Vikings Review: Ragnar Will Live On

To say Travis Fimmel’s portrayal of Ragnar Lothbrok was amazing is underselling it. The actor was absolutely transcendent on Vikings, making this role a once in a lifetime accomplishment. It’s a shame the awards and accolades have passed him over.

I reviewed Vikings for years over at TVFanatic.com, up until the first half of this season actually, and though history warned us this was coming… it sure was brutal to watch. Yes, I tuned in when the show first premiered in March of 2013. Knowing that Michael Hirst (Elizabeth, The Tudors) was attached to the project was an easy sell for me. The show’s audience grew quickly in part due to the writing, but also because we instantly fell in love with anti-hero Ragnar.

Saying goodbye to the character hasn’t been easy. It’s taken me a week to let it really sink in and sit down to write my thoughts on the loss of the series’ star and my hopes for the show moving forward.

Aside from the fact we’ve lost Fimmel, I have no gripes about this game-changing installment. It was pretty freakin’ perfect, wasn’t it? So, let’s focus on a few of the standout moments.

Travis Fimmel and Linus Roache (King Ecbert) have always had incredible chemistry. Their conversation in Vikings Episode 14 “In The Uncertain Hour Before the Morning” was deeply moving. However, those final glances between the archrivals before Ragnar was dropped into the pit, were as intense as anything that took place in the last episode. Acting without words… brilliant!

When Ragnar asked to speak to his son Ivar alone, it was pretty clear he was plotting his “larger, bolder strategy.” The Viking king will get his revenge on King Ecbert from beyond the grave. A quick Google search fails to connect the Vikings with Ecbert’s death, but the series has twisted things in the past for dramatic purposes. We do know that Æthelwulf succeeded his father, so there’s more story there. King Aelle of Northumbria’s fate is a different matter altogether, but I won’t spoil it. Suffice it to say, that guy’s going to get what’s coming to him.

Another great moment was Athelstan’s son (future king Alfred the Great) beating Ivar at chess. That is going to be a very interesting relationship as the series moves forward. Historically, Alfred is known for successfully defeating the Vikings and becoming the dominant ruler in England. While Ivar becomes quite famous for invading England alongside his brothers.

I have no doubt both Alex Høgh Andersen (Ivar) and Alexander Ludwig (Bjorn Lothbrok) are up to the task of leading this series. I’ve said many times that Ludwig has grown quite impressive as an actor during his time on Vikings. He’s as captivating a presence now as Fimmel was early on. Høgh Andersen finally won me over this season, because his scenes with Fimmel have been truly outstanding. I remember thinking there’s no show after Ragnar’s demise, but I definitely do not feel that way today. There is plenty of territory Hirst can still cover after the death of Ragnar Lothbrok. After all, he had a ton of sons.

The flashbacks to Season 1 as a caged Ragnar approached Northumbria destroyed me. Actually, all the flashbacks brought on the waterworks. I was a teary-eyed wreck, to be honest with you. It feels like we’ve been on this journey for ages, when in reality it’s been four short seasons. How young Fimmel looked back then, and of course that’s when he first met Athelstan. I’ve missed George Blagden (Athelstan) terribly. The series has never felt as hopeful and positive as it did while the priest was around. That was a definite turning point in the series, much in the same way Ragnar’s death is now. Still, Athelstan’s presence continued to be felt though, and I have a feeling it will be the same with Ragnar.

Before wrapping up, I’d like to say that I always pictured in my mind’s eye what Ragnar dying in that pit of snakes would look like. The series delivered in every way possible, down to the snakes latching on to their prey and pumping him full of venom. The wide shot lowering into the pit was flawless and as someone who dislikes snakes as much as Indiana Jones, I was horrified. It’s always fascinating to me that standards & practices have no issue with something as gruesome as this scene, yet sex and nudity is constantly censored. That’s a pet peeve of mine.

Overall, I feel “All His Angels” is right up there with some of the series’ best episodes. There’s no doubt we, as an audience, will miss Ragnar but the show must go on. Fimmel’s farewell was treated with great respect and the attention the character deserved. Ragnar’s death was inevitable, but I am thrilled he lasted this long. Now it’s time for his boys to exact revenge on those foolish English kings. Though I will say, Ecbert’s smile seemed to hint he understood all hell is about to break loose. I can’t wait to see what comes next… How about you?

Vikings airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on History

  • Interdimensional Dave

    I’m a little surprised the killed off the series main character in Ragnar Lothbrok. Mid-season no less! But you can’t say we didn’t see it coming. I’m going to miss Travis Fimmel’s take on the character. Those impish sideways glances were pure gold. What a brutal way to goo too. Tortured and then bitten to death by snakes. He did get his last words in though. On to Valhalla! (And flashback’s)

    We’ll have to see if the series can continue without Fimmel. (I’m game) I’m a fan of Ivar’s and Bjorn. Plus, we’ll always have Rollo too, right? And please let nothing happen to Lagertha. That would really kill me.

    • Unfortunately, I think Lagertha might be next… eeeek! I mean, this is how it went down in history after all. Ragnar died in that snake pit and pretty young according to the tales. Honestly, for a character that was meant to die in the first season he lasted a long time. The series has a very dedicated fanbase, I think Hirst has enough material to keep us hooked for another few seasons. I’m not saying Vikings will last 10 seasons, but 7… yeah.