A great perk of my job is getting exposure to shows not only before they are released, but to shows I may not normally watch on my own. History Channel’s Vikings is one of those shows. I was in the same boat as a lot of people I’ve talked to since watching the first four episodes of season four: I heard it was good and I wanted to watch it, but needed a final push to sit down and do it. And now that I have, I have to say I’m hooked.
Vikings is often compared to Game of Thrones, and even though both shows take place in vastly different times, a lot of the rules and themes are the same: do whatever it takes for power, land and wealth. Due to not being on HBO (or any other premium channel), Vikings can’t be as outrageous and shocking as GoT, but don’t let that fool you: what it lacks in nudity and “sexposition,” it more than makes up for in brutal, graphic violence. I’m squeamishly thinking of a man who is cut jaggedly cut from navel to sternum before having his intestines ripped out. There’s even a bear attack for Pete’s sake.
I really like how the women of the show are handled (from a writing standpoint, not the actual treatment of women during those times). These badass women are just as strong, manipulative and thirsty for power as the men – and in some cases more so – which gives a sense of balance often lost on period-specific shows. You never find yourself feeling sorry for them – or any of the characters, really – no matter how terrible their lot in life. This is a time when literally anything goes – as long as a man says so, anyway. Baby steps, people.
If you’re not familiar with Vikings, well, we’re in the same boat, but I will do my best to explain it.
Basically, we’re following the lives of two brothers, Rollo (Clive Standen) and Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), in their quest for land and power, who both seem crazy as hell. Ragnar is a viking king who at the end of season three was badly injured during a surprise invasion in France. After the battle, the Viking troops returned home with their king and treasure while Rollo stayed behind in France to keep the option open of another raid in the future. Unbeknownst to Ragnar, however, Rollo made a deal with Emperor Charles (Lothaire Bluteau) to help defend the city against his brother in exchange for land and Princess Gisla’s (Morgane Polanksi) hand in marriage. With Ragnar on his deathbed, some of his loved ones, like ex-wife Lagatha (Katheryn Winnick) and friend and shipbuilder Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) make some troubling confessions, making the tension in season four thick and ominous. Rollo and Ragnar both struggle with things falling into place the way they want them, causing an uptick in tempers and poor decisions.
If you’re already a fan of the show, you can expect more of the things that made Vikings such a hit in the first place: drama, action and ruthlessness. If you’re new to it, I’m confident Vikings will quickly become your new obsession.