During its previous three seasons, History's Vikings has managed to weave a rich, complex tapestry detailing the life of Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel). The series, created and written by Michael Hirst has dedicated itself to grounding in reality Lothbrok's meteoric rise from simple farmer with dreams of raiding distant lands to his storied ascent to become king of the Norsemen, while still allowing the character to maintain an impression of myth. Ragnar's acquisition of power and authority has seen him face many deadly challenges, some of which he barely escaped from with his life. That was certainly the case in the latter part of season 3, which saw King Ragnar lead his people on a sacking of Paris, only to have things go horribly awry.
Of course, things got better before the season ended, but there was still an ominous note in the air, as Ragnar left his sometimes-bitter brother Rollo (Clive Standen) in charge of their Parisian camp, while he returned to Kattegat, presumably to convalesce. And now, as the new trailer for season 4 suggests, Ragnar will find himself divided and possibly against those who covet his position as king, as well as his own brother, who is accused of having betrayed his own kind. But have no worry, as a dying Viking proclaims: "Your brother is coming. Ragnar will avenge us."
The trailer certainly looks like an action-packed fourth season of the series is on its way. There are plenty of rousing speeches from Ragnar's son, Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig), who dares anyone to challenge his (or the Norsemen as a whole) entitlement to raid wherever and whenever they want. Meanwhile, Queen Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) consults The Seer (John Kavanagh) to inquire whether or not "a woman will succeed to the kingdom of Kattegat," to which The Seer clarifies would only happen after the death of Ragnar.
There is certainly a lot to take in during the two-minute trailer, and to help out, History released an official synopsis for season 4 that reads:
"Season three culminated with the extraordinary battle in Paris, where Ragnar (Fimmel) seized victory from the jaws of defeat – but still returns to Kattegat dangerously ill. Thoughts of his death galvanize the forces who seek to succeed him as king, including his wife Queen Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) and his oldest son, Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig). Meanwhile, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) continues power struggles with her calculating, former second in command, Kalf (Ben Robson); Rollo (Clive Standen) betrays his Vikings heritage by remaining in Frankia and Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) is seized for his brutal actions to the Christian priest Athelstan."
One crucial element the synopsis leaves out is any mention of Linus Roaches' full-bodied performance as King Ecbert. The one-time father of Bruce Wayne has been doing terrific work nibbling away at the scenery as the power-hungry king of Wessex, betraying the confidence Ragnar placed in him in an attempt to consolidate even more power in the neighboring kingdoms. Ecbert clearly wears his ambitions on his sleeve and here in the trailer suggests he would "sup with the devil if he would show me how to achieve my earthly goals."
There's a good chance fans will be seeing a lot more of King Ecbert – and the rest of the Vikings cast – as History recently announced the fourth season would be extended by 10 episodes (for a total of 20), in a split season that begins in February. While that move is reminiscent of how AMC handled the final seasons of both Breaking Bad and Mad Men, there's no indication this will be the last go-round for King Ragnar and his merry band of raiding Norsemen. Besides, neither of AMC's series saw their season orders doubled, so this may simply end up being a case of an epic show in need of an epic episode count.
Vikings season 4 will premiere on Thursday, February 18 @10pm on History.