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Norse mythology is full of interesting and fascinating tales depicting blood-shed, power struggles and epic fighting. The idea of a Norwegian-based show taking this idea and spinning a blend of American Gods and action thrills together, back-dropped by the beauty of the Scandinavian Fjords seems like the perfect recipe for a six-part series. Unfortunately Ragnarok drops the ball early on and delivers a season devoid of action or epic fighting, instead delivering teen drama with love triangles, half-baked mysteries and a faint veil of Norse mythology painted over the show.
The story wastes no time getting right to the heart of the drama. Teen brothers Laurits and Magne return home to the fictional town of Edda where they immediately make their presence known. A strange old lady called Wenche bestows powers upon Magne that seemingly ignite something deep inside him that awakens the power of Thor and gives him unwieldy strength and speed. An incident very early on in the show acts as a catalyst for this to kick into high gear and looks set to ignite the rest of the series into action after a rather expository-heavy and clunky opening that unfortunately never really improves.
The story teases Magne embracing his powers and fighting against the main antagonists of the series (presented here as a humanized version of the Jötunn) but beyond a few flickers of action, most of the excitement is reserved for the final 10 minutes of the show. Instead, the episodes dance around two love triangles – one that ends quite early in the season and another that lingers around and spills over to the finale. On top of the teen drama is a separate subplot involving Vidar and his polluting company, which acts as the big driving force as climate change threatens to destroy their quaint town.
Aesthetically at least, Ragnarok looks great and there’s some really nice juxtaposing shots across the season. Seeing the beautiful fjords back-dropped against the ugly, mechanical mass of the factories dwarfing the town below is a really powerful image and coincides with some of the main themes in a great way. The musical score is suitably ominous, at least early on in the show, and some of the special effects are pretty good, especially given the brief instances Magne uses his powers across the six episodes.
There’s an awful lot of exposition here though and at times it does feel pretty clumsily handled. The opening of every episode begins with a chunk of text describing a specific element of Norse mythology. Partway through each 45 minute episode we’re also graced with a classroom segment that dissects this term further, and that’s before mentioning characters researching this material online.
Those expecting an action-packed thrill ride full of fighting, action and dazzling special effects will be left disappointed. Some of the characters are really under-utilized here, especially Laurits who clearly plays the Loki role but doesn’t have an awful lot to do all season. There’s a fair amount of Spar product placement too and the entire series rests most of its drama on the shoulders of teen melodrama that does little to push the story forward.
To be fair, the finale does allow for some promising signs ahead for this show if it’s renewed for a second season but beyond the exotic location and sprinklings of Norse mythology, there just isn’t a lot else here to distinguish this against the glut of other teen dramas on the market. It’s not a bad show per-se, and those after a slightly different flavour of teen romance and drama will certainly find that here, but the overwhelming feel of a missed opportunity clings to large parts of this drama that’s hard to shake off.
|Ragnarok is available to watch on Netflix. Feel free to click here and sign up now to check this show out!|