One of the biggest twists of the Vikings mid-season finale was Rollo (Clive Standen) returning to Kattegat, so we knew that he was back, but not why. We can finally shed a little more light on that situation.
Vikings creator and writer Michael Hirst and Standen talked a lot during the Vikings San Diego Comic-Con panel on Friday about how Rollo is different from the last time we saw him and what would truly bring him back to his homeland. Even though Rollo gave Ivar (Alex Hogh Andersen) the troops he needed to defeat Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) in the mid-season finale, no one should assume that Ivar has his uncle's total allegiance.
"It's fair to say that whenever Michael writes for Rollo, whatever you expect him to do, he usually does the opposite. I can't tell you why he's back, but I think it's fair to say that he's back for Team Rollo," Standen said, when asked if he'd be supporting his nephew or his sister-in-law in the upcoming episodes.
Rollo's new position means that he has to take care of more than just himself, which means he's coming to collect what he was offered in return for the troops that helped Ivar take Kattegat.
"[Rollo] is now a ruler of his own country... and he has his own people to think of. He ought to put those people first. There's obviously business, politics involved in why he's coming back," Standen said. "I think Ivar promised him something, and whether he can deliver on or not you'll see pretty soon. He has to deal with Uncle Rollo. I'm going to teach him a few things."
However, Rollo's tactics are going to be different than what we've seen in the past because he's aged since the last time we've seen him. Entering that new phase of life has a heavy psychological effect on the Rollo we'll see in the rest of Season 5.
"His body doesn't work the way that he wants it to work. There's a speech that Michael gave me which talks about once you've been known for one thing — you're a warrior in a small town, when you miss that and you can't do that anymore — how that feels and how that affects your life," Standen explained. "He's at that age where you start to think about death, about your own mortality, where you're going afterwards, if there are any gods or just one God? Where is your peacedom? Where are you going to end up?"
Those kinds of existential questions are the ones that could make you eager to connect with loved ones from the past — like Lagertha, who Hirst claims that Rollo still cares for very deeply.
"I think he probably does [love her]. These sentiments are very deep and dividing, but Rollo is in a different place now," Hirst said. "He's basically in charge of a nascent country. He's got people to think about. That said, there's a lot of politics involved... People make choices in what they consider to be their interests even if those interests cut across things they've done in the past that they've done or said or believed."
Standen added that while the outsider would assume that he's helping Ivar, there may be a Lagertha-centric reason for him helping Ragnar's son who is willing to kill the rest of his family.
"In order to get the politics out of the way [Rollo] goes to Ivar which actually gives him the opportunity to be in Kattegat... to be closer to the people he really needs to talk to," Standen said, pointing to Winnick and Alexander Ludwig, who plays Rollo's other nephew Bjorn on the series.
Can Rollo take care of his people, reconnect with Lagertha and Bjorn without drawing the ire of Ivar all at the same time? The amount of blood in the midseason trailer seems to indicate not, but that's the beautiful tragedy of Vikings.
The epic returns Nov. 28 on History.