One of the biggest agents of change for women in acting is Vikings star Katheryn Winnick.
While all of Hollywood and beyond are buzzing over deposed studio boss Harvey Weinstein’s alleged serial sexual misconduct, the entertainment landscape has had a sea change where women are grabbing compelling roles and bucking the industry norms of how women should be cast and presented.
Her role as warrior wife, mother, and lover Lagertha for the last five seasons of Michael Hirst’s epic drama on History has sealed her place as one of the leading actors in the world.
Despite a male-heavy cast with many memorable characters and eye-popping moments, it is Lagertha who has emerged as the one to watch and root for year after year.
This shield-maiden deftly slays enemies in battle with the dexterity of a world-class athlete. Her sexuality is hers to command and it is fluid. People are buzzing about what Winnick’s next project will be when this Nordic smorgasbord comes to a close.
Fans mourned Travis Fimmel’s Ragnar. But there would be hell to pay if Lagertha were removed from the story.
Especially now as she faces the youngest Lothbrok son, Ivar, who burns with hatred because of her role in murdering his mother, Queen Aslaug, the only woman he appears to have ever loved. All in a day’s work for an earl and now Queen of Kattegat.
Problem is, Ivar has a loyal Heathen Army. The season will be an epic reveal of who is aligned with who in the Viking realm as the southern British threat, lead by Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ Bishop Heahmund, nips from below.
A bonus for Winnick’s fans is she will be directing an episode as well. For Vikings die-hards and novices alike, here are some of our top Lagertha moments:
Season 1: ‘You Couldn’t Kill Me If You Tried For A Hundred Years’
The reigning Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne) was ticked off that Lagertha was behind Ragnar’s ambitious expansion plans.
While Ragnar and her then 12-year-old son Bjorn were away, the Earl turned a blind eye as two townie goons invaded the Lothbrok home to rape Lagertha and her daughter Gyda. She successfully drives them away and shows her mettle with white-hot metal:
Season 2: Ragnar’s cheating road trip and daughter Gyda’s death falls on her shoulders
On a road trip with Bjorn, Ragnar meets King Horik and negotiates manpower for his planned raid in England. Horik sends Ragnar to Gotaland for negotiations, and Ragnar catches a glimpse of Aslaug.
He is seduced and Bjorn is angry over the betrayal to his mother. Cut to Lagertha taking care of business back in Kattegat when their daughter Gyda falls ill.
While Ragnar is busy impregnating Aslaug with her first son, Ubbe, Lagertha is left holding the grief bag, saying goodbye to Ragnar’s only daughter, Gyda.
This was the lynchpin moment fans of the series switched to Team Lagertha and saw the flaws in Ragnar with 20/20 vision. Despite Alyssa Sutherland’s regal portrayal as the woman who drove Lagertha away from Ragnar, fans held a grudge.
Season 2: Lagertha refuses to be a sister wife
Ragnar returns from his road trip with a pregnant Aslaug in tow. He admits the affair to Lagertha before she rolls up with Ubbe in the oven.
When Aslaug arrives in Kattegat, Lagertha is humiliated and makes a decision to leave Kattegat with Bjorn. This decision is sealed after Ragnar suggested marriage to both Lagertha and Aslaug. No way!
Aslaug assumes she would be the top sister wife and was agreeable but Lagertha bye-b***hes Ragnar as Bjorn chooses to go off with his mother. Another tear-inducing scene:
Season 2: Domestic abuse tables are turned as Lagertha kills Earl Sigvard and dares dinner party to try anything
After leaving Ragnar and his new pregnant Queen Aslaug, Lagertha has hitched her relationship wagon to Earl Sigvard in Hedeby, an insecure, morally bankrupt malignant turd compared to Ragnar.
Sigvard sets two men to brutally beat his uppity wife up. Fully tuned up and black and blue, she attends a large dinner party where he further humiliates her by trying to show off her bosom.
She snaps and grabs a knife and attacks him in lightning speed. Her Viking guests have mad respect for her and are psyched this moron was finally dispatched and she is made the new earl.
The dinner party continued post-decapitation (a helpful dinner guest assisted) of Sigvard! That’s proper Viking attitude.
Season 3: Lagertha is catnip to the Hugh Hefner of Wessex, who uses dirt and water to bed her:
The difference between women’s roles in society is made clear as Lagertha toys with Wessex’s King Ecbert who really, really has fallen for her, while a petulant daughter-in-law/mistress tromps off with Athelstan for a roll in the baby-Alfred making hay.
Lagertha heads to Wessex to oversee an agreed-upon farming settlement, but the bath-loving, robe-wearing Ecbert picks up that fertile land will be the panty dropper for a dispassionate Lagertha, who seems immune to his overtures.
The dirt-offered-in-the-hand trick works, and she rocks his socks off in the sack until she is distracted by crazy Kwenthrith who also wants some loving. Lagertha leaves Wessex with nary a regret or desire to be part of Ecbert’s inner circle of lovers.
Despite his incredibly popular grotto bath filled with rare warm water.
Season 4: Bad time to visit? The Swedish Earl sacrifice
Swedish dolt Earl Jorgenson arrives in Kattegat, offering a sword to Lagertha to show his allegiance and then volunteers to be sacrificed to assure the victory of the Vikings against the Saxons.
Who does that?
He says goodbye to his brother Hoskuld as Lagertha impales him with a ceremonial blade, as creepy Ivar gets pretty looking on. All while Bjorn is bedding another woman. Floki has a moment too in this odd Viking scene.
Season 4: Egil the Bastard barbecue
At this point, Lagertha is aligned with daughter-in-law Torvi as second-in-command and lover Astrid in retaking Kattegat from Aslaug and company.
King Harald has other ideas and assigns Egil the Bastard to attack Kattegat, to which Lagertha, Astrid, and Torvi beat him back. Egil is captured, Torvi is injured and Astrid gets What ensues for Egil is a a particularly nasty rotisserie scene served up by Lagertha.
Artful use of ruthless intel gathering.
Season 4: Lagertha finally kills Queen Aslaug
Fans were waiting for this moment. All the hurts, the slights and the usurping of Ragnar’s attention led to this murder. It also fuels the current season as Ivar, Aslaug’s youngest, is hell-bent on revenge.
Season 4: Ragnar appears to Lagertha en route to Valhalla
Lying in bed, Lagertha suddenly is awakened and knows that Ragnar has passed on to the other world. She just knows. Standing in the dark, she says: “I knew you would come, my love. Enjoy Valhalla, you deserve it. But do not forget me. Haunt me. Do not leave me.”
Niagara Falls. Epic emotional moment that fans needed.
Vikings’ two-hour Season 5 premiere is Wednesday, November 29, at 9pm ET/PT on History.