Comic-Con: 'Vikings' Boss Says Season 4B Is "Monumental" as "Change Is in the Air"

Creator Michael Hirst previews a season “unlike anything we’ve ever done," plus watch the new trailer.
Courtesy of Bernard Walsh/History

A new generation of Vikings are about to rise. The History drama used its platform Friday at Comic-Con to unveil the trailer for the second half of its fourth season. And judging from the new footage, the winds are beginning to change.

The trailer (below) showcases Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) returning to Kattegat after a long absence and teases how his various sons deal with his reappearance in their lives. “[He brings] calamity, chaos, tragedy and death … you should curse the day,” The Seer (John Kavanagh) warns Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) before the clip flashes to scenes of death and destruction.

Of course this is Vikings, so death and destruction are just a typical day for these people. Seeing Ragnar and Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) lock lips, however, or following Bjorn to the Mediterranean, is not. THR caught up with creator and showrunner Michael Hirst to dissect some of the promo’s juicier bits ahead of the show’s anticipated fall return.

There’s imagery of changing winds in this promo — what does that mean for the season?

This season is monumental and there are two episodes that are unlike anything we’ve ever done. There’s never been anything on TV like them before. Change is in the air. Ragnar has reappeared after disappearing following his humiliating defeat. He’s come back because he has something very specific that he wants to do, but as he says he also wants to see how his sons have turned out. So all that is set in motion. Rumors of Ragnar’s demise were somewhat premature, I have to say; there’s plenty of Ragnar still to come.

The Seer seems less than thrilled that Ragnar is back.

He dreads it — he knows that Ragnar’s reappearance will cause a lot of tragic and earth shattering events. The whole show has moved up another gear. We’re talking about conflict now that changed the nature of life in Scandinavia. We’ve gone from individual raids and small lumps of people to great armies and invasion of other countries. Ragnar’s story is the story of the Vikings. It’s going from small beginnings as a farmer to an earl to a king. From very small beginnings to fighting for kingdoms and the legacy. And for the future. This season just propels us into a more universal kind of drama. What The Seer is talking about really is how huge the impact of Ragnar’s reappearance will be on the world at the time.

Is it safe to say Ragnar’s mission is to make things right in Wessex?

That’s right, he feels there is unfinished business in Wessex. It is also fair to say he has some unfinished business with King Ecbert (Linus Roache). One of the reasons Ragnar comes out of his private space is because he feels as a Viking the need to address what he sees as a great injustice that was done and to avenge it.

Can audiences look forward to a big Ragnar and Ecbert showdown the way they looked forward to a Ragnar and Rollo (Clive Standen) showdown in the first half of the season?

Yeah, that would be fair to say. Those two favorite characters of mine are two kings who on the surface couldn’t be more different. One is a warrior the other is a kind of Machiavellian thinker. They represent different cultures and religions and yet there’s always been some sort of relationship between them. It was very important for me to get these two characters back together. Travis has been just amazing as Ragnar — better than my wildest dreams. And at last he’s kind of met his match in the very intelligent, clever Saxon king.

Ragnar finds himself in a cage in the clip – is his returning to Wessex part of a reckless death wish?

What is reckless to a Viking? You could say that all Vikings had death wishes because they wanted to die well and go to Valhalla. That was one of their big strengths as warriors because it is counterintuitive. They were very happy to die, as long as they died well in battle. So Ragnar is very motivated by what often motivated Vikings; to avenge something. To justify his life by doing something significant that the gods would applaud. The one thing you can say about Ragnar is that he’s not afraid of any death.

Was reuniting Lagertha and Ragnar at least for a little while something you did for fans?

When it comes to those two, I feel like a fan. There is nothing I would like better than those two to get back together again. But it’s very difficult to imagine how that would be possible. What I can say is that for those people, for those fans who care for them and would like them to at least meet again and talk and remember stuff, they won’t be disappointed.

Lagertha is in bed with another woman in the clip, is that part of a larger LGBTQ storyline this season?

There was another woman, yes. What you have to ask yourself is who can Lagertha trust anymore? Can Lagertha ever trust another guy? She’s been betrayed by every man she’s ever been with, so it kind of makes sense that perhaps she might trust a woman more than a guy. But that’s not to say she would have a particularly profound relationship right now; it may be something she needs at this moment in time because she can’t trust men anymore.

It looks like Rollo is back in the fold after betraying his family, were you missing him with the other characters?

He cannot forget his Viking heritage. I always miss all of my characters, including the ones that I kill off, but Rollo’s reappearance was a specific storyline. As long as these characters remain alive they can reappear. I don’t do Game of Thrones stuff where I kill people and then they come back to life. They may come back as ghosts, but Vikings isn’t a fantasy series. So as long as Rollo is alive, he can come back into the show. He was a major Viking figure in history so it’s always good to have that in my back pocket.

What kind of rise does Ivar the Boneless (Alex Hogh Andersen) have this year?

Ivar the Boneless may be the most famous Viking of all, partly because he’s got such a cool name. But in terms of this show, I knew he was going to be a major character and we got so lucky that we cast a young actor who is absolutely brilliant. He is compulsively watchable just in the same way Travis is. His role is fantastic, he’ll challenge the audience because Ivar is well known as someone who was very extreme and very cool and yet he was a cripple. So there’s always going to be hopefully a lot of sympathy for him, but at the same time he pushes boundaries. He’s very challenging and he’s really going to emerge as one of the big stars of this show.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers has signed on to star in season five but will viewers meet him in 4B?

Yes, we introduce him and set the scene for the next season. He’s going to be a major player. Personally it’s exciting because it brings us back together from Tudor times. Jonny’s a great actor and another wonderful presence on screen, so I am thrilled that he’s joined us and I can’t wait to explore his character.

Vikings season 4B returns this fall to History. Thoughts? Sound off in the comments below.

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