‘Vikings’: The Real Reason Ragnar Lothbrok Needed to Return to Paris

In the hit series Vikings, Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) makes himself even more famous when he finds a way to sack Paris against all odds. It doesn’t seem like it will happen, and at the last minute, Ragnar defies the odds by playing dead. His second attempt to raid Paris is deeply personal though. Read on to learn why. There are spoilers ahead.

The first attempt to sack Paris has a few bumps in the road

Travis Fimmel
Travis Fimmel | Richard Dobson/Newspix via Getty Images

The first attempt to take Paris doesn’t go as planned. The contraptions that Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) builds for scaling the Paris walls don’t work as well as they had hoped. It is only the words of the Seer (John Kavanagh) that help take the city. He tells Ragnar that the dead will conquer Paris, not the living.

Ragnar takes the advice to heart and pretends to be dead and in need of a Christian ceremony for his soul. During the ceremony, he jumps up out of his coffin and manages to get the city gates open with a slim crew of men. His people take Paris thanks to Ragnar’s quick thinking. The Vikings sack the city and take what they want, feeling victorious.

Rollo stays behind and it backfires on Ragnar

Since Ragnar is too weak from battle to protest, his brother Rollo (Clive Standen) stays behind at the winter camp in Paris since they plan to return and raid again. This is a bad idea since Rollo is known to scheme for his own benefit. When most of the warriors leave, Rollo strikes up a deal with Emperor Charles (Lothaire Bluteau) to marry his daughter, Gisla (Morgane Polanski).

Rollo changes sides so easily and it’s what Ragnar expects him to do the minute he hears about him being left behind in Paris. When Ragnar and the other warriors return to Paris again to raid, things don’t go as planned. Rollo has been helping the Franks prepare for another invasion from the Vikings.

The Franks even manage to block the rivers, but it’s not a problem. Ragnar and his people literally lift the boats out of the water, onto land and back down into the water again a further distance away. Unfortunately, even this genius thinking isn’t enough for them to take Paris again.

Why Ragnar needed to return to Paris

Ragnar tells his son Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) that he only returned to the shores of Paris for Rollo. He wants his revenge, especially since this isn’t the first time Rollo has betrayed him. Unfortunately, Ragnar isn’t able to kill Rollo in battle and the Vikings sail away defeated. Rollo is declared the hero of Paris and things get even better for him.

Ragnar’s journey takes a turn for the worst after the failure in Paris. He returns home to Kattegat and disappears for a number of years before returning again. The second attempt to take Paris ruins things for Ragnar and people don’t look at him the same after the defeat.

Ragnar’s choice to abandon his people and his family only tarnishes his fame. If he had never tried to go back for revenge on Rollo, things may have turned out very differently for him.