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The Best Vikings Episodes According To IMDb

Of all the fearsome warriors to make their way into the history books, the Vikings are undoubtedly among the boldest. Inspired by their gods and the glory of Valhalla, these seafaring Scandinavians helped shape the face of Europe and left an indelible mark on the world. Written and created by Michael Hirst, the hit series "Vikings" explores their exploits through the perspective of Norse legend Ragnar Lothbrok and his family line.

Like the real Ragnar — whose adventures were chronicled in a number of Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, and Frankish texts — the Ragnar of "Vikings" (played by Travis Fimmel) leads his people on daring raids, menacing medieval Christians across the British Isles and beyond. Deftly weaving authentic storytelling, stunning settings, and just the right amount of violence, the show captured the spirit of the Vikings and inspired a Netflix spinoff series, "Vikings: Valhalla."

These are the very best "Vikings" episodes, according to IMDb.

Brother's War (Season 2, Episode 1)

Being a leader in the "Vikings" world comes with plenty of perks, but there's always someone who wants what you've got, and for Ragnar Lothbrok in "Brother's War," the green-eyed monster is his brother Rollo (Clive Standen). Despite Rollo's treachery (he joined Jarl Borg's army and fought against his own people), Ragnar just can't go through with killing him. When Borg and King Horik (to whom Ragnar is loyal at this point in time) agree on peace terms, Ragnar returns to Kattegat with Rollo as his prisoner. A lawgiver is called upon to decide the traitor's fate, and — despite the prevailing sentiment in Kattegat — he frees Rollo. What Ragnar's people don't know is that he has secretly bribed the lawgiver, securing his brother's release.

"Brother's War" also sees Ragnar grieving for his daughter Gyda (who succumbed to the plague) and dealing with the arrival of Princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland), who is carrying his child. Ragnar floats the idea of taking Aslaug as his second wife, which doesn't go down well with his first wife, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick). It's the final straw for Lagertha, who leaves Kattegat with Bjorn (Ragnar's firstborn son) at her side. Nerdophiles praised the scene, calling it "poignant" and noting that it was "satisfying to see Lagertha take her life in her own hands and not tolerate Ragnar's bulls***." The episode is an emotional one for Ragnar, with Travis Fimmel giving a touching performance as he mourns his daughter.

Treachery (Season 2, Episode 3)

When King Horik (Donal Logue) reneges on his promise to raid with Jarl Borg (Thorbjørn Harr), the latter is left seething. Ragnar and Horik take off for England without him in "Treachery," a move that leaves Ragnar uneasy. After a storm unexpectedly sends Ragnar and Horik's fleet to Wessex instead of Northumbria, they encounter King Ecbert's (Linus Roache) men for the first time. They make quick work of the Wessex warriors and proceed to pillage the monastery at Winchester, with Ecbert's men keeping an eye on their activities from a distance.

Things are going well for the Vikings in England, but changes are afoot at home. With Ragnar away, the stung Borg sails from Götaland to take Kattegat in his absence. As all of Ragnar's best fighters are with him across the sea, it's an easy win for Borg. Rollo, Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig), and the Lothbrok children retreat to the world's worst Airbnb to wait for his return.

"Treachery" does a great job laying the groundwork for future moves. Jarl Borg's assault on Kattegat gives Rollo a reason to drag himself out of the gutter and become a warrior again, kickstarting his redemption arc. George Blagden's Athelstan (a Christian monk who Ragnar brought home from his first raid) begins to struggle with conflicting loyalties stemming from his inner religious turmoil. The episode also establishes Lagertha's need to rid herself of her new husband, the abusive Jarl Sigvard of Hedeby.

Answers in Blood (Season 2, Episode 5)

"Answers in Blood" brings Lagertha, Bjorn (now played by Alexander Ludwig following the first big time jump), and Ragnar back together. Lagertha decides to help her ex regain control of Kattegat, mobilizing troops without the knowledge of her abusive husband. They don't have enough warriors to take on Jarl Borg in a fair fight, so the former lovers decide to hit him where it hurts and burn his winter food supply. It's a psychological blow for Borg, and it works wonders — when the two sides meet in battle, the usurper retreats, abandoning Kattegat to its rightful ruler.

High on victory, Ragnar pitches the whole polygamy idea to Lagertha once more. While it's clear that she still has feelings for her blue-eyed ex, she takes another hard pass. Bjorn opts to stay with Ragnar, however, having forgiven him. "Answers in Blood" is the first episode in which Bjorn and Ragnar fight alongside one another as grown men, an echo of Bjorn's childhood pleas to raid with his father. It was great to see father and son on the same page, but it's mom who steals the show here. "This is very much Lagertha's episode," the AV Club said in its review. "In the final scene — leaving Ragnar and Bjorn for the second time and riding off in command of her troop of warriors (after just having helped her former husband regain his lands) — Lagertha triumphs."

Unforgiven (Season 2, Episode 6)

Ragnar finally asserts himself over King Horik and Jarl Borg in "Unforgiven," a brutal episode from Season 2. After barely making it out of Wessex alive, an angry Horik shows up in Kattegat, revealing to Ragnar that King Ecbert's forces got the better of them after he left to deal with Borg. Horik makes an unexpected proposal: They should ask Borg to join them in attacking Wessex. Secretly incensed, Ragnar goes along with the plan. As soon as he gets the chance, he takes his revenge. Under Ragnar's orders, Rollo traps and burns Borg's men before imprisoning Borg. Ragnar sentences him to the most violent punishment in the Viking world — the dreaded blood eagle.

While "Unforgiven" mainly focuses on the tensions between Borg, Horik, and Ragnar, there's also some movement in the secondary storylines. Bjorn develops feelings for an enslaved girl and begins to pursue her. In Hedeby, Lagertha's domestic situation boils over as her no-good husband has his men beat her severely. Later, in what is possibly Lagertha's best scene, she quietly seethes as he humiliates her at dinner. It's the last thing he ever does. Pushed to her limit, Lagertha stabs Sigvard in the eye, and — after a tense beat — one of his men beheads him. It's a triumphant moment for the shieldmaiden, who takes over the Earldom with the blessing of the people.

Blood Eagle (Season 2, Episode 7)

Season 2 episode "Blood Eagle" is about exactly that: Jarl Borg getting blood eagled. It's a gruesome punishment that involves detaching the ribs from the spine to form makeshift wings on the victim's back, though the scene was shot in a way that spares us most of the gory details. Worried that they still need Borg's men and boats to take on Wessex, Horik asks Ragnar to wait until they've found another ally before completing the dirty deed. Luckily, Lagertha has just become an earl in her own right after overthrowing her awful husband, and she agrees to join the raid.

A lot goes down as we await Borg's execution. Ragnar learns that Athelstan is still alive via the Seer, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) gets married without inviting Ragnar to the party, and back in Wessex, King Aelle of Northumbria (Ivan Kaye) allies with Ecbert, making England a more formidable foe. The final scene sees Ragnar, true to his word, blood eagling Borg in a disturbing public spectacle. "It is a totally extraordinary TV event, I think," Michael Hirst told the Chicago Tribune. "And one of the things I'm proudest of." What makes it all the more disturbing is that Borg endures the ordeal in silence, guaranteeing his place in Valhalla. The episode will always be remembered for this moment, but it also does a good job of showing how tenuous Ragnar's grip on everything is.

The Choice (Season 2, Episode 9)

"The Choice" pushes Lagertha and Ragnar's alliance with King Horik to its limits as they disagree over how to handle the situation with King Ecbert. With farming on their minds, Ragnar and Lagertha are eager to sit down with Ecbert, especially since Ragnar recently learned that his good buddy Athelstan is in his care. Ragnar is doubtful that the Norsemen can win and feels negotiation is the only way forward. Horik (whose son was killed during the first raid on Wessex) is only interested in revenge.

After sharing his library of ancient texts with Athelstan (who is able to translate them), Ecbert has Roman military strategy on his side. This results in a memorable melee scene that goes beyond the usual shield wall action. In the aftermath of the battle, Ecbert finds Rollo nearly dead and plucks him from the battlefield, nursing him back to health.

When King Aelle suggests that the allied Saxon armies celebrate their victory by wiping out the rest of the Vikings, Ecbert shuts him down. The wiser of the two English kings by far, Ecbert knows that fighting the Norsemen year after year is not the way to go. With this in mind, he offers them a deal: He will give them the farmland they desire in exchange for a mercenary army to help Princess Kwentrith (Amy Bailey) take the neighboring kingdom of Mercia. It's a huge win for Ragnar, who only ever wanted to settle on England's lush lands.

The Lord's Prayer (Season 2, Episode 10)

It's party time in Season 2's "The Lord's Prayer." Having cemented a deal with the Saxons, Ragnar returns to Kattegat with his fleet. Convening ahead of the agreed-upon attack on Mercia, Horik and Lagertha arrive with their entourages in tow. Horik brings his remaining kids and his wife, the legendary shieldmaiden Gunnhild (Elizabeth Moynihan). Everyone is seemingly getting ready to party hearty, but there's treachery afoot: Horik wasn't behind Ragnar's deal with Ecbert, and he plans to wipe out the whole Lothbrok family.

For weeks Horik had been trying to get inside Floki's head in an attempt to turn the boat builder against Ragnar. For a while, it appears as though he's succeeded. This episode does a great job of making it look like Ragnar is going to be ambushed in his own home, only to reveal that he was ahead of the game. It turns out that Floki has been playing Horik, who gets brutally killed by an incensed Ragnar. With the king now dead, the former farmer takes the crown for himself.

The episode is named after the touching scene in which Athelstan helps Ragnar recite the Lord's Prayer, a meditation on how important the blending of their two cultures has been for both men. The spiritual moment seems fittingly placed as it almost immediately precedes Ragnar's ascension to king, a moment that's marked by a beautiful ending scene with King Ragnar surveying his lands from on high.

Mercenary (Season 3, Episode 1)

"Mercenary" kicks off Season 3 of "Vikings" in style. Ragnar prepares to make good on his promise to take Mercia, while Lagertha starts working with those who intend to cross the sea and begin farming in Wessex. She decides to leave her new loverboy Kalf (Ben Robson) in charge of Hedeby, but little does she know that he has dreams of becoming earl himself. He teams up with Einar (Steve Wall), the man who removed the head of Lagertha's abusive ex-husband. Einar had expected to become the next man in Lagertha's life, but that didn't happen, and he's had it in for her ever since. There's also tension between Ragnar and Aslaug, who resents how little he seems to care about his disabled son Ivar.

With Lagertha away, Kalf puts his plan to usurp her into action. Across the sea, the shieldmaiden has a new suitor — King Ecbert. The ruler of Wessex is into her big time, though, as they speak different languages, things become a little awkward. Athelstan has to play interpreter when Ecbert visits Lagertha on the farmland he's set aside for the Norse settlers, providing some rare levity. "Mercenary" ends with an epic battle scene, as the Norsemen arrive in Mercia and do what they do best. The episode makes excellent use of the bigger budget allotted for Season 3. "The already beautiful cinematography now depicts larger landscapes, buildings, and sets," said Den of Geek in its review.

Born Again (Season 3, Episode 6)

Season 3's "Born Again" is one of the most emotional episodes of "Vikings." The title refers to the rebirth of Athelstan, whose years of religious turmoil come to an abrupt end. The former monk has a vision and embraces his Christian faith once more, considering himself to be born again. He takes off the arm ring that Ragnar gave him, but Athelstan is still fully committed to his dear friend, and he's willing to follow King Ragnar wherever he goes.

The episode also includes two new arrivals: Bjorn and Þórunn (Gaia Weiss) welcome baby Siggy, and we also witness the birth of Judith's (Jennie Jacques) child Alfred, destined to be known as Alfred the Great. Drama surrounds Alfred's birth, as he's not the son of Judith's husband, Prince Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford). When she reveals that Athelstan is the father, King Ecbert sees it as divine intervention and ends her interrogation — but not before she loses an ear. Sadly, Athelstan never gets to meet his child.

Having grown even more suspicious of Athelstan now that he's openly Christian again, Floki decides to kill him. A serene Athelstan doesn't try to stop him, welcoming martyrdom like a sacrificial lamb. There's a beautiful scene in which Ragnar carries his friend's body up a mountain to be buried, talking to him all the while. He fashions a wooden cross for his grave before shaving his head and placing Athelstan's gold cross around his neck.

To the Gates! (Season 3, Episode 8)

"To the Gates!" is one of the most memorable episodes of "Vikings," largely because it was the first time viewers saw Ragnar suffer a crushing defeat. The ambitious Viking had been obsessing over Paris ever since learning of its riches from Athelstan. He was confident that he and his army would be able to scale the walls and take all that treasure for themselves, but he grossly underestimated the scale of the city and the prowess of the Franks. The Parisians used their advanced crossbows to devastating effect and doused the Viking invaders with oil, setting many of them on fire. The spectacular battle far exceeded anything the series had done up until that point.

The failed invasion is refreshingly true to history since, in reality, the Vikings made several attempts to take Paris before they were successful. The history books also tell us that Bjorn Ironside didn't die raiding Paris, which made his death fakeout a little redundant, but this didn't ruin the episode. Fans loved it, and so did the critics. "The storming of Paris was epic in all the best ways, and even more so in that the Vikings were rebuffed, handily defeated, their corpses piled beneath the city's walls," said Forbes.

Breaking Point (Season 3, Episode 9)

"Breaking Point" picks up where "To the Gates!" left off, with the Vikings launching a second assault on Paris. Ragnar, badly injured from the first attack, is stuck watching the festivities from afar. The Viking forces flood one of the bridges that leads into the city, but just when the invaders think they're about to get inside, the Franks break out a horrifically effective weapon — a massive spiked wheel on tracks straight out of an Indiana Jones film.

The Vikings turn to flee, but several are impaled on the spikes as it cuts through them like grass. It makes for a delightfully gruesome scene, though the tables are turned when Rollo figures out they can jam the death wheel in place with weapons. And yet, while the Norsemen make a valiant effort, it ultimately fails. Once again, they return to their camp, frustrated and disappointed.

The tide is only turned when a sudden illness hits Paris. Residents start dropping like flies, and the Franks are forced to offer Ragnar some riches to go away. To their surprise, a payoff isn't his priority — Ragnar wants to be baptized so he can see Athelstan again in heaven. This also comes as a shock to Ragnar's fellow Vikings, who can't quite believe what they're witnessing. The Franks, believing they're getting off easy, happily oblige.

The Dead (Season 3, Episode 10)

"The Dead" finally sees Ragnar do what so many college students dream of: He gets to see Paris up close and personal, and he isn't going to leave without a few souvenirs. The final episode of Season 3 is among the most satisfying, as a ploy long in the making comes to fruition. When the Franks wonder why the Norsemen haven't left their shores yet, Bjorn tells them that his dad is too sick to travel. In fact, he's a dying man, and he'd love nothing more than to have a Christian funeral with all the trimmings. Bjorn knows that this is all a ruse, but he's one of the few that do.

Ragnar fakes his death and fully commits to the charade, allowing the likes of Floki, Rollo, and even Lagertha to think he's gone. He gets inside a coffin (with air holes), and the king's casket is escorted into Paris to be blessed by a priest. Just as viewers are getting ready to say goodbye to the show's protagonist, Ragnar bursts out of his coffin, murders the priest, and takes Princess Gisla (Morgane Polanski) hostage at knifepoint. He walks her to the gates unopposed and lets his army into the city. It's a brilliant ending to the first Paris arc. The episode allows Bjorn to finally step out of Ragnar's shadow while also setting up a return to Rollo's former days of treachery.

A Good Treason (Season 4, Episode 1)

Season 4 opener "A Good Treason" set a darker tone for the show, which was quite a feat considering everything that went down before it. Still suffering from the injuries he sustained in Paris, Ragnar is forced to deal with Floki when he learns that Bjorn has had the boat builder arrested for Athelstan's murder. Over in Hedeby, Kalf tells the people that he and Lagertha will now rule jointly, despite her declaration that she plans to kill him someday. For good measure, he executes the mustachioed schemer Einar (who just can't let his hatred for Lagertah go) along with the rest of the anti-Lagertha party.

The most shocking part of this episode happens back across the sea in Frankia. Rollo and Princess Gisla appeared to have a moment when they locked eyes during the siege of Paris, and when the king of the Franks offers his daughter's hand in marriage in exchange for Rollo joining their ranks, he accepts. To prove his loyalty to Paris, he murders the rest of the Norsemen that Ragnar left behind. It's a brutal betrayal, one that nobody back home has any idea about it. Seeing Rollo turn heel again is both disturbing and satisfying all at once. It's exactly the kind of writing that makes "Vikings" so fun to watch.

The Last Ship (Season 4, Episode 10)

Ragnar and Rollo's rivalry comes to a head in "The Last Ship," the mid-season finale of Season 4. When the Vikings return to Frankia, they meet a force now led by Rollo, who knows exactly what to expect. Ragnar is now reliant on a drug (most likely opium) that he's been getting from Yidu (Dianne Doan), one of the slaves brought back from Frankia during the previous visit. He's a shadow of his former self, while Rollo is more confident than ever. An epic battle between the two forces ensues, with a high-as-a-kite Ragnar coming to blows with Rollo. The latter comes out on top, marking the end of Ragnar's glory days. The Vikings retreat as the battered and bruised Rollo limps back into Paris, where he's hailed as a hero.

After another big time jump (Michael Hirst told Entertainment Weekly that it was between six and eight years later), we discover that Ragnar vanished following the Paris defeat, leaving Aslaug and Bjorn to rule in his place. Ragnar simply disappearing for that length of time feels a bit unsatisfying, but this episode was intended as something of a soft reboot. His younger sons are now all grown up, ambitious young men in their own right. When Ragnar returns to a larger, more cosmopolitan Kattegat at the end of the episode, there's a sense that he's a stranger in his own land. Still, nobody seems keen on challenging him for the crown.

In the Uncertain Hour Before Morning (Season 4, Episode 14)

Lagertha takes her sweet revenge against Aslaug in the Season 4 episode "In the Uncertain Hour Before Morning," and it kickstarts a series of events that changes the Viking world. With Ragnar no longer the man he was, Bjorn is doing most of the heavy lifting in terms of running Kattegat. Aslaug is still queen in name, but that's about to change — Lagertha's forces storm the city and she takes the throne for herself. Powerless to stop her, Aslaug asks only that she be allowed to leave in peace. Lagertha agrees, only to put an arrow in her back as she walks away. She did steal her husband, after all.

Meanwhile, the unawares Ragnar arrives in Wessex with Ivar (Alex Høgh Andersen) at his side. The small fleet they took with them got wrecked in a storm, and they're pretty much helpless. Ragnar is at the mercy of his longtime frenemy Ecbert, who cannot bring himself to kill him. Ragnar urges Ecbert to hand him over to Aelle and let Ivar leave, convincing him that his sons will seek revenge on the Northumbrian king rather than him. It's one last stroke of genius from Ragnar, and it was a brilliant piece of writing. IGN called "In the Uncertain Hour Before Morning" one of the "best and most poignant episodes to date" in its glowing review.

All His Angels (Season 4, Episode 15)

The Seer once told Ragnar that he would die on the day the blind man sees. That prophecy pretty much came true after Ecbert handed the feared Viking over to Aelle in the memorable episode "All His Angels." The Northumbrian swore "eternal enmity" against Ragnar when the Norseman raided his kingdom back in the first season of "Vikings," and he's keen to take his revenge. Ragnar gets sent off to his doom on the back of a wagon, and he can't help but notice something about the driver — he's blind. The Seer was only half right, however. As Ragnar proudly points out, he's still days away from reaching Aelle, confirming his belief that he has always been the master of his own fate.

Those familiar with the Viking sagas knew that Ragnar's time was up as soon as he got suspended over a pit of snakes — that's how he supposedly died in real life, though historians continue to debate this, along with Ragnar's actual existence. This version of events made for great television, however, and it went down well with the critics. Forbes called it a "respectful send-off to one of the best modern TV characters," while IGN dubbed Ragnar's death "a bold, brutal hero's exit." It was as emotional as it was violent, with Ragnar's life flashing before his eyes.

Crossings (Season 4, Episode 16)

"Crossings" finds the Scandinavian and English worlds grappling with the consequences of Ragnar's death. If it was ever in doubt, this episode makes it clear that Lagertha never stopped loving Ragnar. "Likely a day doesn't go by that she regrets her decision to leave him," as Den of Geek said in its review. "And now, faced with the stark reality that her ex-husband's sons have vowed to kill her, she must decide how to proceed." There's something beautifully tragic about watching her accept this reality while still feeling so close to the man whose heart she owned.

Concerned about a possible invasion (and after learning from the Seer that she is fated to be killed by one of Ragnar's sons), Lagertha has her people get to work fortifying Kattegat. Meanwhile, Bjorn and a Viking force that includes Floki, King Harald of Norway (Peter Franzén), and his brother Halfdan the Black (Jasper Pääkkönen) set out to raid new lands to the south. They reach the city of Algeciras in Spain, where they encounter Muslims for the first time. They storm a mosque, and Floki is awestruck when the worshippers inside refuse to break from their prayers, even after one of them is killed. Their dedication to their god appears to have a deep impact on him, and it's a sign of a coming crisis for the staunchly pagan character.

Revenge (Season 4, Episode 18)

Before Ivar left Wessex, Ragnar told him that the Vikings were to take revenge on Ecbert, despite him having given the Saxon king assurances that this wouldn't happen. While the two men understood each other on a certain level, Ragnar couldn't forgive Ecbert for slaughtering the settlers he left behind. Upon learning of their father's death, Ragnar's sons form what the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle refers to as the Great Heathen Army. In the show, this massive Viking force is assembled to do one thing and one thing only — avenge Ragnar's death.

We see the formation of this legendary army in Season 4's "Revenge." As the one who carried the message home, Ivar believes he should lead the army, though, as Ragnar's eldest son and the most proficient in battle, Bjorn thinks he's the man for the job. In the end, all that matters is that they achieve their goal. Before they go after Ecbert, however, Ragnar's sons want to make the man who killed him pay. The army arrives in Northumbria and easily overcomes King Aelle's army. It's bad news for Aelle, who doesn't get an easy death. There's only one punishment fitting for the man who murdered Ragnar Lothbrok — Aelle is taken to the spot where Ragnar died and subjected to the blood eagle.

On the Eve (Season 4, Episode 19)

The attack that Lagertha has been anticipating finally comes to pass in Season 4's "On the Eve," though her prep work pays off. The defenses she put in place hold steady, and the assault on Kattegat is thwarted. Lagertha presses the captured Egil (Charlie Kelly) to admit that he was sent by King Harald, who has long held ambitions of ruling over all of Norway. Things aren't going much better for Harald in Mercia. The Danish princess he's been pining for tries to pull a fast one, seducing him with a knife behind her back. His brother Halfdan kills her just in time, saving his life.

Aethelwulf's army finally arrives to confront the Vikings, but — despite all the bickering amongst the brothers — the Norsemen get the upper hand. They pull off a clever battle maneuver, tricking the Saxons into making for the Viking ships and then ambushing them. It's one of the more strategic battles in the series, and the win only serves to empower Ivar, who is getting more and more full of himself. IGN was full of praise for the "action-packed" fight scenes, saying: "Separate battles in both Kattegat and Wessex showcased our main characters thinking on their feet, employing out-of-the-box tricks, and dismantling their enemies."

The Reckoning (Season 4, Episode 20)

With the Great Heathen Army on his doorstep after its defeat of King Aelle's forces further north, King Ecbert of Wessex is in a reflective mood in the Season 4 finale "The Reckoning." In a shrewd move that Ragnar would have been proud of, the aging ruler secretly abdicates the throne to his son, knowing that any deal he strikes with the Norsemen will be void under Saxon law. When the Vikings arrive, Ivar is dead set on blood eagling Ecbert, but Bjorn doesn't agree. Ragnar's eldest son knows that their dad respected his adversary, so he lets the Saxon king choose his method of death: Ecbert opts to take his own life in his beloved Roman bathhouse.

"One reason why 'The Reckoning' works as well as it does is its focus on Linus Roache's Ecbert, whose manic self-sacrifice to the advancing hordes carries a Lear-like gravitas," the AV Club said. "Roache makes Ecbert's fall, in its own way, as moving as was Ragnar's." With Ragnar now fully avenged, the bickering between his sons reaches a fever pitch. Bjorn and Ivar have different ideas about what the Great Heathen Army should do next, and when Sigurd begins to mock Ivar, he snaps. In a horrific and unexpected turn of events, Ivar throws an ax at Sigurd, killing him in front of his shocked brothers.

Homeland (Season 5, Episode 3)

Season 5's "Homeland" sees Floki begin his exploration of Iceland, which he found completely by accident. A place of great natural beauty, he believes that the island is in fact Asgard, the land of the gods. Like much of this season, the episode dances almost dizzyingly from one stunning geographic location to another. After taking the advice of Halfdan, Bjorn decides to send most of his fleet home and pose as a tradesman in the Mediterranean. The two men receive a strange reception upon their arrival in Sicily, where Norsemen look almost alien to the locals.

Over in England, the Vikings that opted to remain behind with Ivar launch their assault on York. Ivar is truly terrifying in this episode as he screams maniacally during the battle that ensues, surrounded by blood and clanging metal. We witness the beginning of his god complex when a slave woman he frees tells him that he's been chosen. With Ivar now seen as the leader of the Great Heathen Army, a jaded Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) heads home to Kattegat. In Norway, Astrid (Josefin Asplund) and Harald come to an agreement, despite her conflicted loyalties. It's delightfully difficult to tell what her true motivations are at this point.

The Joke (Season 5, Episode 8)

Ivar and Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø) set about trying to avenge their mother in Season 5's "The Joke." The sons of Ragnar remain split over Lagertha's murder of Aslaug, and civil war now appears unavoidable. Bjorn and Halfdan have returned from their adventures in the south and are ready to defend Kattegat on Lagertha's behalf. At first, it seems as though the bloodshed might be avoided. Ivar expresses regret over his murder of Sigurd and seems reluctant to go into battle against his remaining brothers, but honor dictates that he kill Lagertha for what she did to his mother.

With the peace talks breaking down, the long-awaited civil war begins, and it doesn't disappoint. "Visually, the battle for Kattegat is stunning," said Den of Geek in its review. "[Michael] Hirst takes the typically graphic, hand-to-hand combat segment to a new level." Meanwhile, things aren't going well for Floki in Iceland, where the settlers are beginning to squabble over whether they should be building temples to the gods before their own houses. It's pretty cold in Iceland, after all.

Hell (Season 5, Episode 15)

One of the best episodes from "Vikings" Season 5's second half, "Hell" sees the murderous Ivar at his darkest and most disturbed, which really is saying something. Perhaps the high point of the episode is the death of Bishop Heahmund (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), which took its cues from the historical figure's real death at the Battle of Meretun in 871. The onscreen version of Heahmund died as he lived — a hot mess riddled with guilt from years of religious zealotry.

It's exciting to finally see Alfred looking every bit a king as he becomes the man his grandfather wanted him to be, and Judith's cold focus as she tortures a conspirator is another highlight of the episode. But it's the distinctly apocalyptic feel to the scorched-earth battle scene — which is shown through flashes of metal, fire, and mud after the action ends — that made this episode a real fan favorite.

Ragnarok (Season 5, Episode 20)

Season 5 finale "Ragnarok" sees Bjorn's forces finally descend on Kattegat to dethrone Ivar in a glorious mess of medieval battlefield horrors. After a freaky Viking bedtime story, the battle commences. Ivar is as ruthless as ever, with his mounted defenses doing the trick. Bjorn gets trapped inside the city walls, barely escaping with his life. He resorts to begging Ivar's army to think about where their loyalties lie before limping away from the disappointing battle. Within Kattegat's walls, a delusional Ivar is left ranting about how he can't believe nobody killed his brother and how people who aren't loyal die.

It all seems hopeless for Bjorn until Ivar's lover and one-time cheerleader Freydis (Alicia Agneson) evens the odds by telling the enemy about a secret entrance into the city, a betrayal that gets her strangled by Ivar. "Ragnarok" is "the season's best episode" according to Forbes, which expressed frustration at Ivar's inevitable escape as Bjorn took the city, his mother at his side. The episode ends with King Bjorn surveying Kattegat, echoing his father's ascension.

King of Kings (Season 6, Episode 11)

The midseason premiere of "Vikings" Season 6, "King of Kings" sees Bjorn Ironside get an epic send-off worthy of Ragnar's legendary son. Not one to narrowly escape death only to languish alongside his wives, Bjorn musters enough strength to face the Rus army head-on in a scene that fans praised as "beautiful" and "chilling" on IMDb. The critics were also moved by what they saw. "I've watched ['King of Kings'] multiple times to pick up on all of the nuances of what is probably my favorite episode of the entire series," said Paul Dailly of TV Fanatic.

Bjorn's death is without a doubt one of the standout "Vikings" moments. It's powerful to see this legendary character rouse his army while on the brink of death (he was stabbed by Ivar and presumed dead in the previous episode), proving once more that he's worthy of the name Ironside. The episode also sees a poetic return to an earlier theme as Ubbe ponders the similarities between the Christian God and the Allfather, just as Ragnar and Athelstan once did.