On the March 5 episode of History Channel’s “Vikings,” Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) and his allies will make good on their deal with King Ecbert (Linus Roache) and march into battle with Mercia. Ragnar and his fellow raiders have been spoiling for a fight, but the clash might not be enough to prevent other tensions from bubbling up.
Variety has an exclusive sneak peek at the bloodthirsty battle from this week’s episode below — will all of our warriors escape unscathed?
Ragnar’s deal with Ecbert and Kwenthrith (Amy Bailey) once again puts him at odds with Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard), who mistrusts the Christians’ motives. Fimmel says that the friction between the pair “carries throughout the whole year again. [Floki’s’] very religiously driven — we all are. The gods are the most important things, but I think Ragnar’s opinion on it is, ‘I’ll do whatever I can to please the gods, but I’m going to try to please the people first’ … He 100% believes in his gods. But he’ll use other gods to learn from and to use. All he uses the Christianity for is to get what he wants. If you’re invading people that believe in Christianity, to get people to follow you, you’ve got to act like you believe in the same things.”
Elsewhere in the hour, titled “Warrior’s Fate,” Ecbert and Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) will further explore their burgeoning attraction. “They’re worldly. They’re used to power. They’re curious,” creator Michael Hirst points out. “It doesn’t mean anything to Lagertha to have an affair with Ecbert, and I like that. It’s just another path to cultural conflict and contrast.”
Winnick agrees: “I think she’s attracted to a powerful man, and a man with so much confidence, and as accomplished as he is. [He’s] teaching her new worlds, and showing her different lands and different tools that she wouldn’t have seen before: the language; the religion; the artwork; the wine. There’s so much that she is drawn to. I think she’s fascinated with it all, but she also is very smart, and I feel like her intuition is very strong, and I don’t know if she fully, ever really trusts Ecbert.”
Sadly, Athelstan (George Blagden) is a little more trusting of Ecbert’s motives, according to Blagden. “I think Athelstan is, with regard to Ecbert, still a bit innocent, and [Ecbert] gives this great speech to Judith [Sarah Greene] in episode two, and he’s explaining to her to be careful about interesting men, because being complex makes them a lot more interesting, but also a lot more dangerous. I don’t think Athelstan has realized that at all about Ecbert, whereas Judith has started to suspect that maybe Ecbert is not all that he seems.”
The Vikings’ attempts to settle in Wessex have also brought Athelstan into closer quarters with Judith, Ecbert’s daughter-in-law, who confessed to having sinful thoughts about him in last week’s episode — an altogether more perilous proposition, regardless of whether he acts on that desire. Blagden admits that he was “a bit worried” about portraying the monk’s forbidden attraction, telling Variety, “I just didn’t know whether flirty Athelstan would work, and I’m not sure if people are going to buy flirty Athelstan, but I hope they do.”
While Lagertha’s attentions are elsewhere, her former right-hand man, Kalf (Ben Robson), has staged a coup and taken over her territory in her absence. Winnick teases that the shift in power adds new dimensions to Lagertha’s character: “How does that affect her? Does that make her stronger? Does that make her more powerful? Does it make her completely lose herself, and lose her confidence? That’s something you will just have to watch and see.”
And back in Kattegat, the arrival of a mysterious stranger named Harbard (Kevin Durand) will have major repercussions for Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland), Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig) and Helga (Maude Hirst), especially given that the trio shared a prophetic dream about him.
Michael Hirst says he based the character of Harbard on Rasputin, the Russian faith healer and adviser to the Tsar: “All the guys go off on their raid as usual and then I was thinking, ‘Yeah, but what happens back at home?’ And these three women together, I imagined a kind of synchronicity would develop between them, and then an Icelandic friend said that if something important, terrible, is going to happen, people have dreamed the same dream about it [in the past], so I thought, ‘That’s cool. What are they going to dream about? Well, if I have a stranger coming, then it could be interesting how the three of them [connect].’ I’ve written a script in the past about Rasputin and I always think Rasputin’s a good guy, and I think he did help the Tsar’s son, and so slowly, all these things fitted in. And then I read in the sagas that the stranger [is given a name] that’s another name for Odin. Just as a sort of tease; is he a god or not? Because the Vikings certainly believed the gods walked amongst them. It’s perfectly plausible that this stranger could have been a god, especially as he has healing powers.”
“Vikings” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on History.