It’s been a wild, thrilling, if not bloody ride, and season five of Vikings promises more of the same: intrigue, conflict, lurid affairs and power-plays. We caught up with creator Michael Hirst and some of the cast members to get the inside scoop on what lies ahead for the band of bearded warriors.
1. Lagertha might die
The world of Vikings is cruel, bloody and utterly unpredictable, with heroes killed off with a random sweep of a sword, and seasons five and six are gearing up to be just as much of a jolting watch. In a similar vein to Game of Thrones, nobody is safe.
“I get very close to the characters I write so killing them off is never easy,” said Michael Hirst during a recent press tour. “But I want the show to be authentic, and killing our heroes is part of that.”
Lagertha’s (Katheryn Winnick) death has already been predicted by The Seer (John Kavanagh), who confirmed she would die at the hands of one of Ragnar’s sons. Will it be bloodthirsty Ivar (Alex Høgh), peacekeeping Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) or the quiet and reserved Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø)? Or will The Seer’s omen even be true at all? By Vikings standards, someone’s going to get the chop, and if previous seasons are anything to go by, just about everyone is a candidate for the deathwatch list.
2. Ivar the Boneless will reveal his madman side
Ivar’s bloodlust coupled with the murder of his brother Sigurd (David Lindström) has left us guessing as to whether he has the makings of a master strategist or is just plain bonkers. Historically, Ivar the Boneless was one of the most famous Vikings and Hirst confirms he becomes the "highlight" of seasons five and six. Expect flashes of madness as Ivar’s retribution for the death of his father and mother plays out with plenty of angry stares, bloody fight scenes and betrayal.
3. New characters join the cast
Veteran stage actor Steven Berkoff and WWE wrestling star Adam "Edge" Copeland will join the cast for seasons five and six in recurring roles. We will also get to see more of Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ character, Bishop Heahmund – a ruthless bishop warrior and worthy adversary for Ivar and his brothers, who has a penchant for power and much less for chastity.
4. Rollo and Floki will be back
Rollo (Clive Standen) was last seen sailing to the Mediterranean with Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig). Well, not so much sailing as tied to a rope under Bjorn Ironside’s boat, but Hirst confirms his survival and assures us he’s "reinventing Rollo" yet again. Meanwhile, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård), adrift in a one-man boat, has his fate left in the hands of the gods. Will he be joining Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) in Valhalla? It’s more likely we’ll see our favourite "madman" embarking on a new adventure in Iceland.
5. Ragnar doesn’t disappear
In much the same way as Athelstan (George Blagden) lived on, Hirst confirms that season four wasn’t the end for Ragnar, who will live on in his sons as they continue his saga. But unlike Jon Snow’s blood magic resurrection in Game of Thrones, Hirst prides himself on "keeping it real", so it’s more likely Ragnar will reappear in dreams and visions.
6. Katheryn Winnick makes her directorial debut
As one of the longest-surviving cast members, Winnick has seen four seasons, countless betrayals and bloody battles go by, and considers herself well versed to take on a role behind the camera. She will make her directorial debut in season six.
Alexander Ludwig, who plays Lagertha's son, Bjorn, confirms he’s excited about the prospect of being directed by his screen mum. “There’s no better place to explore creatively than a show like this. Katheryn is going to be amazing, it’s an exciting episode and I’m going to give her hell,” he laughs.
7. Expect to see Vikings on camels
Vikings has predominantly been shot in Ireland, but this season sees the production move to Morocco and Iceland. At the end of season four, Bjorn Ironside had extricated himself from his brothers and was sailing to the Mediterranean and the Sahara Desert.
“I couldn’t quite convince the crew that we could recreate the desert in the west of Ireland,” laughs Hirst. Intent on following the Vikings historical trail, the production goes global. After all those muddy battle scenes, there’ll be something refreshing about seeing a Viking riding a camel through the desert.
8. The Lothbrok brothers split up
“Ivar is the fame-hungry part of Ragnar and I’m the reasonable, family-man side,” notes Jordan Patrick Smith, who plays Ubbe Lothbrok. “Hvitserk is somewhere in the middle."
Bjorn is on his own Mediterranean mission, Floki has abandoned them in a quest to find the Gods, and the siblings are left playing for possession of the known world and avenging their parents’ death – it was never going to be peaceful.
9. Bjorn’s skeleton in the closet
There were whisperings in previous seasons about Rollo’s love for Lagertha. Although unreciprocated, some fans are convinced of a romantic tryst, the result of which would be Bjorn. If they’re correct, that throws one gigantic spanner in the works of rightful heirs.
10. All hail Harald Finehair
If you want to become the king of Norway, the first step is to start calling yourself the king of Norway, which is exactly what Harald Finehair (Peter Franzén) did the moment he walked in to Kattegatt. Season five doesn’t let us forget that, with his ambitions taking on a very real and threatening force as he battles for the crown. Who knows, his luck with women might finally change, too.
Watch Vikings season five Wednesday 6 December at 9:30pm on SBS.