Finally, Bjorn became the king of Kattegat! We have been all waiting for this to happen and season 6 delivered. However, the ride to the throne was not easy and he keeps facing one trouble after another. While politics and intrigues are a menace enough to make any king lose his mind, Bjorn also has problems on the personal front as his romantic life is also falling apart before his very eyes. An intriguing part in the storytelling is that there are hints of the beginning of this “downfall” that were planted before but it truly starts in the latest episode.
Katheryn Winnick says that the demise of the king starts now. The actress playing the role of his mother certainly has enough behind the scene information to hint at some crucial changes in the narrative. Her character was killed off, but Winnick decided to return to the show as a director of the latest episode and had an opportunity to work with the script from behind the camera.
“wanted to accomplish many things and the most important was really performance”
Variety published her short interview in which she said that she “wanted to accomplish many things and the most important was really performance”. Winnick mentioned that the biggest part of the character downfall is that Bjorn cannot easily cope with the fact that he is not as good of a king as he thought he would be. At the same time, he is losing his relatives and goes through a very turbulent period in his life without one of his closest friends (his mother) to support him. Winnick believes that her strong connection to both characters is what allowed her to create a really intense episode of the show that managed to grab our hearts.
The actress and director is more than acquainted with small details and nuances of Bjorn and interacted with him while playing his mother on the set. This invaluable experience is exactly what was needed to convey the emotional pain of the character and his struggles in the most convincing way possible. Winnick also noted that being a very close friend with Alexander Ludwig who is playing Bjorn in the show helped her better understand how to direct the episode and make it memorable.
The episode was packed with action and emotional acting, but the biggest struggle for Winnick during her directorial debut on the show was “the burning of Hvitserk” and “Bjorn’s speech [that] was a huge challenge to that people out there”.
“Bjorn’s speech [that] was a huge challenge to that people out there”.
She wanted the speech to be a symbol to these characters. Winnick also made some changes to the script and added many lines of dialogue that helped to tie all the story beats together.
A very important part of the episode was the moment when Gunnhild delivered a speech to support her man during a period of emotional catastrophe caused by several deaths of his closest allies including his son, mother, and King Harald. Being one of the causes for these deaths by making some of questionable decisions as king also did not help. To top it all off, Bjorn lost Norway and exiled his own brother while facing a tough period in his love life as his wife decided to propose a plural marriage.
Katheryn Winnick had a lot of cards in her hand before the episode and she needed to play them perfectly in order to make this episode engaging and meaningful in the grand scheme of things. Making Bjorn a truly tragic character whose intentions have a tendency to not translate well into his actions seems to one of the main goals of the season and Katheryn Winnick conveyed this idea perfectly.
The current narrative of the season 6 is quite interesting and compelling. Vikings is a show that has a hero that struggles a lot and overcomes all of tragedies stoically while fighting for power and justice. Now, the king must find a new pillar to support him and Gunnhild can become this pillar.