Three episodes into the season four return of Vikings, audiences are getting a good look at how the show’s characters have evolved since Ragnar’s disappearance — starting with Bjorn.
ET hopped on the phone with Alexander Ludwig on Tuesday, who dished on his character’s new leadership skills, and what lies ahead for Ragnar’s firstborn as the Viking leader loses his spark.
First things first, we had to ask the Hunger Games star about his character’s noticeable transformation since the series’ time jump.
“It’s been a really long, grueling process of making this character,” explained Ludwig, who was 21 when he joined season two of the series as teenage Bjorn. “Playing a boy when you’re a man yourself is really tough, so it’s nice to finally be able to play something that is in my range. I waited so long to be able to do this, so I’m happy that it’s resonating.”
Bjorn’s longer beard isn’t the only sign of change in the character — he’s also seemed to grow confidence, power and leadership in Ragnar’s (Travis Fimmel) absence.
EW – Vikings recap: ‘Two Journeys’
War on both coasts
Season 4, Ep. 13 | Aired Dec 14
Ragnar Lothbrok’s great army of revenge feeds the fish at the bottom of the sea. His boats sink into darkness, never to be seen again by human eyes. Yet Ragnar and Ivar endure. Father and son wash ashore. Some of his men survive, too: A motley crew, not the great warriors of yesteryear, some few desperate Vikings. They know the locals will arrive soon. They must move — but Ivar, little Ivar, cannot walk with his father. “I’m not going to stand around all watching you try to be normal,” says the King. “You never will be. Once you realize that, that is when greatness will happen. Now crawl.”
Ragnar’s first son, Bjorn, isn’t normal, either. Alone among his brothers, he remembers a time when his father was a farmer. Alone among his brothers, he remembers the brighter days of Uncle Rollo, the familiar friend, not the eternal traitor. Bjorn sails southward on his journey to the Mediterranean. The ships pass the Normandy coast, which will host unimaginable bloodshed centuries hence when all the dreams of the Vikings are dust and memory.
Vikings recap: ‘The Vision’
Ragnar sets sail for Wessex
Season 4, Ep. 12 | Aired Dec 07
Ragnar’s story began with England, or a dream of England: That land across the water, a single ship carrying Ragnar and a group of young men to glory in the land of the Christ-God. Now, to England will Ragnar return. “I’m looking for brave warriors,” he announces in the town square. “Like you! Like you!” The response is muted. A man tells Ragnar his brother’s family went to England to found the Viking colony. “We never did find out what happened to them,” the man says. “But it seems you knew all along, and didn’t tell us.” He spits on King Ragnar the once-great, who once sailed with ships beyond number.
Now, Ragnar must beg his son Bjorn for ships. Bjorn will grant them — but he has his own plans. He will travel down the coast to Frankia, where it is said his Uncle Rollo has a new kingdom on the coast. Bjorn’s plan, bold and perhaps mad: He will send messengers to Rollo. Can family bonds, once broken, be fixed?
The sons of Ragnar are bonded yet with their mother. Aslaug wants them to settle down: “You should already be married,” she tells her three older sons. “You don’t have to love the woman,” she explains. “You need one to breed with.” Did Aslaug ever love Ragnar? Her sons have their own legends about their parents. One son says Aslaug bewitched their father; another recalls the wanderer Harbard, who Aslaug so loved, who so betrayed her trust. “She has always loved me,” says Ivar. Sigurd disagrees. “She feels pity for you,” he says. “We all feel pity for you. But sometimes, we wish that she’d left you to the wolves.” Ivar tries to attack him, slithering across the floor like a snake.