"Burial of the Dead" is the sixth episode of the first season of Vikings. It is the sixth episode of the series overall. It first aired on April 7, 2013. It was written by creator Michael Hirst and directed by Ciarán Donnelly.
Ragnar, weak and still recovering from his wounds, must meet the Earl head-on after it comes to light that Rollo has been tortured on Haraldson’s orders. The two men will come together face to face with a single outcome possible: Only one man will leave this fight alive.
Floki is brought before Earl Haraldson. He tells the Earl that Ragnar challenges him to one on one combat. The Earl accepts his challenge. Lagertha tells Ragnar that he's too weak to fight. Ragnar says that maybe this will make them equals. Siggy tells the Earl that he needs to come to bed and sleep. The Earl tells her that he has the utmost respect for Ragnar because he was what the Earl used to be. Siggy asks why he didn't support him when he asked to West. The Earl says that because if he had his supporters would've left him and gone to Ragnar instead. Siggy makes him promise that he'll win tomorrow and he says yes. After Thyri and Bjarni have sex, Bjarni asks Thryi about Ragnar.
The Earl prays for the god's favor. Siggy gives him a necklace with their son's hair attached. Ragnar arrives in Kattegat for the personal combat. The Earl and Ragnar fight. Ragnar wins. He offers mercy by cutting the Earl's wrist so that he may go to Valhalla. Svein tells the crowd to kill Ragnar but Rollo grabs an axe and kills him. Siggy stabs Bjarni freeing her daughter from him. She approaches Ragnar and tells the crowd to yell his name because he's now Earl. They head to the hall where people come before Ragnar and swear their loyalty. Rollo swears his loyalty but when Ragnar hugs him, Rollo asks him how they'll ever be equal now. Athelstan asks Ragnar why he's giving the Earl such a funeral. Ragnar says because he was a good man and he deserves one. Ragnar shows Athelstan one of the servants that has agreed to die so that she can serve the Earl in the afterlife.
The servant is taken to the boat. Her throat is slit and she is put on the boat beside Earl Haraldson. Athelstan is forced to watch her die by Bjorn. Ragnar arrives to the pier where Siggy asks permission to light the pyre. Ragnar gives the torch to another man who goes and sets the boat on fire. They push the boat out into the water. Lagertha tells Ragnar that she's pregnant again. Ragnar says that she's made him a happy man. Siggy and Thyri are trying to pack up when Rollo appears. Siggy thinks he's here to kill them but Rollo says no. Siggy says that the people are going to make them leave Kattegat but Rollo says not if he vouches for them. Siggy asks what he wants in return and he says that he wants her to marry him.
Bjorn tells Ragnar that he wants to go to England with him. Ragnar says no and tells him not to be so impatient to put himself in danger. Athelstan asks what Ragnarök (Norse Mythology) is. The Seer comes and tells them about Ragnarok and how it's the end of the world. Ragnar and his men go raiding. King Aelle learns that Ragnar didn't land in Northumbria but is continuing up the coast. He kills Lord Wigea for loosing to Ragnar.
- Travis Fimmel as Ragnar
- Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha
- Clive Standen as Rollo
- Jessalyn Gilsig as Siggy
- Gustaf Skarsgård as Floki
- George Blagden as Athelstan
- Gabriel Byrne as Earl Haraldson
Additional Cast (in order of appearance)
- Gavan Duffy as Housecarl 1
- Trevor Cooper as Earl Bjarni
- Elinor Crawley as Thyri
- Ruby O'Leary as Gyda
- Jefferson Hall as Torstein
- Diarmaid Murtagh as Leif
- Tadhg Murphy as Arne
- Maude Hirst as Helga
- Angus MacInnes as Tostig
- Roanna Cochrane as Slave Girl
- Christina Forbes as Old Woman/Grim Giantess
- Dez McMahon as Haraldson Kinsman
- Michael Liebmann as Messenger
- Jonathan Kemp as Lord Wigea
- Alyssa Sutherland and Donal Logue are not credited and do not appear in this episode.
- This episode marks the final appearance for Gabriel Byrne due his character's death.
- The Angel of Death in the episode was a female shaman called a Volva, who were ubiquitous in contemporary Norse culture. The term 'Angel of Death' as used by Bjorn in the episode, was recorded only once by the 10th century Arabic traveller and writer Ahmad ibn Fadlan, who described such a woman during his encounter with the Rus, Swedish Vikings, in Russia. Ahmad ibn Fadlan was the one who used the phrasing, not the actual Rus. The burial in this episode is closely based on Ahmad ibn Fadlan's account.
- Althrough the burial as portrayed in the episode certainly based in historical account, it's wholly possible that it's inaccurate: Research suggest that the classical ship burning is how Norse people buried their dead while away from home, while someone who died at home was buried in an actual ship or symbolic one in a mound outside the community.