WonderCon 2013: ‘Vikings’ invades, offers sneak peek of new episode

March 30, 2013 | 3:00 p.m.
vikingspanelcast WonderCon 2013: Vikings invades, offers sneak peek of new episode

"Vikings" stars Travis Fimmel, left, Katheryn Winnick and George Blagden discuss the show Saturday at WonderCon. (WireImage / History)

vikingspanelblagden WonderCon 2013: Vikings invades, offers sneak peek of new episode

George Blagden told the crowd he'd visited the British island of Lindisfarne, where in the show his monk character is captured, and found it "scarier than I'd thought." (WireImage / History)

vikingspanelwinnick WonderCon 2013: Vikings invades, offers sneak peek of new episode

Asked by an audience member about Lagertha's feelings toward Ragnar's brother, Katheryn Winnick assured the crowd, "Lagertha will never cheat on Ragnar. She's madly in love with him, and they're true equals and partners." (WireImage / History)

vikings WonderCon 2013: Vikings invades, offers sneak peek of new episode

Ragnar (Travis Fimmel, center) leads his wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) and his brother Rollo (Clive Standen) to loot new lands in History's "Vikings." (Jonathan Hession / History)

vikings3 WonderCon 2013: Vikings invades, offers sneak peek of new episode

Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), left, faces the ire of his ruler and nemesis Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne). (Jonathan Hession / History)

vikings2 WonderCon 2013: Vikings invades, offers sneak peek of new episode

The mischievous Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) isn't handy only in battle -- the close friend of Ragnar Lothbrok is also the designer of a new kind of longboat. (Jonathan Hession / History)

“Vikings” star Travis Fimmel had a simple message at the series’ WonderCon panel in Anaheim on Saturday when reminded that some members of the audience may have been under 18. To those, he said: “Get out!”

The Australian model-turned-actor was joking, as he had been about “Viking foreplay” and, in referring to a scene in which his character and wife invite a monk taken as a slave to join them in bed, telling costar George Blagden, “The offer’s still on the table, George.”

Amid audience cries of “Ragnar!” and laughs, Fimmel, Blagden, actress Katheryn Winnick and History channel executive Dirk Hoogstra discussed the characters, teased their futures, and took audience questions — including one about the network’s plans for any future seasons (the gist from Hoogstra, despite goading from the cast: Can’t say yet) — before showing a sneak peek at Episode 5, which airs Sunday.

As the series begins, the ambitious Ragnar Lothbrok (Fimmel), a thoughtful marauder inspired by a figure from Norse lore, plans to sail west against the orders of the despotic Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne). “Odin gave his eye to achieve knowledge,” Ragnar says early on. “I will give far more.” The rebellious younger man’s key collaborators are his shield-maiden wife Lagertha (Winnick), battle-ready brother Rollo (Clive Standen) and mischievous friend Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard), who has designed a new model of longboat.

In her review, Times television critic Mary McNamara called the show “the tried and true story of an open-minded upstart challenging the corrupt establishment” and said that it is “a mostly noble attempt to humanize a group of people who have been reduced to the fact of their stature (tall) and their propensity for barbarism.”

Ragnar and his crew have already made history in the early episodes of their network’s first scripted regular series by raiding the monastery at Lindisfarne (the 793 event considered the beginning of the Viking Age), and the Odin- and Thor-exalting Norse adventurer has taken a Christian monk, Athelstan (Blagden), as a slave. Conflicts political and physical with Haraldson and Northumbrian defenders have followed, and viewers can expect more clashes of swords, wills and religions.

In the footage shown to the crowd Saturday, Ragnar is out hunting when his homestead comes under attack by Haraldson’s men. He rushes back to savagely defend his family, whom he tells to evacuate, but does not escape harm himself. Bloodied, he falls to his knees before his nemesis, who asks, “Do you accept that you’re a criminal? That you are worthy only of defeat, worthy only of death?” Though battered, Ragnar isn’t broken.

Fimmel, sporting a Viking’s beard and a model’s coiffure, said of his attraction to playing the role, “I’m a bit of a kid at heart. I want to run around with an ax and have a different haircut” and recalled “chopping me mum’s roses” as a child. As to the character’s future, “Nothing’s ever enough, so he’s going to keep raiding for sure and he … bites off a bit more than he can chew.”

Ragnar’s better half might have more power in her future. Winnick, trying to avoid spoilers, said, “There’s a lot more responsibility Lagertha has in terms of dealing with the community.”

Maybe no character has more changes afoot than the monk, who the actors suggested will be less meek as the show progresses. “Athelstan is so, so different at the end of the series to what he is at the start,” Blagden said.

— Blake Hennon

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WonderCon 2013: Your guide to the Anaheim comic convention

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