Vikings Dies. Can It Be Reborn?

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The season finale confirmed some of my worst fears for Vikings‘ future. The emotional, family aspect of the show is gone and has been replaced by a military drama. There is nothing wrong per se with such a show, but it means that those of us who appreciated the emotional current within the show are likely to be disappointed going forward.

There were two big indicators in the finale that Vikings will no longer the same show. The first was the death of Helga. She was another fan favorite and a near constant since the show’s early episodes. Helga was the humanizing, stabilizing force for Floki, and she had a special relationship Ragnar. He sated his vengeance against Floki for Helga. Portrayed exceptionally poignantly by Maude Hirst, Helga had some of the most heartbreaking scenes in the season where her daughter died. This season, her character had been relegated to a quasi-crazy person who because obsessed with having a child and kidnapped one of the Spanish girls they encountered. Strong, independent Helga vanished as she dragged this kid all over the village and then to England. It was a pathetic ending for Helga when the child stabbed her. I felt like after all we’ve been through with Helga, she deserved better than to be marginalized within the story, and killed alone with no Viking glory. It is also uncertain if her death means that Floki is going to be gone for good. Can we truly have Vikings with no Ragnar, no Rollo, and no Floki?

The second indicator was the reaction of Bjorn after the Vikings’ victory. In the past season, Bjorn has definitely morphed into the strong silent type. He is not as quick to anger as Ivar, and mostly scowls around the battlefield. It is similar to Ragnar, who was not exactly chatty when he was planning battles or carrying them out. The difference is, though, with Ragnar, we would have moments in between the battles where we would get an idea into what he was thinking and feeling. With Bjorn, we receive none of that exposition. All we know about Bjorn from the finale is that he successfully avenged his father and now wants to go back to the Mediterranean. Does he feel relieved? Sad? He wants to continue the settlements in England because that was Ragnar’s goal, but doesn’t himself seem all that concerned with the future of his people. It would’ve been more satisfying if Bjorn had had a longer, more interesting chat with King Ecbert, or even if Ivar had. But instead, we have very little discourse from the man who hosted Ragnar, Rollo, Athelstan, and even slept with Lagertha.

There were several things that I did enjoy in the finale. The final battle scene was epic. I also liked that Ivar showed his true colors by murdering his brother. I’m mildly interested in the character Jonathan Rhys Meyers is going to play, but I worry his primary function will be to expand the warring landscape – not the emotional one.

I think Vikings fans may need to accept that the show that we loved—the one that mixed culture, religion, love, family, sibling rivalry—is dead. When it is reborn, it may be more focused on historical, bloody, and church-driven intrigue. Depending on how the first episodes of the new season go, this may change my favorite, must see show to a DVR, catch up when I feel like it show.