I want to start off by saying that the first part of Vikings season 4 was a thing of beauty. It moved plot and character ahead at alarming speed, and set new territory to discover in the future. Ragnar and Lagertha, the seeds of a passion and love for each other that never fully faded away, being quietly brought back to life through Ragnar’s concern and Lagertha’s acceptance of his concern for him. Because no matter what the fiercest shieldmaiden this side of town says, we all know she has a soft spot in her heart for our show’s hero.
Bjorn growing up, proving himself a man. Finally maturing the way he was supposed to. Rollo succeeding at becoming the French King’s right hand, and enjoying a happy marriage to a woman that he loves, and that loves him deeply. The sons of Ragnar, growing up and getting personalities all of their own. Floki exploring more of his dark powers. Aslaug getting her heart broken for the second time in her life, and turning to the dark side and to drink for some long-needed comfort and solace. The British court doing their nasty business.
Ragnar failing. Losing to his brother. Ragnar becoming addicted to drugs. Ragnar abandoning his family.
Ragnar fucking it up, like humans do. Like we all do.
Seeing our cunning, wise leader cracking under pressure was probably not the most popular arc this season, but I would argue that it’s the definitive arc that completes Ragnar as a character. It’s not interesting to always see a hero basking in his own glory. It’s interesting to see him in his dark days, too. To take a look at who he is when he’s down. And Ragnar, it turns out, is an asshole when he’s down. He killed an innocent slave, and left his four sons to grow up without a father.
It wasn’t like last time, when Bjorn decided to leave with Lagertha and abandon Ragnar. This time, it was Ragnar who left Aslaug, and Ubbe, Hvsitserk, Sigurd-Snake-In-The-Eye, and Ivar the Boneless. Yes, I already know their names, and you should too. They turn out to be pretty legendary.
What I am hoping for in the second half of this season is more of Ragnar and Lagertha (but aren’t we all?) It would be nice to see some sort of get-together for this doomed romance before Ragnar kicks the bucket and gets thrown into a pit of snakes by King Aelle. I am definetely interested in seeing Aslaug’s evolution as a villain. I’ve always felt for the girl, whom I considered to be innocent, dreamlike and mystical at first. In a sense, it’s not fair that Ragnar never loved this lady the way she deserved. And now, we see the results in her behavior. Is it fair blaming the man for the woman’s corruption? I’m not certain, and Aslaug also has some loyalty issues concerning Ragnar, especially because it was she who decided to sleep with that sleazeball Harbard to ‘fix’ Ivar’s pains.
But also, I have this theory that Ragnar never actually cheated on Aslaug. I think Kwentrith (may she rest in peace) made the whole thing up, just to protect her child. And I think Ragnar hasn’t got a clue. Which is the worst, because Aslaug certainly believes it’s Ragnar’s son, and must feel even more betrayed and undervalued at what she assumes is Ragnar’s hypocrisy.
I suppose we shall see!