Season 4 of Vikings has been one hell of a journey. The narrative has moved through both time jumps and huge change-ups in characters, leaving fans with a multitude of questions. Luckily our prayers to the gods have been answered— show creator and writer Michael Hirst has held an AMA on Reddit, answering all your most pressing queries.
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Despite his rather morose expression in his proof photo, Hirst was more than happy to divulge a myriad of juicy details about the past, present and future of #Vikings. Let's take a look at what he had to reveal:
8. The Vikings Will Be Visiting Some New (And Old) Locations
The Spanish had better start tightening their defences— the ruthless heathens are set to return to the Mediterranean, and there's no doubt they'll want to wreak even more havoc than before.
They'll also be venturing a little closer to home to the neighboring Scandinavian nation of Iceland. Are we going to see the introduction of some more important figures from Viking sagas?
Fortunately for the Franks, the Vikings won't be attempting another takeover of Paris. However, Hirst promises that we will see more of Duke Rollo, which means it's more than likely that we're going to see Floki's prediction explored in depth.
7. Alfred And Ivar Aren't Going To Be Buddies
Ragnar may have been tight with Ecbert, but don't expect this relationship to play out with his son. Sure, Ivar and Alfred shared a casual game of chess when Ragnar returned to Wessex, but that's about as close as the pair will ever get to bonding. Looks like a feud may be more likely than a friendship. Watch out, Alfred!
6. He Really Wasn't Too Bothered About Losing Ragnar
Fans of the show may still be in mourning over the loss of their beloved King Ragnar, but Hirst couldn't care less. While he says there was "considerable nervousness" from the History channel, he was confident of the direction he was taking the show— and he thinks fans agree:
"Frankly, I was never concerned, because I've always said this was the story of Ragnar and his sons. I knew that his sons went on to do amazing things which I wanted to dramatize. I think people don't watch the show because of any particular actors. They just like the show. Our audience numbers have actually gone up since the death of Ragnar. People want to know what are the consequences of the death of a major character."
Then again, that's hardly surprising considering he's the one who killed him off. Murderer!
5. We're Going To Hear More From Hvitserk
We didn't get to hear too much from Hvitserk this season— in fact, most of his dialog centred around his polyamorous adventures with Margrethe. But according to Hirst, this is set to change, and Hvitserk "is going to start speaking big time very soon".
And according to another hint regarding the sons of Ragnar, he might just be raising his voice in an explosive situation:
"There are many tensions between the brothers which will actually explode in time."
4. He's Looking For The Most "Dramatic" Interpretation Of History, Not The Most Accurate
Responding to a question over why he chose to depict Ivar the Boneless as a cripple rather than other interpretations of his name from the history books, Hirst said, "I'm not writing a documentary, I'm writing a drama." This is a sentiment that's been echoed throughout countless responses to naysayers, who often criticize Hirst's creative interpretation of history.
3. He Wants To Challenge Stereotypes About Both Vikings And Women
Hirst claims to do extensive historical research before writing the show's narrative, and is on a mission to challenge what we think we know about history's most notorious pagans. According to him, the "whole show is about questioning the cliches about the Vikings". This is a theme he's explored through Ragnar, "a thoughtful, deep introverted character".
He's also tried to subvert expectations through the show's many female characters, who have now become just as iconic as their male counterparts:
"I hate shows that just have female characters as decorations, and have female clichéd characters. I think all of the female characters in 'Vikings' are interesting. I'm invested in them and they have a huge role in the show. I draw them in from the sagas and from historical records, but I make sure they are just as important in the show as the male characters."
2. Ragnar Actually Didn't Give A Shit About Alfred
Despite hugging it out in Episode 14, Ragnar apparently wasn't too invested in Alfred. Sure, he was the son of his late best friend, and thus the last connection he had to him. But Ragnar is still a Viking— and according to Hirst, getting revenge on Ecbert and his people was far more important than his survival.
1. 'Vikings' Is About Reality, Not Fantasy
Perhaps most surprising of all was Hirst's comment regarding the show's fantasy elements. Despite some pretty fantastical elements in certain episodes — such as Ragnar's posthumous message to his sons — Hirst insists that the show doesn't have any fantasy:
"There's no fantasy in 'Vikings'. I couldn't show anything that was fantastic. The only exception - this is a show told from the Vikings' point of view and they believe that Odin was present in person on the battle field. I can show that, because that it was Vikings believed."
Granted, the "fantasy" we have seen in the show so far — Odin bringing the message of Ragnar's death, Athelstan's ghost visiting Ecbert and Ragnar, Lagertha seeing Ragnar's ghost — were all subjective experiences from characters who have a deep belief in that sort of spiritual phenomenon.
However, it does raise the question of why Ragnar — who had renounced his faith and become an atheist — found himself communing with the Seer on his way to be executed. What's up with that, Hirst?
Do you think any of Michael Hirst's comments could relate to the next episode of Vikings?