Vikings has seen a lot of characters, and their romances, come and go through the series’ time on air. Among those to face life and death, and in the face of their romance, were Ragnar and Lagertha. But, the couple’s marriage did not survive far into Vikings’ second season, leaving one to wonder if it ended too soon. Vikings’ creator has explained and defended why it did not.
Lagertha and Ragnar were an extremely popular couple, and their chemistry was weaved throughout the story despite their breakup. On that note, Ragnar cheating and ending up with Aslaug happened fairly early into Vikings’ run. Did Michael Hirst ever wish that Vikings had spent more time with Lagertha and Ragnar as a couple before diving into their breakup? Hirst told CinemaBlend:
Once again, no. The starting point of “Vikings” was a young farmer, who was happily married, with children, but who was frustrated by his lack of opportunity to sail and explore lands to the west of Scandinavia. That’s when we first meet him. And soon, his ambitions begin to play out - but they bring with them inevitable and sometimes terrible consequences.
He fought his boss, the Earl, he secretly commissioned the building of a new generation Viking ship, he started traveling abroad to big-up his profile and find backers for his projects. Doesn’t that sound so very contemporary? I always thought of Ragnar as a rather contemporary figure. But of course, his rise created casualties - including his first marriage.
I couldn’t have spent more time with Ragnar and Lagertha because, even at the point the story began, their domestic and rural idyll was over! It’s not unusual to start a drama series at a tipping point, and that’s what I did. The world was about to change, and Ragnar and Lagertha changed with it.
Change, they did. Vikings saw Ragnar’s brutal betrayal play out with life-altering consequences. First, a brief history lesson. Ragnar met his second wife Aslaug while out on a mission. Lagertha was home in Kattegat ruling on Ragnar’s behalf when it was ravaged by a sickness that stole the life of many, including Ragnar and Lagertha’s daughter, Gyda.
When Vikings picked up in its second season, Aslaug was heavily pregnant with hers and Ragnar’s son, Ubbe. Ragnar decided he wanted to take Aslaug as his second wife. Lagertha (unlike her future daughter-in-law) did not want to share her husband, and she divorced Ragnar over his betrayal. Their son, Bjorn, independently chose to leave with his mother.
Hence, the crumbling of Ragnar and Lagertha’s marriage and the first iteration of the Lothbrok family. All of this relationship drama had happened by the end of Vikings’ second season premiere. From there, the History drama flashed forward in time, leading to a grown-up Bjorn, and a tenuous peace between Ragnar and Lagertha.
Despite that rocky past, the once-married couple’s chemistry was always present on Vikings prior to their deaths. The disintegration of Ragnar and Lagertha’s marriage was a turning point that the series never returned from. For anyone that thought their time as a married couple could have been elongated, Michael Hirst has explained why it had to happen sooner rather than later.
Where do things stand between the couple in Valhalla? Vikings made a point to show the two reunited in the afterlife during Lagertha’s episode-long funeral. Ragnar and Lagertha’s portrayers have differing ideas on how things are going between the formerly married couple in the Viking afterlife. Travis Fimmel and Katheryn Winnick weighed in on their characters’ relationship status at Vikings’ [email protected] 2020 panel, saying:
Travis Fimmel: We got back together. Everything’s great
Katheryn Winnick: I don’t know about that. He is still in the doghouse. But Valhalla’s been great.
Katheryn Winnick is not so sure that Lagertha has let Ragnar off the hook yet, and I think she has a point. Ragnar put Lagertha through a lot while he was alive. Sadly, their son Bjorn ended up following in his father’s footsteps on Vikings more than some might have hoped he would.
If Bjorn ends up going to Valhalla, he might have his hands full with his parents. As Vikings stands heading into the second half of the final season, Lagertha and Bjorn’s son is somehow clinging to life. If Bjorn succumbs to his injuries, I hope Vikings will give fans some kind of reunion between the family in the afterlife.
As for Lagertha and Ragnar’s romance, I still mourn that TV coupling. Vikings had something rare in their relationship. The actors had crazy-believable chemistry, and the writing made their characters’ marriage incredibly watchable. In my book, Ragnar and Lagertha were soulmates, although Ragnar has a lot to ask forgiveness for when it comes to his first wife.
Watch Vikings’ [email protected] 2020 panel for more great insight from the cast and Vikings’ creator. A premiere date for Season 6B is pending. Here's hoping that it is among this fall’s premieres to air on History. You can watch Ragnar and Lagertha’s relationship play out during past seasons by streaming the show on Amazon Prime Video.