The History's Channel's historical drama, Vikings, is fast approaching its sixth season, set to release sometime in late-2019. This final season will wrap up the story of Norse hero Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons. With a violent and political plot and its robust cast of characters, the show is perfect for Game of Thrones fans. Especially those looking for something moodier and more realistic.
Still, some episodes are worse than others. And the reception to the fifth season in particular has not been as positive as previous years. The adventures of the scourge of Britain received positive acclaim since its premiere in 2013. But since the departure of Travis Flimmel as the central Ragnar, some fans have been dissatisfied. We're looking at the ten worst episodes of Vikings, according to IMDb's ratings.
The final episode of the first season, "All's Change," sees Ragnar traveling to Götland to negotiate a land dispute. While waiting on word about the decision, Ragnar meets a beautiful princess named Aslaug and the two of them get pretty close. Close enough that Aslaug conceives Ragnar's child and starts making moves to replace Ragnar's wife Lagertha.
It's a bit of downer all around. Back home, Lagertha is contending with an outbreak of the plague, as well as grim prophecies from the Seer. Lagertha is one of the show's strongest characters, so watching Ragnar do her dirty obviously upset a lot of fans.
Another episode from the first season, "Sacrifice" sees Ragnar and his family, along with captive monk Athelstan, make the traditional pilgrimage to Uppsala for the Festival of Sacrifices. Unfortunately, not a lot happens to further the plot. Both Ragnar and Lagertha are grieving the death of their unborn son. But instead of spending time developing that, the show instead spends most of the episode showing off the viking rituals. This is one episode you can almost certainly skip.
This episode is from late season five. Ivar the Boneless, Ragnar's youngest son, is now the second king of the vikings. He's also a bit of a sociopath, going full dictator on the people of Kattegat after finding a statue of himself vandalized.
He burns people alive in retribution and later, when his wife gives birth to a deformed son, leaves the infant alone in the wilderness to die. His own father hadn't been able to do the same when Ivar himself was born with a deformity, but Ivar is willing to go that extra mile. This seems to be the point where some people finally started to get tired of Ivar's tyrant plotline, throwing in the towel.
This episode is mostly focused on the political intrigue happening in Wessex. King Alfred just survived a failed conspiracy headed by Alfred's brother Aethelred. Alfred ultimately forgives his brother, then becomes sick shortly after. Their mother, Queen Judith, is concerned when she watches Aethelred's ease with the people. Hoping to protect Alfred's rule from a usurper, she picks some mushrooms and poisons Aethelred. Not too much happens with the titular vikings in this one, and many consider it an overdramatic filler episode.
Oddly enough, one of the lowest rated episodes is the very first episode of the show. We begin with Ragnar, not yet any kind of leader, taking his son Bjorn on an initiation trip into the village. He meets with Jarl Haraldson, explaining his plan to sail ships to the west. The Jarl tells him it isn't possible and forbids it, which prompts Ragnar to take the law into his own hands.
While the introduction to the show had a lot of potential, it took some time for people to get into what it was offering.
There's a lot of battles passing back and forth in the first part of season five. After losing to Bjorn's army the previous episode, Ivar decides to contact Ragnar's brother Rollo and ask for his aid. His French soldiers come to fight on their behalf. Bjorn tries to make peace with his brother, but Ivar, emboldened by Rollo's army, tries to have him killed.
The sudden appearance of Rollo's forces was kind of a cop-out, especially since we don't actually get to see Rollo. It completely invalidated Bjorn's victory the previous episode. Also, Aethelwulf gets stung by a bee and dies, which isn't the kind of death that gets anybody into Valhalla.
This was the mid-season finale of season five. A climactic battle raged between our two main groups of vikings, with Lagertha and Bjorn on one side, and Ivar, Harald, and Hvitserk—another of Ragnar's sons—on the other. Ultimately, Bjorn calls for his army to retreat in the face of Ivar's strength. The scenes of fighting and death are interspersed with emotional moments between brothers, allies, and lovers.
The attempted emotional beats didn't feel earned by the rest of the season. The plot leading up to this fight left many cold, despite the mid-season finale trying to inject some feeling into the mess.
This episode has King Alfred of Wessex asking his allies, Lagertha, Bjorn, and Ubbe, to convert to Christianity in order to placate his court. Meanwhile, Ivar really starts to unravel back in Kattegat. Convinced he mystically impregnated his wife Freydis (whose child isn't actually his) he assumes he must be a god. He begins planning a human sacrifice. Ivar's always been a little crazy, but his plunge off the deep end lost the interest of a lot of viewers.
Ivar makes his sacrifice and tries to convince the Seer declare him a god. When he refuses, Ivar kills him in a fit of rage. Meanwhile, back in Wessex, Alfred prepares for war as King Harald's fleet approaches. King Alfred promises Lagertha, Bjorn, and Ubbe refuge and land in exchange for their loyalty, which of course they can only prove by going up against their countrymen. Aethelred, not too loyal himself, plots a way to overthrow his brother.
Following a cliffhanger in the previous episode, many viewers were left disappointed by Ivar's sacrifice, which ended up just being a woman who looks like Lagertha. That, in addition to the lackluster Wessex plotline, makes this one of worst episodes of the show.
Ironically, the most terrible episode of Vikings is titled "The Most Terrible Thing." Throughout much of the fifth season, Floki is in Iceland trying to build a new settlement. Unfortunately, Iceland ends up not being the land of the gods he expected and the community begins to break down.
In this episode, a vengeance-driven Kjetill Flatnose goes with Floki on a rescue mission to help the exiled Eyvind. Instead, Kjetill murders Eyvind's entire family. Then, when Floki tells Aud, Kjetill's daughter, she throws herself off a cliff in grief.
In the grand scheme of things, Floki's expedition has no bearing on the overarching plot of the show. Viewers were tired of his Icelandic antics by this point. Dedicating almost an entire episode to the gruesome end of his settlement had fans frustrated and hoping for a definitive end to this particular storyline.