It's official: fan-favorite show Vikings will meet its highly anticipated end with the premiere of the sixth season. Many television series have succeeded in taking the tales of historical characters and depicting them on screen, and many have failed. However, not many have managed to achieve the popularity that Vikings has amongst fans. Thanks to its phenomenal cast, brutal war scenes, and political intrigue, the show has kept audiences glued to their screens ever since it first premiered back in 2013.
Of course, no series is without fault. And even though Vikings slowly and steadily made its way to the top-rated TV shows on websites like IMDb, not every single episode was absolutely flawless. While some instances were so good fans cheered on, others left us wanting and sometimes even wondering what happened to the Vikings we loved so much. With that being said, it's time to take a look at the five best and five worst episodes of the show.
10 Worst: A Simple Story
With the end of the fourth season came the demise of all-mighty Viking Ragnar. After so many seasons, and so many years, where the tales of the show were pretty much focused on this amazing character, coming up with the following seasons in a way that fans would still love the show was complicated. Many did feel like the quality somewhat decreased in comparison to the previous episodes—and the ninth episode of the fifth season is a good example of that.
Most complaints stem from the fact that the episode felt more like a soap opera than a good old Vikings showdown, mostly due to the character of Judith. The plot of the episode felt rushed, poorly written, and the epitome of ridiculousness comes with the death of Aethelwulf, a great warrior who perished...from a bee sting.
9 Best: Ragnarok
After a string of incredibly disappointing episodes throughout season five, Vikings seemed to finally find its mojo again with the last episode. While it's still far from being the best episode on the show, it was such a breath of fresh air to see on the screen an actual series of events that resembled the earlier, more glorious years of the show that fans couldn't help but feel satisfied when it aired.
The action we love is all there in an epic battle scene that takes us back to the likes of "To The Gates!". After Ivar's reign of horror, we finally get to see Bjorn become king, even though the demented villain managed to escape, paving the way for the events that will define the final season of the show. It was an incredibly satisfying episode that left enough loose ends for us to want to come back and enough victories so that we feel somewhat at peace. Definitely the North star of the entire season.
8 Worst: Moments of Vision
If there's one thing Vikings always did in fantastic fashion, it was battle scenes. From the very first episode of the series, we couldn't help but be captivated by the sheer brutality and rage that have always characterized the Viking people throughout history. And the most fascinating part was that the show never needed to rely on extreme production value in order to deliver flawlessly what they always promised the audiences.
What happened with "Moments of Vision" is that it made the show almost unrecognizable. The unnecessary fluff the writers added, with long pieces of dialogue and flashback scenes, turned what was supposed to be a highly-anticipated battle meant to finally close the door on the fate of Kattegat into an overly-produced episode.
7 Best: The Last Ship
From the very beginning of the show, there was one particular thing that attracted audiences and hooked everyone on Vikings in the first place. The relationship between Ragnar and Rollo was always a complex, intricate, and difficult one. Witnessing Rollo's jealousy for his brother Ragnar, the greatest Viking of them all, always kept us on our toes. Rollo betrayed Ragnar in more ways than one, but the ultimate betrayal came about when he joined his brother's greatest enemies.
The Last Ship is the season four episode that finally shows us the highly anticipated showdown between Ragnar, the leader of the Vikings, and Rollo, the reborn Christian lord. Even though the battle is far from being one of the greatest Vikings has bestowed upon us, it marks the instance where the two brothers finally met on opposite sides of the battlefield after Rollo made his decision.
6 Worst: A New God
Coming back to the difficulty of bringing back Vikings without its main star for the past four seasons, we have the trainwreck that was A New God, the thirteenth episode of the fifth season. Even though the first half of season five was okay and quite bearable, it still lacked the key elements that made the show great in the first place. However, everything seemed to go completely downhill towards the second half of the season.
There really were no clear main characters or a set storyline that engaged audiences enough to care about any of the people whose lives were on screen. And while the show made an effort to make Ivar a great villain, he just became absolutely unbearable, which is very much perceivable in this episode. The battles are close to non-existent, the plot doesn't seem to make any sense, and the characters don't have the chance to be developed at all.
5 Best: To The Gates!
"To The Gates!" was nothing short of absolutely epic. It marked the moment when the Vikings make their way into Paris, breaching the wall thought to be impenetrable. It's an action-packed episode that still manages to make way for characters to shine while staying true to the nature of Vikings: blood, rage, and brutality.
The cinematography is unparalleled, constantly shifting between the inside and the outside of the wall. Both sides fight fiercely and valiantly, and we somehow never get lost in the midst of the hectic scenario, with each character getting their own moment of glory in the spotlight. Anyone who needed to be reminded of what made Vikings great in the first place doesn't have to look beyond "To The Gates!" in order to be hooked all over again.
4 Worst: The Lost Moment
It seems to be a recurring topic for the fifth season of the show that the writers hyped up certain moments that in the end just managed to completely fall flat and become nothing short of pointless. A good example of this is the sacrifice Ivar kept going on and on about that amounted to an incredibly underwhelming moment. That alone was enough to disappoint fans, but it's far from being the only problem with The Lost Moment.
Much like in "A New God" and "A Simple Story," the narrative just seems to have been lost along the way. It was boring and didn't do anything in terms of helping the story move forward. The character of Ivar seems to have gone from an incredibly intelligent and cunning villain to a completely deranged lunatic. Watching "The Lost Moment" didn't feel like watching Vikings at all.
3 Best: The Dead
What made the last episode of the third season so great was the fact that the showrunners decided to go for balance as opposed to a phenomenal spectacle. While the previous two episodes made sure to give fans a great view of the siege, this one made way for the establishment of a well-thought set-up for season four, along with a powerful moment that always feels right on a season finale.
"The Dead" brought us amazing performances from all the main leads. Ragnar, Rollo, Bjorn, each got the opportunity to deliver scenes that beautifully developed their characters and set the stage for what would be an incredible fourth season. Ragnar's first signs of weakness are displayed, and Rollo is presented with a decision that could change the course of history.
2 Worst: The Most Terrible Thing
Most shows end up falling victim to what can be known as the money-grab cycle. Once a television series becomes incredibly popular and beloved by fans, the networks tend to try and milk it as much as possible. This often translates into dragging out the useless plot points and coming up with endless strings of episodes that do absolutely nothing for the story. This is what happened throughout most of season five, and "The Most Terrible Thing" was the epitome of that.
The feeling you get when watching this episode is simply a bunch of random stories put together with no actual conflict or defined protagonists to root for. Nothing that happens has any importance and all the moments that keep popping up on screen are boring and outright useless.
1 Best: All His Angels
For many of us, this episode marked the end of an era. But it also marked something even more important: the establishment of Ragnar Lothbrok as the fiercest, bravest, most intelligent Viking leader to ever exist. Emotional is not enough to describe the powerful forces that were at play throughout this entire episode. It was made even greater only by the labor of love writers and actors put into four seasons of developing such intricate storylines and compelling characters.
Ragnar died because he was prepared to die, and "All His Angels" made the whole event an even more touching moment by blessing us with flashbacks of the key moments in the life of this extraordinary character. It was as brutal as it was necessary, and the show is yet to see an episode that can hold a candle to the masterpiece that was "All His Angels."