'Norsemen' Season 3 Review: The Great War presents the Vikings of Norheim in a never-before-seen avatar
If you're looking for a satisfying comedy with hilariously dysfunctional characters, you've found it
Spoilers for 'Norsemen' Season 3
First impressions of 'Norsemen' are that of a gritty, merciless, gory period drama that sends its Vikings on bloodthirsty wars raiding, pillaging and raping across lands to bring back loot and slaves. It is a historical series that documents the ruthless power struggles of a time gone by.
It's almost hard to believe that Jarl Varg (Jon Øigarden) and Jarl Bjørn (Thorbjørn Harr) are about to engage in a war that will kill thousands of their men over one's remarks that the other is going bald.
'Norsemen', titled 'Vikingane' in Norsk, is not your average Viking story - it is a hilarious chronicling of dysfunctional, petty politics and characters in an impressive story. Set in the 8th century Viking village of Norheim, the period comedy is a one-of-a-kind series that never disappoints. Norheim is riddled with eccentric characters who are set in uncomfortable, malfunctioning situations. Much like Monty Python, it focuses on these characters' state of minds and the consequences of their poorly thought actions resulting in thoroughly enjoyable chaos.
Varg and Bjørn were once besties, as they called themselves. But on one gathering, when Bjørn mocked Varg since he is thinning of the top, the latter set his entire house on fire burning to death not only Bjørn's entire family but also his own wife Reidun (Iben Akerlie).
While he nests in a brief state of depression, Chieftain Olav (Henrik Mestad) arranged the marriage of his younger brother Orm (Kåre Conradi) and the nomad Frøya (Silje Torp). This is a marriage to be doomed as we see in Season 1 and 2, but the set-up is elaborate and hilariously chaotic. Orm's bachelor party, for instance, is a mess waiting to happen. He walks around the village looking for a best man, but he is the most despised person around. So much so that one literally stabs himself in the thigh to escape being related to him.
Meta jokes are littered through the seasons. The characters also foreshadow their own future leaving the audience in splits. On one instance, Olav predicts his own death right to the manner of his death. In another, Varg warns him of the trouble the map will cause for "seasons to come".
'Norsemen' Season 3 sets a precedent in perfectly tying loose ends and delving into backstories that shed light on their actions through the previous seasons. Creators Jon Iver Helgaker and Jonas Torgersen had revealed a long time ago that the season would be a prequel but that doesn't take away from the storyline one bit. Audiences know exactly where and how the plot is moving forward but the interest is generated by characters.
Vikings have never before seen in an avatar like this. There is blood and gore, no doubt, but that is hardly the highlight of the period comedy.
We do have one complaint. One of the leading, most important characters through the first two seasons Rufus (Trond Fausa) barely gets any screen time. He's present only for the last few moments in the finale. And although this performance in these scant scenes is top-notch, we'd have loved to get more of Rufus. Fausa's humor and comedic timing was really important to the preceding seasons and not having him in this particular season is saddening.
That said, however, it doesn't take away any credit from the rest of the characters as each delivers a satisfying arc staying true to themselves.
'Norsemen' is never a disappointment. The show brings with it an amazing rewatch value that gets better with every viewing. You can finish Season 3 and immediately get on to watching Season 1 - tying all the threads perfectly, each cause and effect. This makes 'Norsemen' a delight to indulge in. Since it does not adhere to conventional comedy formats, it proves to be a breath of fresh air with an ensemble cast the delivers splendid, incomparable performances.
If you're looking for a satisfying comedy with hilariously dysfunctional characters, you've found it.
All three seasons of 'Norsemen' are currently streaming on Netflix.