(WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Vikings Season 4.)
The Dianne Doan Vikings news has had fans of the History programme scratching their heads since it was first announced. How would Vikings writers work an Asian character into the Scandinavian-set period drama? And would Doan’s character be anything more than set dressing for the show’s increasingly complicated plot? As we’ve seen with Doan’s first episode, her turn as Yidu looks to bring a great deal of intrigue to Ragnar’s life–comments which have been affirmed by some of the many Dianne Doan Vikings interviews currently available.
A recent Inquisitr article–helpfully titled “How Does An Oriental Slave Even End Up In Kattegat?”–summed up the early Dianne Doan Vikings confusion. “The pillaging and political shuffling involved with [Vikings’] plot lines” are complicated enough; just exactly how did Doan’s character Yidu figure into the show? And, perhaps more importantly for a show that prides itself on historical accuracy, was such a thing even possible?
According to showrunner Michael Hirst, Vikings‘ historical adviser gave him the green light for the Dianne Doan Vikings storyline. Vikings made it as far east as modern-day Kazakhstan, the Inquisitr article reminds us, and had trade routes established with Arabic lands who in turn were a point of trade for cultures farther east. (It also helps that, technically, it’s the Frankish people who introduce Yidu to the show, by kidnapping her and bringing her back to Paris.)
Doan herself has been vocal about her excitement in both joining Vikings and getting to portray a character who looks quite literally like no one the Danes have ever met. “I was really shocked that they were bringing on an Asian character,” the 25-year-old actress told Malay Mail Online. “I thought it was great they were taking on that risk and opening up different storylines and opportunities for a change on the show. Being the only ethnic character on the show and being of Asian descent, there’s a bit of pressure to represent a whole ethnicity, if you will.” (Doan’s parents are Vietnamese, and she adds that she is one-eighth Chinese.)
Doan expanded upon those thoughts in another interview with Geeks of Doom, and explained that she was able to use her nervousness about joining such a tight-knit cast to her advantage, given the fact that Yidu is similarly terrified by a new culture:
It’s not just Ragnar that’s intrigued or curious. It’s definitely all of Kattegat just because from my sheer appearance, it’s so different than what they’ve seen around them but with Ragnar specifically, we know throughout the season he is a person who seeks to learn about different cultures and different religions which is why I think he does raid lands. Off the bat, from my appearance to the way that I carry myself, he questions it, which is why I would say our initial relationship starts out of that curiosity….What was fascinating to me was I found out during that research that in fact, women at that time in my dynasty had a voice and had an opinion and had rights to an education. I wanted to make sure that Yidu was a strong character coming into the show even though in certain circumstances, she’s a slave.
Part of that strength will be on display from fairly early on the season, Doan revealed, when she’s able to manipulate Ragnar’s fascination with her. Ragnar “holds [Yidu] higher than say a regular slave just because I do come from somewhere else,” Doan says, and further reveals that episode 4 will be a major turning point for her character: “There is that moment of interaction when I almost stand up for myself and as a slave, I have no right to really speak to a king, yet I do, so he questions where I get that power from.”
Does that mean we should expect sparks to fly between Yidu and Ragnar? It’s something that Doan has teased; she said to Nice Girls TV that Ragnar further feels a connection with Yidu because of her royal past: “[He] doesn’t feel like he has anybody to talk to…everyone talks at him and not with him.”
What might be more likely, though, is a relationship like what Ragnar had with Athelstan: more like a counselor and confidante than a lover. “Athelstan meant so much to Ragnar,” Doan told Showbiz Junkies. I don’t know if it would be parallel like a repetition of that relationship. I do think that you will see some sort of relationship, whether [or not] it’s intimate, unfold between Yidu and Ragnar.”
It seems that, as Aslaug’s distrust of both Ragnar and Yidu grows, so will the likelihood that Yidu can obtain a position of power in Kattegat. Her recent explanation for TV Addict seems to clarify the notion that Vikings Season 4 is more about powerful women than any previous season–and that Yidu is an integral part of the theme. “What I think is interesting,” Doan said, “is the women on the show…do get a chance to be earls or queens or shield maidens.
“I think that it was exciting that Michael [Hirst] was kind of going towards the route of bringing on another ethnicity on the show,” she went on. “And the fact that I kind of challenge that notion of being a strong, empowered woman as a slave, I thought that was really unique to play.”
As for Dianne Doan Vikings spoilers? It isn’t much, but we do know that Dianne is looking forward particularly to the Vikings Season 4 episodes directed by Helen Shaver, whose work on Season 3 (on the episodes “The Usurper” and “Born Again”) met with both critical acclaim and awards. “I loved filming the episodes that Helen Shaver directed,” Dianne told Design & Trend. “In those particular episodes I really got a chance to explore my character. And I believe these episodes will allow the audience to understand Yidu, and her past.”
History is keeping all details about forthcoming episodes under tight control, and hasn’t yet announced directors of any of the remaining five episodes for which we have titles. However, the aforementioned Nice Girls TV article lets slip that Shaver directed episodes 4 and 5 of the current season, so we’ll wait for the big Dianne Doan Vikings breakout then.
If you want to keep abreast of any Dianne Doan Vikings updates from the woman herself, you’ll want to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Dianne’s Instagram feed in particular often has a behind-the-scenes shot or two. Here’s a collection of them:
Headgear game strong? caught mid morning prep for the day’s work ? thanks @geehirst for the ? #Vikings #setlife #bts #higus A photo posted by Dianne Doan (@dianneldoan) on
It’s Friday night in Dublin! ?? #wehadalongday #not #dinneranddancing @maudehirst A photo posted by Dianne Doan (@dianneldoan) on
Showed this guy around my new home today….. Can’t take him anywhere? #stripperpose #whatareyoudoing #gettinmeintrouble #Kattegat #Vikings A photo posted by Dianne Doan (@dianneldoan) on
New episodes of Vikings air Thursday nights at 10 PM EST on History.
(Photo credits: Dianne Doan Vikings via Instagram)