Another day, another dollar, another Vikings episode with a shocking and fatal plot turn for one of the show’s lead actors. On this week’s episode of the global-conquest odyssey, one of the show’s longest-running characters made a devastating decision – and not everyone got out alive. SPOILERS from here…
FOR REAL NOW, SPOILERS.
The first time we met Kalf, he was a close ally to Lagertha. They had a teasing, trusting chemistry. You may remember when, in of their first onscreen interactions, Lagertha half-jokingly asked Kalf, “Why don’t you offer to marry me?” On this week’s episode of Vikings, Kalf finally popped the question. Much had changed in the interim. Kalf betrayed and usurped Lagertha – and then saved her life in Paris. They became lovers, and then co-Earls – a regime-sharing system that led Kalf to betray his fellow usurpers. (Kalf was still trying to kill Lagertha’s son. It’s complicated!)
At the wedding, Kalf’s happiness was cut short, when his life was cut out of him by Lagertha. We talked to actor Ben Robson about what led Kalf to this moment.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did Kalf’s death surprise you?
BEN ROBSON: Kalf’s destiny was very much defined by his actions. When he did usurp Lagertha, there were consequences. I think [Vikings creator Michael Hirst] wrote an incredible arc for Kalf. He was subservient and loyal to Lagerta. It was fun to play a sort of naive kid who’s not looked to be a threat in any way, to come into power and prove himself in Paris.
Given that Lagertha had actually told him, point-blank, that she would kill him someday, why do you think he kept getting closer to her?
I don’t think it’s a case of him not taking it seriously, but I think it was a case of not really believing it would happen. I think he underestimated the betrayal of what he did. He felt that they found a level playing ground to carry on forward with.
What is Kalf feeling as Lagertha stabs him? You could read his dying expression in so many ways.
A whole range of emotion! The beginning of that day, in his mind, he’s marrying the girl that he’s totally besotted with. He proved himself to be a man by being an equal in Paris and saving her life. People now respect him for being Earl Kalf, rather than being subservient to Lagertha. He just wanted to be known as man. He came from a poorer background than the others. This is everything he wanted in his life. And he’s gonna marry the woman he’s been in love with since forever.
He goes in, sees Lagertha looking more beautiful than he’s ever seen her, in the dress that she has for him, on their big day. And then, the second the dagger comes in… if there was a way to be killed, he would wish it would be by her. All the way through it, he wants to enjoy every last breath of her. Everything else is not important at that point. He just wants to look at her and take her in.
Since so much of this show is about characters who look forward to a glorious afterlife, do you think Kalf’s spirit goes to Valhalla? Or rather, do you think, as he dies, he feels he’s going to Valhalla?
At the beginning [of season 3], when he arrives, he says he wants his name to be known by the poets, as Ragnar’s is. At that point, he wanted to die on a battlefield with the whole Viking kingdom behind him. Having a huge death, which would be glorified. I think Paris changes him, to a certain extent. It makes him realize how much Lagertha meant to him.
He accomplished exactly what he set out to do, which is to be surrounded by the greats and the kings. Which would mean he was recognized by the gods. So, I definitely think he’s in Valhalla.