***[Update 5/1/14] I was wrong! And I’m glad because I didn’t want to see Ragnar die. What a great display of Teutonic guile. For those of you who are new to my site due to this post on “Vikings” (it’s gotten a lot of hits) I encourage you to read the Mantra tab above. Remember that “diversity” is just a code for White genocide. Have a nice day.
My favorite television show out right now is “Vikings” on the History channel. I like it even better than Game of Thrones (GOT), which is saying a lot because I love GOT. The reason I like it better than GOT is because it’s actually (somewhat) historical and depicts a time in history that I find absolutely fascinating (the early middle ages). The creator of Vikings is Michael Hirst. Hirst is a middle ages specialist/extraordinaire and the shows that he’s involved in tend to be the shows that I enjoy the most (The Tudors, The Borgias, Camelot, Vikings). Once Vikings comes to an end I’d like to see a show that depicts Charlemagne and his interactions with the Saxons of Germany. This may be too similar to the concept behind Vikings but for us Middle Ages junkies, there’s never enough.
Never before has there been a show (or movie) that depicts Viking society so intimately. But what really makes Vikings outstanding is the contrast it shows between Viking society and Saxon society. If the show only concentrated on Viking society it would not be as good. Vikings is a show that could rightfully be titled “Early Middle Ages Northern Europe.” It’s a real treat for people who descend from Scandinavia, the British Isles, and other Germanics to see their early history be made into a show. Never before was there a show that showed the pre-Christian religion of Northern Europe. It’s been done for the Southern European pagan religions (Rome on HBO), but not for the Germanic religions. Hopefully future seasons will depict Viking interaction with the Celts (Welsh), Franks, and perhaps even into Russia?
Some of the best scenes in Vikings is when they flip back and forth from Viking to Saxon society. We see a wedding in both. We see their religious life. We see how the leaders mete out justice. It’s an interesting similarity that both societies use a community hall for where business is conducted. The hall was a major part of pagan Germanic society and it remained so into the Christian era. The Christian Saxons have a more organized religious life with Bishops being powerful figures in the community. Norse religious life is more personal. The political leaders (Horik, Ragnar) carryout the blood sacrifices while the holy men (like the seer in Vikings) tend to council the political leaders. It does appear however based on the “Sacrifice” episode from season 1 that when the holy man says something will piss off the gods; the political leaders listen. There’s a supernatural aspect of Vikings that is well done in its subtlety. You see a glimpse of Odin here or there or ravens circling the battlefield. I should also discuss the 4 main leaders (Horik, Lothbrok, Ecbert, Aelle) of the show.
King Aelle is to King Horik what King Ecbert is to Earl Ragnar. Aelle and Horik are impulsive, prone to anger, greedy, and short sighted. Ragnar and Ecbert are more controlled, open minded and forward thinking. In an early episode of season 2 the Vikings sack a church and when they find the treasure King Horik and the men sound like pirates as they yell “treasurrrrr!” Meanwhile Ragnar was less interested in treasure but instead tries to learn about Saxon society, Christianity and has the vision to see England as a potential land for settlement. Horik also enjoys killing and torturing people while Ragnar obviously views such behavior as senseless. Ecbert is interested in classical learning while Aelle scoffs at reading as a waste of time. In episode 9 Ragnar even tells Athelstan that he hopes one day that the Christian God and the Norse gods could be friends. He could never say this in front of Floki or Horik. Despite being of two different religions and cultures, Ragnar and King Ecbert are more natural allies compared with their reactionary partners in their respective cultures and religions.
The character of Floki is an interesting character. He’s a ship builder, has medical skills, is clairvoyant, and is a shamanic figure. Floki is also an archetype of the Norse god Loki. He’s a trickster that you never know if you can trust. The character Floki is also what you might call a “fundamentalist” of the Norse religion. In the first season when Rollo gets baptized Floki is the only norseman who won’t kneel even after their leader Ragnar kneels (in fact Floki spits on the ground to show his displeasure). Later in the baptism episode he confronts Rollo over agreeing to be baptized. Rollo claims that he didn’t believe it but Floki tells him that it doesn’t matter. Floki is a shamanic type person who understands the dangers of taking part in foreign spiritual rituals. One point on Rollo is that historically Rollo ends up having a greater legacy than his brother Ragnar; as he later settles Northern France in the place we now call “Normandy” for a people we now know as the “Normans.”
This brings me to my prediction for the season finale. I predict that Ragnar will be betrayed by Floki and end up in King Aelle’s snake pit (see photos above). If you read the Sagas that discuss Ragnar Lothbrok, it tells of this fate for him. Being an Asatru fundamentalist, Floki sees Ragnar as a sell-out to the Norse gods. I believe he planned this sell-out when he rode off with the hostage King Aelle during the meeting. After the meeting between the Viking leaders and King Ecbert, we see Floki hisss at King Aelle in a show of disrespect towards him as Aelle leaves the viking camp. This was most likely done to hide the fact that Floki made a deal with Aelle. Years ago you would never see the main character of a show killed off , but over the last 10 years or so it’s become common for a major character to be killed off early. Rome killed off Caesar in season 1. Deadwood killed off Wild Bill Hickok early in season 1. Game of Thrones takes it to another level with a willingness to kill off anyone at any time. According to the Sagas Bjorn will take revenge for the death of Ragnar Lothbrok and will give King Aelle a “blood eagle.” The only thing that causes me some uncertainty over my prediction of the upcoming death of Ragnar is that the Sagas say that he raids Paris in the Frankish kingdom (and that hasn’t happened yet on Vikings). At this point I’d say I’m 98% sure that Ragnar will be sold out and thrown into Aelle’s snake pit.
If Ragnar is killed off, the question then is will the show be able to survive without him? He is great character, but I think the show will go on (the show must go on). The show will end up revolving around the vikings Bjorn, Rollo, Floki, and King Horik. We’ll still see the great contrasts and comparisons between the Norse and Christian Saxon societies. In the Saxon world king Aelle will survive but probably will get blood-eagled next season. I don’t think King Ecbert will get killed off yet but who knows what King Aelle is willing to do? Aelle is a treacherous bastard and he certainly wasn’t very happy with King Ecbert’s presumptuous decision to volunteer him to be a hostage to the vikings during the meeting. You can see the look in Aelle’s eyes when he’s around King Ecbert that he doesn’t really like him. If there is a big “kill off” during the season 2 finale I would expect Athelstan and Lagertha to be killed as well.
Athelstan is a great character and the conflict of his identity over his Christian side and Norse side is intriguing. At first I didn’t care much for his character and found him to be a little annoying. There’s a part when it looked like Ragnar was going to die in season 1 when Athelstan was saying the Old Testament verse about “a season for everything” that just sounded dorky compared to Lagertha calling on Freya for help to save her husband. Later when Athelstan tries to say this verse again the viewing audience is relieved when Floki interrupts and says “just shut up and eat your soup priest.” In season 1 when the Vikings raid the monastery at Lindisfarne (where we meet Athelstan) it looked like what would happen if a high school football team met their rival high school’s science fiction club in some remote area. Over time we see Athelstan turn from dork to viking tough guy and in episode 9 we see him pick his friendship with Ragnar over Christianity and his partnership with King Ecbert. This brings me to the subject of Lagertha. Killing off Lagertha would be a shame in that we wouldn’t see her goddess-like face on the show anymore. While princess Aslug is an attractive woman, Lagertha is goddess-like in her looks. Borjn’s girlfriend looks like she might take over Lagertha’s role as “hot blonde” on the show if Lagertha is killed off.
The Vikings season 2 finale is going to be a good one. I expect it to be shocking and exciting, but also a little sad since it will most likely feature the deaths of many of the characters that we’ve grown to like. The great lesson of Vikings is that you never know who is going to stab you in the back. You never know what resentments, envies, or complexes exist in your “friends” or “family.” You might have so called “friends” who see in you something that they covet and spend time with you because they think doing so will bring them whatever they yearn for in you. But then, when given the opportunity to betray you they will do so gladly, as this gives them an outlet to hurt the object of their relative inadequacy. You never know when taking you down may be the way up for the people you thought you trusted. One of the greatest gifts you can have in this world is people that you can absolutely trust. But if you find that circumstances have made it so that no one can be trusted, then remember that you always have God or the gods to turn to.