Journey to a thrilling ancient world in this epic new series about history's bravest and most brutally fearsome warriors... Vikings. Ragnar, a would-be Viking chieftain, longs to fulfill his destiny as an explorer and conqueror, alongside his ambitious brother Rollo and loyal wife Lagertha. But as Ragnar leads daring raids in distant realms across the ocean, treacherous forces in his Norse homeland conspire against him. Faced with shocking betrayals and the temptations of a mysterious seductress, Ragnar must wage war on the battlefield – and within himself – to protect his freedom, family and life.
I'm sure a lot of work went into making this historically accurate but this is essentially a drama and a very good one. There are however some factual sillinesses: on the first visit to Britain the Vikings storm Lindesfarne and find Cuthbert the first English christian. A year later they raid England again when everyone has become devout Christians with more bishops than soldiers. They come across a priest who can speak the Viking language even though no-one had previously dared to cross the North Sea from Scandinavia to England, also no-one had crossed the North Sea or presumably the Channel because they apparently had no means of navigation (stars hadn't yet been invented).
The facts aside, the brutal drama is utterly compelling, and some of the history may be true, (I'm not sure that the Vikings did sacrifice friends and relatives to the Gods but this film made me think it could be true). The costumes, the set, the battles and fights are believably genuine; the gore factor is pretty high and the 18 certificate due mainly to the fights. The main motive for pressing the remote control to start another episode even though the time might be 2 am is that it is a brilliant drama with tons of plot and utterly believable characters.
With the advent of Game of Thrones, studios have been looking for series that embrace the serious emotional stakes of the aforementioned series but are more grounded in reality. Vikings is such a series as it uses the history of a group of Viking raiders and their families to bring vicious fighting to life in a unique way. Thats not to say the twists and turns Vikings provides are bad, in fact, it’s the opposite.
Vikings follows the ambitious viking Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and his journey from loyal viking to the leader of the whole group. Along the way Ragnar must face off with those who intend to keep their power including Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne), a vicious leader of Ragnar’s group. However Ragnar must also contend with his family, especially wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) whose own ambitions and family ideals often find Ragnar balancing more than his own desires.
Beautifully filmed in delightful locations and full of interesting and realistic traditions and reactions, Vikings is an impressive historical series that doubles as fast paced drama. Ragnar and Haraldson’s contentious relationship makes for some excellent episodes and Fimmel makes an unpleasant Ragnar seem sympathetic despite the death he brings to those he raids with his family and fellow vikings.
It’s easy to find your favourite in Lagertha as Winnick is terrific in the role and while the series doesn’t quite scream family drama it proves an emotional series as the harsh world the series presents forces family dynamics you would not expect and actions that make for some complicated moral viewings. While Ragnar is the draw and his drive to get more and more takes the lead you will probably stick around for the way life is lived in this new and exciting series that will tell a fast paced story in very little time at all.