[SPOILERS] VIKINGS Forges A New Course

If you haven’t watched last night’s Vikings, proceed with caution as spoilers abound.

As was inevitable, Vikings fans suffered a grievous loss last night when King Ragnar was murdered by his Anglo Saxon captors. The death of Ragnar is critical to the stories of his sons, who will now embark on a campaign of revenge, led by Ivar the Boneless. Nevertheless, it’s a painful transition as Ragnar has been the heart of the show from the beginning.

In a chat on Facebook this morning, series creator Michael Hirst described filming Ragnar’s last scene: “It did feel heavy. It was a very savage wintry day in Ireland and we were all there to witness the end. And, it was very moving for everyone, very bleak. At the same time it was very beautiful and intimate and truthful, very memorable. There was nothing fake about it, fantastically real and fantastically emotional.” He also talked about Travis Fimmel’s commitment to the scene: “Regarding the snakes, there were many different types of snakes. Some vipers. Some were much bigger than others. Historically speaking they would have been vipers. They are the most poisonous snakes in England. It was neat b/c we had to import them from England to Ireland for the pit. It was amazing to see Travis in the snake pit with 30-40 snakes. I wouldn’t have done it. Especially when they’re biting you.”

Hirst also dropped some hints on how the show will move forward without its leading man. Fans of Lagertha have no immediate need to worry about her fate, “Well for sure the next great story line is the plan to revenge the death of Ragnar. Lagertha remains a central player in the show. You know, she’s as popular now as Ragnar, and she’ll remain so.”

Here are some clips of pivotal scenes from last night’s episode, and a touching send off for Ragnar.