‘Vikings’ Season 2 Premiere Wages a Family War

Published 9 months ago by

vikings season 2 episode 1 rollo ragnar Vikings Season 2 Premiere Wages a Family War

[This is a review of the season 2 premiere of Vikings. There will be SPOILERS]

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When Vikings first premiered last year, it was touted as little more than a Game of Thrones impersonator, lacking in originality, as History attempted to move into the “original series” playing field. Fortunately, over four million viewers tuned in each week to see what these Scandinavian giants were up to.

The reasons for Vikings success stem from its stellar casting, and top-notch writing from Tudors veteran Michael Hirst (who has written every episode to date). This sword and shield drama could have easily failed in its first season; however, its unique setting and characters helped the series stand out in a market over-croweded with genre-based programming. Can Vikings avoid the cliche of the “sophomore slump?”

If the season two premiere, entitled ‘Brother’s War’ is any indication, then Vikings is headed for a successful encore. Last year’s finale left our hero (Ragnar) in a tumultuous circumstance. After assisting King Horik (Donal Logue) with a land dispute, Ragnar’s troublesome brother (Rollo), decides it’s time to step out of his sibling’s shadow by betraying him. With any battle of epic proportions imminent, one would think that the clashing of shields would come at the end of ‘Brother’s War,’ yet Hirst puts Ragnar and Rollo on the battlefield to open the episode. It seems that “saving the best for last” is not in this show’s vocabulary, nor should it ever be.

vikings season 2 episode 2 rollo Vikings Season 2 Premiere Wages a Family War

As with the first season, the fight choreography is top notch. For a show that’s rated TV-14 here in the States, there is plenty of blood and gore to feast your eyes on. Even without the conflict between the brothers, Vikings continues to do a good job at keeping the battles intimate. There are never too many extras in the background, so the attention is always focused on the main characters. Perhaps this is due to budget constraints, but in any case, Hirst and director Ciraran Donelley make this work to their advantage.

Sparing Rollo’s life was a welcomed sight, due to the fact that simply killing the brother for his betrayal would have been the easy way out. Now, Rollo must learn to survive in a society that shuns him for his actions against Ragnar. Will his brother ever forgive him? Hopefully, the answer is yes. While Rollo could never be called a “good guy,” the brothers make a formidable pair, and when working together, they are nearly impossible to defeat. Undoubtedly this new subplot will take up a large portion of the story, but Ragnar’s family troubles do not end with Rollo.

Ragnar’s family war has now stretched to his wife (Lagertha). The strikingly beautiful Canadian-born actress Katherine Winnick (Nikita) gives her best performance yet, as her husband welcomes Princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) to their home. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the series, Ragnar had a one-night-stand with the lovely princess, which resulted in a pregnancy. To make matters worse, Ragnar suggests that they form some kind of polygamous relationship. Even with this being a period-based drama, and with Aslaug and Ragnar telling her that many other couples have similar arrangements, it’s easy to sympathize with Lagertha’s plight. It was a bold move to leave her husband behind, but as with any marital dispute, a child always gets hurt.

vikings season 2 episode 1 aslaug Vikings Season 2 Premiere Wages a Family War

Bjorn’s (Nathan O’Toole) decision to leave with his mother should smack some sense into Ragnar. While the princess may be enticing and carries his unborn child, is it worth losing his family over? Ragnar is a brilliant strategist when it comes to exploration and battle, but in matters of the heart he still acts like a child. Lagertha gives him that maturity and without her, he will suffer. What do you think will become of this love triangle as the season progresses?

The focus of season two will most likely center around Ragnar’s family dilemma, and his ambitions to journey further west in search of riches and glory. Our hero is destined for great things, but at what cost? Ragnar will have to discover what he holds most dear, or our favorite Viking warrior will lose everything.

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Vikings continues with ‘Invasion’ next Thursday @10pm on History.

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  1. Vikings is a Canadian-Irish historical drama television series, written and created by Michael Hirst for the television channel History. It premiered on March 3, 2013 in the United States and Canada.

  2. It was a solid start, but I am a little worried:

    The deal with S1 was its beautiful, brutal, purposeful middle finger to the whole concept of filler. Take S1 episode ‘A King’s Ransom’. In the space of that one episode, they arrive, set up camp, get into fights, win, claim riches and leave. Many a TV show would’ve used that location alone for an entire season (looking at you, ‘The Walking Dead’). An almost unique approach then to narrative drive, lending itself to momentum in a manner not dissimilar to a history lesson (well, duh etc).

    But it is a fine line. The episode last night had all the S1 traits of the aforementioned but something just seemed a little off, a little too simplistic in its addressing of lingering plot points from the first season and setting up S2 strands. It is a very fine line I think between an application of intelligence to the momentum and it being just, well, point A-B-C and the episode, whilst looking as gorgeous as ever and still edited with Schoonmaker-esque taut, just all felt a little obligatory. The introductory episode for new viewers ‘The Americans’ so brilliantly avoided.

    I’m probably not explaining it well. But I did binge watch S1 so perhaps the weekly episode thing for a show that rattles along will take some getting used to. ‘House of Cards’ spoiled me in this sense. Perhaps ‘Vikings’ is ready made for the all episodes in one go format (whereas conversely, say, ‘Orange Is The New Black’ perfect for weekly installments). The future is going to be fascinating when it comes to defining which shows fall into each category I feel.

    Anyways, context will answer all queries regarding this episode. The eyes of Ragnar Lothbrok are as misleadingly charming as ever.

    Nice cameo, Mr Griffin.

    • “The eyes of Ragnar Lothbrok are as misleadingly charming as ever.”

      what a great actor…the uneasy tension between Ragnor and Rollo in S1 was great.

      • Aye. Fimmel is excellent. He knows this is his career maker. Hell, he almost persuaded me to be his wife during that scene…

        • hahhaa no comment

          i also enjoy the Scandinavian accents…and the odd word in whatever language they use

    • Thanks for your insight Ajeno. Hopefully your worries won’t come to fruition this season. ‘The Walking Dead’ does stretch it’s story out a bit too long at times, but Michael Hirst’s singular vision should steer ‘Vikings’ clear of those pitfalls. Only time will tell.

  3. It’s about time you guys started talking about this show.

    • +1

  4. I was disappointed by it. Not very realistic. NO leader of a warrior tribe can afford to look weak,and that is exactly what Ragnar did when he bribed the lawmaker to pardon his brother. Since the brother killed and wounded several of his own tribe while he was in betrayal,I just don’t see people being willing to forgive him. A slit throat while he is sleeping would be more likely.

    Ragnar should have immediated banished his brother from the tribe. That would have made him look like a leader while still accepting the lawmakers decision.

    I did like the part where he tried to get both women to sleep with him,though. I tried that once with sisters,and even though I had dated one before and was dating the other then,for some odd reason both got pissed with me.

    • you dont seem to know much of viking culture and history, were you perhaps angry that they didnt have horns on their helmets as well?

      • What kind of damnfool statement was that? Do YOU somehow visualize yourself as a Viking,and pretend to know it all when you obviously don’t understand the first thing about leadership,or that it is universal regardless of the culture?

  5. I have not watched this yet, but have heard it’s actually pretty good…and I do like alot of what History Channel puts out, so I have it on my Netflix list.

  6. This is such a great show! Didn’t get the love that it deserves.

    I will say that any man that would jeopardize Lagertha is a fool! But I can’t help but like watching Ragnar, fool & all.

    • But Princess Aslaug.. She’s just out-of-this-world! Can’t blame Ragnor.

  7. A great show that is pleasing to the eye and a good “history-ish based” adventure.

    May Ragnor’s eventual demise be many many seasons away!

  8. Since the series is *very loosely* based on figures from both viking myth and dark ages history, it’s possible that Rollo is being set up to be the historical Rollo — a viking leader who, banished from his home and family, went on to be the first ruler of Normandy and the great-great-great-some-more-greats grandfather of William the Conqueror.

    I really thought that, when he was packing up to leave, he was being set up to begin an exile that would end in France.

  9. Reading your article on Outlander is like reading an opinion of the NFL by an average woman who doesn’t like football!