Vikings Season 2 Interview: George Blagden Talks Athelstan’s Arc, the Episode You Can’t Miss and More

History’s Vikings are preparing to raid the television landscape for a second season beginning Thursday, February 27th at 10PM. Recently, TV Equals joined a press call with George Blagden, who plays the fan favorite monk turned slave turned free man Athelstan. Blagden hinted at big changes for his character in the upcoming season, talked about set pranksters and revealed the season two episode you cannot miss. Check out the highlights from the interview below and then get ready for Vikings‘ triumphant return.

The Evolution of Athelstan

Blagden offered up an incredible quote to summarize the compelling journey Athelstan has been on so far, and will continue to go on in season two: “Athelstan goes through more change in one and a half seasons than Walter White does in five.”

It is a bold statement, but that doesn’t make it untrue. Athelstan began his journey as a slave and when season two commences he will be a part of the Viking culture. In fact, Athelstan participates in his first Shield War (an experience that left Blagden giddy). All the while, the former monk’s internal struggle between faith and the society he is now a part of rages on. Blagden noted that the easy way out would have been to make Athelstan a converted pagan, but Blagden was quick to point put the character was only midway through his arc when season one came to a close, meaning Athelstan’s evolution is still very much in progress.

The Episode You Have to See

Athelstan fans, mark your calendars for episode four. The episode features a can’t miss, life-changing event in Athelstan’s life that will inform the character throughout season two. Without giving too much away, Blagden teased, “You will see Athelstan at the lowest point of his existence and how that will shape his mind and emotional choices.”

Furthermore, his story takes a dark turn that will leave no room for temptations (so no ladies are in his future). His primary goal will be keeping his sanity and finding a way to keep going as his story comes full circle. Intrigued yet? You should be.

On Athelstan and Ragnar’s Friendship

The relationship between Athelstan and Ragnar is a deeply complicated one due to its origins. At first the dynamic was that of a slave and his master, however they have become extremely important to each other. So much so that Blagden calls Athelstan Ragnar’s only “strong point to anchor onto.” With a four year jump after the end of episode two, Athelstan becomes “the man at home” who has to clean up after Ragnar’s feud with his brother. The situation speaks to the characters’ deep bond, one that will only grow stronger this year.

“By the end of season two you understand how much these two men mean to each other and the choices they make to make sure they are always constant in each other’s lives,” Blagden revealed.

Which Character Would Blagden Want to Play if He Wasn’t Athelstan?

On a lighter note, Blagden was asked which character he would play if he wasn’t Athelstan, and although he was reluctant to pick someone else at first (it seems most of his cast mates would love to step into Athelstan’s dynamic shoes), he ultimately settled on the boat builder Floki because the character believes he is living in a “magical world.” Blagden spoke about his deep admiration for Floki’s portrayer, Gustaf Skarsgard’s work. “It’s quite rare where you find yourself working with an actor who takes as many risks as he does,” Blagden said.

Who is Winning the Set Prank War?

Season two is an epic affair with bigger battles, location shoots galore and dark turns for many of the characters, which means the cast needs to let some steam off. It seems Travis Fimmel who plays Ragnar is the lead prankster as he often spooks horses mid-scene or pushes Blagden off boats. However, Blagden revealed Katheryn Winnick (Lagartha) attempted to smuggle a goat into Fimmel’s dressing room this season.

It’s nice to know that one of TV’s most intense and compelling series has what Blagden happily called “the prank heaviest set in the television world.” Just try to keep that in mind while watching episode four…

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