Bjorn Ironside isn’t that same man he was before trekking alone into the wilderness, Vikings star Alexander Ludwig says.

So far in Season 4, Ludwig’s character Bjorn has survived his self-imposed exile in the snow and cold by hunting and fishing for himself. Bjorn defeated a ravenous bear in “Mercy,” which aired March 3.

[Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the March 10 episode.]

In the March 10 episode titled “Yol,” Bjorn faced another battle to the death against a Viking berserker sent to kill him by his mother’s ally, Kalf (Ben Robson), and Erlendur (Edvin Endre), who wants to destroy his father’s family. Bjorn used his brains and brawn and in the end he brutally gutted the more experienced and stronger warrior.

In disemboweling the berserker, and then traveling to Hedeby to brazenly entice Erlendur’s wife to leave her husband for him, Bjorn put to rest any doubts that he will one day become a Viking leader to equal—or even surpass—his father, King Ragnar (Travis Fimmel).

“This is not the Bjorn [viewers] have seen before,” Ludwig said.

In an exclusive interview, Ludwig talks about the events in “Yol” and where Bjorn is headed in Season 4B of “Vikings.” New episodes air at 10/9c Thursdays on History.

 

 

“Yol” is another intense episode for Bjorn. Tell me about disemboweling the berserker. There’s such attention to detail that I could see steam coming off the intestines when he pulls them out.

Yeah, good. [Laughs.] There was a big discussion at the studio about whether or not to keep that in. Luckily we had a champion at the studio who really fought for that. … I thought it was a really, really important to show some brutality and some edge and push the limits a little bit. Oh my gosh, you just made my day telling me that. I haven’t seen it yet. I’m so happy they ended up keeping that. I didn’t know what the Americans would have been able to show so that’s great.

 

Does he get that brutal because he knows Erlendur is behind this or is this the man he is after this walkabout?

It’s the man he’s become. He’s become a ruthless Viking and he’s never going back. Obviously it’s fueled by the fact that it’s personal, but this is something you’re going to see more of as the show continues. That’s why I thought it was so important to have [the gutting scene].

 

He goes to Hedeby after this to confront Erlendur without tipping his hand that he knows Erlendur hired the berserker. What’s his motivation for taking Torvi, Erlendur’s wife, away with him?

It’s a power play. He sending the message that he can take anything from Erlendur: “I can take your life, I can take your wife.” He starts with his wife and maybe something else will happen later.

 

At the end of the episode he’s back in Kattegat and walks in as Harald Finehair sits down with Aslaug. This guy’s arrival can’t sit well with Bjorn. Does Bjorn see a new threat?

He’s absolutely a threat. He’s another king that’s come there. Bjorn has witnessed what’s happened to previous kings that have been there, but he’s absolutely another threat and you’re going to see tension between Bjorn and Aslaug and Finehair because they all know that sooner or later it’s going to come down to them deciding who’s going to take over. So you’ll see a lot of underlying tones there.

 

This supersized season of 20 episodes I believe will span more than 10 years. Will he do all those historical things you and I talked about way back in your first season?

Everything we talked about is happening and more. I signed on because of the promise of this season and I’m so excited for everybody to see what the show has in store. It’s just become such a bigger show. There’s so much depth to it.

 

Will Bjorn surprise us even more soon?

You’re going to see a huge change with him in Episode 15 and onward. Bjorn is going to do some pretty amazing things.

 

Alexander Ludwig

Kalf (Ben Robson, right) and Erlendur (Edvin Endre) face a different Bjorn Ironside in the “Vikings” episode titled “Yol.” (Jonathan Hession/History)

Related: History bio of Alexander Ludwig