TV Club: Vikings: “The Dead”
In its three seasons, Vikings has ridden Ragnar Lothbrok’s winning streak through Kattegat, through Wessex and Mercia, and now all the way to Paris, which, after Ragnar’s most elaborate scheme yet, falls to the Norsemen, even as the grievously hurt Ragnar falls into his son’s arms in the dirt. “The Dead” sees Vikings straining for ways to delay Ragnar’s inevitable victory—even to deny it—but its failings are those of the season as a whole. In trying to deepen Ragnar, Vikings has turned him into a plot device.
Having been with the show from the beginning, my admiration for Travis Fimmel’s performance as Ragnar hasn’t lessened—I’ve made the case that Ragnar’s caginess (portrayed most effectively in non-verbal ways by the ever-magnetic Fimmel) is a conscious choice, both by the actor, and show creator Michael Hirst. Ragnar’s thinking …