Vikings Season 4: A Frantic, Death-o-Rama That Breaks All The Rules of Television [Review]

by | Feb 2, 2017

From the History Channel and showrunner Michael Hirst, comes the groundbreaking series Vikings. Starring Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen, Gustaf Skarsgard, Alexander Ludwig, Alex Høgh, Peter Franzén, Moe Dunford, Jasper Pääkkönen, Marco Ilsø, Jordan Patrick Smith and Jonathan Rhys Meyers  the show will debut it’s fifth season in 2017.


Viking Ragnar Lothbrok is a young farmer and family man who is frustrated by the policies of Earl Haraldson, his local chieftain who sends his Viking raiders east to the Baltic states and Russia, whose residents are as poor as the Norsemen. Ragnar wants to head west, across the ocean, to discover new civilizations. With assistance from his friend Floki, Ragnar builds a faster, sleeker fleet of boats to help him make it to the Western world. Through the years Ragnar, who claims to be a direct descendant of the god Odin, continues to struggle with Earl until the two face each other in a final battle for supremacy. Following that, Ragnar goes on a search for new lands to conquer.


Vikings just dropped what is hands down the most battle-frenzied, death-o-rama, frantic and brilliant season yet now that Season 4 part 2 has come to a close and left viewers reeling with a series that is both the same in spirit as it was since all those years ago and yet something completely different at the same time. We said goodbye to a plethora of main characters, introduced an incredible array of new and younger talent to take over the reigns and in the process Vikings has become the most shocking and unique drama series on this planet with its unorthodox storyline that has the show jumping dramatically through time and shifting gears unexpectedly non-stop at a breakneck pace. The best part of all is how damn good creator Micheal Hirst and his team are at doing that, because on paper Vikings seems like a mess when in fact it’s the opposite of that.


When we kick season 4 into gear (20 episodes this time in two 10-ep chunks split with a break between them), Ragnar is near death after his botched invasion of Paris and he’s dealing with that failure all season long while preserving his image as Norway’s most infamous leader. Travis Fimmel’s story arc from the beginning of this show until the end of season 4 is remarkable and drastic. He isn’t the same person – the only traits that remain the same in Ragnar, is that little smirk he never lost, that devilish swagger in which he speaks and those damn shiny eyes. The physical appearances of most characters in fact has shifted in profound ways, with more tattoos, gigantic beards and this sense of weathering they all have. I have a feeling these performers have truly aged at a more significant rate just by filming these intense scenes. Vikings is like shooting a war film, but doing so 10 times a year.


What I also love about Vikings in season 4, is how the series has truly become an ensemble piece (and it has to at this point, in order to work and survive in the wake of the chaotic events all season long). England had it’s own coinciding storyline with King Ecbert, his son Aethelwulf and ‘their’ wife Judith all season long and it flowed well with the rest of the time-jumping, country hopping series. I really grew fond of Aethelwulf this season too and I hated this prick in season 3. By the end of the massive battle this year, I was legit hoping that he would make it out alive because I had grown sympathetic to the guy – he was a warrior in his own right. My god the fights this year – where to begin? There were more large scale battles in Vikings Season 4 than all of Game of Thrones combined. The battle on the seas between Rollo and Ragnar (minor spoiler) was astounding and the final clash in episodes 19 and especially 20 was mesmerising. Blood-soaked fields, severed heads everywhere, main characters constantly in danger, this series does not fuck around – not once did it sugarcoat anyone’s storyline.


Every single character has their moment(s) to shine this year, from Floki (who has truly become the heart of the show, despite his vicious betrayal in season 3), to Lagertha who is a complete boss in season 4. The ex-wife of Ragnar, Lagertha might be the show’s toughest warrior and her power moves this season are the most satisfying by far. Katheryn Winnick has done such a tremendous job in this role and to see her army of shield maidens slay so much ass was profoundly satisfying.


Season 4 was all about the changing of the old guard to the new. Kings step down and new warriors arise. We see Ragnar’s sons grow from little youngsters into fully fledged warrior leaders by the end of season 4. Little Ivar, you know the child that couldn’t walk? Yes he still can’t walk by the time he’s an adult, but that doesn’t stop him from becoming the most terrifying new character on the show.  Alex Høgh’s vicious portrayal of Ivar The Boneless is a scene-stealing, mean as hell and compelling performance unlike anything else on the series and maybe all of television these past couple months. He came outta nowhere and just owned the damn show. His personality foil to Ragnar’s other first-born son Bjorn is a huge part of why the show was able to stay compelling and successful in spite of the drastic changes halfway through the second half of the season.


There is no other series on television that dares to break the rules like Vikings. From it’s unorthodox approach dealing with time-jumps, to it’s unusual episode structure where random episodes can feel like finales, just to forever keep viewers on their toes, Vikings has truly outdone itself with a masterful fourth season that rivals all other epic war dramas. I love every single character, good or evil and I can’t wait to see how the show continues to evolve next season considering the insane changes to the cast this season. Shocker – more main character deaths in Vikings this year than potentially any other TV series ever – and I’m counting entire show runs in that comparison. The best part is that none of the death feels like it’s done simply for shock value — the mayhem all flows naturally in it’s own horrifying way and for that I say this, “I love you Vikings.”

Rating: [star rating=”5″]