“Vikings: Valhalla” Series Review
“Vikings: Valhalla” is a spin-off of the History Channel original series “Vikings.” The series takes place 100 years after the events of the preceding show.
The protagonist, Leif Erikson, traveled from Greenland to Kattegat with his half-sister, Freydis and a crew of fellow Vikings. They set out to kill a Christian Viking who was responsible for raping Freydis and leaving a cross-like scar on her back at an early age.
However, upon Freydis’s act of vengeance, she was introduced to consequences.
In response to her violent act, Leif was forced to fight with Harald Sigurdsson and the rest of the Viking army, which was led by King Canute.
Leif Erikson was the son of Erik the Red, a deadly and violent warrior. This caused many Vikings to believe he was untrustworthy.
However, although Leif inherited his father’s skills and swordsmanship, he refused to imitate his temperament. To avoid being compared to his father, he tried not to kill those he faced in battle, instead choosing to shove them to the ground or knock them out with his weapon.
Harald was a trusted man among Christian and Pagan Vikings alike. He was quick to form a bond with Erikson as he saw his value and respected his ethics. He also formed a romantic connection with Freydis.
The Viking army headed to England where they defeated King Edmund and his army. Canute remained in England, choosing to share the crown with Edmund in joint rulership.
He kept Edmund alive and allowed him to retain his power due to his connections with the wealthy men of Europe. He intended to establish a northern empire that would stretch across the top of Europe and realized he would need assistance in doing so.
King Canute later married Emma, Edmund’s stepmother and the former queen, due to her strategic thinking and knowledge of the land.
Unfortunately, Canute is forced to leave England to address an issue within another one of his lands. He calls his Father, Sweyn Forkbeard, to rule in his absence. However, Sweyn was left to handle bigger issues than intended as Edmund was killed and Canute’s first wife Aelfgifu traveled from Norway upon realizing her husband’s betrayal.
Freydis trained to be a shield-maiden for the Queen of Kattegat, Estrid, during Leif’s journey with the Norwegian Vikings. A seer named her “The Last One,” which caused a Christian Viking named Jarl Kare to target her. He decided to wage battle against Kattegat, for housing both Freydis and Pagan Vikings.
Leif’s character underwent many changes towards the end of the season, especially when he witnessed his lover, Liv, killed on the battlefield. Such a sight triggered an emotional, rage-filled response as the respected foreigner broke his self-implemented ‘no kill’ rule and executed several Kare’s men.
In addition, Freydis’s lover, Harald, was stabbed through the chest and she rode (horseback) away from the battlefield with him after beheading her enemy, Jarl Kare.
I must admit that this show fails to meet the expectations set by its predecessor. The primary reason is that the characters in Vikings: Valhalla simply aren’t as admirable or even enjoyable.
Leif is honorable, brave and skilled in battle. The dramatic change in his character was quite interesting to see, but he failed to appeal to me nonetheless.
As for Freydis, despite being given the special title of ‘The Last One’ by a seer, her actions were a bit lackluster. As much as I enjoy seeing a heroine shine, her final battle with Jarl Kare seemed to fall short as the scene held little suspense and quite frankly, can only be described as average.
Emma and Canute were easily my favorite characters in this season. King Canute was rational, fair, smart and strategic. He always thought ahead and responded accordingly to conflicts presented before him. In addition, Canute was firm in his decisions and his beliefs.
Emma demonstrated similar traits, so I was happy to see the pair connect. Despite not being a warrior, she was not a person to challenge. Emma derives from a poor and harsh background.
She came to England as an outsider and was able to elevate her status to that of a queen.
Emma was witty, strategic and she understood war and combat. She was never afraid to speak her mind and assert her dominance. She was confident in letting those around her know that she was a ruler and an advisor first and a ‘fair lady’ second.
Regardless of my tough critique, I do look forward to season 2 in hopes of seeing more intense battles, dramatic plots, and fleshed-out characters.
Rating: 3/5 stars
Jah-Preece Landrum is a third-year majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.