When Viking king Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) told his young sons as they sailed away from Kattegat: “Don’t waste your time looking back, you’re not going that way,” Michael Hirst, creator and writer of Vikings was reminding viewers that this is a show constantly moving forward. As Hirst reiterates during the extras of the Season 4, Part 1 Blu-ray edition of Vikings, the Scandinavian drama was always going to be about the sons of Ragnar, who went on to accomplish far greater deeds than their father.
The first ten episodes of Season 4 of Vikings offer all the spectacular, bloody battles and family drama the hit series is known for, along with a decadent dose of betrayal, lust and murder. Highlights of Season 4 thus far include the addition of Finnish thesps Peter Franzén and Jasper Pääkkönen as the brazen Norse brothers King Finehair and Halfdan the Black.
There was Ragnar’s memorable descent into madness, comical, but so very tragic at times, and we watched the Northmen dismantle their entire fleet of ships, haul them up a cliff and through the forest in “Portage.” There was also the impressive transformation of Rollo (Clive Standen) and the jarring time-jump in the season finale as Hirst continues to push boundaries on the show now incorporating three worlds: Viking, French and English. Vikings remains at its heart a family saga, an ode to historical authenticity and a riveting, visually stunning television series.
Season 4, Part 1 Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
We got our hands on the Blu-ray edition of this release. Here’s a look at the special features you’ll find in the Australian release:
The Transformation of Rollo
Michael Hirst and Clive Standen discuss Rollo’s transformation from brute savage to French noble, as he shifts away from the shadow of his famous brother Ragnar to pave his own destiny.
The Viking Seafaring Prowess
Interviews with Michael Hirst, Katheryn Winnick (Lagertha), authors Olaf Engvig and Danielle Turner explore the genius behind the viking longboats. Learn about warships and trading vessels, the theory of the sunstone, navigation and portage. As Michael Hirst aptly puts it, “naval engineering of an extraordinary kind.”
The Sons of Ragnar
Michael Hirst, Katheryn Winnick, Alyssa Sutherland (Aslaug), Alexander Ludwig (Bjorn), Alex Høgh Andersen, (Ivar) Danielle Turner and Dr. Kimberly Ball shed light on the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok in this interactive extra. Presented beautifully, click on any of the names surrounding the gilded raven to learn more about Ubbe, Ivar, Hvitserk, Sigurd, Bjorn, Eric and Agnar.
Get your 9th century nerd on with audio commentary of episodes “Mercy” and “The Last Ship” by Vikings creator and writer Michael Hirst and the show’s historical consultant, Justin Pollard.
In episode three “Mercy” find out more about the epic battle between Bjorn and the bear, how Floki’s imprisonment was inspired by that of an infamous Norse God and the significance of Athelstan’s re-appearance. For the final episode of part one of Season 4 “The Last Ship” go behind the scenes of the battle on the water and showdown between brothers Ragnar and Rollo. Hirst also talks viewers through his “controversial” but “brave” time jump half way through the episode.
The commentary on both episodes is a nerdy and bookish delight with plenty of academic insight provided by Hirst and Pollard who remind viewers how deeply steeped Vikings is in history, archaeological evidence and research. Hirst even quotes Henry James while Pollard makes references to The Iliad and The Lord of the Rings in the same sentence.
Surprisingly, it is the audio commentary that is the highlight of the Blu-ray extras, with the other three offerings too short in length. Also missing are deleted scenes and more input from Katheryn Winnick, who has remained a stand-out on the show. Fimmel is also noticeably absent in the extras; evidently, a new chapter of Vikings is about to begin, led by the young adventurer Bjorn and the soon to become fearsome Ivar the Boneless. In the meantime, you can relive Part 1 of Season 4 of Vikings on DVD and Blu-ray, available in Australia now.
Special Features Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Season 4, Part 1 of Vikings available now on DVD and Blu-Ray