Rites Of Passage
Wrath of the Northmen
Burial of the Dead
A King’s Ransom
Following the journey of Ragnar Lothbrok, Vikings is a fascinating and often violent look into the lives of the first Norsemen in history. Full of dramatic tension and leaning (mostly) toward historical accuracy, Vikings does a great job blending fact and fiction to produce a methodically paced, interesting journey through the lives of the infamous warriors of the North. Along with an endearing group of characters by Ragnar’s side and fuelled by an endearing storyline, Vikings’ first season is a solid foundation for a show that promises to build on the great work done here.
The story starts with Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) and follows his journey across the sea West where he lands in Britain and begins raiding monasteries. From here, the plot line evolves to include a wrestle for power back in the Viking homeland, someone close to Ragnar conspiring in the shadows against him and a bitter rivalry brewing between Lothbrok and Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne). This mixture of political intrigue, drama and violence woven through the story and various subplots helps Vikings stand out from other historical dramas that focus on a much more static and clichéd storyline.
As well as a compelling story, Vikings includes a well fleshed out cast of characters, each with their own motivations and unique personas. Ragnar’s wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) is as powerful and motivated as her husband, Rollo (Clive Staden) is as physically imposing as he is cunning and a whole slew of characters alongside these stand out in their own way. Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) is still the focal point for much of this season though and his cool exterior juxtaposes a fierce, internal determination that drives the narrative forward. Opposite Ragnar and his loyal crew, Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne) acts as a constant thorn in Ragnar’s ambitions and their rivalry sparks much of the controversy and issues that stem through the first 9 episodes of the series.
When it comes to visual design and choreography, Vikings excels in both. The battle scenes are violent, bloody and brutal and for those with a disposition toward this level of violence should probably steer clear. Although Vikings never quite reaches the eye watering level of violence Game Of Thrones achieves, there’s still a hefty amount of axe-swinging, head-shattering scenes shown in all its graphic glory. The interesting clashes between the English and the Norsemen help show the realistically depicted battle tactics of both too. The Vikings’ unwavering ferocity in the face of danger acts as a stark contrast to the English who are far more tactically naive in the face of such a threat, showcasing a really fascinating contrast in styles.
Vikings is simply a very well made show. Historically accurate and full of endearing, interesting characters, Vikings does a great job in telling its story without ever falling into clichéd tropes. Everything from the costume design to the choreography is on point and told through the eyes of Ragnar Lothbrok, Vikings is violent and politically intriguing in equal doses. With many unresolved plot points when the credits roll, Vikings leads nicely into its second season where it’ll be interesting to see what direction the show takes but the 9 episodes depicted here make for great entertainment and are well worth watching.
Verdict - 8/10