Ragnar. Lagertha. Floki. Rollo. Helga. Bjorn.
If you’ve ever dreamed of what the Viking world had been like, if you could spend a week in the world of any of your favorite television shows, MGM and History Channel’s Vikings series should be at the top of your list. Nobody knows what it was like to live in any period of the past. We rely on histories passed orally and in writing. But it’s hard to imagine anyone getting so much more right than what the writers and art directors on Vikings have done. The fourth season opener, which premieres in two weeks, is a relentless volley of action, excitement, and gritty drama. After building conflicts, and the bloodiest most realistic battles on TV, it all comes together this season. We’ve previewed the first four episodes of the season and Vikings could be on its way to be the year’s best drama.
This season History Channel has also added four episodes to its initial 16 episode order. Beginning February 18, a new episode will air every Thursday for ten weeks with the remaining episodes to air later in the year. Season three culminated with the battle in Paris, where Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) was victorious but returned to Kattegat nearly dead, leaving the legendary scheming of those around him–his wife Queen Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) and his oldest son, Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig). Meanwhile the driven Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) develops a new relationship with her former lieutenant Kalf (Ben Robson), Rollo (Clive Standen) betrays all by remaining in France and the incredible character Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) must answer for the death of the Christian priest Athelstan. And King Ecbert (Linus Roache) strategizes to defend Wessex from Ragnar.
New to the cast this year is Peter Franzén (The Gunman) as King Harold Finehair, a man who seeks to be King of Norway and a potential threat to Ragnar, Jasper Pääkkönen (Jet Trash) as Halfdan The Black, King Harold’s younger brother; and Dianne Doan (Descendants) as Yidu, a true newcomer to the world of the Vikings who fascinates both Ragnar and Aslaug.
Last year I interviewed two stars of Vikings here at borg.com just before the premiere of Season Two of the landmark series. It’s hard to believe a show this good, and as historically and culturally focused as Vikings has managed to survive this long when so many other good series get cut from the network and cable line-up. Season Four has been filmed and will premiere next year, but we have a first look at what’s to come.
Three new major players will enter the scene in Season Four: Peter Franzen (The Gunman), Jasper Paakkonen (Frozen Land, Secret Lives), and Dianne Doan (Once Upon a Time). Franzen plays Scandinavian King Harald Finehair, a threat to series lead Ragnar (Travis Fimmel). Paakkonen will play Halfdan the Black, Finehair’s younger brother. Doan will portray Yidu, a new Chinese character who, along with Ragnar’s growing sons, will have a big role in the next season, which skips ahead a few years after the events in last season’s stunning finale.
Historians also know the role Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) is destined to have in the series. How the series writers reveal her role, the fate of Ragnar, and the subplot with Alyssa Sutherland’s Aslaug, is plenty reason to watch this coming season.
The History Channel pulled out all the stops at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend for its Vikings series. If you didn’t catch the first season of Vikings, which we previewed earlier this year here at borg.com, you missed out on a series that rivaled Game of Thrones. Vikings publicity was all over Comic-Con and we even landed great swag–this exclusive SDCC 2013 comic book prequel for the series, just begging to be made into a monthly series. Vikings writer and creator Michael Hirst (who also wrote the comic story) was on-hand along with book artists Dennis Calero and Anthony Spay for signings.
You could also land a set of four exclusive lenticular trading cards at the Vikings events:
Review by C.J. Bunce
After the first few episodes of Vikings you will find yourself asking why this is only a nine-episode mini-series. The History Channel’s first historical fiction mini-series since the acclaimed Hatfields & McCoys, the new series Vikings takes stunning locations, a powerful score, and a good story steeped in Nordic mythology and creates an epic production on par with Braveheart, Rob Roy, 300, and Attila. And it’s even better than Game of Thrones.
Everyone has their own view of what Vikings should look like. We know from documentaries and books that these warriors in the late eighth century were plunderers and pillagers. They lived in a style as you’d find people roaming your local Renaissance Faire, clothing of wools and furs and hide. Weapons of steel, shields of oak and longboats whose appearance would strike fear in hearts of the enemy. Whether the History Channel has every historical detail down is beside the point. Vikings is completely believable and true enough to the ancient sagas of fierce warriors, gods of every stature, and clan intrigue.