The final episodes of Vikings season four were action-packed and wrenching. We lost Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), King Ecbert (Linus Roache) and Helga (Maude Hirst). Meanwhile, Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen) rose to the mantle of madman and would-be king setting the stage for a civil war that will define the series to come. Let’s refresh your memory as SBS picks up with the sexy, blood-splattered marauders in season 5A.
An epic civil war is imminent, pitting brother against brother
Ivar the Boneless, who has taken control of the Great Heathen Army, and Queen Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) will go head-to-head to secure supremacy over Kattegat and the growing Viking empire.
“That battle for Kattegat is the most extraordinary thing we’ve shot so far,” Vikings creator Michael Hirst told Variety.
Now they’ve avenged their father’s death, the war will see Ragnar’s sons Björn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig), Ivar, Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) and Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø) splinter into different factions. Ivar’s murder of their brother Sigurd (David Lindström) and the power vacuum left by Ragnar will be key to the conflict.
Hirst tells Entertainment Weekly it will be “rather like the conflict in Rome after the death of Caesar, between Octavian and Marc Antony – which brought down kingdoms and caused convulsions around the world. We’ve moved well away from little local battles, from small kingdoms and individual raids, to warring sides fighting over the known world.”
It’s going to be one hell of a showdown.
Ivar is the new Ragnar (sort of)
Someone had to fill the massive void left after Ragnar’s death, and while the saga has been handed on to his sons, it’s Ivar the Boneless who will dominate in seasons to come. He is, after all, Ragnar’s choice of successor as king of Kattegat, whether or not that comes to pass. He’s a worthy, though extreme replacement, “a more fundamentalist Viking”, as Hirst puts it. He’s a powder keg of rage, ambition and pure crazy.
“There are no constraints. He doesn’t recognise constraints, Hirst tells EW. “He can behave completely inappropriately. He’s dangerous. He’s mad. They all know – his brothers, everyone else around him – the one thing you know about him is that he’s going to be completely unpredictable."
Lagertha will be killed by one of Ragnar’s sons
The Seer (John Kavanagh) has relayed his vision to Lagertha in no uncertain terms, so unless he’s had a meteorologist-style snafu, her days are numbered. We hope there are more of them than less – legacy characters are being increasingly picked off on the show, and Lagertha has only just become queen. Plus, there’s her general warrior bad-arsery. The good news is that Hirst implies her demise won’t be in the immediate future.
“I don’t want to kill her arbitrarily. I need her around,” he says. “Unless I have really good reason to kill her, I’m not going to.”
Of course, Ivar is the frontrunner to kill Lagertha to avenge his mother, Queen Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland), who she murdered, and to topple Lagertha from the throne. But this is Vikings, so anything could happen.
Hot Bishop Heahmund is the new British threat
For the moment at least, King Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford) has fled after the Great Heathen Army’s invasion of Wessex, so filling the breach is a new player, smouldering Saxon warrior Bishop Heahmund (Jonathan Rhys Meyers).
We only had a brief introduction to him at the finale’s last breath, but it was enough to quickly established the Bishop as a holy man of great contradictions. After presiding over a funeral, he comforted the widow with some vigorous bonking.
The charismatic Bishop will be a formidable opponent to Ivar and the Vikings on the battlefield, and is based on the real historical figure, one of a pre-Knights Templar breed of warrior churchmen.
Floki is set adrift
After the tragic deaths of wife Helga, his daughter and his dear friend Ragnar, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) is a broken man and has taken to the seas submitting to the will of the gods. The once impish Viking will arrive in Iceland, which he believes is the homeland of the gods.
Bjorn and Rollo are headed to the great unknown
It’s going to take some climate adjustment for the Vikings as Björn Ironside and his uncle/captive, Rollo (Clive Standen), hit the golden sands of the Sahara desert, northern Africa. Yep, you read that correctly.
"I think a lot of people when they see Bjorn on a camel in the Sahara desert will go, ‘What the hell? I mean, this can't be, right?' But I can assure you that it's absolutely historically accurate," says Hirst.
Not only is the visit part of Björn’s quest to continue Ragnar’s expansion of the Viking empire, it’s a momentous expansion for the production, too. After filming the series mainly in Ireland so far, season five included shoots in Morocco and Iceland.
Vikings season five starts Wednesday 6 December at 9:30pm on SBS.