It may not be as complex as the original Vikings season, but the revenge-driven storyline mixed with gore, violence, and twisty deaths, will please fans. It’s a solid first season and feels more of a build-up to what will come in later seasons.
This review of the Netflix series Vikings Valhalla season 1 does not contain any spoilers.
The premise of Vikings: Valhalla starts after Aethelred the Unready orders the deaths of several Vikings. As a result, King Canute and one of the victim’s brothers, Harald, embark on a mission of revenge against Aethelred. In the process, King Canute attempts to seize control of the throne, and as paths collide, the audience meets siblings Leif and Freydis. Set 100 years after the original Vikings series, the eight episodes of the first season detail the clash between Christian and Pagan beliefs.
Just don’t expect the series to stick too closely to the historical facts. The cast members themselves have stated that their research into the characters has proven to be fruitless, as the creator, Jeb Stuart, instead uses the characters to serve the purpose of the story that he wants to tell. Although this is bound to nark some viewers (mostly historians), it shouldn’t bother most of us. Much like the original series, Vikings: Valhalla never claims to be one hundred percent correct. Heck, some of the characters aren’t even based on real Vikings. This, in particular, is true of Jarl Haakan, played by Caroline Henderson; the character has been solely created by the team. Real or not, she fits in perfectly.
In regards to the other characters, the leading characters of the series are Leif, Freydis, and Harald. Whilst Leif can be a wet drip at times, his story will likely see him grow stronger as the show progresses. Freydis, meanwhile, has an interesting backstory, and there’s the feeling that there’s a lot more to explore with her. As for Harald, he is the strongest character of the three. His sibling rivalry with Olaf is interesting to watch. And it’ll be fun to see where Harald will ultimately take his alliance.
But much stronger are the other characters. Emma of Normandy, King Canute, and Godwin are far more interesting, and they could very easily become fan favourites. Obviously, there are going to be comparisons to the original Vikings and Game of Thrones. But, this time Vikings: Valhalla is much more straightforward in its execution. They may be some who might be disappointed by the lack of complexity, but this is a new show after all, and it’s good that the series is trying to be different to its predecessor.
Despite the difference from the original series, Vikings: Valhalla is a great watch and fans of the original will be more than pleased with what they get. Right now, it would be unfair to comment on which version is best. Let’s save that conversation once the series has aired a few more seasons. And since the second season has already finished production, with work beginning on the third season, it shouldn’t be too long of a wait!
Vikings: Valhalla has all the ingredients that you want: gore, bloodbaths, gruesome deaths. Overall, the show has twists, violence and a revenge-driven story. And whilst some of the endings are soap opera-ish (see the ending of episode six), it’s an addictive and brutal watch. For fans of the original Vikings and Game of Thrones, make sure to watch this.
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