A dangerously ill Ragnar returns to Kattegat, where his suspected death kicks off a scramble to succeed him. Meanwhile, Lagertha engages in a power struggle with her calculating, former second in command, Kalf. Rollo betrays his heritage and remains in Frankia. Floki pays the price for his brutality against the Christian priest.
As Ragnar and Floki remain at odds, Rollo makes great efforts in Paris to win over his new bride, Princess Gisla. Meanwhile, King Ecbert sets the task for his son Aethelwulf to rescue Queen Kwenthrith.
There's an air of betrayal as those whom Odo trusts plot against him. Ecbert agrees to support Kwenthrith in Mercia. Pregnancy brings happiness to Lagertha and Kalf and a marriage is arranged.
In England, King Ecbert's true ambitions are revealed as he plots to gain the crown of Mercia while outside Paris. The Vikings attack Paris with considerable force, but will Rollo's defenses be too much for them to overcome? Meanwhile, Harbard, the mysterious wanderer, returns and causes a stir amongst the women of Kattegat.
Defeat for the Vikings calls Ragnar's leadership into question as they evacuate their camp and move back down river. Ragnar remains inscrutable until he orders the fleet to beach at a cliff face and unveils an ingenious plan. Rollo and Gisla have news that strengthens Rollo's position at the French Court.
The labors of the Vikings eventually bear fruit as, within sight of Paris, they re-launch their boats but this time along with some interesting structures that Floki has built. Aethelwulf and Alfred eventually arrive in Rome and honors are conferred by Pope Leo but relations are not so cordial in Wessex between King Ecbert and the disgruntled King Aelle.
Ragnar returns to Kattegat and formulates a plan to head back to Wessex, where he intends to right past wrongs.. Meanwhile, Lagertha plans a power play in Kattegat and Bjorn prepares to fulfill his long-held dream to explore the Mediterranean in a sleek new boat built for him by Floki.
The Kattegat locals chide Ragnar that the gods have deserted him as he struggles to crew his voyage to Wessex. It's Bjorn who has charisma now as he prepares to fulfill his long-held dream to explore the Mediterranean in a sleek new boat built for him by Floki. By contrast, Ragnar must accept weathered boats and a crew he has bribed but when Aslaug foresees that the fleet will be lost in a vicious storm her warnings go un-heeded by Ragnar and her precious son, Ivar.
Ragnar's fleet is shipwrecked and washes up on the Wessex coast, but without enough survivors to form a credible force, Ragnar and Ivar have a difficult decision to make. Rollo meets his Viking comrades again and can't resist the urge to join Bjorn's voyage, risking his marriage and his new Frankish identity. Ragnar too is taking a risk as he carries Ivar towards the Royal Villa in Wessex – throwing himself and his son upon the mercy of King Ecbert.