Was it a trick, or was it fate?
That's the question I've been asking myself ever since watching Vikings Season 6 Episode 11, which I've watched multiple times to pick up on all of the nuances of what is probably my favorite episode of the entire series.
After making some downright questionable decisions, Bjorn will probably be remembered more than his father and mother. Still, you can't deny the family as a whole will be remembered for generations to come.
Kattegat seemed destined for doom, especially with this being the first of the final ten episodes. There were so many ways this could go, and I have to give credit to Michael Hirst, who penned "King of Kings," as well as every episode that came before it.
Instead of going the predictable route, Michael crafted an episode that played with expectations while also leaving scope for fans to dwell on it for the years to come.
It's easy to believe that Bjorn rose like a phoenix to save the day, but it's also easy to believe that this was an elaborate trick, with Bjorn conceding that his number was up, and he had limited time to save Kattegat.
As far as TV deaths go, this will go down as one of my favorites, largely because of how epic in scale it was. The visual of Bjorn raising his sword after being struck with not one, not two, but three arrows, mere hours after being stabbed by his brother, will stick with me for a long time.
Whether it was a trick or not, it was satisfying to see how Oleg and Ivar were left blindsided by the turn of events. Oleg felt like he had won the lottery by taking Kattegat, but a part of Ivar understood that they had only completed the first of many heats.
The good news is that Ragnar's name still held water, as evidenced by the way the Kings and Queens of Norway appeared when I least expected it and responded with fiery fury to Oleg and his army.
"King of Kings" featuring a few scenes of battles instead of a whole episode of them was the best course of action. We've witnessed many brutal showdowns on this series, and the episode was all about bringing Bjorn's story to a close and setting up future conflicts for the survivors.
My one true hope is that everything that's happened bonds Gunnhild and Ingrid like never before. Their relationship got off to a rocky start because Ingrid was the other woman.
But there seemed to be a genuine connection between them during this midseason premiere, with Ingrid opening up about Harald raping her and Gunnhild responding that she would slit his throat if she ever got the chance.
The conversation was pivotal because it showed Gunnhild was losing hope about making it out of the battle alive.
Her concern was that they would not see each other again in Valhalla, suggesting that Gunnhild is starting to warm up to the prospect of death if it allows her to be with the people she's lost in the mythical place we've heard so much about.
Speaking of Harald, he also seemingly cheated death. With the Rus fleeing, it seems inevitable that Harald will pop back up and try to lay claim to whatever power there is left.
Should we expect another big battle between the Rus and Kattegat? I'm not so sure, not after the way the Kings and Queens of all of Norway stopped by to make the Rus run back to where they came from.
There is still so much conflict between Ivar and Oleg that I suspect the rest of their storyline will play out in Kiev, but there's also the issue of Ivar wanting to get one over on Kattegat.
The very notion of Kattegat winning will be enough to make him start another war, one that he probably will not be able to win.
The only parts that let the episode down all took place in Iceland. The search for Floki is taking much longer than it should, and this storyline really needs to gather steam.
With Bjorn gone and much of the conflict choked out of the narrative as a result, it's hard not to be worried about where we go from here.
We have nine episodes remaining, and the bulk of what had to be resolved was resolved in the premiere. If the Iceland storyline picks up and becomes more prominent, we could be headed for an epic conclusion.
But that's a big if.
What did you think of Bjorn's death? Do you think he genuinely rose from the dead, or was it a big swing that paid off?
Do you want Ingrid and Gunnhild to work together?
Hit the comments below.
Vikings Season 6B is available to stream now on Amazon Prime. The final episodes will air on History in 2021.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.