Given that this is the final season of Vikings, it should come as no surprise that viewers will be saying goodbye to certain familiar faces. After all, the series has never shied away from killing beloved–or hated–characters, whether they were a major force like Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) or any number of guest stars that appeared here and there. The latest death on the show hurts, though, and it’s going to be one that takes some time to properly mourn.
Warning: The following contains spoilers for the Vikings Season 6 episode “Death and the Serpent.” If you haven’t seen this installment yet, stop reading now then come back after you catch up. This isn’t one you’re going to want spoiled.
In the final moments, the Seer’s prophecy came to pass as Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) was killed by a son of Ragnar, her former husband. Losing his mind to hallucinations, Hvitserk (Stephen Rockett) believes he sees a giant snake–the episode’s titular serpent–stalking him, at which point he viciously attacks it with a knife, stabbing it countless times. It’s then revealed that the snake was actually a gravely injured Lagertha, fresh off a nearly fatal battle with the bandits that had attacked her settlement.
If you’re surprised it was Hvitserk that ended up being the son of Ragnar to end Lagertha’s life, you’re not the only one. “I thought it would be Ivar for a long time,” series creator Michael Hirst told GameSpot. “Hvitserk, in some ways, has come up and surprised me in many ways. I think I have such a strong sense of the other sons, who they were by and large, and I didn’t have that same clarity about Hvitserk. I wasn’t sure, in a sense, what I was going to do to him, but it was very interesting to have him as a sort of free agent.”
Still, even Winnick herself knew her character’s story had to end with her death. After all, it’s the Vikings way. “It was a long time coming in the sense that we’ve talked about feeling that Lagertha’s time is coming. She’s a granny,” the actress said. “After so many years and playing a whole my whole life on the show, in a sense. She started out as a young farmer, and now she’s a grandmother and retired shieldmaiden. Not many actors in their lives can say that they had a chance to play such an iconic character like Lagertha.”
When it came to crafting her exit from the show, though, Winnick wanted to make sure the character for a proper ending. “After all those years, I wanted to make sure in working with Michael that if Lathertha’s going to go, then make that it’s done right and does her character justice. And I do feel that with the last battle, it was an epic battle and it was a surprise of how she actually ended up going.”
“I have to say that Katheryn just grabbed hold of the whole storyline and her last fight is I think is one of the best jobs she did in this whole show,” Hirst revealed. “It’s this incredible fight, and during [the battle], it’s like the first time you could see in her eyes that she thinks she might lose. You know, I think that’s the first time that the warrior has ever felt [like], ‘I might not make it to this one.'”
Still, while she did survive that battle, Lagertha wasn’t long for the world. This isn’t the last you’ve seen of her on Vikings, though. The next episode will feature a funeral for the character in grand Viking fashion. In that way, not only will the people of Kattegat get to say goodbye, but so will the fans.
What of Hvitserk, though? After killing the mother of his own brother, his story is far from over. “It’s only just started because Hvitserk has gone down as low as he can get but slowly after that, and certainly [the second half of Season 6] be he rises to something quite extraordinary,” Hirst teased.
Vikings airs Wednesdays on History.