Nearly a year since the History Channel's Vikings aired its first finale, the raiding and pillaging resumes!
The Internet's been grumbling for months about how unsatisfying last year's finale turned out to be. Well, I think it's safe to say that Vikings Season 2 Episode 1 was worth the wait.
Series creator/writer Michael Hirst skillfully positioned all his pieces, and the results played out in tonight's premiere.
1. Ragnar Comes Home
Ragnar comes home to learn that his brother has taken up against him on "Brother's War."
2. Lagertha Watches her Husband Come Home
Lagertha watches Ragnar's arrival in the Viking's episode "Brother's War."
3. Ragnar and Lagertha Talk
Ragnar arrives home and visits with his wife Lagertha on "Brother's War."
4. Ragnar and Floki Size Up their Opponents
Ragnar and Floki prepare for battle against Ragnar's brother Rollo in "Brother's War"
5. Ragnar and Floki are Ready for Battle
Ragnar, Floki and an ally are ready for battle against Rollo in "Brother's War."
6. Rollo Goes Shirtless for his Battle Preparation
No shirt, no shield, no problem! Badass Rollo goes lightly into battle against his brother's army on "Brother's War."
7. Ragnar and King Horik are Ready
Ragnar looks confident with King Horik on his side as they prepare for battle in "Brother's War."
10. Rollo Kicks his Way through Ragnar's Army
Ragnar kicks his way through Ragnar's army minus shirt and shield on "Brother's War."
11. Princess Aslaug Arrives
Princess Aslaug arrives, heavy with child for an unexpected visit on "Brother's War."
Sure, this episode could have easily closed out last season and tied up all the loose ends. However, what Hirst has given us instead is an explosive and emotional premiere that moved me like no episode before had. Besides, where's the fun in tying up the loose ends?
We rejoin our Viking warriors on the battlefield. Rollo has joined forces with Jarl Borg against his brother. Ragner, the eternal optimist, refuses to believe Rollo will betray him. I don't think their relationship will ever be the same again after this.
Who needs a reason for betrayal?Floki
One must always think the worst Ragnar, even of your own kin.
That way, you avoid too much disappointment in life.
The opening battle was much more intense than I expected. To those that complain Vikings is a watered down Game of Thrones, take note! While the show is definitely less graphic than Thrones, the violence is comparable.
A sneak peek released by History six months ago teased Floki's death. Well, I'm incredibly pleased we didn't lose the kooky shipbuilder. Floki is not just the comic relief, but in many ways the heart of the show.
Rollo does, however, savagely impale one-eye on his own lance. This scene is probably one of the most brutal for Vikings, and as disturbing as anything on Thrones. If I had to single out one complaint, it would be the shaky-cam which was a bit overdone for my taste. I know everyone does it these days, doesn't mean I will ever get used to it. Still, I felt engaged throughout the entire battle sequence.
Obviously, only one brother could prevail. Ragnar is our protagonist, so I wasn't surprised Rollo surrenders.
King Horik and Jarl Borg continue bickering, until Ragnar suggests they raid together. This way, they won't continue losing more of their own men. An agreement is reached. It's a good thing one of these leaders has more common sense than pride.
An exhausted and battle weary Ragnar, returns home only to be drawn into a different kind of war. Lagertha, now aware of Ragnar’s indiscretions, is not at all pleased with her husband. Soon, a very pregnant princess Aslaug arrives to add fuel to the fire.
Though Ragnar suggests he take another wife and the three live happily ever after, it did not surprise me Lagertha didn't go for it. I do believe Ragnar when he tells Lagertha he doesn't love Aslaug. At least for right now anyway, since he only met her briefly. That said, the seer did promise him many sons. With Lagertha having miscarried and Aslaug now pregnant, it’s not hard to understand Ragnar’s choice.
The scene with Ragnar sitting between his two women at dinner was priceless. Fimmel’s expressions are worth a million bucks right?
Rollo goes through some pretty heavy stuff this episode. Having surrendered has left him not only a broken man, but a dead man, he tells Siggy. It was a nice twist to learn Ragnar had paid off the law giver to spare Rollo. I've no doubt Ragnar loves his brother, blood is everything to him, but again I don't think things will ever be the same between them.
I wanted to step out of your shadow.Rollo
You understand that, don't you?
Clive Standen is not only an impressive presence, but he nails his more intimate and emotional scenes as well. He's the guy you love to hate on this show. I'm extremely curious to see what part Rollo plays throughout the rest of the season. Does he still want to be Earl?
Speaking of emotional scenes, Ragnar’s goodbye to his daughter, Gyda, broke my heart. I admit, there might have been something in my eye. Travis Fimmel has been phenomenal on this show, but he truly outdoes himself with this simple, powerful monologue.
Lagertha's first confrontation with Aslaug was understandably awkward and uncomfortable. By the time Aslaug presents her hosts that special meal though, it seemed Lagertha was warming up to her no? Bjorn, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with the princess and he makes that clear.
Doesn't Alyssa Sutherland, who plays princess Aslaug, look like she stepped right out of Middle-earth? A gorgeous Elven princess from Rivendell. If you know your history, Aslaug gave Ragnar several sons, which we'll meet this season. In other words, the princess is not going anywhere, she’s here to stay. I know many people dislike the character, but I'm ok with her sticking around
Lagertha decides to pack her things and leave Ragnar. Though Bjorn was convinced to stay, he ultimately leaves with his mother. I think Bjorn made the right choice. Ragnar telling his son to look after his mother, meant he understood the decision. I'm curious to see Lagertha and Bjorn's journey moving forward.
The simple gesture of Ragnar rubbing Aslaug's belly in that final scene, makes it pretty clear he's in it for the children.
For me, the premiere was just spectacular. In many ways, it surpasses all of the first season’s accomplishments. Fellow Vikings fanatics, we’re in for one hell of a ride.
What did you think of the season premiere? Let's talk more about it in the comments below.
Do you think Lagertha will eventually return and join Ragnar's love triangle?