Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 -|Review Score – 2.5/5
When Vikings: Valhalla dropped on Netflix last year, it brought with it a wave of change for the Vikings formula. After the original series ended on Amazon, Netflix’s spin-off did a pretty good job capturing the tone and mood of the original. The set and production design were great, while the story did a decent enough job of introducing a new group of characters and lots of Vikings action.
Going into season 2, there were a lot of expectations and unfortunately this follow-up doesn’t quite make good on its promise of a more bombastic adventure. Instead, what we get is a lot more subdued drama, plenty of people talking about their feelings and romances blossoming. Essentially these 8 episodes feel like a stop-gap for a much more bombastic third season to follow.
The story sees all of our characters off on different quests, dividing up the run-time into sub-plots of varying degrees of interest. Over in London, Emma of Normandy realizes there’s a traitor in her midst after someone tries to poison her. Throughout the season, she attempts to figure out who she can trust and who means to do her harm.
Meanwhile, Freydis is given a prophetic sign from the Seer, which brings her in the presence of the Jomsvikings and Jomsborg. Once there though, she realizes the place holds more than a few secrets.
Finally, Harald and Leif organize a party to head off in search of Constantinople for their quest, as Harald continues to try and forget ahead with his plan to become the King of Norway.
While the season isn’t boring per-se, it will certainly try your patience. The series spends an awful lot of time building up characters and drama for things you already know are going to happen. Freydis in Jomsborg is one such example. We know there’s something not quite right about the place but it takes over half a season before that materializes.
Likewise, Harald and Leif’s quest is all well and good but their delivery quest ends just as the season does. We get absolutely no movement on their overarching story to take back control of Norway and a lot of what they get up to is simply busywork. And that’s before mentioning the strange choice to add love interests for them both, which chews up a lot of time as we establish their romantic bonds which feels like a pointless endeavour when the finale ends.
Finally, the story in London. This subplot could very easily have been ripped out the season completely and very little would have been lost. The story just drags on long after the “mystery” (I say mystery, it’s not really) has been solved.
The finale in particular exemplifies some of the poorest choices these characters make and the numerous logical flaws here will have you shaking your head in disbelief.
Despite great production value, costumes and musical score, Vikings: Valhalla slips up where it matters most – the writing. This second season is essentially one long side-quest and by the end, you’ll be itching to get back to the main mission. It’s certainly not an awful season, but it’s not a particularly good one either, making for a frustratingly mediocre watch.
Verdict - 5.5/10