Vikings: Valhalla review: Netflix drops a violent, same-y sequel series

Sequels, reboots, and the sometimes unholy union of the two (“Requels”) are everywhere these days – especially on Netflix, where what’s dead may never die, and the streaming service has revived quite a few dormant or dying projects. See: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, You, Manifesto, survivoras well as Lucifer; all Netflix originals now, one way or another.

But vikings it’s a completely different game. The original series was the History Channel’s first foray into feature television. huge rating success for the gate. The exploits of the great Ragnar Lothbrok, Bjorn Ironside, Lagertha or Ivar the Boneless reminded Game of Thrones, with less emphasis on complex political intrigue than the world’s audience knew as we entered the new period. Plus incredibly bloody raids.

spin-off netflix, Vikings: Valhalla, aims to capture that lightning again, a little further down the timeline in Viking history. And it comes to television, when there are many more ax-wielding imitators. Paraphrase: Valhalla has to do more to stand out from the crowd – both historical fantasy epics and Netflix’s glut.

What is Vikings: Valhalla?

The action takes place 100 years after the events of the original History Channel. vikings, Valhalla begins when the Viking Age comes to an end (although the Vikings in the series, of course, don’t know this).

When the show arrives in Kattegat, it’s hard to say exactly what will contribute the most to the downfall of civilization. But, of course, there is plenty to choose from: Viking feuds caused by religious differences? Weakening influence in Europe? An ever-expanding empire that the Vikings created and rules with an iron, often bloody fist?

Who is behind Vikings: Valhalla?

vikings creator Michael Hurst stepped down as showrunner but still remains one of the executive producers. In his place is Jeb Stewart, creator and showrunner Valhalla. Stewart has experience working on blockbusters, writing for classics such as tenacious as well as Fugitive.

Also vital to the show is Richard Ryan, the stunt coordinator who helped direct the fights. Valhallaas well as Troy, Sherlock Holmes, The Dark Knight, and original vikings.

What is the pilot about?

Valhalla being a show about Vikings, it all starts with a little bloodshed: the St. Bryce’s Day Massacre, when the British massacred the Viking communities on their shores. Hardly escaped with his life Harald Hardrada (Leo Suter), who has plans to someday become the king of Norway. A year later, he joins the rest of the Vikings, summoned to Kattegat by King Canute (Bradley Freegard) to launch a counterattack against the English.

Among those who arrive at the bustling port city are Leif Erickson (Sam Corlett) and his sister Freydis (Frida Gustavsson), who have an ulterior motive to visit a Viking gathering. But while they show up with other missions, they can’t resist the glory of Viking life in the 1000s.

What is it really about?

Bye Vikings: Valhalla received a lot of ink for being about the end of an era, the show’s first season explores the passing days of culture on a much more relaxed level. The more things change, the more they stay the same. As much as Christians and pagan Vikings may differ from each other, they act and raid in much the same way. They have the same clothes, hairstyles, even philosophy. Each side can attack the other, but the bad guy, an Assassin’s Creed-style Christian Viking named Jarl Kore (Asbjorn Krog), still refers to his soldiers as “berserkers”.

So Valhallathe company’s guiding idea as we move forward is how to deal with a giant cultural shift that takes its time. It makes no sense that the Vikings would stop behaving the way they did for hundreds of years. But Scandinavian and Viking identities are undoubtedly changing, either as a result of a wider network of religious idolatry or as a result of geographic location.

When Leif and his band of Greenlanders arrive in Kattegat, they feel like a throwback to an earlier era of Viking culture, more interested in running their own business and returning to a quiet life. What we know about Leif’s future means that shifts in Viking culture will push them further and further towards the frontiers until they finally reach an area they once thought was mythical: North America. But their sense of Viking identity will be questioned long before they get to the New World.

Vikings: Are Valhalla good?

Valhalla will deliver, especially for those who are basically just craving a good Viking conflict. The battles are bloody and the soldiers are furious.

At its best, the first season makes it easy for complex beliefs to lie side by side. These bits provide a softer look at cultural differences that are often misrepresented as a dichotomy in the eyes of history; people can hold different views within the same culture, and this is not really a reflection of their morality as a person. Freydis, a pagan, is cruel and vengeful, but not wantonly cruel. Olaf Haraldsson (Johannes Haukur Johannesson) is a member and also a believer in the merciful Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, the hardest part of the series will be getting out from under the shadow of the original. Arc ValhallaThe first season is very similar to the original. vikings: You have different Viking factions plotting against each other. They eventually make it to England, where British domestic politics begin to intertwine and complicate matters. Even the religious undercurrents are not far from Ragnar’s early flirtations with Christianity. It’s not that these conflicts or exciting battle scenes don’t have interesting moments, but it feels like you’ve seen it before.

In addition, it is no longer as unique as it used to be. Where vikings There was little else on television at the time – an obvious comparison to Game of Thrones leaves a level of reverie that is more like HannibalValhalla feels totally like TV of the moment. There’s a sheen to it all, literally brighter on screen than its predecessor. vikings had more of a detached mastery of tone and style that made him feel a little weird; Valhalla more dynamic, but loses some of the weirdness of the original.

Perhaps the best example of their differences can be found in the opening credits: set to otherworldly “If I Had a Heart” by Fever Ray. vikings– all this was a gloomy ephemerality, foreshadowing death and conquest at the same time. Valhalla‘s – when played in full in the pilot episode – are groovy strings and chanting played over close-ups of silver runes flying against a nondescript backdrop. It’s almost exactly a pattern Netflix is ​​used for Witcher.

This choice seems to reflect how much television has changed in the years since. vikings Leave us. Fantasy epics, historical or not, are no longer as unique as they once were. In just a few weeks, Netflix will launch the series’ fifth and final season. The Last Kingdom (another Netflix save). Outlander still going as it is kingdom as well as Britanniaand it’s all up Dragon House or Witcher returns. Valhalla not scary. But basically it looks like the same thing, without much identity. In a crowded landscape, this does not give him much reason to fight.

When and where can you watch Vikings: Valhalla?

All eight episodes Vikings: Valhalla now streaming on Netflix.


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