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These are the stories they will tell in Valhalla. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the "Top 10 Vikings Moments."
For this list, we’ll be looking at the most epic, moving, shocking and important moments from season one of Vikings through to part one of season five.
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#10: Lagertha Becomes Earl “Unforgiven” & “Blood Eagle”
When you think of cultures with progressive gender politics, the Vikings don’t immediately jump to mind. Introduced as a poor farmer, Lagertha immediately showed herself to be fierce, capable and undaunted by the male-dominated world. By the end of the second season, she had already ascended to the rank of Earl, leading her very own community. After suffering at the hands of her abusive second husband, Earl Sigvard of Hedeby, she stabs him in front of his own people in a move that boldly said, “the old earl is dead, and I’m your new leader.” Thus, Earl Ingstad was born.
#9: Ragnar's Goodbye to Athelstan “Born Again”
You expect certain things from Vikings: blood, pillaging, a thirst for glory—it’s all there. What viewers didn't anticipate, however, was a deep and nuanced relationship based on fraternal love between a Viking leader and a Christian man of God. But that’s what we got with Athelstan and Ragnar —and for the first two and a half seasons, it was at the very heart of the series. After Floki’s shocking murder of Athelstan, Travis Fimmel gave us arguably his best scene as Ragnar. As he carries the body of his fallen friend and buries him in private, he delivers an emotionally charged, heartbreaking farewell.
#8: The Raid at Lindisfarne "Wrath of the Northmen"
The bond between Ragnar and Athelstan would never have happened if Ragnar wasn't bold enough to defy his Earl and take a ship to raid in an unknown direction. This is the moment that opened up the world of Vikings, and served as our first real, proper introduction to the violence and savagery inherent to the act of raiding. It was brutal, cruel, and probably scared away more than a few viewers. Regardless, this was the moment of first contact between Ragnar and the Saxons, and the start of something much larger than any of us could have imagined.
#7: Fighting the Earl "Burial of the Dead"
From the beginning, it was clear that Ragnar and Earl Haraldson were on a collision course. Ragnar was ambitious and longed for adventure, while the Earl was rooted in tradition and all too happy to follow routine. In episode six, things finally came to a head with Ragnar challenging Earl Haraldson to single combat. It was a fight in which both combatants fought honorably. Haraldson had been the villain up until this point, but here he won our respects, though he ultimately perished. Of course, seeing Ragnar become Earl of Kattegat is the real reason this moment deserves a spot on our list.
#6: Rollo’s Betrayal and the Battle For Kattegat "Brother's War"
No sooner has Ragnar become Earl than his brother, Rollo, starts making designs to become one himself. His jealousy towards his brother culminates in him siding with Jarl Borg against Ragnar and King Horik in the season 1 finale, joining Borg in the Battle for Kattegat in the season 2 premiere. The battle was the first large-scale one of the series, and while it might seem small in hindsight, it felt huge at that time. Everything we knew up until this point was on the line, and seeing brother face brother made it feel all the more poignant. Thankfully, Rollo saw the light.
#5: Ragnar’s Death “All His Angels”
When he returned from exile, Ragnar was a changed man; his days as our Viking warrior hero were at an end. Ragnar had already shown himself capable of doing the seemingly impossible. After the epic—but failed—siege of Paris, he used real sickness to fake his death and conquer the city within. But, his return to England became a farewell tour, as he dies after he’s dropped into a pit full of snakes. Our hero went to die on his terms, having accepted and embraced his fate, comfortable in the knowledge that he would live on through his sons. It was the end of an era, but you can't say he wasn't avenged.
#4: Aslaug’s Death “In the Uncertain Hour Before the Morning"
Stealing another woman’s man is never a good idea, but that goes tenfold when the woman in question is Lagertha. When Aslaug came to Kattegat pregnant with Ragnar’s child, Lagertha’s world was turned upside down. She didn’t just lose her husband, but her home and status. She had no choice but to leave and create a new life for herself, and she flourished… but she never forgot, and would later attack and reclaim Kattegat. True to her word, Lagertha kills Aslaug, just when we thought she was going to be allowed to leave. It was both shocking and satisfying.
#3: Floki Discovers a New World “The Departed”
With Ragnar dead and avenged, viewers were left to wonder: what could the writers do with Floki? Thankfully, his greatest adventure had yet to begin. He might relish the opportunity to do battle and kill Christians, but at his core, Floki is a shipbuilder and a servant of the gods. So, him setting sail and finding a new land which he believes to that of the gods felt like a story worthy of the character. Floki’s arrival and initial exploration of the island was one of the best sequences in the show thus far—beautiful, moving and utterly breathtaking in its creativity.
#2: The Blood Eagle “Blood Eagle”
They say you never forget your first—and while this isn’t the only blood eagle we’ve seen, it’s the one that has stuck with us. No landscape can compete with this sort of brutality. Equal parts fascinating and nauseating, the Blood Eagle involves cracking open someone’s rib cage from the back, opening them like French doors and placing their lungs over their shoulders to give a bloody wing effect. It’s a now-famous scene for obvious reasons, and one that burns itself right into your mind. Jarl Borg never cried out, however, proving himself a Viking until his last breath.
#1: The Final Battle of Season Five, Part 1 “Moment of Vision”
The first half of season five brought major shakeups. New allegiances formed as blood ties and old pacts fell apart. Ivar and Hvitserk face off against their own brother, Ubbe, and half brother, Bjorn. King Harald is forced to face and kill his brother, Halfdan, who has aligned himself with Bjorn’s cause. Astrid, once the lover of Lagertha and now Harald’s Queen, finds herself at odds with the woman she had built a life with. Though one could argue we’d seen better battles, it was bloody and beautifully shot, and the conflict’s interpersonal stakes carried unprecedented emotional weight.