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The Biggest Questions Vikings Season 6 Still Has To Answer

Contains spoilers for the Vikings season 6 midseason finale

It's been a long road from Lindisfarne, but History Channel's hit medieval action-thriller Vikings is preparing to enter its final phase. The season 6 midseason finale, entitled "The Best Laid Plans," presented the audience with one final cliffhanger before Vikings begins its endgame. And what a cliffhanger it was. At the climax of the episode, which serves as the show's penultimate "finale," the long-building conflict between the Rus and the Scandinavians boiled over into a catastrophic battle that saw brooding anti-villain Ivar the Boneless (Alex Hough Anderson) push a sword through his half-brother and series mainstay, Bjorn "Ironside" Lothbrok (Alexander Ludwig). Though the wound certainly looked fatal, the camera doesn't linger quite long enough to confirm Bjorn's death.

Of course, this represents the first big question that the back half of season 6 will have to address: the fate of Bjorn. In TV world, it's always best to maintain a healthy skepticism regarding character deaths, and Vikings has been a particularly liberal offender when it comes to the ol' dead-guy-fake-out (see: Ragnar, Lagertha, and Floki). One theory — deriving largely from the title of Vikings season 6, episode 10 — argues that the big battle between Norway and the Rus might have taken place entirely in Bjorn's head. That seems like an awful lot of budget to spend on a daydream, though it certainly underscores the skepticism some watchers maintain about the finality of a major character's "death."

Bjorn's fate isn't the only lingering question on Vikings season 6

Whether Bjorn proves even more iron-sided than we thought and survives the injury, or wakes up from a no-good-very-bad-dream during the very first frame of Vikings' midseason premiere, regular viewers are going to be eager for confirmation of his fate. That said, there's another question just as big and arguably more important than the resolution of episode 10's cliffhanger. This question lingers in the longest line of dramatic tension that's moved through Vikings since season 1, a question that remains at the highest narrative level, even though it's been supplanted on recent episodes by the more pressing threat of Ivar and his savage Rus. This question relates to narrative seeds that were planted back in the series' earliest days, when Ragnar led the first raiding party across the ocean to a strange land called Wessex: What will be the fate of England?

Vikings has played fast and loose with the historical record (which is a little fast and loose in its own right), changing timelines and fudging the details of true events, but despite all the creative leeway taken by the writers, the series has always returned to key moments from its source material.

Will Ubbe and Ivar take the war back to Wessex?

Back on season 1 of Vikings, Ragnar's journey across the unnavigable sea culminated in the brutal sack of Lindisfarne — a historical event that marked the beginning of the Viking Age in England. The historical Ragnar Lothbrok also had three wives and at least five sons, and died at the hands of King Aella of Northumbria by supposedly falling into a pit of poisonous snakes. In the wake of Ragnar's death, his sons led a massive-scale invasion of England known in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as The Great Heathen Invasion. Though a bit out of order and out of time, these events were all dramatized on Vikings season 4. 

And then there's Alfred. Vikings went to great pains to introduce the grandson of King Ecbert, the only English monarch in history to earn the cognomen "The Great." Aflred's "great" accomplishment in his lifetime was the preservation of England in the face of a rampaging Scandinavian horde. If not for Alfred's defense of Wessex in the 9th Century, the whole island might still be known as Daneland. And which of Ragnar's two historical sons figured the most prominently in the struggle against Alfred's Wessex? Ubbe and Ivar, played on Vikings by the familiar-looking Jordan Patrick Smith and Alex Høgh Andersen, respectively.

Whether or not Bjorn survives to appear on the second half of Vikings season 6, the war between Kattegut and the Rus is poised to reach a quick conclusion. The real question remaining is whether Ubbe and Ivar will set their enmities aside to take the war back to Alfred and the shores of England.

What will happen with King Harald and Erik the Red?

As with most series as often brutal and bloody as Vikings, another possible death beyond Bjorn's occurred on the midseason finale: that of King Harald Finehair (Peter Frenzén). On "The Best Laid Plans," King Harald sustained grave injuries amid the chaos of the battle for Vestfold — with the Rus invading from the beach and the river, climbing the mountain that separates the river from the capital, and ultimately overwhelming the Viking army. King Harald put up a valiant fight, as did Bjorn and Erik Thorvaldsson, a.k.a. Erik the Red (Eric Johnson), but was badly wounded. Erik attempted to rescue King Harald as their forces retreated, but the king told Erik to save himself and find "another home."

Will King Harald pass on to Valhalla? Will Erik, who historically hasn't ever been a king, try his hand at claiming the throne in the wake of Harald's death? Or will something else happen? 

Vikings showrunner Michael Hirst didn't confirm or deny whether King Harald — and Bjorn, for that matter — had actually died on the tenth episode of season 6, but he did tell TV Guide (via Herald Tribune) that fans will learn the truth soon enough.

"I think perhaps one of the unexpected things about that episode, the last episode of 6A, was how definitive it seemed to be that this is a wipeout for the Vikings that we've never really seen. We've seen the power of the Rus. I mean, those extraordinary scenes in episode nine, when we see the Rus army marching out and we realised just how formidable and huge that army is. It's not a surprise that the Vikings can't hold them," said Hirst. "A lot of Vikings are killed, and Harald and Bjorn are certainly extremely, seriously, seriously wounded and likely to die. But what happens after that is saved for [episode 11]."

Vikings is scheduled to return for its final 10 episodes sometime later in 2020.