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Read this before you see the second half of Vikings season 6

Vikings has been a roaring success for History, but all good things must come to an end. In 2019, the network announced that its first-ever scripted series would wrap up after its sixth season, with the show's creator telling Variety that he wasn't interested in going beyond that. "I felt that I'd said all I needed to say about Ragnar and his sons," Michael Hirst said. "But, there are 20 new episodes to come. We visit three new worlds in those episodes, we go through great tragedies and great heroism, and if you have tears to weep be prepared to weep them as you watch season 6." Now that we're halfway through the sixth and final season, we have a much better idea of what Hirst was talking about.

The first ten episodes of Vikings season 6 contained some huge shocks. Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) was murdered by her dead ex's mentally unstable son during the sixth episode, and the ever-vengeful Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen) returned to Scandinavia with an army of Rus Vikings at his back. Ivar appeared to have the upper hand as the credits rolled after the mid-season finale, but the tenth episode left fans with as many questions as it did answers. Did those major deaths happen for real? Will we ever go back to Wessex? And why is the same actress playing two different characters? Here's everything you need to know before watching the second half of Vikings season 6. Potential spoilers ahead.

When will the second half of Vikings season 6 be released?

History hasn't set an official release date for the second half of Vikings season 6 yet, but all the evidence points to a fall release. "The remaining 10 episodes of season 6 are slated to air in 2020," Deadline confirmed ahead of the sixth season's premiere in 2019. If the report still holds true and the network does indeed want to get all the remaining episodes out in 2020, it would have to start dishing them out by October at the latest, though history suggests that it will wait until the following month — the second parts of seasons 4 and 5 both premiered in November and ran over into the next year.

Vikings season 6 wrapped long before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down film and TV productions the world over ("We stopped shooting the final episode in November last year," Michael Hirst told Variety in 2019), so we don't expect there to be any coronavirus-related delays when it comes to the remaining episodes. To their credit, the cast has been actively engaging with fans during the virus crisis, urging them to stay home and stay safe. Floki actor Gustaf Skarsgård won praise from his Vikings co-stars when he shared a corona-themed poem on his Instagram, calling for calm in uncertain times. "I just hope we don't resort to chaos and calamity, now we're finally forced to face our own mortality," he said.

Is Bjorn Ironside really dead?

The biggest question that Vikings fans had after the mid-season finale was about Alexander Ludwig's Bjorn Ironside. Bjorn became the series lead when his father (Travis Fimmel's Ragnar Lothbrok) departed for Valhalla in season 4, thrown into a pit of snakes by the Northumbrians. Following in Fimmel's footsteps was always going to be tricky, but just as viewers were starting to accept Ludwig as the new face of the show, he was killed off in similarly shocking fashion. Or was he? Bjorn was dealt a seemingly fatal blow from his brother Ivar in season 6's tenth episode, though Ludwig has remained coy when quizzed about Bjorn's current status.

"That's the big question, I guess," he told TV Guide. "It'll have to bring the fans back to keep watching. It certainly doesn't look good for him, I'll tell you that." Even someone as formidable as Bjorn Ironside is going to struggle to shake off being run through with a sword, but an on-set photo that Ludwig shared on his Instagram Stories seemed to confirm that he doesn't die on the battlefield. In the snap (via Express), Ludwig sports Bjorn's scars and tattoos, however his beard and hair are gray, suggesting that he actually lives to an old age. The actor told Entertainment Tonight that he'd been ordered to keep Bjorn's fate a secret, but he's also promised that we will see "a version of Bjorn in the next season in some way, shape or form."

Was the mid-season finale all a dream?

Another explanation for Bjorn's gray beard is everything that happened to him in the mid-season finale was some kind of vision or dream, a tactic the show has employed in the past. The big battle scene between Bjorn's forces and Ivar's Rus army was "incredibly hard to follow," Forbes said in its review. "Not only did it take place across multiple locations, at times out of chronological order, it was interspersed with Ivar's planning and an intimate conversation on the beach between Ivar and Bjorn." The unusual way in which the episode played out has some fans convinced that it was all happening in Bjorn's head.

"The title 'Best Laid Plans' explains the entire episode," one Reddit user claimed. "The reason it seemed like everyone was [astral] projecting everywhere is because the battle hasn't even begun. What if most of the episode is Bjorn imagining different strategies and scenarios based on Ivar's plans?" This popular fan theory gained some extra credence when Michael Hirst spoke to TV Guide — the show's creator confirmed that not everything we saw in the mid-season finale actually happened. 

"Well, he's not dead, is he? He's very, very badly wounded," Hirst said of Bjorn. "I can't tell you too much, but what I can tell you is the [mid-season premiere] is an extraordinary episode and a number of things that you thought were true at the end of [the mid-season finale] proved not to be quite true."

What's the deal with Hvitserk and Ivar?

Vikings fans were left baffled when Ragnar's most unremarkable son Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø) reunited with his brutal brother Ivar the Boneless in the first part of season 6. Ivar immolated Hvitserk's girlfriend Thora (Eve Conolly) and sent him spiralling into addiction and madness, a madness that led to him accidentally murdering his father's first love in cold blood. Hvitserk is exiled from Kattegat after killing Lagertha, but instead of starting over by himself he runs back to Ivar. Has he really forgiven Ivar for what he did, or is Hvitserk pulling the wool over his brother's eyes?

Some fans believe that Hvitserk will kill Ivar in the second half of season 6, and Alex Høgh Andersen would apparently be okay with this. "One of his brothers should kill him," the Danish actor told Entertainment Tonight. "That would be karma with a capital K and I like that." He didn't single out Hvitserk as the one who should do the killing, but Michael Hirst has indicated that there's way more to come from Hvitserk in the remaining ten episodes. Speaking to TV Guide, Hirst praised Ilsø's performance and promised an "extraordinary" end to his character's arc. "He absolutely comes into his own and he finds out who he is," Hirst said. "Taken over all the seasons that he's been in the show, it's a quite remarkable journey that he's been on and ends in this in an equally extraordinary way."

Why does Katia look exactly like Freydis?

Another big question that fans want answered involves Swedish star Alicia Agneson, who has played two different characters on Vikings. In season 5, Ivar married Agneson's Freydis, a former slave that he freed and later killed after learning of her betrayal. Freydis helped Bjorn take Kattegat from Ivar, who fled to Russia in the first part of season 6. It's here that he meets Katia, the spitting image of his dead ex and the fiancée of violent Rus Viking Prince Oleg. In fact, the raven-haired princess is also portrayed by Agneson, so what gives? According to the actor, there was "quite a big spoiler" in the first part of season 6.

"In the last episode where Victor joins [the group] in Russia... he can't see the likeness [between Freydis and Katia], it's only Ivar," Agneson told Metro. The same thing happened when Ivar asked Hvitserk if he saw a similarity between Katia and Freydis, so it does seem as though it's all in Ivar's head. "I suppose you don't really know yet... but it's in the eye of the beholder," Agneson teased. "We'll see what happens and if [Katia] does know something about Freydis." 

What does Alex Høgh Andersen make of this theory? "I don't know, but it's interesting to think about," he told TV Guide"We have seen scenes of Katia though where she is looking like we always see her where Ivar's not in the scene, so that's some food for thought."

Did Floki escape that cave?

Longtime fan favorite Floki Vilgerðarson was absent during the first part of season 6, having been buried alive in a cave below an erupting volcano the previous season. The whole Floki-goes-to-Iceland storyline wasn't very well received overall, but viewers have been dying for the return of Ragnar's old comrade, refusing to believe that he's really dead. Gustaf Skarsgård told his Instagram followers that Floki didn't make it out of that cave in a post he shared ahead of the season 6 premiere, but would Michael Hirst really kill off Floki with a full season of the show remaining? The short answer is no, and there's proof.

According to SoundtrackTracklist.com, track 26 of the Vikings season 6 soundtrack album is titled "Floki Tells of Why He Left Iceland," which seems pretty self-explanatory. Somebody will clearly sit down for a catch up with Floki during the second part of season 6, most likely Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith). Ubbe and his wife Torvi (played by Georgia Hirst, daughter of the show's creator) traveled to Iceland in search of the famous boat builder during the first part of season 6, but they've yet to locate him, apparently because he's already left the island. So where did he go? Skarsgård has reportedly been spotted filming scenes for season 6, though at this stage their content is unknown. One popular fan theory is that Floki will become the new Seer of Kattegat in the last-ever episode of Vikings.

The Other(e) Athelstan

One person who seems to know more than he's letting on about Floki's true whereabouts is Othere (Ray Stevenson), a mysterious sailor who landed in Iceland after the former went missing. He revealed that his real name was Athelstan and that he was a former Anglo-Saxon monk. He killed the real Othere during one of his missionary expeditions, taking the wanderer's name and identity as his own. As it happens, Athelstan was also the name of the monk captured by Ragnar during his raid of Lindisfarne in season 1. Athelstan and Ragnar learned a lot from each other and were close friends — until Floki murdered the Christian for shaking Ragnar's belief in the Old Gods.

There's a theory that Othere is some kind of vengeful reincarnation of George Blagden's Athelstan, a core cast member during the first three seasons. The fact that he hands Ubbe Floki's wedding ring and tells him that he left because he had "no hope left for humanity" does seem fishy (Othere was shown to be a liar in a flashback), but it doesn't necessarily mean that he's harmed Floki — in fact, some fans believe it makes perfect sense. "Othere had Floki's wedding ring because he is Floki," one Reddit user surmised. "I believe that Michael Hirst will make Floki the God of Mischief by having Floki steal this man's identity and we will have a second version of this scene where we see Floki kill the wanderer."

Alfred 2.0

We didn't hear from Ferdia Walsh-Peelo's King Alfred during the first half of Vikings season 6, but he's set to make a triumphant return during the show's home stretch. In February 2020, Walsh-Peelo shared a behind-the-scenes snap of himself in character, revealing a new, grittier Alfred. "Vikings 6B hitting your screens later this year," he captioned the Instagram post. "Be prepared for the wrath of Alfred 2.0." He was covered in blood in the portrait, which was taken by none other than Ivar the Boneless actor Alex Høgh Andersen. The two will obviously go head to head in the second half of Vikings season 6, after Ivar decides that he has "unfinished business" with Alfred and Wessex.

"There is another Viking army that goes to England and the battles and the warfare is pretty pivotal in the history of the show and also the history of the real Vikings," Michael Hirst told Variety. "There are big set pieces and there's a lot to play for. By this stage, when they go back to England, Wessex is the last Saxon kingdom left. Every other kingdom in England has fallen to the Vikings." Alfred will defend his kingdom to his last breath (he can be seen yelling "We shall never surrender!" in the first teaser trailer), and it looks as though Hvitserk could be helping him — the final track on the Vikings season 6 score is called "Hvitserk Gets Baptised", suggesting that he'll ultimately side with the Christians over his brother.

The rise of Erik the Red

The sixth season episode "Death and the Serpent" will always be remembered as the one where Lagertha gets killed, but it also marked the first appearance of Erik Thorvaldsson, a real life Viking leader who founded the first Norse settlement on Greenland. Better known as Erik the Red (on account of "his red hair and possibly his hot temper," per History), he was exiled from Iceland after being found guilty of manslaughter and decided to sail west, where he happened upon a green land full of fertile valleys and fjords. Thorvaldsson went on to become one of the most famous Vikings of all time, and it seems as though his TV counterpart has some big plans, too.

In Vikings, Thorvaldsson (played by Canadian actor Eric Johnson) is an outlaw who steps in to help Bjorn Ironside in his feud with rival King Harald, the newly elected ruler of all Norway. He manages to save Bjorn's skin, but he doesn't do it simply because he's a nice guy. "For Erik, he has got his own agenda too, he has to look out for himself," Johnson said when Entertainment Tonight asked if Bjorn could trust Erik. They both join forces with Harald when Ivar and the Rus march on Vestfold, and when Harald is left badly wounded on the battlefield, it's Erik that scoops up his crown. Bjorn will no doubt expect Erik to hand the crown over to him, but will the outlaw part with it willingly?

Rollo never dies

Another fan favorite who is yet to appear in Vikings season 6 is Clive Standen's Rollo, brother of Ragnar Lothbrok and more than likely the real father of Ragnar's first son, Bjorn. Back in season 1 it was established that Rollo had a relationship with Lagertha before she got with Ragnar, and Rollo has always maintained that he's Bjorn's biological dad. Lagertha initially denied this, and Rollo hit another brick wall when he tried to broach the topic with Bjorn himself. "Rumors are a doubtful truth," Bjorn said, adding that he takes after Ragnar more than Rollo, who left the Viking life behind to marry Frankish princess Gisla (Morgane Polanski).

According to Standen, he knew from the very beginning that Bjorn's parentage would come into question. "It's something that the very first director, Johan Renck, whispered into my ear," he told Entertainment Tonight after the season 5 episode "The Redemption," in which Rollo opens up to Bjorn. "It's so rewarding to see that storyline, that it happened from a whisper into an actor's ear." 

Will this be the last we hear of it? And will Duke Rollo of Normandy return during the second half of season 6 in some shape or form? "I'm not allowed to say," Standen told the New York Post. "But Rollo never dies. Can't kill Rollo. I think I am one of the only original cast members that can hold their hand up and go, 'I'm still alive! Still out there somewhere in the world!'" 

Ivar's redemption

Ivar the Boneless has done some pretty terrible things since he debuted on the show back in season 2. He's murdered countless people during his rise to power (his own brother included), but according to Vikings creator Michael Hirst, Ivar isn't totally beyond redemption. In fact, he started on the road to it in the first half of season 6. "I think that Ivar actually has been redeemed, to some extent, by his relationship with the boy, with Igor (Oran Glynn O'Donovan)," Hirst told TV Guide. "Instead of being the narcissist he's always been, he's been able to be emotional, emotionally generous, and empathetic." Ivar has taken the young Rus prince under his wing, and their relationship will no doubt play a part in his final arc.

Bjorn actor Alexander Ludwig has said that Ivar will "absolutely" regret the mistakes that he's made in the past by the end of season 6. "Even a sociopath like Ivar has some sort of depth to him, and I think that towards the final 10 episodes you will see that," the Canadian actor said. According to the man who plays him, redemption will be Ivar's "main goal" during the second half of season 6. "I think he's a broken boy on the inside, and probably more broken on the inside than he is on the outside," Alex Høgh Andersen told TV Guide. "And that's partly because he hates himself and he's not happy. So redemption would be a way to get there."