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What's with the name?

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Olden Lore

The History Channel’s Vikings Is Getting a Second Season. If You’re Not Watching, Here’s Why You Should Start.


I don’t know how many of our readers watch the History Channel’s Vikings, an historical drama about… well, about Vikings. Viking political intrigue. Viking raids. A Viking shieldmaiden who’s better than everyone else (not that I’m biased). It’s now five episodes into its first season, and there’s still plenty of time for newbies to catch up before its just-announced second season (Kermit flail!) starts.

If anyone has any “But why doesn’t the History Channel doesn’t do any history shows anymore?!?!?!” comments to make, please get them out of your system now.

Said the History Channel’s Dirk Hoogstra following the show’s renewal: “Vikings is a win win for us. As our first scripted series, Vikings has paid off in a big way with critical acclaim, strong ratings and a passionate, loyal fan base.” I count myself among that loyal fanbase, and I couldn’t be more pleased that my favorite Sunday night show (yes, I like it better than Game of Thrones. Just a little bit, but still. I’ve got it bad.) is getting a season two.

There are three major groups I think should give Vikings a shot:

1) Game of Thrones fans. Vikings is like a smaller-scale Thrones minus the fantasy elements. By which I mean it has the political maneuvering, the strong characters, the violence… but without dragons or decades-long winters or ice zombies. Granted, Vikings is on a much smaller scale than Thrones, but I kind of like focusing one or two locations and groups of characters without bopping around to half-a-dozen, hoping that my favorites will get some screen time.

2) Fans of kick-ass lady characters. I have sold my soul to Lagertha, the show’s female lead. She’s the main character’s wife and mother of his children. She also fights alongside him in battle and beats dudes up when they try to mess with her. A shieldmaiden of Rohan Scandinavia, she’s like a hardcore, more violent Eowyn. Just look at her. She exudes awesome.

3) History fans. No explanation needed.

The show’s second season will have ten episodes to the first season’s nine. All the episodes to have aired so far are available on the History Channel’s website, free and legal. In the past episodes have gone up the day after their TV airdate, so Vikings doesn’t even have to mess with your Game of Thrones viewing.

WATCH. IT.

(via: Deadline)

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  • Anonymous

    I’m a huge Game of Thrones fans, but I, too, really enjoy Vikings, for the very reasons you mention. It is a super-fun show.

    And if Lagertha isn’t enough reason to watch, Floki might be. And if Floki isn’t, how about the m/f/m threesomes? Historically accurate (per a history prof I know) threesomes…

  • Anonymous

    I am Scandinavian myself, its not really factually it is based on a semi-legendary character. If you look into the legend of the lead , you kinda will learn aspects of it. I liked it a bit, but I kinda dropped it after episode 1. Maybe I pick it up again, not sure though. Seemed rather solid show, but was off a little.

  • http://twitter.com/Brooke_Surname Brooke Michelle

    Seriously. That aspect made me happy.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Floki’s eyeliner is a reason in and of itself, too.

    He could never be my favorite because Lagertha exists, but he’s pretty damn cool.

  • Anonymous

    Love this show. Just started watching it Wednesday night, and have already caught up and looking forward to Sunday! Lagertha is my new hero.

  • Anonymous

    There should be point 4) Gamers. It’s live-action Skyrim. Seriously. My Breton thief looks like Floki’s long lost twin.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    So, is it talking heads and then they cut to “dramatic enactments” or is it like Band of Brothers, where the whole thing is a dramatization/TV show with post-episode interviews with experts, or…I just assume, since it’s on the history channel, that it’s all narration with cosplayers.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Nope, straight drama.

  • http://twitter.com/mildeabandon Eudora Quilt

    For me, the highlight of the show are the scenes focussing on the interaction of Ragnar, the innovative raider and Athelstan, his enslaved monk/nanny. (He’s only captured in the second episode, so everyone who considers giving the show a chance should watch at least as far). So much UST! (where the S can stand for sexual as well as spiritual). These are two fairly intelligent characters united by the shared virtue of curiosity who seem fated to transform each other in some way or another and so far it’s entirely unclear what kind of conversions are going to take place. Of course most viewers will probably hope for a certain corruption of the monk (“Come and join us, priest!”) and it’s too early in the era for Ragnar to ditch Odin for Jesus, but he’s already developing a certain taste for the lingo (the most recent episode has him adressing his Odin as “Lord of Lords”, which sounds like something straight out of Athelstan’s psalms). It’s quite possible that the Christian influence embodied by Athelstan will have political, rather than spiritual ramifcations (notion of divine kingship, anyone?) But ramifications there will be and I can’t wait. I mean sure, the threesome proposals are hot, but I could also spend hours watching Ragnar and Athelstan discuss theology and social mores.

    Also, everyone involved is utterly gorgeous. Lagertha’s praises have already been sung, Ragnar is played by a former Calvin-Kline-underwear model (ten years older now, and much improved, because less of a doll, at least in the Viking get-up) and the monk makes me want to quote Browning (“paint/could never hope to reproduce the faint/half-flush that dies along [his] throat…”). Ragnar’s crewmates Rollo and Floki (a Skarsgard, related to the other two already famous ones) are also disturbingly sexy, in their own somewhat deranged way. No skimping on the eye-candy in this production.

    My only minor complaint is that the show so far hasn’t quite passed the Bechdel test yet (there’s another shieldmaiden on the raids, but so far she hasn’t had any lines); so as awesome as Lagertha is, there’s a bit of a danger of smurfette-syndrome right now. The only other major female character, the earl’s wife, has a lot of potential, but is stuck in the weakest storyline of the show (everything about the earl’s conflict with Ragnar is sadly predictable, since the earl is painted so cartoonishly evil) and hasn’t had any interaction with Lagertha yet. But from what I’ve seen in the previews that will hopefully change in the next couple of episodes. I also have high hopes for Helga, Floki’s equally trippy girlfriend.

    If they fix their Smurfette/lack of female bonding-problem, this show might earn a place in the rank of most female entertainments currently on TV right now. I mean, what woman wouldn’t want to be Lagertha? She gets to kill all the rapists _ before_ they get a chance to rape her, a super-hot viking husband and a super-cute monk nanny and she doesn’t even have to choose between family and career! That’s how you do blatant female wishfulfilment! (All she needs now is a proper BFF. I think Helga might be promising. Or Siggi, once the Earl is out of the picture).

  • http://twitter.com/thatsjustmyhair amira

    I love this show. So much. Other than being a Lagertha fan (too much awesome), Bjorn is also great to watch as he plays the exasperated responsible eldest son opposite his reckless revenge/honor-seeking parents.

  • Anonymous

    “Dammit, Mom and Dad, no sexy-violent sword fights in the house!”

  • http://twitter.com/Havyn416 Sarah Parker

    I LOVE LAGERTHA!

  • Rebecca Pahle

    “You must have patience, father.”
    “‘You must have patience, father,’ SHUT UP!”

  • Anonymous

    Meh. I love kick-ass women and history, but any comparison to Game of Thrones is pretty much an anti-rec for me. Sorry. I’m just not into anything that crushingly bleak.

    (Yes, I also hated Battlestar Galactica. Come at me.)

  • http://twitter.com/LaPetiteDej Dejah Leger

    Here’s my dream of dreams: I await the day History Channel releases Vikings on DVD, which WILL—nay, MUST!!—have pop-up history facts (like what Rome had on their DVDs). Like “Come join us, Priest” (pop-up bubble: “Fact! Vikings loved threesomes because prudish puritanism had not yet dominated the Scandinavian world.”) So you can learn things all while goggling the hottest couple ever to grace television.

  • mage_cat

    I don’t find Vikings all that bleak. So if that’s your turn off for Game of Thrones, don’t let the comparison scare you away.

  • mage_cat

    No narration. No experts. Just Vikings being awesome.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    “reenactments” I meant. Oh well. Anyway, sounds good! I’ll give it a look.

  • http://twitter.com/Staar84 Erin Carr

    So of it did seem a little Beowulf-esq to me.

  • nathan B

    Minus the fantasy elements? The show is based on FICTIONAL VIKING SAGAS.

    It is not historically accurate.

  • Anonymous

    But how historically accurate is it? I don’t mean exact facts or characters, I mean is is it a generally accurate depiction of what Viking life was like in that time period?

  • Clare

    I’ve seen lots of people raving about this show lately, so I think I might have to check it out! I assume the fact that I haven’t seen anyone mention it that this show has less rape and incest that Game of Thrones is known for? (Not having a go at GoT viewers, just looking to avoid triggery material for myself)

  • Anonymous

    It’s too bad “The Bible” started up at the same time as this one, because it’s getting way more of the acclaim and popularity, and I think Vikings is the far superior show. As a lady viewer we get the win win of awesome female characters, of both the rough and tumble and scheming Cersi sort. And we also get some very handsome, very rugged hot Viking men :) And an adorable virginal priest. The characters are so great in this show, and I really love the costume/hair designs as well. They actually look dirty and unpolished, even more realistic looking than Game of Thrones at times. So glad this show is getting a second season!!!

  • notakoalabear

    I love love love the show, but it upsets me how quickly Athelstan seems to be adapting to life with a group of people who killed everyone he knew and destroyed everything he held dear. I liked his dialogue with Ragnar last week about being a free man, but nearly shook with rage when Ragnar blew him off. (I am possibly somewhat over-invested in this show?)

  • Anonymous

    Started watching this show with my husband this weekend; he found it. Pretty freakin’ awesome, and I do love Lagertha; WOW. That lady rules. Only disclaimer; HUGE trigger warning. There is straight up rape in this show. Not drawn out, unecessary “let’s do it for the shock factor” scenes, but…it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen before the scene cuts away.
    Thankfully, we’re able to fast forward, via watching it on Hulu.

  • mage_cat

    I have not watched Game of Thrones myself, so I can’t really give a comparison, but there are a few rape scenes in Vikings. Nothing is drawn out and one is immediately followed by the rapist’s death, so I guess it depends on how sensitive your trigger is as to whether you should watch it without someone else previewing it for you to tell you when to fast forward.

  • mage_cat

    Reasonably so as far as I can tell. I’m pretty sure the Earl is overstepping the strict bounds of his power for the sake to the plot, but that’s the worst I can find to say about it so far. I’ll grant, though, that I am no expert on Norse culture, I just dabble in research from time to time.

  • mage_cat

    It doesn’t have dragons or zombies and such in it, so yes, it is minus fantasy elements. It is, instead, reasonably researched historical fiction with occasional dramatic license.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    I love Lagertha! I liked how when he first told her she couldn’t go with him, her response was AMBUSH!!! And their kids were all pissed!

  • Anonymous

    According to history profs and grad students I know, much of the show is accurate. It’s not 100% accurate (most egregiously, it’s a plot point that most of the other Vikings don’t believe the protagonist’s surety that Britain exists to the west to be plundered, while historically the existence of those lands would have been absolutely known to some extent) and there are a few minor cultural and possible* technology anachronisms, but it is overall accurate.

    *I say possible because, per those history folks, there’s some ambiguity about when certain pieces of knowledge or technology would have been known to any particular Viking culture or community, so it’s gray area.

    I suggest giving it a watch, though, at least through episode 2 to get a good sense of it. Good stuff.

  • http://www.facebook.com/becky.straple Becky Straple

    likelikelikelikelikelikelikelike!

  • http://www.facebook.com/becky.straple Becky Straple

    This “Lord of Lords” tidbit is making me very happy. :) I have to catch up!

  • Axey

    You had me at m/f/m threesomes

  • http://www.facebook.com/melanie.burrett Melanie Burrett

    Er, as a history fan(atic), the costumes might make me a little uncomfortable… but I’ll have to look into it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/persis.shanker Persis Shanker

    I prefer the show also because it’s easier to focus on the fewer characters and there is action in every story. GOT was superb in Season 1 but it got massively slow in action and there suddenly were too many characters to give any meat to the episodes. Finales were also not as grandiose or could match the suspense levels built up in the previous eps of Season 2. Season 3 is looking really slow as well. Too much talk and no real progress. Vikings is pacey and is looking promising.

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t get through the second episode. I really liked Lagertha (loved how completely nonchalant she was in the first ep, fending off home invaders), but I couldn’t get past /the dumb/ on that show.

    I couldn’t get past the idiotic illogic of Haraldson’s actions (or his *name* – “Haraldson” is a patronymic, not a given name!). I couldn’t get past the excruciating boredom and utter lack of drama.

    But most of all, I couldn’t get past the geography.

    I want to send the producers a map. I deeply, desperately, agonizingly want to send the producers a map. Because the geography was undermining all the drama.

    That whole “THERE ARE NO LANDS TO THE WEST!” debate? Completely nonsensical. Yes, to the east (well, north up around Norway and ultimately to the east) is what will one day be Russia. And to the west is (mostly) the open sea.

    But dude: (1) when did the vikings balk at adventure on the open sea? And (2) what about south? You know, Francia? Rich, fat, prosperous Francia, with all its deep-reaching rivers and wealthy monasteries? And Hell, the coast of Francia curves west, and the English channel narrows to 34 km at its narrowest.

    But yeah. Turned it off halfway through the second episode.

  • John Martin

    I see your points but I’d counter that, considering the series is fiction, Gabriel Byrne creates a classic depiction of Haraldsson as the caged man. He is paranoid and entrenched in power. He only denies the existence of passage and lands to the west in public. In private council he acknowledges both, that Ragnar has a way to navigate west, and later that he “knew all along” that there were lands to the west.

    From the start until episode six and his death, Haraldsson fears that his entire power base will collapse. Rightly so, as Ragnar is ambitious as all hell and would never pass an opportunity to take the big chair.

    You ask when the vikings balked at adventure on the open sea. Have you ever been on the open sea? I’ve only ever been on the ferry crossing to Prince Edward Island, and even with a huge, modern ship and gear, the knowledge of Bi-National Coast Guard and every other safety and logistical aspect covered, when the waves kicked up it STILL didn’t feel worth it. It just didn’t. All I could think was “I can’t wait to get to the other side. This is fucking scary.”

    And about Francia, yeah, you’re totally correct I guess, but think about who this show is being sold to: english-first-language audience, mostly in North America. This includes me. Two of the characters (Eric and Leif Martin) even share my last name. They’re not going to sell Francish history to Anglophones. Here’s what DOES sell:

    “The kids will like it because kids like anything. The adult men will like it because Ragnar is a fucking masculinity MACHINE with pretty much the best friends EVER. The adult women will like it for the same reason combined with the fact that he’s married to a femininity MACHINE and somehow manages to be a doting father, despite being hard as a tungsten coffin-nail when it’s time to kill people. EVERYBODY will like it for the sex: M/M/F threesomes like a mothertrucker, fuckers. Women especially love that shit; heard it on Oprah.”

  • John Martin

    Your point about the gender problems in the show rings so true. I want to see at LEAST one battle scene where the females are in focus for not just the high action, but also build-up and aftermath.
    They only show splices of Lagertha, Floki and the other back-liners doing the insanely important job of picking off flankers and strays by engaging them in single combat. The shield-wall is BIG and LOUD and STRONG and everything, but the back-line and flanks are where the SKILLS happen.
    I may not be a woman, but I do understand combat, and I don’t believe that woman are any different where the metal hits the meat. How do women react before combat, or in the aftermath? Television should not be afraid to approach that subject.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vikingdrummer Donna Meichtry

    Be sure to catch up with “VIKINGS” by watching Viking Drummer’s Episode Recaps. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udi1rbpNmOs

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Larson-Gonzales/708649430 Sandy Larson- Gonzales

    HE IS A BIT CRAZY,

  • Ed Kolarich

    I am in hopes that the second series will reflect on the son, Ivar The Boneless..
    This a great series and as close to historic as you can get . I am so glad they have gone after all aspects of Viking life.
    As a former member of the 11th Armored Cav.. in Vietnam, kinda scary to see the similarities of there style of warfare and the way wee conducted ourselves in Vietnam. The only difference they did it with swords , arrows, pikes, and axes.
    We did it with Bullets, machetes and knives, We left nothing alive or usable. Our enemy in Vietnam in captured documents, refereed to our unit as the butchers of the dead… A fitting description of us . ..We are the last of our kind of warrior as well..
    Today’s warfare must be politically correct…..

  • Jammy Custard

    I know now why they built a castle on holy Island! the viking series is awesome!

  • patula jacobsz

    History Channel you suck ball….making us wait till 2014 for season 2

  • Anonymous

    Room for them both on my screen. I like both GoT and Vikings. No need to be exclusive.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t wait for the second season! I do love Lagertha and Ragnar and Athelstan, but for some reason I can’t take my eyes off Floki. First because the character just seemed so weird and later because…well, I don’t know — maybe some sort of Skarsgard charisma that runs in the family? In any case, the actor seems like a chip off the old Stellan and I can’t stop watching him.

    In the sagas, there’s another woman between Lagertha and Aslaug — looks as if we’re skipping her.

  • Anonymous

    Oh The Mary Sue, could you PLEASE have someone review this show?! I’m dying to have a place to comment and geek-out to it :) (Also, the strong characters who happen to be female ermahgawd!!!!111 SO AWESOME!!!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/rat.daddey Rat Daddey

    WOW 9 episodes and a whole 10more to come… and I pay over $100 a month for cable! Are you kidding me? , am I the only one that gets it ? most shows air with a minimum of 11 or 12 episodes with even a bonus to 13 episodes an these are all one hour episodes ,,, and that’s just on stations like FX, H-B-LO-Me, Show Time AMC, etc ,,, Network TV shows air with a min of 23-30 half hour Episodes a year,, So you can understand why I’m not exactly jumping for joy , with a measly 9 Cheap arse episode premier season ,,, especially with a show that doesn’t rely heavily on high tech monkey businesses for production values and you know there getting a cut of that $100.00 a month cable bill your getting jammed with from Comcast, Att or Warner… Maybe we should do away with all Cable TV and go straight to direct satellite distribution directly from the networks ,, maybe then they could give us a 13 one hour episode season instead of a cheesy 9 and then wait 10 months for the next set……

  • heather macauley

    very interesting thought, that maybe the warriors of old have finished in our lifetime.

  • heather macauley

    definitely old norse stories here, very recognizable