Vikings Seasons 1-2

Mrs. Brik and I love to watch historical dramas. We especially liked The Tudors and The Borgias, rife with murder and sex, and “based on true stories.” Vikings promised to be more of the same, and it pretty much delivered on all accounts.

Vikings is about Ragnar Lothbrok, who is a famous Viking, apparently. I’ll confess I know pretty much nothing about Nordic history. Anyway, it’s about his rise from meager farmer to king of the Vikings. Along the way, he engages in the requisite sex, murder, and conspiracies. All these things culminate to make the show fun.

The thing about Vikings that bothers me is that it isn’t masterfully plotted. It’s like the writer (there is only one, Michael Hirst) sits down at a table and says, “What should Ragnar do this week?” Things herk and jerk episodically. I don’t get the sense that Hirst drafted a season-long game plan. That much should be apparent when the big climax of Season 1 comes halfway through the nine-episode run, and then the final episode ends with some basic dialogue, only to be resolved in the first half of the first episode of season 2.

Events can get a bit repetitive, too. The Vikings raid England a lot, pillaging and plundering and battling amidst copious amount of blood. And when they aren’t doing that, people are trying to kill Ragnar. First, its the Earl, then it’s Jarl Borg, then it’s the King. Every enemy has the same short-sighted plot to assassinate Ragnar, and they all end the same way.

Vikings is incredibly violent. The show revels a bit too much in blood and guts. When Ragnar performs the “blood eagle” torture on one of his enemies, it’s pretty drawn out, and shown in graphic detail. I’m not squeamish, but I felt it went on too long and lost its visceral impact. Besides, some things can be more effective when left to the imagination.

The main reason these generations-long stories work is because of the characters. King Henry was charming enough to make us want to see what he would do next. Rodrigo Borgia was manipulative enough to make us want to see if he’d finally get his comeuppance. Rangar, on the other hand, just sort of exists. He doesn’t do much to make us love him or hate him. Vikings has lots of characters, but there isn’t really anyone to root for. An argument could be made for Lagatha, Ragnar’s wife, as she’s consistently doing awesome things, but she doesn’t get enough screen time. Perhaps she should get her own spin-off? My point is, without fantastic characters, I can see this show becoming quite boring to any number of viewers.

In the show’s favor, it is shot beautifully. It has incredible production design. The Viking villages nestled amongst the vast, misty mountains and beautiful placid waters make you feel as if you’ve been transported back to ancient times. It’s like watching a movie each and every episode. They took a lot of care to make certain the show looks legitimate, and they took historical accuracy seriously. Well, as much as one can in a scripted drama.

With some good performances and terrific action, there is a lot to enjoy here. Considering we are in a new golden-age of television, Vikings has a lot to live up to, and it manages to do so admirably. It’s an exciting show that moves quickly, and should be compelling for most viewers.

Overall, Vikings is a decent watch. It isn’t as good as some of the other historical dramas I mentioned earlier, but it holds its own. If you’re curious, you should definitely give it a try.

Verdict: Average

2 Responses to “Vikings Seasons 1-2”

  1. February 9, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Great post! I have a friend who’s trying to get me to watch Vikings. He watched 3 seasons in a week or two. Between his recommendation and your review, I’d definitely give it a try.

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January 2016


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