Vikings is a constantly changing game of one-upmanship with backstabbing, rapid reversals of fortune and never-ending reprisals.
The greatest smackdowns in the show aren’t always violent in nature (okay, so most of them are), but there’s plenty of verbal stouches to pick from and of course, Ragnar’s icy death-stare.
We take a look at the smackdowns that we felt the most.
Cold Feet (S4 Pt.1)
Physical health post season 4 mid-finale not withstanding, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) has gone from strength to strength from an already fearsome base, eons away from the shield maiden and meek(er) wife she once was.
Almost at the alter, she stabs her duplicitous fiancé Kalf (Ben Robson) to death. Like a Kalf to the slaughter (that idiom/pun should also be slaughtered) this was a cold though necessary murder if Lagertha was to regain power.
It was a shock twist ending with Lagertha in bloodied wedding dress holding court as the renewed Earl. Boom!
The Resurrection (S3)
This is Vikings’ own ‘Death at a Funeral’ moment. Except there’s no whacked out little person. Or an elderly corpse. And it gets very stabby.
After the first battle in Paris it appears that Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) has died. He hasn’t. Surely our lead character could never be killed off?!!! Lifting his coffin lid during his own Christian funeral to the shock horror of the congregation, Ragnar strikes with raging tongue killing the bishop with a stab to the throat. It’s an unequivocal f**k you to Frankia.
Bjorn and the Bear (S4. Pt1)
On a self-imposed journey of self-discovery, Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) ventures into the great, unknown wilderness. He’s a fledging forefather to Bear Grylls, though we can’t verify if he ate the eyeball of a yak or drank his own urine.
Speaking of bears, one very large one has been nicking off with Bjorn’s food. In an epic (and very realistic) smackdown, Bjorn kills the bear and has his “King of the World” moment yelling into the wilderness. Not a bad effort when you’ve got a hangover, but the beast leaves its own vicious wound, tearing Bjorn’s chest up in the battle.
Whenever Ragnar gives the death stare (S1-4 and beyond)
And that’s A LOT. If you’re not drawn in by Ragnar’s mesmerising blue eyes, the stink eyes and devilish smile will unsettle you at the least.
The complication being, at times his eyes can have a similar effect if he’s amused, turned on, happy etc. Is he joking? Is he messing with your head? Or is he about to hack you down to size? Best to be safe and not cross him.
Regal rescue (S4. Pt1)
The rescue of Queen Kwenthrith (Amy Bailey) - say that 10 times when you’re tipsy - and her son Magnus (supposedly fathered by Ragnar) was quite the expertly choreographed smackdown.
Revolting Mercian noblemen - uprising noblemen rather than stinky, though personal hygiene was iffy back then - had captured Kwenthrith but a rescue mission led by Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford) who also has a thing for Queen K, saved the day.
The queen also showed her wily strength switching from hostage to ass-kicker in a flash upon the order to kill her.
Ragnar wins power (S1)
We always knew this day would come. The history books said Ragnar Lothbrok was destined for greatness. Poor old Gabriel Byrne, he couldn’t even last a season!
As Earl Haraldson he and Ragnar were often at odds, especially when the Earl claimed Ragnar and his men’s hard won English plunder as his own.
In a brutal battle for life and the Earldom, Ragnar is victorious, the first stop on his way to be King.
Lagertha takes an eye for eye (S2)
Lagertha really hasn’t had much luck with husbands so far. Earl Sigvard (Morten Suurballe), her second, violently abused her and had his men do the same.
If he really knew Lagertha, he’d have known that that was an extremely dud move. After he humiliates her at dinner, Lagertha stabs hubby in the eyeball and one of his men lops his head off. Lagertha becomes Earl. Again we say, NEVER cross Lagertha.
Ladies Man (S4 Pt.1)
The Wanderer Harbard (Kevin Durand) casts one very opportunistic spell over the women of Kattegat. He’s a healer of women with the caveat being that he must bed them to do so. Marvin Gaye would be proud.
The ladies man gives Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) the ultimate sleazy smackdown by legitimising his randy behavior and dismissing her as a clingy Queen.
Harbard: What have I done to you? I haven't done anything to you. I love you.
Aslaug: How can you love me when you sleep with every woman in Kattegat?
Harbard: I don't sleep with every woman. Only those who need me.
Which is pretty much all of them.
Floki murders Athelstan (S3)
Floki always had it in for Athelstan, what with the monk being freed and free to influence his leader and friend Ragnar with his pesky Christianity.
His murder of the monk was not only a sacrilegious blow to Christianity but undoubtedly an act of jealousy, leading to one of the series’ most bitter falling-outs.
“This is not about Christians and faith,” rages Ragnar to Aslaug. “It’s about loyalty! And trust!”
Ragnar and Rollo’s never-ending feud (S1-4 to date)
Ragnar and Rollo have been on a merry-go-round of discord for the whole series (and when we say discord, we mean the stabby, head-crushy, beaty kind).
It was Rollo who was victorious in the latest battle in Paris sending Ragnar off battered and bruised, ego smashed.
Rollo walks through Paris victorious and gives wife Gisla a bloody kiss, how romantic!
So the merry-go-round continues until the brothers’ next epic smackdown. There may be a clue as to who will eventually die first if Standen’s other TV show takes off. He’s taking his very particular set of skills to the Taken prequel as a young Bryan Mills.
Vikings returns to SBS with the second part of season 4 starting 11 January at 8:30pm.