Jessalyn Gilsig (Siggy) said of her character. "But the way that [Vikings creator] Michael [Hirst] writes is that nobody is just one thing. So as much as she's ambitious and feels entitled, she's also a woman who is vulnerable to affairs of the heart. She's also lost a lot and is trying to find a sense of place, which she's trying to do with Rollo, but it's a struggle. She wants Rollo to be a man who she can mold into a place of success, but he's such a wildcard that he's hard to harness, and they struggle with that."
"She has to compromise herself to make progress," the actress went on to say, touching on Siggy's dynamic with the King. "She is doing it for Rollo. She is putting her money on Rollo to get where she wants to be, but if he can't deliver, she's willing to jump ship. Eventually she is just fighting for herself."
King Horik is luring Siggy in, making her offer after offer, and ultimately, as the actress told us, the question will become: "Will Siggy perform this great act of betrayal in order to get what she's always wanted or will she stay loyal to this family who has saved her?"
Floki is also seeing his loyalty to Ragnar tested. "Being the fundamentalist he is, he's not very fond of Athelstan and Ragnar's loyalty and friendship to him," Gustaf Skarsgard (Floki) said of his character's motivations. "He's keeping an eye out for Ragnar so he doesn't cross the gods too much. He thinks about Ragnar, both in terms of where he's going religiously and as a leader. I also think Floki doesn't necessarily have that sort of ambition and power, but he definitely has an ambition for recognition, for his art and craftsmanship. I think that he feels a bit set aside by Ragnar and his f**ing empire and his kids and everything. I think there's a risk that he feels left out a bit."
Meanwhile, to the West, Ragnar's once beloved friend Athelstan is living in the midst of his greatest enemies and may hold the keys to the great Jarl Lodbrok's downfall.
How do you think all of these various schemes and maneuvers will all play out over the last few episodes of the season? Will Ragnar have finally met his match in a foe with the face of a friend - Floki or Siggy? Or will the fates deliver the death blow to his ambitions using the arm of his one-time slave Athelstan? Or will Ragnar triumph over all?
Of course we can look at some of the history for these answers, but the show istaking liberties, so we can't be entirely certain which direction it will go.
Let us know what you think in the comments!
Vikings airs on Thursdays at 10/9c on History.
Roth Cornet is an Entertainment Editor for IGN. You can follow her on Twitter at @RothCornet and IGN at Roth-IGN
Apr 21 14 10:37 AM
For all its intermittent bloodshed, Vikings continues to excel at mood. A sequence halfway through “Boneless” sees the Norsemen preparing to sail off on their raid on England. Ships are loaded, goodbyes are said, and the camera takes time throughout to visit the faces of characters—some known to us, some not—as they prepare for this risky venture. The palette of these harbor scenes is, as ever, flint and iron, a choice which never seems to grow tiresome or trite but instead makes the faces, clothing, and equipment glow with a dull strength and thematic resonance—as Bjorn says matter-of-factly in parting to his slave girl love Porunn, “I will probably die in battle.” And (if he were not a main character) he probably will. Throughout the scene, the score asserts itself unobtrusively but insistently, a steady, ominous drumbeat marching inexorably toward the ships’ departure while a low chanting echoes of both sea shanty and lament.
Drawn to their shared journey, the main characters all arrive, wrenching free of their individual stories to join the others in this one, which now takes precedence. Bjorn runs to Porunn and receives a declaration of love (and some over-the-clothes action). Rollo and Siggy have something like a reconciliation, with her “I will be here when you return if that is what you want” answered with a tender handclasp. Floki, seen in a striking overhead shot luxuriating idly in a field with Helga, muses on his nature, and his decision to sail with Horik, rather than Ragnar. And Ragnar himself, having chosen not to kill his crippled newborn son, shares his pain with Aslaug in the most intimate moment we’ve ever seen between the two before finally striding to the docks, his strapping son Bjorn at his side. Ragnar is Vikings’ prime mover, and his arrival slows the camera even as his men scurry to fall in behind him. The music swells, glances are exchanged that express more about characters than any two pages of dialogue, and then the boats are sailing inexorably away while we see the women of Kattegat watching sadly from atop a green cliff. Yes, Vikings does a lot of things well, but its confidence with this sort of visual storytelling is enriching season two immeasurably. The whole sequence is stunning.
Not a lot happens in “Boneless.” Or, rather, the many things that happen serve to prepare the ground for what is clearly going to be an eventful last two episodes. (The fact that History keeps hyping the season’s denouement as “the most shocking event in television history” or some such may also be a clue. Note to History: you’ve produced a very good show right out of the gate—take it down a notch.) Here, apart from the development with poor little Ivar (“Ivar the Boneless,” according to history), a brief detour for a revelation about Lagertha’s rise to power, and some sexy shenanigans at Ecbert’s court, there’s not much action until the final twist sheds some blood. Instead, all the conflicts and relationships brewing through the season come bubbling to the edge of the pot without boiling over. I suppose those who tune in to Vikings for the berserker thrills were disappointed. I was riveted.
Opening on the harrowing birth of Ivar, we see something we’ve not seen before—Ragnar terrified. It’s a brief shot of him reacting to Aslaug’s agony, but it’s there and I don’t know what else to call it. The whole Ragnar/Aslaug marriage has never been a crowd pleaser as Ragnar/Lagertha was, but throughout this episode Travis Fimmel and Alyssa Sutherland show shades to their relationship we’ve not seen before either—for all the increasingly tedious prophecy stuff (which has stood in for much of Aslaug’s character), in “Boneless” the two actors are simply united in grief and pain. It’s the first time they’ve ever seemed intimate. And Fimmel is just astoundingly good in the episode. He’s always made so much from the little that Ragnar gives out, but in his scenes with Aslaug and Ivar, his inner turmoil is expressed with silent eloquence. I don’t know what a guy has to do to win an Emmy, but I know his scene at the riverside where he contemplates killing his son should be the clip they show. Its equal is in the embarkation scene. Watch him walk to the boats—the pain and exhaustion in his eyes, the downward cast of his head as he, turning from thoughts of Ivar, glances aside at the healthy, eager Bjorn, and then at Lagertha looking back at him in something like sympathy, and then to the increasingly untrustworthy Horik. If there’s a more subtle and skillful piece of silent acting on TV this season, I haven’t seen it.
Meanwhile, things are going all Tudors over in Wessex, with King Ecbert welcoming visiting Princess Kwenthrith (Amy Bailey) from neighboring Mercia, where she’s just killed her brother and set off a civil war amongst her Borgias-esque family. It’s all sort of fun, with the bluntly sexual Kwenthrith asking the clearly perturbed and tumescent Athelstan about the Vikings’ sexual practices before nearly humping Ecbert to death. (He sends in a few of his soldiers to finish the job, much to Kwenthrith’s delight.) One of Vikings’ chief failures has been finding a worthy adversary for Ragnar. I’m still holding out hope for Linus Roache’s Ecbert, who seems to have more cards than he’s showing, but all this broad, rumpy-pumpy stuff is not especially on point. (It is pretty entertaining.) In his final, wordless scene, watching a handful of grain slip through his fingers, there’s the sense that he’s got wheels in motion that we can’t see. I sure hope so, as Ragnar needs a truly formidable foe for the dramatic stakes to be maintained.
At one time, it seemed that King Horik was that adversary—an astute game player whose worldly wisdom was a match for Ragnar’s innate skill. However, as much as I like Donal Logue’s burly presence on the show, his Horik has revealed himself to be less than he seemed. He’s a schemer, sure, but he’s awfully obvious about it and his final move here, dispatching increasingly Joffrey-like son Erlender (Edvin Endre) to ambush Ecbert’s son and his emissaries (whom Ragnar had promised safe passage) is a blunt play. Horik seems Hel-bent on avenging his other son at Ecbert’s hands and ignoring Ragnar’s long game, marking Horik out as another lesser antagonist to fall eventual victim to Ragnar’s vision. Perhaps Horik’s still got a few unexpected moves left, but the character’s been a disappointment.
In the end, “Boneless” leaves Ragnar facing threats from Horik and Ecbert and possible disloyalty from allies Floki and Lagertha, with only his wits to serve him. It’s to Vikings’ credit that it’s by no means certain which way things will to go.
Apr 25 14 7:24 AM
Apr 25 14 2:07 PM
That's a good one Angelina! Unfortunately, I too got slammed as soon as I got to work. I need to write my Floki reflections later.
Maybe it's because I have fangirl , but they aren't selling me that either Floki--or Siggy--are going to do-in Ragnar and his children at the request of Horik. I think both are too smart to fall for Horik. Especially Floki.
But then again, we need to remember that Siggy lost her two sons to murder, and we still do not know who did it. Not sure whether that will make her more or less willing to do the same to Ragnar and Aslaug.
Apr 30 14 8:00 PM
May 1 14 11:33 AM
In Norse mythology, Angrboða (Old Norse ”the one who brings grief” or “she-who-offers-sorrow”) is a female jötunn (giantess). In the Poetic Edda, Angrboða is mentioned only in Völuspá hin skamma (found in Hyndluljóð) as the mother of Fenrir by Loki. However, in the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, she is referred to as a “giantess in Jötunheimr” and said also to be the mother of Fenrir’s siblings Jörmungandr (the Midgard Serpent) and Hel. She may be identical with Iárnvidia, ‘She of Iron-wood’, mentioned in the list of troll-wives in the Prose Edda list nafnaþulur.
May 1 14 11:37 AM
May 1 14 12:05 PM
May 1 14 5:39 PM
Having been born in Stockholm, Sweden, Gustaf Skarsgård was especially excited to wind up as one of History’s Vikings, playing the enigmatic Floki.
“I’ve always been interested in the Vikings — that’s like part of my
own history,” the actor shares with TVLine. “But having said that, there
is a lot that I have learned through the show that
I didn’t [learn in school]. About cultural things, rituals, how
advanced they were with boat building, and what a highly civilized, in
their own way, society they had.”
Amongst Vikings’ more traditionally rough-and-tumble warriors, Floki
is “kind of an odd bird,” Skarsgård acknowledges — thus affording his
portrayer opportunity to conjure a colorful, vivid character. Assaying
that which he has brought to the role, the actor says, “When you accept a
part like this, the first couple of scripts represent like a ‘sketch’
from [series creator] Michael Hirst’s perspective, of who the character
would be. And then I had to come up with a way to speak and a way to
move… my own interpretation of the role.”
Hirst, in turn, took a cue from what he saw Skarsgård doing, and
married the two, creating a one-of-a-kind shipbuilder-slash-trickster.
“Michael sees my work and then is inspired to write more in that
direction,” Skarsgård notes. “It’s like a cross-breeding situation
between the writer and the actor.”
Heading into the Season 2 finale (airing Thursday at 10/9c), Floki is
perhaps as difficult to get a read on as ever. In recent weeks – and
all as he tries to process impending fatherhood (see clip above) — there
have been hints at a falling out between Floki and Kattegat’s Earl
Ragnar (played by Travis Fimmel). The seemingly fractured
friendship comes at a dire time, as Ragnar deftly chooses allies and keeps a close eye on King Horik (Donal Logue), who just last week baited Floki with a “proposition.”
Surveying the gents’ bond up until now, Skarsgård says, “Ragnar’s
always been crucial to Floki, because he believed in him and came to him
to build his boats [in the series pilot]. Ragnar is, like, this popular
guy and Floki’s the weirdo, the one friend that Floki had.” Floki’s
initial allegiance, meanwhile, was born of a certain sort of reverence.
“Floki believes in Ragnar in a divine way — not that he would be a god,
but that he was fated to do great things,” Skarsgård offers.
So what, then, is the root of the professed estrangement between
Floki and his Earl? And will the former take Horik up on his offer and
keep Ragnar from doing any more “great things?” Skarsgård gently rebuffs
the inquiry, saying it’d be “very hard” to discuss Floki’s mindset
without revealing too much. But this much can be revealed from a
screening of the episode: To demonstrate his loyalty to Horik, someone
“significant” will die at Floki’s hand.
RELATED | History’s Vikings Renewed for Season 3
Teasing the finale as a whole, Skarsgård is a bit more forthcoming.
“Let’s just say that s–t’s about go down,” he promises. And towards the
hour’s end, “There will be a consecutive five minutes of
viewers dropping their jaws, definitely.”
May 1 14 6:19 PM
May 2 14 2:03 AM
SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains major details about the second season finale of History’s “Vikings,”
which aired for the first time Thursday night. If you haven’t seen it
yet, leave this page and raid elsewhere. You have been warned.
Former best friends can make the most venomous of enemies. Stories of
great friendships turning sour make for some epic entertainment, of
course, but “Vikings”
viewers may have found the apparent rift developing between Ragnar
Lothbrok and Floki over the course of season two to be more alarming
than anything else. Think of the history these two have — Floki has been
far more loyal to Ragnar than Ragnar’s own brother, Rollo, in life and
on the battlefield. Floki has been Ragnar’s most vocal champion and his
most honest adviser. In the first season, when Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) was being hunted by his former liege lord, Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne), Floki risked his neck to keep his bestie hidden.
Because of all of this, and because of the unique flair that Swedish actor Gustaf Skarsgård
has lent to the role, Floki is a beloved character, a man who is equal
parts warrior, sage and sinister clown. He’s fierce, funny, scary… and
loyal. Or so we thought.
Seemingly overnight during season two, Floki grew fickle. He proposed marriage to his lover Helga (Maude Hirst), only to declare he did not want Ragnar at the wedding in his next breath. He appeared to entertain King Horik’s (Donal Logue) offer to grant him greater prestige, and didn’t blink when Horik proposed that they kill Ragnar’s son, Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig).
Heck, Floki all but telegraphed his willingness to knife his friend in
the back in the season premiere when he observed, “Who needs a reason
for betrayal? One must always think the worst, Ragnar, even of your own
kin. That way you avoid too much disappointment in life.”
So when Floki appeared to have poisoned a bedridden Rollo (Clive Standen) and trusted fellow warrior Torstein (Jefferson Hall) to earn King Horik’s blessing, and when Horik’s men stormed Kattegat with the mission of killing Ragnar, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) and all their children and kin…one can be forgiven for cursing that treacherous boat-builder.
And when all of that poisonous intrigue turned out to be a ruse, Skarsgård and executive producer Michael Hirst probably earned that much more love from the show’s fans.
This “Vikings’” finale stands as a superb ending to a riveting second
season. Good times were had by all — except, obviously, for Horik. It
must not have been pleasant to go out with former allies getting a few
stabs in before Ragnar bashed in Horik’s skull with his own. Then again,
one imagines that death by forehead beating is far preferable to death
by blood eagle.
In the final frame, Ragnar holds the sword of the King, and Floki
once again stands by his side. All is right with the world. Or is it? In
a recent phone conversation, Skarsgård discussed the role Floki played
in his friend’s political ascent and spoke to the question of his
IMDbTV: Have you gotten any feedback about Floki’s actions this season from the fans?
It’s been over this last season that Floki has been on this crazy
journey. He supposedly turns very dark and is about to betray Ragnar,
you know. That has had the fans very agitated with Floki. But then of
course in the end, we realize he never did betray his friend.
IMDbTV: Yeah, let’s talk about that a little bit… There’s that
scene where Floki is discussing with King Horik the possibility of
killing Bjorn. Was Floki really just playing King Horik this entire
time? Because in a private moment with Helga, he talked about how King
Horik understood the dark gods better than Ragnar and that he would have
more possibilities with him.
Skarsgård: Floki, he’s going so far and deep into the part.
Everything he said, there’s grains in truth in all of it – his slight
disappointment with Ragnar, and his kinship with Horik in terms of the
gods. But I think he exaggerates all this to play the part, to get close
Basically, Floki is method acting his double-agent thing, and he
doesn’t let Helga in on it to protect her. What we see, when he tells
her that he won’t invite Ragnar to the wedding, he knows that she will
go and tell that to her friend Siggy. He knows that King Horik will pick
up on this and try to get in closer. So it’s not that he doesn’t trust
Helga. But if he knew she could get tortured to tell the truth, it’s
better to keep everyone out of it. I think it was just between Ragnar
and Floki. They’re the only ones that had known the whole time.
Having said that, I’m not sure that they actually planned to kill and
get rid of King Horik, but they definitely planned for Floki to get
close to him. I think there is a kinship between Floki and Horik, for
sure. The way I see it, the turning point for Floki is when he realized
that Horik is actually after Bjorn, to kill Bjorn and get rid of Ragnar.
That’s was the turning point, the point beyond return. You don’t f**k
with my family, basically.
IMDbTV: Wait, so the entire time Ragnar was in on it ? This was a plan between Ragnar and Floki?
Skarsgård: That’s the way I see it, yes.
IMDbTV: I ask this for a number of reasons, firstly because I
noticed in discussions on our site, people were mourning the
dissolution of this friendship. But the way the finale played out, and
everything leading up to it, there is that matter of whether we as
viewers can actually trust that what we’re seeing is true, that Floki
has, indeed, always been loyal to Ragnar.
Skarsgård: Well, that’s an interesting question. We don’t want
to give all the answers, but the way I see it, he always was. I also
think that, for me, it’s a classic mafia thing… they planted him to get
close to the enemy. But also, in the end, there was a true kinship
between Horik and Floki. That’s why when everybody is taking a hit on
Horik in the end, Floki doesn’t. He walks away and he’s kind of like,
‘I’m sorry, dude, but you f**ked with my family. It didn’t have to go
IMDbTV: Floki is almost a very dangerous jester in a way…he’s charming and frightening at the same time.
Skarsgård: That was my goal the whole time. It’s a very
interesting balance to tread. On one hand, he’s weird and cute and
adorable, and on the other hand, he’s a brutal, crazy killer. And very
dark, he has this thread of darkness in him that’s very true. When he
names his daughter after a giantess, that’s no act.
IMDbTV: His reaction to having a daughter, or a child at all,
was very conflicted, too. What are we to read from that? Is it actually
genuine, or is it part of the method acting we were talking about?
Skarsgård: I think it’s both, but I think that Floki… I think
he’s kind of bipolar as well. He bounces between full-on hubris and
self-loathing, he goes in one of those two extremes. It’s either like,
“I’m chosen by the gods and the gods love my boat!’ or, ‘I’m worthless
with my gods and the gods are angry with me and my boats are going to
sink.’ It’s either, ‘I’m going to become the greatest father in the
world!’ or, ‘I’m going to be an awful father.’ ‘I’m going to have the
most beautiful daughter in the world,’ or ‘I’m gonna have a monster.’
He’s always torn between those two extremes.
IMDbTV: Is that tough to play? It sounds like it would have an effect on you, to play that role.
Skarsgård: I guess so?… I always strive to keep my own balance
and sanity, but of course it can be more challenging at times. For me,
it’s very fun to have that extreme of a character to play with,
especially this season, with all these layers. I am this guy, who’s
playing this guy, who’s playing this other character, to get
close to this other person. There are so many layers, it’s been so
interesting. For people who re-watch this season, and especially the
last couple of episodes, knowing that Floki was always true to Ragnar,
they would see what little things that I do that is revealing only if
you know it. I couldn’t be too apparent with it, because people would
know. I had to lead the audience on to think that I actually would
betray Ragnar…and still keep it believable that I’d play it this way.
IMDbTV: Well, it worked.
Skarsgård: Good, good!
IMDbTV: That leads me to the question of going into season
three… There’s that scene where Floki tells Ragnar, “I’m a trustworthy
person,” and Ragnar responds with this look that says, “C’mon. We both
know what’s going on.”
Skarsgård: Yes, but remember, in that shot when we have that
argument, there’s a person in the middle who is observing all of this:
King Horik. That whole scene is just an act for him.
IMDbTV: But is Floki, at this point, someone that can be trusted? As you said, half of what he says is the truth.
Skarsgård: We always want to keep everyone on their toes, but…
it’s up to you really, how you feel about him. But the way I see it,
he’s always been loyal to Ragnar – and especially to Bjorn, the kid.
He’s always seen the greatness in Bjorn… so I think that Floki is very
loyal, if not only to Ragnar, then especially to Bjorn.
IMDbTV: How much were these stories and this aspect of
Scandinavian culture part of your upbringing, and the things that you
learned about growing up?
Skarsgård: I would say there’s some, for sure. I would read
some books about Vikings and get taught some of it in school. But not
nearly as much knowledge as I have for it now, working on the show and
doing all the research. It’s fascinating to me on a strictly personal
level, because I get to learn so much about the culture.
But then it’s like, this is our history. It’s what we come from.
There are so many small details in our society today that come straight
from Viking society, in terms of our rituals and traditions… I’ve
learned now that there’s so much of our like, say, “Viking-ness”, that
we just take for granted because that’s just a part of us. Whereas in
Ireland, for example, they have more Viking activities than we have here
– they have Viking tours, Viking this and that, because of the Vikings
going there. But we take our “Viking-ness” for granted, because that’s
just who we were.
IMDbTV: What’s an example that you’ve noticed is part of culture that is taken for granted?
Skarsgård: Just, like, our word for ‘Cheers.’ We say, “Skol.”
That comes from the bowl that they would drink from around these long
tables, they would drink from the same bowl. That bowl is called a skol.
…Also, places, the names of places stem from the Viking gods. And our
names. My third name is Orm — it means ‘snake,’ which is a very old
Viking name. There’s so much from Viking culture that comes straight
down to our culture.
IMDbTV: And this maybe this is obvious, since Floki and Loki
seem similar in behavior in my imagining of what Loki would be like, but
did any of that mythology influence your performance?
Skarsgård: Oh definitely. Definitely.
IMDbTV: What were some other influences that you drew upon?
Skarsgård: It’s hard to describe what inspires you. I would
never attempt to copy any other person’s performance, because it’s not
subjective and therefore not truthful. Having said that, I keep the
inspirational flow completely open. I’m sure I’ve been inspired by many
other actors’ performance in terms of how I portrayed this character.
But there were so many things that were crucial for me in forming the
character – his physicality, his quirkiness, his unpredictability. I
also got a lot of help from Johan Renck,
who directed the first three episodes from season 1. He set the tone,
because he really inspired me to really go for it. I’m so happy that I
did, because if I would have half-assed it, it might have just become
embarrassing. But I’m going so all-out with the character, because he’s
such an extreme character. So I’m glad that he inspired me to dare to go
all the way.
IMDbTV: Where did you get that laugh from? That laugh, and that little dance that you do.
Skarsgård: Yeah! Actually, I was working on it, I was working
out this laugh. I was sitting in my hotel room in Ireland and I was
like, ‘I gotta find a giggle, this guy needs a giggle.’ I want to keep
him at a bubbly level, he’s always up there and ready to giggle. So I
was actually sitting in my hotel room, working on different
high-pitched, falsetto giggles.
IMDbTV: It’s rare to be able to do that and not put the audience off. Yet it’s very signature to the character.
Skarsgård: It’s a balancing act. But that’s also what’s
interesting about working on a TV show – sometimes I get sick of myself,
just standing in the background giggling. I get tired of myself doing
it sometimes, so then I might play a scene completely differently. For
me it’s important that Floki doesn’t just become the jester, doesn’t
just become the fool, which is why I’m so grateful about how this second
season came out in terms of the last episode. You really get to see, oh
this guy, he’s really smart. He’s a force to be reckoned with. He’s no
IMDbTV: Since the beginning, there have been a number of great guest stars on this show: Gabriel Byrne, Linus Roache, Donal Logue. I have to ask…We see a lot of Skarsgårds being cast in projects here at IMDb.
IMDbTV: Has anyone else in your family expressed interest in coming on the show? Have you guys talked about it at all?
Skarsgård: No, we haven’t. I spoke to my youngest brother Valter [Skarsgård] about it, though. He’s 18 years old. It would be great fun if he could find something in the show.
May 2 14 7:04 AM
Also this one from TV Guide.
Gustaf Skarsgard, Edvin Endre, Donal Logue
May 1, 2014
by Sadie Gennis
Warning: The following contains spoiler's from Thursday's finale of Vikings. Read at your own risk.]
There were so many twists in the Vikings finale it was almost hard to keep track.
It turns out, Floki's (Gustaf Skarsgard) allegiance with Horik (Donal Logue) was all an elaborate ruse to catch the King off guard. (That's good news for Torstein, whose death was merely faked to win Horik's trust.) Horik was then forced to walk across the great hall while Ragnar's supporters each took a turn at the fallen king until Ragnar brutally finished him off — using just his head!
So, Horik's dead, Floki's back to being a good guy (so much so that he even helped heal Rollo) and Ragnar is the king. Gustaf Skarsgard and Donal Logue spoke to TVGuide.com to share their thoughts on Floki's double-cross, Horik's death and more.
Was any of Floki's frustration with Ragnar real? Gustaf Skarsgard: Definitely. I totally think Floki used whatever he did feel and exaggerated that to play his part. And also I think that Floki is so devout. He's a method actor in this whole ruse thing. He involves Helga in this thing, planting seeds with her about his disloyalty to Ragnar and everything. I think there are grains of truth and layers, but he totally exaggerated that to get close to Horik.
Why does Floki remain so loyal to Ragnar? Is he worried about how being king will affect him? Skarsgard: For me, Floki's loyalty to Ragnar is so crucial to who he is. I think he really believes in Bjorn as well. Already from the beginning, he saw something in Bjorn's eyes. I think Floki sees that the gods have great plans for both Ragnar and Bjorn ... I think Floki is always keeping his eye on Ragnar, making sure that he stays true to the gods. I don't think that Floki trusts Ragnar 100 percent to do his best in terms of the gods will.
Horik's death scene was intense! What was going through your character's head during those final moments? Donal Logue: To go to Valhalla, he had to prove he wasn't afraid. He threw down his shield. He's like, "I know what's going to go down, but I'm going to go down swinging. I'm going to show you that I'm not defending myself the way I could."Skarsgard: [Floki's] sad he betrayed this man that he kind of liked ... So, that's how I played it. Like, "I'm sorry dude. You fu--ed with the posse." I wasn't sure until we got close to that scene how I was going to play it because I could have played it like, "Haha, how do you like them apples?"But when we got there it felt right to be like, "Man, I'm sorry. That's the way it has to be."
I don't know if I've ever seen someone be head-butted to death before. It was pretty awesome, but also scary to see that side of Ragnar. Logue: Ragnar takes out a lot of rage on King Horik. It's particularly brutal. So if you're going to go out, you go out.Skarsgard: It was definitely a very brutal and epic death. But it's also good because I like the ambiguity. Like, "God, is Ragnar losing his mind? He's going crazy over this? Why is he so aggressive? Did we root for the wrong guy?"
What do you think lead to Horik's downfall? Logue: I think he was just playing the game with someone who was better at it than he thought. He couldn't be controlled. Ragnar was too powerful, and that he really miscalculated. His greed overtook him and it clouded his judgment. He's flawed, and it turns out those are fatal flaws for him.Skarsgard: The ambition level of Ragnar. I don't think anyone could stop him from becoming a king eventually. He does definitely thirst for power. So, I'm not sure what [Horik] could have done differently. Like, of course he could have killed Ragnar when he had the chance, but it was just a matter of time. Ragnar would claim the throne anyways.
Do you think Ragnar was justified in slaughtering Horik's entire family? Logue: Yes, because if he didn't, he would have problems forever. That was the way it was done. And that was certainly the reason Horik was going to kill his family and anyone close to him. He got what he deserved.Skarsgard: How could you ever justify killing children? I don't think you can, you know? But we have to remember that this was the reality of this time. We can't tell the story with the morals of our times so fans are going to like this guy. You have to stay true to the times, and this was what people were doing: killing each other's children to make sure that bloodline died. It was pragmatic. It wasn't sadistic or anything. It was politics back then.
I really thought Rollo was a goner for a second. What exactly did Floki feed Rollo if it wasn't poison? Skarsgard: Floki's very in touch with nature and the different plants and mushroom and stuff that grows in nature. What I think he did was give Rollo something that would heal him and make him better because he knew that Rollo was a force to be reckoned with and he needed him. Like, we need him for this final battle with Horik and his men. So the way I see it, he's kind of forgiving him there. Like, 'I could kill you now but I've decided to help you instead and give you something to make you better.'
What did you think of the Vikings finale? Catch up on previous episodes here
May 2 14 9:33 AM
By Andrea Towers
May 2, 2014
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen Thursday night’s season finale of Vikings, “The Lord’s Prayer,” stop reading now and come back when you’ve done so. Those of you who already know what went down in the final hour of History’s epic series, come join me in your pain and sorrow…
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First of all, let me congratulate you on an amazing run of episodes. Retrospectively, how do you feel about this season as a whole?MICHAEL HIRST: I have to say, I felt good about it from the start because I had these established characters and I had some fairly worked-out ideas about where I was going to take them. As a production, you feel that the first season there’s always something…you’re finding your way and you’re trying out things, but the second season, we went into it with a lot more confidence. We had three boats in the first season, we had eight boats in the second, and so on. So it did feel like a much bigger show, but I felt as well that the actors and their storylines were all interesting.
Speaking generally, where do the events of the finale put the group in terms of what’s coming up in season three? Obviously, the main thing about the finale is that the people you think have betrayed Ragnar don’t betray him. And that’s not necessarily altogether a good thing for them in some ways. I think part of Floki’s dissatisfaction doesn’t entirely go away. A lot of what he says about Ragnar and why he didn’t invite Ragnar to his wedding is quite true, that he feels slightly undervalued by Ragnar. And although he wasn’t going to fall for Horik’s blandishments, I think it still leaves him in a position where he’s agitated and somewhat unhappy about the way things are going. And I don’t think that Siggy is in a very comfortable position, either. It’s not all neatly resolved and it wasn’t all a lovely sweet plan.
And King Horik is now dead by Ragnar’s hand — although he did have it coming…He [Donal Logue] was fantastic. That was great casting. When he first came into the show, he was going to be a very sympathetic character. He brought this openness and freshness and he was treating Ragnar as an equal, and at the end he’s trying to kill everybody.
But of course, his death now makes Ragnar the new Vikings king. It’s part of Ragnar’s great intelligence that he worked out a way of diffusing and defeating Horik, but a lot of the issues that came up and the way that he dealt with his son and his wife…it’s one of those things that as a writer you want to do. You want to resolve it at one level, but you don’t want to resolve it at every level. So there’s plenty of meat on the bone, and there’s plenty to start discussing in the new season. I think that there’s a lot of potential conflict that actually wasn’t resolved by Ragnar becoming king, and when we revisit, we’ll move forward perhaps a year in time. But not very much, because they have to go back to Wessex. I think there’s a lot of stress and strain, and a lot of emotions that aren’t reconciled that will come out. So it makes them all vulnerable to other seductions, other opportunities, and other things that might happen.
Most of season two has been about Ragnar’s struggle for that ultimate power. Now that he has that power, will we see him change at all? That’s an interesting question. Ragnar in some ways is a wonderful mystery, even to me. I still think we did wonderfully well to cast Travis [Fimmel]. But you know, there was a lot of uncertainty when I wanted to cast him, because he was unknown and so on, but he didn’t fit the bill for a Viking. He wasn’t loud, he was counter-intuitive, he was thoughtful, he didn’t always speak, he had a strange smile. And I said, “I don’t want a cliché Viking, I want a thoughtful Viking.”
How has his understanding of the character play into shaping it over these two seasons? Travis and I have a good relationship — we discuss all the scripts and he’s very thoughtful. I don’t know if you noticed, because I slipped it in without many people noticing, but one of the things that Travis said to me as we got to the last episode was, “I don’t know if we can swing this, but all I want to say in the last episode is the Lord’s Prayer. So I’m gonna be in loads of scenes, but I’m not going to speak. The only thing I’m going to say is the Lord’s Prayer.” And I just thought that was so cool.
That’s unbelievable. And I have to admit, I didn’t notice until you said it. Because he’s there, he’s present, and there were lots of lines that he had about going back to England and the farming. But Bjorn says them all. Which is a good thing for Bjorn, too, because he’s giving him responsibilities. But the fact that this Viking leader only says the Lord’s Prayer is so mysterious and wonderful and challenging and fantastic that I just thought it was cool. I said, “I can’t tell anyone I’m going to do that, but I am going to do that.” And as I said, you don’t notice because he’s still present.
One of my favorite things about the show is how you’ve been able to showcase these strong warrior women, and I have to say that this season has been exceptionally great for Lagertha in particular. I’m very pleased with the storylines, with Lagertha being such a real character to people. When I was trying out ideas for what happens to Katheryn [Winnick] this season, she was very hesitant. And she said, “I’m not sure that’s good for me, because I’ve got a fanbase, I’ve established myself as a strong woman and a warrior. And yet here I am being beaten up by my husband and a victim.” Imagine having a circle of Vikings that now have this huge female fanbase — it’s fantastic.
You’re known for being closely involved in the production of the show — from the writing to the research to the directing. Do you have a favorite moment of the season that you can share? The blood eagle. I wanted to do it, and I wanted to do it very particularly, because it’s not just a scene of horrible and extreme suffering. It’s a scene about extreme spiritual belief. The Vikings actually blood-eagled several Saxon kings later, but in this case, it’s one of their own. It’s another Viking, and he knows he can’t show any weakness or he won’t go to Valhalla. So it’s a strange psychological moment filled with tension and spirituality. And when we shot that scene, it was extraordinary. It was shot at night, we had this great female director with hundreds of candles, and Thorbjørn Harr, who plays Jarl Borg. Everyone who was here had a very profound experience, because it wasn’t for effect. I wasn’t trying to shock people or get a cheap hit on that. It was extreme human suffering and extreme human spirituality. And I was so proud of it. I was so proud of all the people who’d managed to find a way to shoot it because there were questions about “you can’t shoot it, you can’t show that on American network TV.” But we did.
Talk to me about season three — how far along are you right now? We start filming on June 2. We’re well underway. It’s exciting, and I love these characters, and I hate having to kill them off. And you have to kill them off sometimes, and that will happen again in season three. What’s always nice to me is I’ve hardly killed anyone off who didn’t come to my office at the studio begging not to be killed off. Thorbjørn, he’s a famous actor in Norway, he stepped aside from a big show at The National Theatre in Norway to be on Vikings, which was amazing. But he didn’t want to die, and he pleaded with me for awhile, and he said, “look — I found an example of a Viking leader who was going to be killed and yet he escaped. And then he wandered around the world for a few years, and then he came back, so I could be that!” And I said, “Well, Thorbjørn, that’s fantastic except I would have to photograph you wherever you went.”
What do you think the viewer reactions will be in the wake of Horik’s death? I think even if people predicted it was coming, they’re still going to be shocked at the way that it happened. I imagine people will be perhaps disturbed by how frenzied Rangar gets. Travis wanted to play it that way, and he wanted to play it that way because of his feelings for his children. Travis, who has no children, talking to me, who has a lot of children, said his character is totally committed and involved with his children. So there were two people who threatened them: Jarl Borg and King Horick. And he just absolutely slaughters them. So that’s his mindset, and it’s great, because it’s authentic and it’s what he feels.
You mentioned earlier that we’re time jumping again when we come back, so does that mean we can expect to see new locations next season? We’re in a new place, because Ragnar is a king now. Halfway through season three, we’re going to attack Paris — there’s a famous Vikings attack on the city of Paris. And they attacked with 120 ships. So this new season, we go from eight ships to 120 ships. You have to go up in scale. One of the wonderful things about the show is how it truthfully began with small undertakings, like one ship traveling, trying to find England. In the second season, there are bigger attacks on England, and then season three, halfway through, we’ll be with 120 ships attacking Paris. So we have this new scale, we have Ragnar as a king with everything that entails, in terms of responsibility and his own wishes and desires. And so for me, it’s another great wonderful challenge, because the two main things in Vikings which run parallel are the visceral element of it, and the battle of politics. And the other side of it is the personal side and the family side. And Ragnar being a family man, and his wife and ex-wife being inextricably linked. And all those things go on again side-by-side.
© 2017 Yuku. All rights reserved.