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Katheryn Winnick's Lagertha has survived a lot on Vikings, as long-time viewers know, and throughout the series’ five seasons, there was one particular plot that made the longtime star the most nervous. It was the Season 2 storyline wherein Lagertha was married to the abusive . Winnick revealed why she was nervous about it, saying:
I actually remember having that conversation with Michael. Like, 'Michael, you can't make me a battered housewife like this. It's just not what I stand for. She's a shieldmaiden! She's done everything!' He explained to me why he was going to do it, and it actually, I think, a lot of people resonated with her.
Despite Katheryn Winnick's initial issues with the storyline, she was eventually persuaded to join creator Michael Hirst's way of thinking, and Vikings proceeded with it. In her interview with ET, Winnick did not explain the exact reason why Hirst wanted to do the abuse-focused storyline. However, Vikings’ creator had previously discussed Winnick’s reservations with the plot to SyFy, explaining that he told Winnick that many women would be able to relate to Lagertha’s situation. Which follows along with Winnick's thoughts about other women resonating with it.
Despite her initial resistance to the storyline, Katheryn Winnick found a new perspective on it, saying:
A lot of relationships of domestic abuse, especially now with the #MeToo movement, you see a lot of it coming forward. These women are strong. They're just put in a situation where it's unfortunately based on power, and that's usually what any kind of sexual or physical abuse is. It's really a domination of power, and for [Lagertha], she always does come out stronger at the end.
Vikings itself never really explained how Lagertha’s relationship and marriage to her abusive second husband came to be. As Vikings viewers will recall, Lagertha left her first husband, Ragnar early in Season 2. That decision came after his extramarital lover Aslaug arrived in Kattegat expecting his child. Ragnar proposed taking Aslaug on as a second wife to Lagertha. She did not go for it. In response, she left Ragnar and took their son, Bjorn, with her.
After Lagertha left, Vikings jumped forward in time, ultimately revealing that Lagertha had gotten remarried without doing much to explain how and why that all came together. Her second husband was the abusive Jarl Sigvard, and their heartbreaking-to-watch marriage thankfully only lasted a handful of episodes before reaching its conclusion in “Unforgiven.”
After being severely beaten during that ep, Lagertha stabbed Sigvard in the eye with a knife, and he was then finished off by Sigvard’s nephew, Einar. With her husband dead, Lagertha took over and was declared the new Earl, replacing Sigvard. She has not remarried since, which is understandable, though it's rather hard to recall a time where her surviving that abusive marriage has been directly addressed on-screen.
Katheryn Winnick showed some powerful insight and honesty by addressing why she did not want to pursue the storyline, as well as sharing what she learned from the experience of portraying. Lagertha has survived in the face of tremendous adversity, and as Winnick points out, she emerged stronger after being victimized by Sigvard.
For another example of the character's strength, the second half of Vikings Season 5 saw Lagertha enduring a major breakdown. By the end of the season, though, she seemed to have recovered for the most part, albeit with a new perspective. She made the wise choice to take a step back from the action and adventure that filled her previous days and years.
Following the conclusion of Season 5, Vikings’ creator Michael Hirst teased the road ahead for Lagertha as the History drama heads into its sixth and final season. Hirst revealed that Lagertha would attempt retirement amid her justifiable weariness. He also hinted she would not have an easy time extricating herself from in Season 6. What that will mean for Lagertha, who has had it prophesied that she will meet an untimely end, remains to be seen for now.
The first half of the sixth and final season of Vikings does not currently have a premiere date. When it does air, it will do so on History.