Every year, there are three things we all look forward to – holidays, breaking resolutions and the new season of Vikings. Back in 2016, series creator Michael Hirst told us “it’s slightly clever of me to have chosen a hero who has a lot of sons! I knew that, God willing, we could move ultimately beyond Ragnar to the sons.” Since our man found himself in a pit of snakes, that policy is paying off with the next generation of unhinged warrior heroes…
Now, where were we in this epic saga?
Season 5, the first without Ragnar, was split into two lots of 10 episodes. If you smacked too much mead while watching the first batch, here’s a quick refresher:
Those sons Michael mentioned haven’t exactly been getting on like a house on fire. Without daddy’s firm hand to keep them in check, they’ve gone to war. Bjorn finished his Grand Tour of the Mediterranean, returning home to find a very different Kattegut than the one he left. Bishop Heahmund nearly got killed but had his life spared by Lagertha, who didn’t extend the same courtesy to Astrid. Halfdan copped a killing from his bro Harald. And Hvitserk didn’t cop one from his bro Ubbe (even though he deserved it).
And what about fan-favourite Floki? Didn’t he end up in Iceland or something? Indeed he did, with a whole new colony to burn down freshly built temples and stab each other. You can take the homicidal arsonist berserkers out of Kattegut, but… you know the rest.
So what’s in store for our heroes/villains?
And so we come to the release of a brand-new trailer for season 5B, which promises more of the mud’n’blood-soaked action we’ve come to expect from Vikings. Torture enthusiast Ivar the Boneless is firmly entrenched as king and chief villain of Kattegut, alongside his “loyal” brother Hvitserk. And Heahmund has thrown in his lot with Lagertha who, across the sea in Wessex with Bjorn, has formed an alliance with fresh-faced King Alfred (not quite Alfred the Great yet, for those playing at home).
If all that politics sounds too complicated to follow, look at it this way: everyone’s teaming up against each other so they can stab or be stabbed in the face. It’s gonna rule.
All that, and the archetypal bad brother Rollo is back from Frankia to cause a stir. No doubt he’ll be offering some golden advice to his nephews on the topic of betraying one’s sibling, being forgiven, punishing that forgiveness with more betrayal and eventually becoming a French duke.
Anything else we should brace for?
According to The Seer, “Everything is becoming darker. All of us are going into the dark!” Which is exactly what you want to hear from a fortune teller, isn’t it? He also says, “Brother will fight against brother and the world will be wrecked”, but that’s not much of a spoiler to be honest.
We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?
It’s worth pausing here for a second to recall the very first episode of season 1. Remember those halcyon days when a fresh-faced young Ragnar was arguing with Gabriel Byrne about whether to sail west instead of into the Baltic?
It’s incredible how much has changed in this fascinating series.
Season 5B of Vikings returns to SBS later this year.