Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 Review and Episodes 1-3 Recap – It Feels Like a Middle Season

By Daniel Hart
Published: January 12, 2023 (Last updated: March 11, 2024)
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Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 Review and Episodes 1-3 Recap
Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 (Credit - Netflix)


It’s tempting to suggest that Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 will not be the stand-out installment by the time the third chapter is released, but this is still an impressive piece of storytelling and one that refuses to allow the audience to give up.

Vikings: Valhalla had an enormous task to take on its predecessor with Season 2. Branded with Netflix and marketed as a sequel, many were wondering how the story could continue to move forward after such success. Vikings embraced a loyal fanbase, after all.

But what Valhalla did was position itself as an isolated series. The tales of the past were whispers amongst the characters, praising their legendary ancestor for what they achieved. After many battles in Season 1, the second season had a lot more to achieve. Once you’ve removed the bloody battles, what story do you have?

Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 Review and Plot Summary

Fans that love the Vikings action may feel disappointed in Season 2 – that’s not to say there are no battles, but Vikings: Valhalla enjoys world-building first, blood and gore second. The lead characters are as separated as ever, presenting three story strands to follow. There’s much to be said about the story and the history it represents in Season 2.   

Freydis (Frida Gustavsson) embarks on her own journey in Season 2, venturing to faraway lands to explore her spiritual and religious prophecy. She is beloved by followers of the “Old Ways,” so her identity in the world is up for discovery; Olaf (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) finds himself at the hands of Forkbeard (Soren Pilmark), his life at the hands of the ruthless King; Queen Emma (Laura Berlin) and Godwin (David Oakes) navigate the throne and the security issues that bring; Leif (Sam Corlett) has to endure and overcome grief while finding new purpose in life; finally, Harald (Leo Suter) has to fulfill the oath, and find a way of becoming King of Norway. 

There’s no story that can be easily pinpointed in Vikings: Valhalla Season 2. The writers have superbly collated a script where each story feels equally as important as the rest, and there’s no room for a diva. It’s a strange achievement. Usually, bloating a series comes with a compromise, but the second series does not feel burdened by its storytelling at all.

However, Season 2 does feel like a “middle season.” We are already aware that Netflix plans to release three seasons. Being the middle is often a conversation brought to trilogies in films, but there is an argument to be made that Valhalla has a similar situation.

It feels evident that the entirety of Season 2 was made to holster the third, which is why the world-building and character development feel so paramount. You leave the finale hoping that the groundwork pays off. 

Is Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 any good?

While Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 is building a base, there’s plenty of credit attributed to the costume department and the cast for embracing the Viking-ness (and any other groups of people represented in the series). It always feels like the production team and cast enjoy representing the history for the audience. It translates rather well. 

It’s tempting to suggest that Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 will not be the stand-out installment by the time the third chapter is released, but this is still an impressive piece of storytelling and one that refuses to allow the audience to give up.

Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 Episode 1 Recap

Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 (Credit – Netflix)

The premiere opens with Leif entering Olaf’s encampment. He asks a dying man where Olaf is. The dying man tells him that Forkbeard has taken Olaf. The episode then flits to Olaf imprisoned in a cage in a traveling army. As Leif continues to track Olaf, it’s revealed that he’s seeing the ghost of Liv.

Harald wants to go to Kattegat but Freydis has other plans

Harald and Freydis are 200 miles away from Kattegat. They are playful with each other as they hunt; their romance has not waned but intensified. Harald wants to go to Kattegat and demand the throne from Forkbeard, but Freydis is skeptical, believing he should be frightened of Forkbeard.

Freydis intends to stay in the wilderness and raise a family, but Harald wants his children to be rulers of Norway. Harald softens the conversation and tells Freydis that he wants her to come with him.

While out in the wilderness, Freydis comes across a seer; she’s tired of the vagueness of their prophecies, but then she has a feeling. She returns to Harald and tells him she’s going to Kattegat with him.

Godwin’s security concerns for Emma of Normandy

Back in London, Godwin tells Emma of Normandy that King Canute has won two battles in Denmark — Godwin is concerned about Emma’s security. Emma tells Godwin that security is “excellent” despite his concerns.

Later, Godwin discovers that a man is trying to poison Emma while a priest blesses her. The man manages to get away at first, but Godwin captures him and sends him to the prison cells.

Forkbeard visits Olaf

In Kattegat, Forkbeard visits Olaf in his prison cell. He tells Olaf that he is a traitor and that Norway was never his to take. Olaf insists that Canute went behind his back and tells Forkbeard to kill him. Forkbeard tells Olaf that he does not intend to kill him and that he’s joining Canute in battle in Denmark, and in his absence, his grandson Svein will be in charge. Olaf’s son then walks in — Forkbeard tells Olaf to protect Svein and train him for the throne, and in return, he’ll ensure that his son will be protected. Afterward, Forkbeard furiously tells Queen Aelfgifu that she will stay in Kattegat.

Svein takes the throne

Forkbeard then announces to his people that his grandson Svein will be on the throne while he leaves for battle. He then introduces Olaf as his protector. Olaf gives a speech and warns about his brother Harald (along with Freydis) raising an army against Kattegat to kill all Christians. He offers money to whoever brings him Harald’s head. Leif watches Olaf in the crowd.

Leif reunites with Freydis and Harald

Meanwhile, Freydis and Harald find a clan of people who are using weak boats to travel across the sea to find a new home in Kattegat after there’s were destroyed. A child recognizes Freydis as the Keeper of the Faith. One of the men from this clan informs another man in Kattegat that he has come across Freydis and Harald. Leif overhears the conversation.

Leif attacks a group of people from Kattegat who are tracking Harald and Freydis in the wilderness. He kills them all. Leif is reunited with Freydis and Harald and warns them that they are in danger. He informs them that Canute’s son, Svein has the throne of Kattegat, with Olaf as his protector. Nearby, Olaf and his soldiers look for Harald and Freydis.

How does Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 Episode 1 end?

Once settled, Fredyis tells Leif that he has changed — she sees a coldness in his eyes that she once saw in their father’s eyes. Harald tells them they should head to Novgorod to meet his uncle, who rules there. He wants to tell his uncle that Forkbeard broke the oath.

And then, a man from Kattegat who goes by the name of Jorundr confronts them and explains that he wants to help them. Freydis sees a mark on him representing “The Web of Fate.” She believes Jorundr is with them for a reason and asks the man to lead them.

They reach the beach, and they find stranded people. Freydis vows to help these people. She then talks to Leif again; he knows he speaks to Liv and wonders why she is not in Valhalla. Leif tells Freydis that he promised to meet Liv in Valhalla, but he didn’t. He no longer believes — he has lost his faith. Freydis shares with Leif that she is pregnant with Harald’s child. She tells Leif not to tell Harald because she does not want her child to be the ruler of a Christian nation.

Freydis then sits with Harald, and she tells him it is his destiny to be a ruler one day, but it is not her destiny. They both look at each other with acceptance and emotion. Harald tells Freydis that she is already a great Queen as he sees it in the other eyes of other people. He calls it a gift.

Season 2 Episode 1 brings a dramatic ending as Olaf, and his men, descend on the beach. They encircle them, and Olaf orders his people to kill them. But then, fireballs hit the beach, and fire separates both groups. It looks like Freydis’s influence is powerful as a group of people who support her come to their aid.

Freydis joins her people for her destiny, leaving Leif and Harald on their path to Novgorod.

Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 Episode 2 Recap

Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 (Credit – Netflix)

Season 2 Episode 2 opens with Olaf interrogating a man asking him where the Jomsvikings live. The man talks of a place called Jomsborg and spits on Olaf, disgusted at his Christian faith. Olaf asks Svein to kill the man — he wants the young King to send a message. Svein chops off the man’s head.

Episode 2 then moves to Jomsborg, Pomerania. Freydis smiles as her ship enters her new home. There are many people to welcome her. She’s famous. Jorundr introduces Freydis to the leaders of Jomsburg, Harekr and Gudrid. Freydis then joins in on the combat training and takes all the soldiers down, impressing members of the public. Her swordsmanship is too excellent.

Gudrid senses that Freydis is pregnant after she protects her belly. Freydis tells Gudrid that the child’s father is a good man, but they have gone their separate ways. Later, Freydis is asked if she would like to be a Gudija of the religious temple to teach the people the old ways and build a new Uppsala in Jomsburg. Freydis doubts herself based on her past actions.

More refugees arrive in Jomsburg — they are asked to give up their weapons, which confuses Freydis as they are believers of the “old ways” and are not a threat. Jorundr explains that they will head out into the forest to live in peace, building weapons to protect against the Christians.

Harald and Leif reach Novgorod, Rus. Leif watches men taking opium — Harald tells him that people take it to “talk to the dead.” They then enter a fighting arena – people are betting on a fight. Harald wants to introduce himself to his Uncle Yaroslav, but the guards stop him. To get his uncle’s attention, Harald enters the arena, fights one of the men, and announces himself. Yaroslav recognizes him, and he’s finally welcomed.

Harald updates his uncle on Forkbeard and how he betrayed the oath and asks for a favor — he wants an army so he can take what is rightfully his in Norway. Yaroslav tells Harald that with complications with trading routes, he needs Canute’s empire more than ever. He advises Harald to reinvent himself, as he cannot give him an army. Harald decides to fund an army for himself by participating in the fighting arena. He wants to fight two men at once for a high price if he wins.

Harald loses the first round, but his impressive fighting skills are displayed. However, when he starts winning, a new man walks in, so Leif joins in. Harald and Leif win; however, the gamblers run away.

Lord Vitomir tells Harald that he’s impressed with his fighting spirit. He explains that he must transport something of “great worth” to the emperor in Constantinople. Vitomir wants Harald to help, and he offers significant pay.

In Kattegat, Queen Aelfgifu and Olaf have dinner together without anyone else joining them. Aelfgifu enquires about the Jomsvikings. Olaf explains how he still fears his brother wanting to take Norway and promises to protect her son. Olaf then calls Aelfgifu beautiful, which catches her by surprise.

Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 Episode 2 Ending Explained

In London, Godwin tortures the man who tried to poison Emma of Normandy. He wants to know who paid him to assassinate Emma. The man insists he does not know a name apart from the nickname “Bear.” Hot poker sticks destroy one of the man’s eyes. Later, everyone in the prison cells was slaughtered, including their prisoner. Godwin is fearful that many people are trying to kill Emma — he asks his men to close the city gates.

In Jomsburg, Freydis is donned in beautiful white clothing and is presented to the people with the sound of drums. Gudrid hands her the sword. Freydis enters through the religious temple and up to a watch tower. In the distance, a woman leads a group of people and sings in beautiful tones. Freydis announces they are all safe, and Jomsborg is the “new Uppsala.” The crowd cheer.

Leif continues to see Liv and follows her, leading him inside an opium den. Many people inside are smoking the drug. Leif enquires about the drug, wondering if you can talk to the dead if you inhale the drug. Leif takes the drug for himself, and he is high quickly. A woman lays him down, and Leif sees Liv again, who comforts him. Leif tells Liv that he is lost without her. She tells him to follow her. Leif follows Liv to the top of a building. Thunder rumbles, and it’s cold.

Liv tells Leif that she cannot lose him. She tells him to come to Valhalla. She encourages him to walk off the edge of the roof. However, Leif hesitates, which angers Liv. She disappears. Leif is distraught, and he collapses on the snow.

Season 2 continues to build the world of the Vikings, introducing the audience to new characters and keeping the story engaging.

Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 Episode 3 Recap

Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 (Credit – Netflix)

Season 2 Episode 3 opens with Leif waking up in a haze after taking opium the night before. His new friend, Mariam, has looked after him. She tells him he nearly died outside in the snow. Leif tries to explain himself, but he’s unable to. Leif takes an interest in one of her books — he’s never seen one before.

Mariam reveals that she wrote it and was born in Aleppo; it’s been her life’s desire to explore many places. Leif senses that she is sick as she keeps coughing. Mariam tells Leif that she wishes to return to Constantinople for better medicine (the place that Harald is traveling to), but it has not been destined for her.

And so, Leif changes his mind and tells Harald that he plans to join him on his journey to Constantinople. He wants to know his plan. Harald needs to recruit men, so he finds the two men (Kaysan and Batu) who gambled on the fights in the arena.

Harald then heads to the cells to recruit Kurya, a man that knows the dangerous river Dnieper well on the way to Constantinople. Kurya tells Harald that it’s a bold plan and that he cannot avoid a Pecheneg on the journey. Kurya reveals himself to be blind, but he explains he has memories of every sound on the route — he used to be a Pecheneg. Meanwhile, Leif offers to take Mariam to Constantinople, and in return, he wants to be educated by her.

The moment finally arrives — Harald and his crew embark on their journey to Constantinople.

In Jomsborg, Freydis is curious as to why no one is allowed to step inside the temple. Gudrid tells her that only people who speak to the Gods can step inside and that she is not in Uppsala. Scenes flit to the refugees in the forest, in harsh working conditions, building weapons.

Afterward, it is announced by Harekr that the Gudija, Freydis, is pregnant. Harekr tells Freydis that Jorundr will protect her from trouble. Freydis is confused as to what he means by “trouble.” The longer she stays at Jomsborg, the warier she is of these people.

Eventually, Freydis questions their ways and allows a young girl to train in combat. They would never usually allow it as she is not an ancestor but a refugee. Gudrid looks on, concerned that Freydis is trying to change things.

Later on, while Freydis rests, a woman calls for her — the mother of the young girl (Hrefna) that was training to fight in combat — her daughter has been taken to the boneyard. Freydis is angered, and she confronts Jorundr — she asks him for the way to the boneyard to save her.

In London, Queen Emma of Normandy asks for an update from Godwin regarding security and the people trying to kill her. Emma is growing paranoid and asks her servant Aelfwynn (who is in a secret relationship with Godwin) why she is upset after seeing her cry over a hanged man outside. She asks her to share what’s worrying her.

Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 Episode 3 Ending Explained

In Jomsborg, Freydis enters the forest, wary of threats, sword at the ready, looking for Hrefna. She finds her hiding behind some rocks. Hrefna’s knee is bleeding — the young girl explains she drove a boar away. The boar returns, and Freydis manages to kill the animal.

Freydis brings Hrefna back to her camp in the forest. Her mother is happy to be reunited with her daughter. Afterward, Freydis is guided by All-Father to a place of an old temple in the woods.

Leif is concerned that the cargo to Constantinople is entrapped people. But Harald tells Leif it is not his cargo, and he’s only asked to deliver it. One of the people is dead, so they have to bury them in the ice. The load is human trafficking.

Back in London, Aelfwynn returns to her room to see a man’s head on a plate. The same man she saw hanging outside. Emma appears and asks Aelfwynn to tell her the truth. She knows that Aelfwynn knows this man. Aelfwynn tells Emma that if she tells her, she cannot tell Godwin because he’s proposed to marry her. She doesn’t want Godwin to leave her. Emma is disturbed by this revelation and asks Aelfwynn if the man and Godwin are connected. Aelfwynn denies any connection and explains that the man she hanged is her brother, but she has not seen him in years.

Emma believes Aelfwynn is lying despite her protests. Aelfwynn is scared of being abandoned by Godwin and begs Emma not to tell him.

Season 2 Episode 3 continues to build new worlds. A new journey is set, providing disturbing revelations.

What do you think of Viking: Valhalla Season 2? Comment below.

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