I’ve kept the promise in my post from last October and have given Vikings a chance. After watching three seasons I’m definitely happy with History’s TV series, and particularly with the passion actor Travis Fimmel puts into the role of Ragnar Lothbrok. Indeed his dedication to the character could sell the historical drama on its own.
So here is my personal (and spoiler-free) list of the reasons why I enjoyed Michael Hirst’s show and why you should ‘join the raid’ too.
Story-world: 5/5. No doubt Norse mythology has a lot to offer, and it’s not all limited to Valhalla. The series treads the fine line between supernatural elements and human relationships without really becoming a fantasy.
Characters: 4/5. Vikings is not all about the bromance between Ragnar and Athelstan nor the relationship between the king and his former spouse and ‘shieldmaiden’ Lagertha. The core here is the conflict between Christians and pagans, embodied by Floki above all. As the narrative explores a range of main and side roles, it gives plenty of space to strong female characters as well.
Plot: 2/5. The series is pretty straightforward, although a couple of times it can genuinely surprise you, especially when it gets rid of some of the key characters (but bear in mind that this is not Game of Thrones).
Blood: 3.5/5. The intrinsic level of violence reaches a few peaks, most notably during rituals and pagan sacrifices (see the blood eagle), but again we are far away from HBO’s adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy novels, as well as from Spartacus.
Design: 5/5. If you think that this is all about a bunch of guys fighting in the middles of nowhere with basic props, or sailing on a couple of messy ships in a faraway sea, wait for the siege of Paris.
What about the historical accuracy? I personally never mind it. No matter how many consultants are attached to a film or a historical drama: as these remain creative projects, and the creators are free to play with historical events as much as needed to entertain their audiences. I’m not the kind of person who watches Oliver Stone’s Alexander to really learn about the life of the king of Macedon. Just saying.