Vikings' Season 5 mid-season premiere kicks off tonight, and fans have been left hanging on a Reynisfjara cliff on several storylines. With the help of Rollo’s forces, Ivar and King Harald drove the army of Lagertha and Bjorn Ironside to retreat out of Kattegat. Bishop Heahmund is still fighting for Lagertha, but is once again a man without agency. Alfred is finding it difficult to establish power and control, while the settlement in Iceland continues to confound Floki. The sons of Ragnar Lothbrok are still at odds with each other, and the Seer couldn’t have possibly foreseen all of this. But the one thing that viewers can expect to see is change, and lots of it.
“This season’s theme is constant dynamism,” Vikings creator Michael Hirst tells SYFY WIRE. “You witness the rise, fall of kings, queens, and kingdoms all the time. It’s such a patent of power and human affairs always shifting and changing. Sometimes unexpectedly, but always driven by the ambition and desires of the major characters.”
Hirst, who is understandably cryptic about the paths his characters will end up on before the premiere, has written all 90 episodes himself, a testament to his immense talent for weaving a complex loom of interconnecting storylines while keeping the main characters up front and the audience engaged. He compares the series to the Viking Sagas themselves.
"It’s one thing after another, the gods just decide one day to do something mischievous and they go off and do it," he notes. "There’s a constant multi-narrative stream, which is how I learned to operate.” It has been his formula since the very first episode, but even more so since the death of Ragnar Lothbrok. Now his sons carry the show, both with their achievements and their conflicts with each other, especially Ivar the Boneless (Alex Hogh Andersen) vowing to get revenge on Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) for killing his mother.
But it is this tapestry of narratives which has set itself apart from other series it is compared to.
"In a lot of cases, like Game of Thrones, there are different stories but they tend to focus on one central thing, where there are a lot of episodes of discussing what’s going to happen. Eventually something does happen, usually a big battle, and once you got that out of the way, you can move onto the next story," he explains. "We simply don’t do that. It’s a completely dynamic show in which you see the instant rise and fall of people in power. People in one moment who kill, are in the next moment overthrown or in a totally different situation and are suddenly vulnerable."
Vikings Season 5B premieres on HISTORY tonight at 9 p.m. ET /8 CT.