The pillaging and political shuffling involved with the plot lines regarding History Channel’s Vikings are certainly up there are far as why people are addicted to the show. So are the hunky men and shield maidens that can hold their own against them. But, for Season 4, by far the most most intriguing story line seems to be that involving an Asian slave who ends up in Kattegat. So just how does a historical show like Vikings make this story line even fit with the viking culture?
SPOILER ALERT: This article contains information and speculation about the upcoming Season 4 of Vikings. Please proceed with caution if you have not yet viewed Season 3 in its entirety or wish to avoid spoilers.
Dianne Doan is the actress who will be playing Yidu (pronounced Ee-do), the Asian slave in question. All we have really known about this character up to this point is that her character will end up in Kattegat as a slave and there she will captivate Ragnar Lothbrok (played by Travis Fimmel). However, with Vikings less than a week away, Dianne Doan has finally broken her silence about her character. In an interview with Showbiz Junkies, she explained how her character ended up with the vikings:
“I’m kidnapped on the Red Sea and then brought to Paris, and it’s presumed that from their raid last season, they bring me back to Kattegat where I’m sold to Queen Aslaug as a slave, so I’m one of her new ladies for this season.”
After viewing the early screeners for Season 4 of Vikings, I can agree that this is exactly how it unfolds. But is this even plausible? After all, this is a show developed by History Channel and they have always prided themselves on being historically accurate.
Considering Vikings is set in a period of time where there is very little by way of written history, it is usually accepted by fans that the show uses creative license to fill out the plot. But is using someone from Asia going too far? Michael Hirst (creator and writer for Vikings) addressed this very concern last year when he spoke to The Hollywood Reporter:
“Who knew the world was small enough even then for people captured by pirates in the red sea might to end up in Frankia, and then in Scandinavia? But I checked with our historical consultant and he said it’s all possible, it’s all plausible, it almost certainly happened.”
According to Jonsson Hraundal, who did a doctoral dissertation about the Rus (this term is derived from an old Norse word meaning “the men who row” and is often used to mean vikings), the vikings did get as far the country now known as Kazakhstan. This is one of the countries situated next to China. However, one of the problems with scouring information from Arabic countries, is the fact that around the time the vikings were travelling through their lands, there was no direct terms to describe the vikings. Instead they were lumped together with all the other people and cultures travelling through their area, effectively making it impossible to say for certain that the vikings could have traveled to Asia via Arabic countries except where there has been evidence of written documentation describing traditions and rituals of these people.
There is historical evidence to say that the vikings definitely traveled as far as the Caspian Sea. And, if this is the case, while the vikings may have never gotten as far as China, it is possible that they certainly traded with people in this area. As a result of this, it is certainly possible for an Asian slave to end up in the hands of the vikings, especially if a little creative license is used.
With it considered plausible now for an Asian slave to end up in Kattegat, it makes it a very interesting story line as far as racial slurs are concerned. In today’s society, racism still exists even though it is harder to hide behind ignorance as a means to be racially indiscreet. However, in viking times, it might be possible to explore racism in a way that exploits the fact Yidu really is unlike anything the vikings have ever seen before — and vice versa as the Toronto Sun pointed out.
While many Vikings fans would be envious of Dianne Doan playing a role alongside Travis Fimmel, for the actress, her greatest concern was all the dirt. “It’s so funny because I know every woman in the world probably thinks he’s beautiful, but as a viking and as Ragnar – there is a lot of beard. And he’s very dirty the whole time,” she told Malay Mail Online. And, considering she also admitted she has OCD tendencies, it took her a while to get used to the amount of dirt – both real and cosmetic – on the set of Vikings.
Of course, with Yidu playing a large role in Season 4 of Vikings, will the vikings eventually decide to head east? Only time will tell. What do you think will happen? Let us know your thoughts and theories by commenting below!
I will be posting my full recap of episode 1 (entitled “A Good Treason”) of Vikings after the episode airs next Thursday night. but, in the meantime, you can check out my non-spoiler review of the first four episodes here.
Vikings returns with an extended season 4 to History Channel on Thursday, February 18, at 10 p.m. ET.
[Image via History Channel]