[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the latest episode of Vikings. Read at your own risk!]
Oh Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig). Sweet, idealistic, Bjorn. Ragnar’s (Travis Fimmel) oldest son finally achieved his dream of becoming King of Kattegat last season, but Vikings‘ two-hour Season 6 premiere proved that ruling isn’t quite as easy as he had anticipated.
Coming after the reign of his ruthless brother Ivar (Alex Høgh), Bjorn announces his plans to be a different kind of ruler — a kinder one who builds up Kattegat through trade and financial prosperity rather than conquest. However, this legacy is immediately threatened when Bjorn gets word that Olaf (Steven Berkoff) has taken over Harald’s (Peter Franzén) kingdom; now Harald is asking for Bjorn’s help to overthrow the usurper as exchange for having previously saved Bjorn’s life.
Although pretty much everyone tells Bjorn not to risk his own life or political standing to help the untrustworthy Harald, after much soul-searching Bjorn ultimately decides to go to his aid because Bjorn doesn’t want to be the type of king who abandons allies — even ones as shady as Harald.
It doesn’t take a Seer to know that Bjorn’s decision will result in further trouble for the newly crowned king. And while Alexander Ludwig acknowledges that the choice to go to Harald’s aid proved to be a foolish one in hindsight, he still thinks it was the right choice for Bjorn to make.
“I think the thing about Bjorn that I love about him so much is that his intentions are just and good,” Ludwig told TV Guide. “He does want what’s best for his people and at the time he felt like that would be the best way forward. Obviously, he’s a bit of an optimist in terms of his ability to believe that people won’t kind of stab him in the back. So yeah, I believe it was a good idea at the time.”
As for who in particular will potentially stab Bjorn in the back once he reaches Olaf’s kingdom, you’ll have to keeping watching to find out. But Ludwig teases that this season will feature Bjorn facing a series of trials that challenge his views on power and leadership, promising that these obstacles won’t break Bjorn but rather help him grow into his own.
“That’s kind of been Bjorn’s journey this whole season, is him trying to find his way as a leader and then realizing that balance between leading with your heart and your head and that there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye,” Ludwig says. “And like everybody, he’s a flawed character and he makes mistakes, but he learns from them and carves the best path forward.”
Hopefully Bjorn is a quick learner too, because in addition to having to face the upcoming fallout from his decision to help Harald, one of the premiere’s final scenes — wherein the bandits Bjorn exiled instead of killing them are staking out Lagertha’s (Katheryn Winnick) new settlement — hints that some of the consequences of Bjorn’s choices may hit close to home and pose a danger to those he cherishes most.
Vikings airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on History.
Additional reporting by Kelsey Pfeifer