Vikings season 5
Viking season 5 returns this week. Photo by Jonathan Hession / History

HBO’s hugely popular fantasy series Game of Thrones begins airing its final season next year, but History’s competitor Vikings is about to close out its fifth season. Creator Michael Hirst’s dramatically fictionalized retelling of Nordic history will soon begin airing the second half of season 5, the first half of which began airing this time last year. Now that the series has garnered quite the following, Hirst an company are spending more time (and episodes) telling the story of Viking and Scandinavian king Ragnar Lothbrok. Here's what you need to know ahead of the return of Vikings season 5.

What is Vikings season 5 about?

Vikings season 5 midseason premiere

Since the end of season 4, Lothbrok is no longer as central to the Vikings story as the show is now moving beyond its primary sources - Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus's “Gesta Danorum,” and the 13th-century sagas “Loðbrókar” and “Ragnarssona þáttr” - and deeper into new territory. These include the adventures of Bjorn Lothbrok (Alexander Ludwig), Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) and Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård), who fight to survive while Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen) becomes the new Viking king.

Bjorn and Lagertha reluctantly join forces with newcomer Bishop Heahmund (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and others from England in an attempt to combat Ivan’s reign of terror. Meanwhile, a new player arrives on the scene in the form of the legendary Viking warrior Duke Rollo (Clive Standen), a man whose arrival in Kattegat only complicates matters further.

 

If this sounds like a lot to catch up on, well, it is. The first season of Vikings boasted only 9 episodes, while seasons 2 and 3 were increased to 10 episodes a piece. Beginning with the fourth season in 2016, however, History quickly realized that the show was gaining as big a fandom as Game of Thrones and other historical and fantasy programming on television. So they doubled its size to 20 episodes across two halves and did the same for Vikings season 5. What’s more, we already know that History wants a sixth season.

So if you’re already a fan of Hirst’s dramatic take on early Scandinavian history, then the mid-season premiere is here just in time. If you haven’t watched the series but are a big fan of shows like Game of Thrones, however, then you’d better hurry it up with your binge-watching.

Vikings season 5 return trailer

When does Vikings season 5 return?

Vikings season 5 returns Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 9 p.m. on History.

Vikings season 5 trailer