When Barbarians dropped on Netflix, it became one of the bigger surprises of the year. A perfectly enjoyable show in its own right, the historical drama shot up in popularity to receive a rare renewal order from the streaming giants.
This time around, things are much more dynamic and intricately tied. After establishing the character relations last time out, Barbarians season 2 starts to push for deeper alliances and bigger betrayals, setting up for a dramatic and bloody finish to this season.
Before we reach that point though, the story picks up a year after the big fight in the forest. The Germanic tribes have formed a loose alliance under Ari’s banner but there are some that question his rule. Ari is married to Thusnelda, and they have a child together. Of course, this causes friction with Folkwin, given he was originally in a relationship with Thusnelda.
Meanwhile, the Roman Empire is intent on revenge following the battle. Tiberius and his son Germanicus amass their forces and try to enlist the help of a tribal leader called Marbod, who becomes an integral part of this story moving forward.
I won’t reveal more but suffice to say that Barbarians really comes into its own and you can feel the confidence rippling through every facet of the production. The choreography for battles is really well done while the costume design across the board is excellent.
While the visuals are an improvement, what really stands out here is the writing. Sure, the Germania VS Empire plotline is still utilized – and in many ways rehashed – this second season, but there’s a much more potent and dramatic edge to proceedings. Meetings are given much more gravitas, the dialogue flows nicely and there are some genuinely surprising moments too.
The show isn’t perfect though and at times the pace does slow quite considerably. There’s a good deal of baggage in the middle of this story, with the chapter “Fathers” spending a lot of its time building relationships. While that in itself is fine, these sort of moments don’t actually push the character or story forward all that much.
Still that’s a minor gripe in what’s otherwise a really enjoyable follow-up. If you enjoyed the first season, chances are you’ll find more than enough to like in this follow-up. Barbarians has really come into its own this year and the 6 episodes are a joy to sit through. Well-written, bloody and gripping throughout, Barbarians season 2 is an easy recommend.
Verdict - 7.5/10