Towers of Faith
Episode 2 of Vikings: Valhalla season 2 starts with Olaf desperate to find the Jomsvikings after the incident on the beach. Just before hitting the killing blow, Olaf encourages Svein to bloody his sword and show that they’re in control. He does just that, and with blood spattered up his face, Olaf tells him his father would be proud.
Over in Jomsborg, Freydis beams as she heads to shore to fulfill her destiny. She receives a warm welcome from all, as she’s introduced to the leaders of Jomsborg, Harekr and Gudrid. That same symbol from before is there too in the temple, carved in a large rock. Freydis makes her presence felt immediately and shows her skills in combat session.
Harekr encourages her to build her new Uppsala there in Jomsborg. More refugees arrive in the morning, and Freydis watches as they’re all told to hand over their weapons. It’s a precaution to make sure they don’t rise against them and in fact, all these refugees are tasked with heading off into the forest to live a “quiet life” but also help Jomsborg. Although Freydis has her concerns, she’s encouraged to embrace her destiny and crown Jomsborg the new Uppsala.
In Kattegat, Olaf returns with Svein fresh from his kill. While he goes off to get cleaned up, he begins getting friendly with Queen Ælfgifu, as the pair begin scheming.
Over in Novgorod, Leif and Harald arrive and notice a bunch of guys doing opium. Following the cheers in the other direction, they find a fighting pit, with two slaves duking it out. Although they’re there to see Uncle Yaroslav, Harald isn’t given an audience… until he breaks up the fighting and makes a big spectacle.
Eventually they sit down to eat, with Harald recapping the events that have transpired thus far to his uncle. Lord Vitomir is here too and he’s waiting for the route over to Constantinople to open but it’s a perilous path right now. Vicious soldiers known as the Pechenegs are camped along the river and are infamously known to skin their victims alive.
It’s been 17 months since the route has been blocked and as such, Yaroslav needs Canute’s northern empire more than ever. Giving Harald and Leif an army right now is completely off the table, especially as it would sour trade and stifle trade in and out of Novgorod. Yaroslav encourages Harald to instead reinvent himself.
Later on, Harald and Leif make a spectacle of their own and decide to raise some funds, heading to the fighting pit and suggesting a two-on-one fight. Leif is not exactly enthused with this and decides to sit it out, while Harald fights off the two men. Leif does eventually jump in though, especially when the odds are stacked against Harald. However, the whole endeavour impresses Lord Vitomir enough that he offers them an enticing proposition.
Vitomir has been tasked with transporting something to the emperor in Constantinople. After seeing Harald fight, he believes he’s the man to do it. And he’ll be paid a lot of money to make it happen. As Harald prepares to head out, Leif is incredulous that his kill has led to Harald buying furs ready for this expedition.
Harald is convinced that this is the right way to go and that he will become King of Norway at some point but Leif is not so sure and ends up walking away. In fact, he heads straight into the opium house and ends up smoking, intent on “talking to the dead”. This dead happens to be Liv, of course, and her ghost entices Leif to head up to the roof. She wants him to come to Valhalla and tries to make him walk off the edge of the roof. Leif refuses, fingering the cross in his hand, before eventually passing out.
Over in London, Godwin has the assassin tortured. The man has gold in his lodgings confirming he was paid off. Apparently the guy wasn’t from the north but when his eyes are burned with a hot poker, he blurts out that whoever this person was went by the name of “Bear” or even “Barr”. Emma is desperate for answers and during a short recess, Godwin promises he’ll get answers for her. After all, this assassin has two eyes!
The Episode Review
This second episode sees all of our characters off in different areas, broken up and on their own adventures. Harald and Leif’s adventure into Novgorod is interesting and it helps to add an extra layer of depth to the world, especially seeing a slightly different region and how they live. This trip east is a nice change of pace and the visual design of this season has been really impressive so far.
This extends out to the set and production design which are both a step up from what we’ve seen before. The individual subplots clearly feed into a much larger story involving the fight for Norway and Viking dominance. That ending hints that there’s plenty more drama to come and with all episodes already available to watch, thankfully we don’t have to wait too long to find out what happens next!
You can read our full season review for Vikings: Valhalla season 2 here!