I think Vikings has a problem right now.
Most of this episode is devoted to a single plotline. True, we get some minor updates on Ivar, Oleg, Harald, and King Olaf, but most of this episode is dedicated to Lagertha’s funeral. It’s big, elaborate, and entirely appropriate for the final season seeing as she’s the last of the original cast to still be a featured cast member. Yes, John Kavanagh’s Eyeless Seer Dude is still hanging around for weird visions, still doing what he did before he was killed off, but he’s not in every episode, so he doesn’t count. He does appear in this one to say Ivar is and isn’t responsible for Lagertha’s death, but that’s par for the course for that guy.
So, mostly we get the reactions to Lagertha’s death from the remaining main characters, particularly Torvi, Gunnhild, Ubbe, Hvitserk, and especially Bjorn. As with Ragnar, all of the sons of Ragnar somehow knew Lagertha was dead no matter where they were, and there’s a big elaborate setting that none of the series’ previous big deaths bothered to give us. Though that’s to be expected when Ragnar died in England and That Asshole Floki may not actually be dead (though I think actor Gustaf Skarsgard says he is, and he might know better).
But here’s the problem, and it isn’t in honoring Lagertha. True, her plot lines often involved other people being in love with her until she started killing things, but there was a bit more to Lagertha as a character than pretty much every other female character on the show and most of the men. Yes, Katheryn Winnick might have mostly just been asked to glare at various other characters, but she could also smile in a genuine manner when Lagertha was happy, and when she wasn’t, the viewer knew it. It’s like with both the aforementioned Skarsgard or Travis Fimmel: the actors had a screen presence that worked out well. Fimmel was an engaging lead. Skarsgard, despite the fact I referred to his character as “That Asshole Floki,” gave the guy a lot of unpredictable energy. And given how bland every other female on Vikings has been, there’s a huge void now that Lagertha is gone.
Heck, we don’t even really have Rollo anymore, and I always dug the general conflicted nature of that character, the one guy whose general behavior was truly unpredictable as he could be an ally or an enemy at the drop of a hat and it was always in-character.
So, where does Vikings go from here for it’s final 13 episodes?
Does anyone have the ability to be a good lead character?
I dunno, maybe Ivar, and he’s something of a villain.
Vikings‘s task to still be if not compelling television than at least a show with interesting characters at its core just got a whole lot harder.