‘Vikings’ Season 4 Finale: Michael Hirst on Shocking Deaths, Series’ Possible End (SPOILERS)

Vikings S4 Finale
Jonathan Hession/History

Spoilers for those who haven’t seen Wednesday night’s Season 4 finale of “Vikings.”

The sons of Ragnar, different and yet all so like their father, have been united by a single purpose these last few episodes of Season 4: to avenge their father’s death at the hands of King Aelle and, by proxy, King Ecbert (Linus Roache). But they all seem to have different ideas about what to do next — settle down in East Anglia, go back to raiding, sail to yet further shores. And it’s all complicated by Ivar (Alex Høgh) throwing an axe into his brother Sigurd (David Lindström), bringing the finale’s main character body count up to three. “Vikings” creator Michael Hirst called up Variety to talk about what’s next.

Will anything happen to Ivar? One would think kinslaying would be a pretty serious deal.

Ivar’s in a special position, he always has been. I think if memory serves Season 5 begins with the burial of Sigurd, and Ivar is weeping and saying he never meant to do it. But his murder of Sigurd splits the brothers — they split up into different camps. A large part of the next season will be about, will it be like this great Roman conflict after Caesar’s death, the great Roman civil wars with Brutus and Cassius and Octavian? These people are playing for possession of the known world. It’s not like a little local fight — these are huge territories. The Great Army has conquered a huge part of England. How do we behave now? That’s what Season 5 opens with.

Viking society is all about winning and being famous, and it’s very aggressive and ambitious, so you kind of know they’re going to be in conflict with each other. The historical Ragnar had many, many more sons he adopted, because to be a son of Ragnar was the biggest calling card in the Viking world. It was much worse than just the five brothers in the show. They all wanted to be the true successor of their famous father. Almost immediately after they succeed in revenging their father they pave the way to, essentially, world war.

Was it important that Ecbert get to go out on his own terms?

He’s too important, too clever, not to go out on his own terms. However devious he was, however corrupt he was, he always had some ideal in mind. He always had the ideal of unifying England into one country. He behaved badly and deviously. But I think he’s a genuine person.

I knew he had to die. And that was difficult for me, too, but I wanted him to die with dignity. He was a bit like an amalgam of me and Linus and our experiences. For me, he gave me the opportunity to represent a nuanced and difficult and corrupt and wonderful character.

Speaking of Ecbert’s deviousness, he wasn’t actually King of Wessex when he signed over those lands to Ragnar’s sons. Will that come back to bite them?

That’s huge. That will definitely come into play.

Floki has now lost his daughter and his wife Helga, who was played by your daughter Maude Hirst. What will become of him?

Helga’s death was hard for me because Helga was my daughter. But that was the end of that storyline — she was broken by the death of her daughter. And Floki was similarly destroyed by the death of the three people closest to him: his daughter, Ragnar, and Helga. Floki is going to commit himself to the gods. His previous life is over — he might as well be dead. The new season will find him submitting to the will of the gods.

For me, it was hard killing my daughter. There was a lot of tears. But it was the storyline. You can’t cheat the story. If you cheat the story, the whole show falls apart. You have to be authentic. If you kill someone and bring them back, like in Game of Thrones, the cheat is so big you can’t believe the show anymore. I couldn’t do that even to my own daughter.

We got our first glimpse of Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ Bishop Heahmund at the end. What more can you tell us about him?

I knew that I needed a big new Saxon hero, a new warrior, someone who could potentially stand up to the vikings, and I found out about these warrior bishops who were real people — Heahmund was a real person. They were the precursors of the Knights Templar. They were very clever, very well-educated, but they were warriors, they would go into battle against spiritual opponents, like pagans.

So I had this character, but I didn’t know who would play him. I had a relationship with Jonny from “The Tudors,” and History had him in “Roots,” so it worked out. Jonny is just compulsively watchable. If he’s on screen, there’s nothing else on screen. He’s fantastic.

What do you think is the natural endpoint for this story?

Honestly, I think people did think when Travis died everything would change and yet on we went, the machine went on, we had so many great new actors. I’m pretty sure we can go on for another two seasons. I’m just writing the last two episodes of Season 5. I could tell you things that would blow your mind — things we’ve shot in Season 5 are amazing. I think we will be able to end the show the way we intended to.

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  1. Jimmy says:

    I was able to see the screening of the new season 5 and was quite surprised that Ragnar was not killed off but lives and comes back to lead the Clan in the New World

  2. tim says:

    More re-enactment scenes please, it is something to save a lot of re-enactment in each episode and put it all in the end, but it was better to fill each episode with re-enactment battles and make a huge battle at the end. I missed a lot of fighting this season,

  3. guilhermefdias says:

    “For me, it was hard killing my daughter. There was a lot of tears. But it was the storyline. You can’t cheat the story. If you cheat the story, the whole show falls apart. You have to be authentic. If you kill someone and bring them back, like in Game of Thrones, the cheat is so big you can’t believe the show anymore.”

    This must be some kind of joke. The help plot was extremely dumb and useless. For a moment I was just glad they both died. Jezzz, and trying to mock Game of Thrones, hahaha, I can’t say anything more. What a bummer to read this, damn.

  4. Jilly says:

    I’m so glad there is more to come I love this show

  5. Viperlady says:

    You do not have to like jonathan Rhys Meyers, but when he acts you watch an exzellent actor, thats for sure. Just watch the last episode and his audience, GREAT!!!!!!!!
    Travis has to go if michael hurst wanted to stay with history, but I miss him much. I cried so much when Helga died, Jeeez…….

  6. Thomas says:

    I’m still not over Travis Fimmel being gone, he was really great as Ragnar, but after seeing JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS as bishop heahmund, I really can’t wait for the Vikings season 5. Oh MY! he was fascinating as king Henry in the Tudors, he will surely bring his own magic to this show.

  7. Gina Proctor says:

    did not like Rhys Meyers in Henry VIII and didn’t like him as the new bishop and whose burial, pray tell, what that and whose widow was he screwing?

  8. Susan Dudak says:

    I absolutely love this show. Was a little worried after Ragnar died but am finding the story line with the sons of Ragnar extremely interesting and have not lost one moment of interest. Can’t wait till the new season starts. Excellent.

  9. Jack Spencer says:

    Your choice of Meyers was a good one, he was great as Henry the Eight, he is should be just as good as Heahmund.

  10. fidy says:

    Love the ending. Good to kill off a couple of more characters and take the series into a new confrontation with this dark fight Bishop character.

  11. RuneTonseth says:

    Hi
    First of all I LOVE the show.

    But I dont understand why they have to kill off Sigurd. This did not happen in the SAGA.
    in the SAGA sigurd married one of ÆLLAS daughters. He did also become a king in Denmark,
    Bjorn Ironside was king in parts of sweden.

    I dont know why they dont follow the SAGA.

    I understand that they plant ROLLO and Harald fairhair into the show cause they were historical important figures. But they didnt have anything with Great Heaten Army!

    In the future I really hope they will tell the story about the “last Viking King” Harald Hardråde

  12. Burro b says:

    Great show Great acting. Great fight and death scenes. Keep going. Such an amazing show uncorrupted by the Starbucks crowd. Screw off cbs. ABC. NBC.

  13. ragnar says:

    oh my god vikings is the best also travis

  14. Hua says:

    Thank you so much for creating this show, for casting Travis and just giving us this incredible journey. I was so broken up about Ragnar’s death that I thought I couldn’t go on…but now I feel like the show has a new energy, and will still remain interesting for the upcoming season(s). I’m especially intrigued to see Ivar’s story as well as Jonathan Rhys Meyers’.

  15. Rose Davis says:

    Just keep doing what you are doing. I have loved every single minute of every episode thus far. Thank you for this. I will miss it when it is gone.

  16. Vikings Season 5 says:

    I’m pretty sure we can go on for another two seasons. I’m just writing the last two episodes of Season 5. I could tell you things that would blow your mind — things we’ve shot in Season 5 are amazing. I think we will be able to end the show the way we intended to.

    I’M SURE YOU WILL!!!

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