Season 1 of History’s first-ever scripted series, Vikings, comes to a close this Sunday, and EW has your exclusive first look at a mysterious new character introduced in the episode – one who could spell trouble for Viking hero Ragnar Lothbrok’s (Travis Fimmel) marriage to Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick).
Last week on Vikings, all was not well in the formerly blissful union of Ragnar and Lagertha. Seeking answers from the gods in the death of his unborn son during the clan’s traditional pilgrimage to Uppsalla, Ragnar also began to wonder who would be the mother of the many sons the gods promised him if it wasn’t his wife.
Enter Princess Aslaug, played by Alyssa Sutherland. We meet Aslaug when Ragnar’s men, journeying from Kattegat to Gotaland (modern day Sweden) to resolve a land dispute, stumble across her bathing naked in a stream. She demands an apology from Ragnar, and the chemistry between the pair is immediate and undeniable.
Who is this woman? Will Ragnar remain faithful to his wife Lagertha through their troubles? We asked Sutherland to weight in on her character and what to expect from the episode. Check out what she had to say, as well as two exclusive clips from the Vikings season 1 finale, below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Your character makes her first appearance on the Vikings season finale. Tell us about her.
ALYSSA SUTHERLAND: Yeah, Aslaug. The first thing to know about her is she’s the daughter of Brynhildr, who was a famous shieldmaiden. It’s a pretty famous story. I won’t go into the depths of it, because it’s her mum’s story. So she has this famous shieldmaiden mother, and she’s a pretty strong woman and very smart as well. And when she hears that Ragnar is around her side of town, she’s quite intrigued by him.
In the last episode, we saw that things are getting strained between Ragnar and his wife. What part does Aslug play in that? There’s definitely some chemistry.
You know, Ragnar’s been away from his wife and they’re having some issues. He actually issues me a challenge, he sort of gives me a riddle to solve when he hears about me. Again, it’s this famous story. He tells me I have to come to him neither dressed nor undressed, neither hungry nor full, neither alone nor yet in company. So I sort of have to solve this riddle to come and meet him, which I do, fairly successfully, with a dog and an onion and a fishing net. So we sort of have a matching of the minds and our smarts, I think, are what attracts us to one another. There’s certainly some intrigue.
Had you seen the show before signing on to play Aslaug?
No, I hadn’t seen it. They were still filming everything, when Aslaug came up. They did give me a few scripts to read through and I was aware of it as well. I kind of consider myself a rookie amongst all of these actors on set. It’s still a fairly new world to me, to have a bigger part. You know, from the get-go, I’m always really excited if a role comes along. [laughs] The fact that it was Michael Hirst was just unbelievable to me. Elizabeth is one of my favorite films, and I’m so in awe of what he does. He writes everything himself, which I just think is, I just think he’s quite the man. I mean, how do you say no to that? And when I read it, she sounded really mysterious to me and hopefully that’s what’s going to come across. It’s pretty cool to be able to really get into a character like that when it’s one of the first things that you do. It doesn’t come along very often, I think, for actors and actress to be able to work with someone, early on, that you admire so much. Every time I see him [Hirst] my knees are shaking a little bit, I think.
Hirst is kind of a master of historical fiction, after Elizabeth and The Tudors. Was there a lot of research involved for you or was it all right there on the page?
You walk onto the set and it’s just all there. You feel like a Viking, you know? Even with the exteriors that don’t have to be dressed as much, the scenery and locations are just so insane in that part of the world. I’m so glad I got to go and see it. It’s really easy to be able to imagine yourself as this person, living their life. It’s pretty awesome. You don’t have to work very hard … well, that sounds bad. [laughs] I do work very hard. What I mean is, it’s just sort of an easier thing to be able to get into, I think, when you’re surrounded by all that. They just went to such great lengths to make everything as historically accurate as possible with the sets and the costumes. When I first got there and had wardrobe fittings and saw the Viking outfits that they had and I went into makeup and I saw the wall of spears they had, I mean it was just insane.
Can you tell us anything about the second season, which begins filming this summer?
The scripts are still being written. You know what, even if I knew, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But the scripts are being written and I have no idea. … There will be a few loose ends that need to be tied up, how’s that? There are some things left hanging. There are cliffhangers, how does that sound?
What kind of cliffhangers?
Aslaug is certainly really attracted to Ragnar. At this point, legend of him has started spreading, he’s gone west [to England], he’s this great warrior and also an incredibly intelligent person at the same time. So when I come across him, I am very attracted to him and he seems quite attracted to me too. I don’t think I can tell you a whole lot more than that. [laughs] There’s a level of attraction, I think, and there’s a sort of matching of minds that goes on. And for the rest of it, people are just going to have to watch and find out.
The season finale of Vikings airs Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on History.
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