“Vikings” creator Michael Hirst made fans re-evaluate the longevity of characters after the brutal — yet, spiritual — death of Jarl Borg (Thorbjørn Harr) on Season 2.
Borg was killed by “blood eagle,” a real Viking practice in which a live captive’s back is cracked open to remove the lungs (still breathing) and place them on the shoulders for an agonizingly slow death.
Hirst hinted that some deaths coming in Season 3, premiering Thursday, will top even Borg’s fate.
“Yes,” Hirst confirmed to TheWrap when asked if more excruciating deaths await fans. “I won’t say more than that.”
History Channel’s first scripted series is taking Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), his family and warriors into uncharted territory: the city of Paris. Satisfying Ragnar’s curiosity about “mythical” Paris won’t come without dire losses.
“For the first time, the Vikings are faced with something unconquerable. What they don’t realize is how difficult it’s going to be to attack. It’s a walled city and certainly impregnable,” Hirst explained. “The are huge consequences, tragedies within the ranks — in terms of death — and dealing with initial deceits. We’ve got used to them being so successful as warriors. It’s a whole new ball game.”
With power comes decisions, and Ragnar tells his son Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig), “Power is always dangerous. It attracts the worst.”
“The worst,” in Ragnar’s case, are the conflicts he faces as leader: In the season’s first half, the Vikings settle into the Christian land of Wessex, which does not please all of Ragnar’s followers.
“The payoff is fighting King Ecbert’s (Linus Roache) battles. And it causes a lot of dissent with pagans like Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård),” Hirst noted.
In later episodes, Ragnar faces struggles within his ranks about attacking Paris.
“Bjorn is just beginning to flex his muscles about how it should be done, and Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) has her own ideas,” Hirst said. “The people you might expect to be killed, might not be killed. It kind of cuts both ways. There’s a lot of fighting, and it does change the nature of things. I would just say for people to expect the unexpected.”
Fans probably expect Hirst is capitalizing on “Vikings” success in the meantime. He’s already written four Season 4 episodes in anticipation of the series’ potential renewal. He remained tight-lipped on the new episodes’ direction, but revealed one aspect of the show he’s proud of.
“I think everyone has an idea of who Vikings were, and I think it’s wrong and a cliché,” he said. “My show tells what the truth is. It’s unbelievable it has the audience it has. I’m very proud of that, as it takes you on a journey.”
“Vikings” returns Thursday, Feb. 19 at 10 p.m. on the History Channel.