The Vikings – Taking a Look at The History Channel’s New Epic Saga
Okay. Now, before I get started, Vikings are my life. If you have ever had the pleasure of meeting me, you will notice I speak about Vikings, Viking Mythology, and anything having to do with them at frequent intervals. Something about them just resonates with my constant need for battle, and the sheer metal-ness of the Viking God Pantheon. I firmly believe that I will either go to Valhalla upon my death, or I will be sent below to claim my rightful throne from the Red Guy keeping it warm for me. Now that is out of the way, let’s get this Thing (see what I did there?) underway.
A few weeks ago I received no less than 10 calls from friends and family who had seen a preview of this new show on the History Channel titled “The Vikings”. I unfortunately had not seen any previews for it mainly due to the fact that I rarely watch actual TV besides the Walking Dead, Comedy Central and Cartoon Network. Everything else is either Netflix, books or games, which mercifully do not have commercials (I’m looking at you TWC on demand). So I used the powers of the internet to bring up a trailer/preview for the show. I watched it with anticipation as I had been waiting for a solid Viking based show for a long time. First impression based on the trailer….I must watch this. The first thing that I locked onto was the fact that Gabriel Byrne was going to be playing the Jarl. Which is a big fucking yes in my book. I really enjoy Gabriel ever since I saw his stellar performance in End of Days (I hope you understand the point I am trying to make here…he was fucking Satan,) and his steely gaze works well for a hardened warrior looking to keep the peace and set up the summer raids (shopping trips with sword and shield). He’s also kind of a dick, which plays well to the sort of character the Jarl is. But the story isn’t about the Earl, although he is a major part of it. Ladies and Gentleman, I introduce to you…Motherfucking Ragnar Lodbrok! (That is not his first name, it is just Ragnar, but he should change it to that).
The first scene opens up with Ragnar and his brother, Rollo, literally beating the living shit out of a score of enemies. Exhausted, but gleeful at their victory, the brothers embrace their hard fought victory and in a daze of adrenaline, Ragnar notices a familiar Raven clad man walking the battlefield. Stumbling over himself and searching, Ragnar notices a Spear in his hand, and the ravens perched upon his shoulder. Gently placing his spear upon the chest of a fallen warrior, ghostly apparitions descend upon the dead man, and cart him off towards the sky. If anyone is well versed in Viking Lore, you will know immediately who this is. Before the visions fade, Ragnar is able to breathlessly say a single word…Odin. The Valkyries have come down with the All Father and were taking worthy warriors to the endless halls of Valhalla, and my dream boner raged with the fire of a thousand battles. I was ecstatic to see that they were actually incorporating these traditions and themes into the show mainly because it was such a huge part of Viking life. The gods were almost everything to them, and their favor was a driving force in daily culture. To die in battle was the dream ending they all hoped for. Seeing Odin on the battlefield after a victory must have been the most amazing thing is Ragnar’s life. In kind, this also sets off a string of events that brings us to the core story of the whole series.
The whole series at this point seems to be leaning towards a confrontation between the young and hungry Ragnar, and the Jarl who seems to be set in his ways. Ragnar is adamant that they should attempt to sail west to find new grounds to fill up their purses and make sure nobody goes hungry. The Jarl, still thinks the east is where the goodness is located, and says no raids will be held in the west, even though the east has not proven fruitful in the past few years. Ragnar, being the warrior that he is, decides he is going to give the Jarl the big middle finger, and has his friend (and scene stealer) Floki, build a boat for him that can make it as far west as they need to go. Floki, being the crazy bastard he is, says yes and they set in motion plans to spread out and look for new lands to raid and plunder. We are also treated to a slight foreshadowing of treachery to come with Rollo, Ragnar’s brother, hitting on Ragnar’s wife and famous Shield Maiden, Lagertha (who is now officially the hottest lady in television, specifically to me because she is so fucking badass it’s not even funny ). A shield maiden, for those who do not know, is essentially a lady Viking. Trained in battle, able to kill and maim, they defend their homes and family during the long months that the men are away raiding. In other words, future Valkyries. Amazingly strong women. Not just in beauty and physical strength, but in character and responsibility. More than a match for most men, they are a pivotal part in Viking culture.
I have to say that I was pleasantly pleased with the first episode of The Vikings. It set us up for future discord and a battle among the young and the relatively old. One thing I would especially like to note if Ragnar’s son. Ragnar has been taking him everywhere, including The Thing (might I say this was just spectacular.) They emphasized that Vikings weren’t savages for the most part, but actually did the things they did for food and to persevere in the face of hardships, not just to get their rocks off after sacking a city (that means pillaging, not dragging your ball sack across something. It’s not an FPS game). Bringing his son to the Thing has a huge effect on the young Viking. Immediately witnessing the beheading of a convicted murderer, he is horrified but keeps an iron gaze at the spectacle. This could prove an issue later on when the question is brought up on faith and religion. Christianity is going to play a huge part in later episodes, I believe, and I have a feeling Lil’ Ragnar may have some inner questioning to do. All in all it is a solid show so far, and I definitely look forward to more episodes. Now the questions is, how badly do I want next Sunday to be here?
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