To The Gates!
With excellent characterisation and some stunning fight scenes, Vikings comes into its own this year, delivering an incredible third season that rivals some of the best episodes of Game Of Thrones. With more focus on the supporting cast and a massive battle to round the season out, Vikings proves once again its one of the best shows on TV right now.
The story picks up where it left off last year in the continuing saga of the first Norsemen. Determined to build settlements in Wessex, Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and Lagertha’s (Katheryn Winnick) fleets set sail for England to make good on King Ecbert’s promise of allowing the Vikings to farm on their land. As the season develops, the conflict between the Vikings and the English grows before deviating slightly for one of the show’s most impressive battles, the siege on Paris. This climactic battle spans across 3 action packed episodes and this well choreographed battle that encapsulates the latter half of this season is outstanding and proves once again that Vikings excels when it comes to depicting battle scenes.
On top of the impressive fight scenes and decent plotting is an increased emphasis on advancing the subplots of many characters. Ragnar’s son Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) has more screen time and an interesting romance angle, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) plays a crucial role in the plot as well as wrestling with his inner demons, Athlestan (George Blagden) finally understands his religious purpose and Rollo (Clive Standen) is given a prophetic message from the Seer that shapes his future. Of course, the other characters are equally as fleshed out and with higher stakes this year there’s ultimately some casualties along the way too. With a few key characters killed off, there’s a real sense of progression and heightened tension through many of the episodes and this is especially evident during the emotionally charged fight scenes late on.
There’s a really interesting narrative around conflicting religions that develops this year too and although it was teased slightly during the previous two seasons, this year sees it really fleshed out and take on a bigger role in the overarching plot. Floki’s anger toward the gods late on is one of the stand out moments during the battle for Paris and with multiple plot threads left unresolved when the credits roll, it’ll be interesting to see if the fourth season continues the momentum built during Vikings’ excellent third season.
The way Vikings manages to juggle all of its characters and continue to advance the plot forward is testament to what great work the script writers have done this year. It seems with every passing season Vikings grows into its own and this season feels like the show has finally reached its peak level. For all the good work done, there are moments that do feel a little out of place this year; some of the scenes in Wessex late on don’t really advance the plot very much and the political usurping in the neighbouring areas around Kattegat feel inconsequential compared to the developing plot lines but despite this, Vikings continues to grip and entertain through most of its run time. While it might not have the same cult following shows like Game Of Thrones have gained, Vikings is arguably at the same level as its fantasy counterpart and the great blend of historical accuracy and brutally depicted fight scenes make Vikings one of the best historical shows on TV right now.
Verdict - 9/10