Netflix 'Vikings: Valhalla' Review: Do not miss out on this epic historical drama
Though a sequel to the hit History channel drama 'Vikings', 'Vikings: Valhalla' stands tall and doesn't rely much on its predecessor
The Norsemen are back! Currently streaming on Netflix, 'Vikings: Valhalla' is set 100 years after the events of 'Vikings' and a lot has changed since then. For the uninitiated, 'Vikings' followed the rise of Ragnar Lothbrok from a mere farmer and raider to king and after his gruesome death, focused on the lives of his sons. Airing from 2013 to 2020, the historical drama was often considered a simpler version of 'Game of Thrones.' However, 'Vikings: Valhalla' doesn't rely on its predecessor much and stands tall on its own. Apart from being set in the same universe and some references to characters from 'Vikings,' the series is more or less independent and self-driven.
'Vikings: Valhalla,' starts at the Danelaw settlement in England on Saint Brice's Day, where all those of Viking heritage are slaughtered. News of the massacre reaches the Danes, whose king Canute (Bradley Freegard) plots for a year and then sends word to all Vikings to rally together at Kattegat to avenge their brothers and sisters. Serving the Danish king as a right hand is Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter), the great-grandson of Harald Finehair, the former king of all of Norway. A turn of events results in Greenlander Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett) joining the two, and 'Vikings: Valhalla' revolves around these three men, at least for most parts. Whether the Vikings are able to avenge their fallen and what they do during and after it forms the rest of the story.
While 'Vikings' dealt with the exploration, conquests, and combats of Norsemen, 'Vikings: Valhalla' is a series that focuses more on their survival. Nevertheless, their quest for glory hasn't entirely died out, and there are enough moments where the key characters etch their names in history. Another way in which the Netflix historical drama differs is that a major chunk of the Vikings has converted to Christianity. The core conflict of the story rises from this as those who follow the Abrahamic faith seek to exterminate the ones they've labeled heathens.
Developed by Michael Hirst, Jeb Stuart, and MGM Studios, 'Vikings: Valhalla' is one of those few shows where every character serves a purpose and adds to the narrative. Not one person feels out of place nor does anyone bog the series down. Admirably, every character has a want and a destiny, and they attain them over the course of the series. Special mentions to Frida Gustavsson who shines as Freydís Eiríksdóttir and Asbjørn Krogh who effortlessly radiates terror as Jarl Kåre.
Two battle sequences stand out in this extraordinarily yet realistically staged series. The first one is in Episode 3, while the latter takes place during the last episode of 'Vikings: Valhalla'. Grand in size and scale, the toils of the technicians haven't gone in vain. There is one drawback to 'Vikings: Valhalla' and that is the absence of Wardruna's music. Though Trevor Morris does an excellent job with the background score, the lack of runes by the Norwegian music group is felt. Apart from this, there really aren't any other cons to the series.
In all, 'Vikings: Valhalla' is one epic historical drama that you don't want to miss out on.