It’s been a little over a year since Vikings concluded with season 6. But on February 25th we’ll return to the bloody adventures of the Norsemen with Netflix’s Vikings: Valhalla. The series picks up 100 years after the events of Vikings and is set against the backdrop of the rising tensions between the English and Vikings. The spin-off series will explore the waning years of the Viking Age.
‘VIKINGS: VALHALLA’ S1 REVIEW
The first season of Vikings: Valhalla is one that is full of tension, revenge, and blood. The tension between the Vikings and the English has reached its breaking point with the Saint Brice’s Day Massacre. This was a historical event that did occur and is what sets the rest of the season into motion. On the topic of historical accuracy, I am no expert on Viking history, but the series does make use of historical events and individuals in its narrative. However, it appears the writers have taken some liberties with the facts in order to tell their story.
With that being said, S1 of Valhalla is a fun and blood-filled journey. In the first episode we are introduced to Freydis Eriksdotter (Frida Gustavsson), Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter), and Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett). These main characters and others that are introduced during the season are well written and bring complexities to the story. These are not simply one-dimensional Vikings looking for a fight. In addition to the main characters, there are several lesser characters we meet along the way. Unfortunately due to the need to progress the story, these characters oftentimes don’t receive a lot of development. Leaving viewers clearly less attached to them or their fates. But overall this does not diminish the experience of the season.
One theme that has been a constant since the original Vikings series, is strong female characters, Valhalla is no different. Multiple women, especially Freydis and Jarl Haakon (Caroline Henderson) are presented as capable and strong powerful characters. Not only from a combat perspective but also from a leadership one as well. During the course of the season, these characters get the focus they deserve and are not relegated to background roles or as simple “romantic” interests.
A CHANGING WORLD IN ‘VALHALLA’
In addition to the tensions between the Vikings and the English, the series also dives head-first into a growing divide within the Vikings themselves. With one group still following the pagan ways and the other following Christianity. Anytime religious differences are presented in a show designed for entertainment, it can be a tricky situation. However, I felt the way it was handled was well done. The writers avoided stepping into any of the potential landmines a series might find when dealing with the topic.
‘VIKINGS: VALHALLA’ OFFICIAL TRAILER
I wasn’t sure what to expect when starting Vikings: Valhalla. I wondered, was I going to be watching an onslaught of battles with plenty of style but little substance? Thankfully, that answer was a resounding “no”. While there are still plenty of fights and battles to witness, it never dominates the narrative. These are complex characters and complex situations that have a nuance the writers succeed in presenting. This is a time of change for the Vikings from both the outside world and also internally. It would have been easy to fill the screen with action and blood and leave little room to round out the main characters. I’m happy to say that didn’t happen. Valhalla season 1 was an enjoyable experience that left me looking forward to season 2.