The demise of Ragnar Lothbrok has been on the cards ever since he returned to Kattegat after disappearing for a decade. The Ragnar we saw now was older, wiser and carried a sense of defeat with him wherever he went. His death has been looming and last week when he brokered the deal with King Ecbert to hand him over to King Aelle we knew the deal was sealed, Ragnar’s death was now upon us. Ragnar bids farewell to his son Ivar, promising him that he need not fret he will become the greatest Viking. We see that while he is ready to die he has final master plan in action. He tells Ivar before Ivar returns to Kattegat that when he and his brothers come to avenge their father’s death it must be targeted at Ecbert and not King Aelle. The flashbacks in this episode were one of the highlights. It reminded us of how far Ragnar came, how he rose to power and how far he fell. It was equally touching to see Ragnar’s interactions with his loved ones and how much he cared for them.
Ragnar was defiant until the end. He was being brutally beaten and burned by King Aelle and his men and even then he stood tall. He refused Aelle’s request to ask the Christian God for forgiveness. He took the torture and brutality like a Viking. One of the very touching moments in the episode is seeing King Ecbert dressed in a priest’s robes walking barefoot to bid his dear friend a final goodbye. One could say it was his walk of attrition because in his own obscure way King Ecbert truly did love Ragnar.
Before his death Ragnar declares he cannot wait to arrive in Valhalla while we know that this is a man who no longer believes in any god. For those familiar with the legend of Ragnar Lothbrok it came as no surprise that Ragnar’s life ended by being thrown in a pit of snakes. Fimmel is brilliant in his final scene despite only being able to see through one eye. Even though Ragnar’s death was looming it still came as a shock to many because this character has been the central figure of the show for four seasons. Vikings seems unimaginable without Travis Fimmel who has led the show with his impeccable acting and his evolution as an actor. Fimmel’s portrayal of Ragnar Lothbrok is undoubtedly one of the most underrated performances on television ever.
The episode ends with Ivar returning to Kattegat and learning of the demise of his mother Aslaug. In this moment the show attempts to present Ivar as the new main protagonist but we have only known this character for five episodes and while he may be intriguing it cannot we cannot be sure that he can carry the weight of the show on his shoulders alone. For this reason, Lagertha, Bjorn and Rollo will become even more integral to the story because they have been around for as long as Ragnar was and their stories essentially form part of his own.
Vikings will now have to recreate itself in some ways. That being said, no one will be able to replace Ragnar Lothbrok but it will be interesting to see his sons avenge his death and if Lagertha can hold onto power in Kattegat. Vikings will now enter into new era and no matter what happens it can be said with surety that Ragnar will be sorely missed.