It has only been a year since we last set foot in the land of Scandanavia, but it seems so much longer than that. Understandingly! Ring in the dark and murky bass of the Viking theme, and I’m head-ready for Season Two. Are you? Where my Norseman at?!
The Premiere episode, “Brother’s War”, begins only a few months from the last, to which we now witness Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) standing alongside the army of King Horik (Donal Logue, fresh off Sons of Anarchy; Gotham‘s Harvey Bullock). Production wastes no time– staring across the field of fight is Ragnar’s barbaric brother, Rolo (Clive Standen), now paired up with Jarl Borg (Thorbjørn Harr). What happens next should blow the lids off even the most Game of Thrones diehards. Swinging axes. Blood-splattered faces. Screams of men meeting their demise at the end of a blade.
It’s all vial and vicious and we can’t imagine this is happening on the History Channel.
Yet, in a rather unforeseen, amiable end to the battle, Rolo surrenders to Ragnar, bringing a smile to the face of perhaps only Brother Love. Uh, yip. A compromise is made between groups to pillage the West instead of squandering over each other’s far more miniscule lands. So, yes, the Divine One can’t help but feel a little cheated after a year-long wait…
And as intense as the battle was, I was more or less expecting a conclusion to the brothers-in-arms around Episode 5. There’s no buildup to this ending, no previous fights or even verbal arguments about two brothers and two rival kings competing for full dominance. It’s all squashed in the first 15-minutes. It’s as if Jason Biggs from American Pie was looking at Shannon Elizabeth all over again.
Thankfully, the village scenary is where things get real steamy. Rolo is taken back to face punishment for his treason, while Ragnar enjoys a triumph with family in tow. Ah, but there is a snag. Who remembers our fearless leader falling for a certain Princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) last season? Leaving no stone unturned… Ragnar’s wife Lagertha (the beyond lovely and badass Katheryn Winnick) is now aware of his indiscretion and, of course, beyond furious — as well as I, for cheating on my ol’ lady! Oh but who comes to the village later on to pay a visit?
You guessed it.
And she is carrying Ragnar’s child.
This is now one delicious Scandanavian soap opera. Damn, somebody sleeping with the goats tonight! But Ragnar is such an arrogant Viking-son-of-a-bitch that he actually suggests that they should all just live together in perfect harmony. You don’t realize what you’ve done, man — this ain’t Utah!
Thus, in spite of losing what could have been some great — albeit more predictable — stories leading up to this one, I still enjoyed the Hel out of this episode. The actors have already grown so comfortable with their characters, with far more confidence and intensity in all their emotions and choices: Ragnar’s warrior rage, Rolo’s shame up against his brother, Lagertha‘s pain in betrayal. Fantastic stuff. And, believe it or not, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) appears more sinister than ever.
More than anything, I sympathize for the countries of the West because the Vikings are back — and they have no idea what’s about to hit them.