Season 2 of the History Channel’s hit series “Vikings” premieres on Thursday night, so fans will finally get a chance to catch up with Ragnar, Rollo, Lagertha and the rest of the medieval gang. But the show’s first season concluded last April, and it can be hard to keep track of all of those storylines and historical names. Luckily, we’ve put together a “Vikings” Season 1 synopsis to remind fans of what happened to their favorite characters last season.
The first season of “Vikings” tracked the exploits of Ragnar Lothbrok, a young man who rose from a simple farmer and warrior to leadership of his clan. But Ragnar’s path to the top was perilous; he overcame several obstacles in his quest for power.
During last season’s “Vikings” premiere, Ragnar Lothbrok was in the midst of battle when he experienced visions of Odin and his Valkyries. Driven by a sense of destiny, the young warrior teamed up with his friend Floki — a gifted craftsman — to create a ship capable of sailing from Scandinavia to the mainland of Europe, a feat that Vikings had never before accomplished.
With the aid of Floki, his brother Rollo and a few dozen other followers, Ragnar successfully sailed to England and raided a monastery, plundering piles of gold from the settlement’s hoard. In the process, Ragnar also captured a Saxon priest, Athelstan, who quickly became one of his closest advisers.
Ragnar’s ambitious undertaking drew the ire of Earl Haraldson, who came to see Ragnar as a threat to his seat of power. The earl refused to grant his rival permission to undertake the voyage, and then confiscated his plunder from the monastery raid. Ultimately, tensions between Earl Haraldson and Ragnar reach such heights that Ragnar challenged him to single combat.
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The young warrior killed Haraldson and assumed his role as earl of the Viking settlement, with his wife Lagertha at his side. Haraldson’s wife, Siggy, managed to avoid death by jumping into bed with Rollo, who revealed to her his intention to become an earl in his own right. In fact, Rollo grew increasingly envious of his brother Ragnar’s reputation…
As time passes, Athelstan, once a devout Christian monk, became more and more entrenched in the Viking way of life. He becomes the protector of Ragnar’s young children, Bjorn and Gyda, and gradually abandons his monastic past, dressing in Viking garb and adopting pagan Viking beliefs. In fact, he nearly became a sacrifice as part of a Viking ritual, but was replaced after the clan determined that he had not fully renounced Christianity.
Ragnar used his newfound power to launch a renewed assault on King Aelle, the ruler of wealthy Northumbria in England. Ragnar emerged victorious, but his slaughter of Aelle’s brother caused the grieving warlord to swear vengeance on him.
Meanwhile, Ragnar’s exploits drew the attention of King Horik, a powerful ruler near to Ragnar’s territory. Ragnar swore fealty to Horik, who immediately sent his new charge on a mission to convince Jarl Borg, a rival ruler, to abandon his claim to Horik's territory.
Ragnar’s negotiation with Jarl Borg was a failure, meaning that Borg and Horik are likely headed toward war. Borg also managed to convince Rollo to betray his brother Ragnar in exchange for the promise of glory and riches of his own. Look for that sibling rivalry to be a major storyline in “Vikings” Season 2.
During the trip, Ragnar also meets Princess Aslaug, who successfully seduced him and became pregnant with his child. Meanwhile, Lagertha ruled the earldom in his stead, but had to deal with a plague that killed her young daughter, Gyda, and Siggy’s daughter, Thyri.
At the start of Season 2 of “Vikings,” Rollo is prepared to lead Borg’s forces into battle against his brother. Want to find out what happens next? Tune into Vikings Season 2 premiere at 10 p.m. EST on Thursday night on History.