The hit television show Vikings is coming to an end. The second half of the seventh season is set to air later this year. Then, that’s it. That’s the end of the Lothbrok saga on the History channel. Vikings is a unique series in that over six and a half seasons, we have watched the epic chronicle of one family. We’ve seen them age. We’ve seen them evolve. We’ve seen them die. And through it all, viewers felt every moment.
Today at Comic Con at Home, Vikings creator, executive producer and showrunner Michael Hirst and actors Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Alexander Ludwig, Clive Standen, and Jordan Patrick Smith gathered to discuss the past six and a half seasons. The panelists chatted about how the show has shaped their lives personally and artistically and what they think of it being such a smash hit. Viewers were also treated to many show and behind the scenes clips throughout the panel. At the end, we were treated to a sneak peek from the upcoming second half of season six. Kate Hahn (TV Guide magazine) moderated the panel.
Let’s get to the highlights!
The panel began with Katheryn Winnick expressing her sadness that they couldn’t be with fans for SDCC. “Comic Con is all about the fans and we’re missing that.” The rest were quick to join in and agree with Clive Standen stating, “It was the highlight of my year.” I feel you, Clive. I do.
Hahn began by asking how Ragnar and Lagertha were getting along in Valhalla. Fimmel was quick to say they are back together to which Winnick said that Ragnar “is still in the dog house.
Winnick went on to talk about the end of Lagertha’s life on the show. To me, her death and subsequent funeral was one of the most epic and emotional things I’ve ever watched on television. It was everything Lagertha deserved and more. Winnick said that filming the end was much harder than she thought. She paid tribute to Hurst for writing her such a beautiful death especially the part when Lagertha sinks to the bottom of the sea to rest next to Ragnar. Winnick said her last line, “In my dreams, we are always together,” was actually a line she read when she auditioned for the role of Lagertha and she feels, because of that, Lagertha came full circle. (They showed the audition clip which was wonderful). Hurst jumped in and said it was ‘brilliant death” and that both deaths (Ragnar and Lagertha) were “brilliant and highly emotional.”
When Ludwig was asked who Bjorn’s greatest love was, his entire answer was beeped out! Everything he said was a spoiler for the upcoming episodes. He was immediately made fun of by his cast mates because evidently his answer was quite beautiful said.
Hahn said to Fimmel that one of the most watched clips of Vikings is when Ragnar says good bye to his daughter who has dies. Fimmel said it was so beautifully written and perfect that it only took three minutes to memorize. There was a lot of love and respect during the panel towards Hurst who wrote every single episode for all seven seasons.
Standen commented on the audience’s love hate relationship with Rollo. He said, everything he did was justified from Rollo’s point of view. Rollo and Ragnar had agreed to be equals but then Ragnar went and became jarl and Rollo felt left in the shadows. That’s why he took Paris first, it was the first time he could do something before Ragnar could.
This brought the discussion to the famous fight scene between Ragnar and Rollo on the boats in Paris. Standen gave kudos to Fimmel because of his hand in the fight choreography. Their incredible stunt team had choreographed a scene that was sword heavy. Fimmel suggested that the fight needs to be about the tension between the two brothers. Neither will go down until one is dead. So, they arranged it to get rid of the swords early and it became a bare-knuckled fight that was “brutal and magic.”
Fimmel said Ragnar was hoping that Rollo wouldn’t fight back but he did and it and it devastated his world and was the beginning of the end for his drive. He had lost his brother, he had lost Lagertha even though he always had hope for her. At the end of Ragnar’s whole climb to power, he realizes none of it was worth it in the end.
Smith who plays one of Ragnar’s sons Ubbe, was asked what it was like coming into a show that had been around for so long and does he remember his first day on set. He immediately joked, “I do remember my first day on set because Travis Fimmel slapped me in the face 45 times.” His ears rang for days, it was his “Vikings introduction.” He then went on to say it was big shoes to fill. He remembered walking down the hill his first day on set and someone on set saying “Don’t stop this up. Our jobs depend on you.” That was the what the four brothers were introduced to walking down the hill. No pressure.
Smith is known for resembling Ragnar especially in his mannerisms. On this he said that he did study Fimmel. “If you have a big character in the family everyone has some characteristic of them. The way Michael wrote it, he gave a part of Ragnar’s personality to each one of the brothers”
Aside from his mannerisms, Smith said that Ubbe has Ragnar’s curiousity. He has his ability to see past himself. It’s not just what he wants. He thinks about his people and where the world is going in the future and where he can take the vikings on a journey. He added that Ubbe will go on an incredible journey in the last few episodes and he think the family will really like it.
Hurst talked about the decision to kill Ragnar. He was actually supposed to be killed in season one but he realized then that it was just the beginning of Ragnar’s journey. But eventually he had to die because Hurst sold the show as a story about Ragnar and his sons. He knew there was a risk to that but even though Ragnar is dead, his presence is felt throughout the show. Hurst said the characters evolving into their nature and into their fate is a very important part of the experience of the show.
Speaking of killing great characters, Hurst tried to kill off Harald Fairhair three times! Hurst couldn’t do it. He said Harald did lots of bad stuff but did it so well and he had a sense of humor. He just couldn’t lose that. There aren’t many laughs in Vikings and he gave us most of them. He just couldn’t sacrifice him.
When Winnick was asked about her favorite fight scene, she commented on her first. Where she grabs a poker and fends off two men that are coming into her home. Ludwig quickly jumped in and said her last fight was “tremendous.” (He’s so right). She responded that it was exhausting and emotionally draining. Hurst added that it was brilliant and tough to watch. He said that he doesn’t think that anyone who watched that though that she would win. (So true!)
Ludwig’s favorite battle moment was at the end of season five when they’ve lost and they are outside the gates of Kattegat. Ludwig had lost his voice during filming the day before and he had to give a beautiful speech where he pleads with his friends and neighbors who are fighting with Ivar. Usually, when an actor loses their voice they will fix it in post with ADR, but Hurst kept the speech with Ludwig’s weary voice and the scene ended up more powerful and heartbreaking.
As the panel wound down, Winnick said about the closeness of the cast and crew, “It helped that we were all away from home living in Dublin. It forced us to bond and that chemistry is evident on screen.” To which Ludwig said, “Of course, we’ll never be allowed back…I think all of us are probably banned from Ireland.”
To finish, Hahn asked Hurst what fans can expect from the second half of the sixth season. He said all characters “will all have their fates decided. Whether they live or die is of course in the hands of the gods, although i had a hand in it too. I think the conclusion of the saga is deeply satisfying. A proper and meaningful ending and I hope all our fans will feel the same way. I tried to do justice to all my characters and I hope I’ve succeeded.”
Check out the Vikings sneak peek below from the second half of the last season. You can catch the full Vikings panel below, as well.
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