There are plenty of deaths in the season finale, some gorier than others. It concludes in a fashion that leaves the audience dying for more.
This recap of Netflix’s Vikings: Valhalla season 1, episode 8, “The End of the Beginning”, — the ending explained — contains spoilers.
Vikings: Valhalla season 1, episode 8 recap – the ending explained
The final episode of the first season leaps into action as, due to Queen Aelfgifu’s threats, King Sweyn banishes Emma to Normandy. Harald calls Kare the murderer of innocents. And despite having sent Emma away, Queen Aelfgifu still does not tell King Sweyn where the fleets are. Aware of the tension, Godwin advises Queen Aelfgifu to prove that she can add value.
Olaf informs Harald that Kare is obsessed with Freydis, and is likely to not rest until she is dead. The conversation turns to Harald’s betrayal, which Harald defends by claiming Olaf was too violent. Regardless, Harald claims that he is here now, and he makes the decision to fight with his brother. In a group meeting, that clearly won’t restore peace, Freydis comes, once again, face-to-face with Kare. Harald claims he seeks peace, whilst Olaf offers salvation if they all renounce their pagan past. In return, Haakan reveals her people do not fear death, and they would rather die with honour than renounce their past. Harald tries to persuade Leif, but both Leif and Freydis turn their backs on Harald.
After Queen Aelfgifu gains an agreement with Mercia, Godwin congratulates her on doing something that Emma couldn’t achieve. Shortly afterwards, it appears it could be the beginning of the end. The beacon gets lit, and everyone “prepares”. The battle begins! Kare turns on Harald and tells him that he will return with Freydis’s head as a memento. Meanwhile, Leif realises that there are no armies on the ships, therefore it’s a trick. Olaf saves Harald from Kare’s men and reveals he was using not only Kare but also Harald to split Kattygat’s forces.
In the brutal battle, Kare wants to “kill them all”. His archers critically injure Haakan, allowing Kare to climb the wall as the door gets broken down. Harald is injured and nearly killed after he gets attacked with an axe. Kare finds Freydis, and although he nearly kills her, she gains the upper hand and finally chops off his head.
Liv gets stabbed by Olaf, and as she lays dying, she tries to have Leif tell her that he will join her in Vallhalla. Ultimately, she dies before she can hear him promise her that he will. Just as it appears that Freydis leaves Harald behind to die, she comes to his aid. With the battle over, Olaf storms into the hall, Kattegat is now his. And Olaf is the King of Norway.
Queen Aelfgifu brings news of Mercia to King Sweyn. Except she learns that Emma is back on the throne. It becomes clear that Emma’s departure was a charade, Godwin betrayed Queen Aelfgifu, and King Sweyn used her trip to Mercia to learn the location of her fleets. As he sails across the sea with his grandchildren, King Sweyn says to never let traitors go unpunished.
Olaf learns that ships are heading his way, aka King Sweyn. Olaf’s men abandon him, and with little choice, Olaf flees soon afterwards. In the aftermath, and after Leif kills men who attempt to rape women, one of King Sweyn’s grandchildren finds Leif shirtless and covered in blood. The season finale ends as Leif roars.
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