The image of Nordic Vikings is a cartoonish figure that wears a goofy hat with horns, but in the History Channel’s first ever scripted series called Vikings, warriors come to life, grip viewers by the throat and hurl them into the age of Medieval Scandinavia. Viewers need to be prepared for a full wasted weekend, as the tales of Ragnar Lothbrok and his clan of marauding warriors is easily the most binge worthy show on television. Think Sons of Anarchy, but replace the leather jackets and side knives with shields and battle axes. If Braveheart and Sons of Anarchy reproduced, their love child would come out a Viking.
The show picks up in the Eastern Baltic in 793 A.D., as the camera pans across the face of the blue-eyed, bloody faced Ragnar Lothbrok as he stares out at a body-riddled battlefield. Ragnar, played by Travis Fimmel, is a historical figure that is highly debated. Legends of a warrior Viking named Ragnarr Loðbrók have been told in mythological Norse tales, and while it is impossible to prove fact from fiction, he makes for one of the most intriguing characters on television. A double-take may be in order though, as Ragnar has an eerily striking resemblance to Sons star Jax Teller.
Ragnar is the centerpiece of the story—he is a warrior and an explorer with grand visions of heading west to find new lands that are ripe with treasures, and lands in which his fellow Vikings can raid. With the help of his friend Floki, the local joker and master boat builder, played by Swedish actor Gustaf Skarsgard, they set sail across the open waters in search of new lands. The character of Floki alone is worthy of the binge. He can be a bit scatter-brained, sometimes a few cards short of a full deck, but there is a darkness that rests just below the surface that makes him intriguing and frightening at the same time.
Look no further than the character Lagertha, played by Katheryn Winnick, in the search to find the most butt-kicking female character on television. Lagertha, the wife of Ragnar is a Viking shieldmaiden, and a true battle-tested warrior. She is tough and highly skilled with a sword and battle ax, and has plans and visions that could see her character reaching far beyond anybody’s imagination.
The lead role of characters is rounded out with Rollo, the brother of Ragnar, played by Clive Standen. Rollo is a warrior in every sense of the word. He is big and ultra-skilled on the battlefield, and fears nothing. He is like the earthly being of Thor—the hammer wielding, Nordic God of thunder and strength, but there are tensions between his brother and himself. There is a struggle of strength and power between the two brothers—a struggle that could rip them apart.
A full day binge on Vikings will not be enough to quench the thirst of most viewers. A second day, planted deep into the couch in front of the television, will be in order to get completely caught up on the series. Viewers will find themselves loving Ragnar and then hating him—loving him and then hating him again. It will have viewers rooting for the good guys, but questioning themselves, trying to figure out who the good guys are in this historic tale. It is a show that will suck you in and spit you out directly onto a bloody battlefield, but be warned, it runs far deeper than bloody battles and violence. It touches on faith and family, exploration and discovery, and yes, it does include some pretty amazing action scenes to go with it.
Opinion by Johnny Caito