Major spoilers if you aren't caught up with Vikings on the History Channel. If you don't want to be spoiled, check out one of our other exciting articles.
When Vikings kicked off on History back in 2013, it was arguably a story about Ragnar Lothbrok and his big dreams. Over time, the cast has expanded and Ragnar's sons have grown far more important to the story. Atime hop at the start of this set of episodes certainly helped to expand that. This week, we saw the demise of the prominent character in a pit of poisonous snakes---which is reportedly how the real-life Ragnar was killed. After the episode, showrunner Michael Hirst explained why Vikings decided to go with a major death during the middle of the season. Here's what he had to say:
This is the saga of Ragnar and his sons, I didn't want to suggest to the audience that the death of Ragnar meant some huge breaking point in that saga, it's just part of the weight. So Ragnar's sons will continue the saga. This isn't the end of Ragnar Lothbrok, Ragnar will live on in his fame. He will live on because he was the most famous Viking of the time. But he also of course will live on through his sons. I never wanted this story to end when Ragnar dies physically. We've shot roughly 25 more hours of TV now after Ragnar's death and we are a long way down the line. We are really embracing the sons, but Ragnar hasn't gone away because Ragnar is still the inspiration.
Hirst spoke out in an interview with THR alongside series lead Travis Fimmel, who brought Ragnar Lothbrok to life for the last few seasons. The two discussed the crazy complex episode, with Hirst also noting that Travis Fimmel tried his best to play stoic and not get emotional about his impending death on the series. Eventually, he cracked, and became more "obsessive" and "passionate" about shooting the big death scene. But as the quote above shows, there's still a lot of ground that Vikings wants and hopes to cover and the big death scene is only the stepping stone to other stuff that will be going down.
Travis Fimmel also told the outlet that he was hoping the audience would find "contentment" during those final scenes. As the episode tried to show, Ragnar was really ready to die when he went to his death. He worked out a deal with Ecbert so that his son could make it home safely. He still sought a sort of revenge against Ecbert in his final conversation with Ivar. After being tortured, getting dropped in with the poisonous snakes was probably somewhat of a relief.