1. Get yourself some allies
Faced with a minority in the Senate, you’re going to need back-up. There’s no point trying to ram through legislation at the point of a sword – that’s not even working for Ecbert, who is dead set on invading Mercia.
2. Know your weaknesses (and laugh about them)
When Ragnar and Bjorn work some rocks together, they discuss matrimony and fatherhood. Ragnar tries to give his son stick about abandoning his child, but Bjorn throws it back in his face. This could go badly…but they share a great laugh about Ragnar being a terrible husband. You can imagine a similar conversation taking place between the fathers and sons of some of our dynastic families in Canberra. I name no names.
3. Have someone to bounce ideas off
Ideally, this person will be a recently freed slave with a few secrets of her own, so you can form a bond of trust. There probably aren’t too many of them around Parliament House, but try to emulate Ragnar’s relationship with Yidu – although probably be less open about the drug-taking and adultery.
4. Know when to quit
Recent history is littered with the corpses of PMs who didn’t know when to hand over the crown. Here, in the midst of a textbook midlife crisis, Ragnar confesses to Yidu that he feels “so old” and has lost the passion to win. This is the perfect time to organise a Kirribilli Agreement and avoid the humiliation of being beheaded by someone hungrier for the Lodge. Like, say, King Harald and his brother, Halfdan the Black.
5. Words are important
Be specific in your promises and threats, so no-one can accuse you of reneging or lying later. Bjorn tells King Harald he has no reason to trust him. Harald responds that he’ll never give him a reason to kill him. These are two very different propositions (note that canny Bjorn doesn’t fall for this linguistic trickery – he’s the Leigh Sales of Kattegut).
6. Master the art of hypocrisy
Their vigorous love-making on pause for a moment, Gisla tells Rollo he could most def take Count Odo’s place. Rollo replies that you don’t stab a guy in the back, and we all laugh heartily at the biggest betrayal fan of all time pretending to take the moral high ground. When you’re being grilled on talkback radio about how you took the leadership, it’s important to stress loyalty and condemn sneakiness.
7. If you’re going to punish someone, make it stick
There’s nothing more dangerous than an ex-PM on the backbench. Unless it’s a fanatical shipbuilder you’ve tortured then frozen out for killing your pet Christian. Factional heavyweights like Harald and Halfdan are always counting numbers, and you can’t count on Floki’s loyalty… especially after that Safe Schools debacle.
8. Know when to cut allies loose
If someone in your party is doing the wrong thing and public opinion has turned against them with the strength of… I dunno, the wind from a helicopter blade? You have to cut them loose. And if your strange child puts an axe through the head of another kid, like Ivar did, it’s probably not for the best to comfort that little monster, Auslaaaaag…
9. Beware the smiling assassin
If you’ve tried to have a potential rival “removed” and it didn’t work, don’t scheme with your mates within earshot of said rival’s patron (or mother). Otherwise, you might find yourself like Kalf, copping a knife in the guts from Lagertha instead of the sweet bedroom action he anticipated.
The new series of Vikings continues Wednesdays at 9:30pm (AEDT) on SBS. Every episode will be on SBS On Demand after it airs.
Missed episode 5? Watch it right here: