'Vikings' Creator on That Big Floki Surprise in Final Season (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
Warning: Spoilers ahead! Do not proceed if you haven't watched season 6B of Vikings.
The final season of Vikings forced fans to say goodbye to many beloved characters, but it also brought some back from the (presumed) dead. That was true of Gustaf Skarsgård's Floki, an original character who was seemingly killed off at the end of season 5.
Creator Michael Hirst told ET at the time that revealing Floki's fate "would be a spoiler," despite the fact an Icelandic cave collapsed on top of him and he was spoken about as being dead in season 6 of the series. "[How we pick up with Floki] is something that must remain under wraps," Hirst told ET in January 2019, "because it's so important and so emotional and so fantastic."
Nearly two years later, fans finally saw Floki come back as season 6B debuted on Amazon Prime Video on Wednesday -- and it was just as emotional and fantastic as Hirst promised. As Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) and Torvi (Georgia Hirst) explored America, they were led to a "crazy man" who had arrived before them: Floki.
"I knew that I couldn't leave him just neglected and forgotten in the bottom of volcano," Hirst tells ET of bringing back Floki in Vikings' penultimate episode. "That wasn't the way that Floki was going to leave the show or leave life, indeed, because he was the spirit of life."
"I think I came fairly early to the conclusion that he would reappear in America, and then it was a question of what kind of shape he'd be in, who would he be," he explains. "Would he be still the old Floki or would he have changed? After all, he's suffered a lot. He's been through a lot of extreme circumstances."
Hirst -- Vikings' sole writer -- notes Floki's arc throughout the series, and how the ship builder's journey to Iceland to set up a pagan fundamentalist community was driven by fear that his beliefs were being crushed by Christianity. That of course didn't work out, and Floki felt the gods had abandoned him. So, he moved on.
"I knew that Ubbe would reconnect with him, and I knew that the audience would love that, because I loved it," Hirst shares. "I knew that I would love to see Gustaf back and that would feel absolutely right, absolutely proper. Then it was, what kind of a person was he? Had he found some peace? Had he been damaged in his experiences? And so on. Those were all questions I had to wrestle with and answer."
"By the way, I think he has found some peace, but I think he knows he's dying. I couldn't have finished the show without him coming back into it," he adds. "Obviously for me, I knew that they were the last 10 episodes. I knew that it was the end of my saga, and so it was really important to end these various storylines properly and satisfactorily and not cheat either the characters or the audience."
So, while many of the show's original characters -- Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) and Rollo (Clive Standen) -- and new stars -- Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig), King Harald (Peter Franzén) and Ivar (Alex Høgh Andersen) -- had met their fates, Floki wrapped up the series.
Vikings' final scene was one of Floki and Ubbe sitting on the beach, with Floki reflecting on his relationship with Ragnar. "I felt that I'd done justice to all the characters, including Floki, by bringing him back in that way," Hirst says.
The series finale also included Ivar's death, which despite his beliefs, didn't come at the hand of Hvitserk.
"I thought that these last storylines gave me the opportunity to show a different side to Ivar. We've seen many times the cruel and vicious side and dark side of Ivar. We saw that particularly when he was the ruler of Kattegat. That was a very dark period, and it reflected, obviously, the fact that Ivar's always been angry at his physical condition. We talked to some people with brittle bone disease when I was writing this and they all said, of course, they were often angry at the disability. This was Ivar," Hirst reflects.
"But in fact, what we've seen in the last season is an Ivar who suddenly attached himself, has feelings for this young Russian prince, Prince Igor, the young boy. Ivar becomes protective towards him and almost paternal, that we see the softening of Ivar. We see a different Ivar emerging," he continues. "In some ways he's still a fighter and he's still a warrior and he wants it to be the best famous viking of all the time, but I loved writing about the resolution of the relation between his brother, that the both of them have wondered for so long, why Hvitserk jumped ship, why he left Ubbe, who was his favorite brother, and joined Ivar, and I had to resolve that issue."
Ivar's storyline this season -- and him trying to save Hvitserk's (Marco Ilsø) life -- offered some "redemption" for both him and Hvitserk.
"Hvitserk has really has spent a lot of his life wondering who he is and what he's doing and having very low self-esteem and not really having an identity, but in the end, he finds all those things," Hirst says of Hvitserk, who becomes Christian and is given the name Athelstan in the series finale. "He finds his identity, he becomes himself."
Hirst tried to offer the same opportunity for redemption to Bjorn, who was killed in the first episode of 6B.
"Bjorn is redeemed, because Bjorn, in some ways, has made rather a mess of certain aspects of his life. He wasn't a great ruler, he was too vain and complacent when he wanted to be king of Norway, and his treatment of women, by and large, was poor," Hirst notes. "And if he died just on those notes, then he might've been eminently forgettable, but in fact, he does something quite extraordinary, quite extraordinary at the end of his life. He saves his country, and so he redeemed his life, I think, and puts himself in the pantheon of the great heroes of the vikings, Ragnar and Lagertha, and he joins them."
And while the saga of Ragnar and his sons has come to a close, there's more in the Vikings universe to come. Vikings: Valhalla, set 100 years after the events of Vikings, is currently filming in Ireland and set to debut "in the next couple of years," Hirst promises.
"That's something to look forward to," he adds.
The final season of Vikings is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.