I can’t tell whether it feels like ages since I wrote about the History Channel’s Vikings or whether it feels like only yesterday — and considering this show’s head-spinningly weird blend of time periods, maybe that’s appropriate. I did spend the first ten minutes of the first episode (I’m up to three so far) trying to remember who the hell all the characters were, particularly in the Lagertha plotline.
I don’t want to go into too much detail — I’ll save episode-by-episode recaps for when I’m catching up one at a time — but here are my impressions so far:
- I understand why characters in TV shows never wrap up properly for winter. Band of Brothers did it, with the result that it was hard as hell to tell the characters apart. But maybe don’t send Bjorn out into the freezing snow as a challenge of survival, and then show scene after scene of him running around without so much as a hat or scarf. Or even hair!
- Mind you, I’m not convinced that “the interior” (of Jutland?!) is the icy, mountainous hell the show makes it out to be, but I think we’ve long since just resigned ourselves to the fact that these Vikings live in Skyrim.
- One of the problems that writing about history creates is that you have to move as much of the action as possible into the “present” of the story because showing a character discovering something is a better way of introducing it than just having someone explain it. Sometimes this works OK-ish, like with Bjorn discovering fractional freezing, and sometimes it is absolutely stupid. Like … the Franks hire Rollo to defend Paris, and when he explains to them that maybe next time some boats would be handy they act like he’s some great strategist. Guys you are on an island in a river.
- I do like that, battle scenes and weird mystical interludes aside, this is ultimately a show about politics rather than a saga of heroic warriors. Or, better yet, that it understands that battle scenes and weird mystical interludes are an important part of politics. I can forgive it a lot of silliness for getting that fundamental point about the atmosphere right.
So yeah; I will keep watching, obviously. Hell, I watched The Last Kingdom and that was not nearly as good. It’s a compulsion.