All in all, a very strong episode. Great beginning and an even greater ending. Slightly loses a bit of steam in the second half, but the excellent cast and tension between the characters make up for that.
This recap of Netflix’s Vikings: Valhalla season 1, episode 1, “The Greenlanders”, contains spoilers.
Vikings: Valhalla season 1, episode 1 recap
11th Century Europe: “The exploits of The Great Viking Ragnar Lothbrok have faded into legend. In the 100 years that followed, Vikings left their Northern Homelands and settled across Europe, many in England. But as these settlements prospered, they became a threat to their Saxon neighbors and the English King Aethelred II was urged to find a solution to the Viking Problem”.
In the Danelaw Viking Settlement (near London), it’s Saint Brice’s Day, and Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter) is about to leave for Norway. Meanwhile, Æthelred the Unready (Bosco Hogan) claims to Harald’s brother Sten and his followers that there is a threat. Except there isn’t one. Instead, he says he wants to purify the field and exterminate all Vikings living on the island. As a result, Æthelred the Unready has his men brutally murder the Vikings, including Sten.
The slaughter has not gone unnoticed in the North. King Canute (Bradley Freegard) sends out a call for Vikings to gather in Kattegat and to form an army of revenge. Greenlanders Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett) and his siter Freydis (Frida Gustavsson) hear about the massacre. Although, they are more interested in gaining personal revenge elsewhere.
It becomes apparent that Freydis had been raped and branded with a cross by a Christian Viking. And she has come to the area to find and kill the individual responsible. She finds the person responsible, although it isn’t clear to the audience who that is exactly. Harald’s brother Olaf Haraldsson (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) doesn’t want to sanction a union, instead, he wants a mass conversion to occur. After a dramatic speech, and reference to characters from the original Vikings series, a fight develops. Harald talks people down by claiming, “this blood is not my blood, our blood, Viking blood”.
As Freydis burns a fire, Estrid finds her and tells Freydis to say hello to her father. Instead, Freydis tells her friends that they will go to Kattegat. On land, Becken attacks Leif. Becken wants revenge as Leif’s father killed his brother. A fight ensues, and whilst Leif is the champion, he does not kill Becken. Clearly, Leif wants to move on from his father’s past. Harald introduces himself to Leif and promises him great glory if he joins him in the battle within England. Leif states that he will think about it.
King Canute asks Jarl Haakan (Caroline Henderson) if he and his men can camp outside her walls. With a hint that something terrible had happened to Haakan’s husband, there is a dinner party in place. Although Greenlanders are not allowed at the event, Leif sneaks inside. And when Harald tells Leif not to act on whatever he is planning, Leif remarks that he is not the one they should be worried about. Freydis sneaks behind “Christian” and stabs a cross within his chest. Then, at the moment that Olaf is about to kill Freydis, Haakan stops him.
Having had sex with Freydis earlier, Harald voices to everyone that he believes Freydis claims revenge and has her reveal her scar to everyone. With a mixture of opinions in the crowd, Haakan says that she will render judgement in the morning, to which King Canute also agrees.
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