One of the central characters on History’s “Vikings” is on his way to Valhalla after Thursday’s shocker — and show creator Michael Hirst talked to The Wrap about why “Blood Eagle” is one of his favorite episodes.
Spoilers: In the final scene of Thursday’s episode, Jarl Borg (Thorbjørn Harr) onetime ally of Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) is executed in spectacular fashion — a real Viking practice known as the “blood eagle.”
“The reason I think this is a very special episode is because of the last act, the blood-eagling of Jarl Borg, and I think that what we’ve written in this last act is a profound experience of suffering and spirituality,” Hirst said.
Though the scene was obviously bloody, Hirst said producers held the guts and gore to tell a deeper story.
“I think what made me most proud of it is that it’s not gratuitous, and it’s not done for effect,” Hirst said.
Also read: ‘Vikings’ Renewed for Season 3
“I can think of a lot of other shows which do have violent images and things which I think are designed to astonish or shock or titillate an audience,” he added. “But I think that what we showed was organic to the Vikings, that we built up to it quite properly, and we’ve given it proper weight in terms of its spiritual value in the Viking world.”
Hirst explained that History was understandably hesitant to air a scene where a man’s lungs are removed while he’s still alive. But the sequence was shot in a way that conveyed the emotion of the moment, he said, yet stayed true to life.
“That shoot lasted most of the night, and it was extraordinary to be there,” Hirst continued.
“If I could be heretical, I imagine that people watching the crucifixion of Christ might have felt the same thing, that this was a real spiritual religious belief being practiced in agony. And it was an extraordinary thing to witness on set, and I think that anyone who sees it will never forget it.”
In the scene that Hirst wrote, Horik has the line: “Unless someone has hope, their death isn’t very significant.” Hirst added: “So [Horik] wanted to give him hope, and then he really feels pain.”
“Vikings” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on History.
Watch the recap video here: