Four years ago the History channel released what would become one of my favorite go to shows. I knew nothing about the show or vikings but I’ve always been intrigued by the mythos and I assumed since it was on the History channel, that it would be more of a historical documentary than an actual series. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least, by what they were able to put together. It was an engaging historical drama that delivered an interesting story, great characters, and some of the best early medieval warfare you could find on cable. I’ve been a fan ever since, and I was excited to see where Season 4 would go as the story of Ragnar started to come to a head.
The general story of Vikings is that it’s loosely based on the sagas of Ragnar Lothbrok, his kin, and their raiding, ruling, and exploring during early medieval Scandinavia. By Season 4, Ragnar has already risen to power as King and has just returned from his biggest accomplishment yet, the raiding of Paris (which was fucking AWESOME by the way). It pushed him to the brink of death but it made him a legend amongst his people and infamous to the rest of the world.
This was by far the weakest story line out of all the seasons; it felt rushed and there were huge jumps in time and logic in order to fit everything in…none of the other characters are as layered or interesting as Ragnar so I often found myself getting bored with their plots.
Season 4 is pretty much all about his legacy, the people around him, and especially his kids who have started to come into their own. This was by far the weakest story line out of all the seasons; it felt rushed and there were huge jumps in time and logic in order to fit everything in. They’ve always heavily featured the other characters but Ragnar was always still firmly at the center. This season however spends so much time on the other characters and their divergent story lines, that the season as a whole feels extremely disjointed. Not to mention that none of the other characters are as layered or interesting as Ragnar so I often found myself getting bored with their plots. They really tried to establish Ivar as a central character and lead this season, and while he’s interesting in the way that he’s so unpredictable, he’s often so over the top that his one trick quickly starts to lose it’s appeal.
One thing that Vikings better than pretty much any other basic cable show is large scale battles. They put you right into the mix and there’s a gritty realism to the sequences that make them feel so believable. None of this season’s big set pieces are nearly as breathtaking as last season’s assault on Paris, but they were all still extremely well executed and there was more than enough action to keep me satisfied. They also continue their fantastic world building; from the clothes, to the buildings and landscapes, to the way they interact, it all feels believable as a close approximation of the times they lived in.
They really tried to establish Ivar as a central character and lead this season, and while he’s interesting in the way that he’s so unpredictable, he’s often so over the top that his one trick quickly starts to lose it’s appeal.
Travis Fimmel as Ragnar Lothbrok is fantastic as usual and in Season 4 he dials Ragnar’s internal conflict up to 11. I was glad to see that my other favorite from the show, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), was given a lot to do this season and she continued to be a very strong presence that rivaled Ragnar’s. She had some really satisfying payoffs this season, I just wish she had more screen time with Ragnar as they have some of the best chemistry on the show. Floki was surprisingly subdued this season and Rollo didn’t get a whole lot of spotlight either. Bjorn continues to be mostly likeable if not a bit boring and the rest of his sons outside of Ivar are not all that interesting as characters despite them getting a lot more screen time this season. I love the world of Vikings and their action set pieces are still some of the best out, but after some huge events in Season 4, I struggle to see it continuing to keep my interest.
Have you seen Season 4 of Vikings? What’d you think about it? Do you think it was their weakest season yet? Are you optimistic for the next seasons after the huge events this season? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave your rating for the season.
* SPOILERS *
Ragnar Lothbrok FUCKING DIES! I could feel that it was coming and it was probably historically accurate but it was still a huge moment and one that has me a bit worried for the future as his character was by far the best thing about the show. They whittled his character down so much this season that there was really nothing left but to kill him off.
His death scene was one of the most memorable moments from any show this past year and he regained a bit of himself by the way he faced his death. Death by snake pit!? It was brutal and given the proper attention a death like this should get.
The fallout from his death was enormous. His sons swept through England, killing both King Ecbert and King Aelle. King Aelle getting flayed alive. I’m still surprised they’re allowed to show as much as they do on cable.
The death toll was extremely high this season as long running characters Helga, Queen Aslaug, and Athelstan all met their ends as well.
Damn, Lagertha can hold a grudge can’t she. There’s nothing like a woman scorned! She couldn’t wait to overthrow and kill Aslaug for taking Ragnar in the first place. I never liked Aslaug but I hope this doesn’t come back to haunt her, because I really like Lagertha as a character.
Ivar finally snapped and killed his brother Sigurd. I knew it was only a matter of time and the fallout from it should make for an interesting watch.
Ivar seems to ironically be the most like his father. His cunning on the battlefield will surely see him rise up in prominence and it’s when he’s been at his most interesting as a character.
They teased their next big bad opponent for next season, looks like some sort of warrior priest. Should be an interesting matchup.
There was a TON more I could talk about, but if there were any other major spoilers I missed, let me know in the comments.
Season 4 of Vikings had by far the weakest story line out of all the seasons focusing too much on all the 'others' when they're not half as interesting as Ragnar. However, I still loved the world they've built and the big battle sequences are still some of the best out, but some big game changing moments have left me a little worried for the future of the show.