Vikings: Season 2
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Vikings: Season 2

There’s a line of my all-time favorite science fiction series written by E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith, delivered when some gladiators in ancient Rome in the murder of slaves in the arena. He cautions his gentle reader not to gauge these men are the more genteel and civilized sensibilities about society today. They were men born and bred to live, fight, conquer and die this book was constantly in the forefront of my mind while I was watching the original series by the History Channel, ‘Vikings’. This story, categorized as a docudrama but in light of other examples of this specific genre is a gross underestimation. The series creator, Michael Hirst, who base the major characters in a mainstay of Norse mythology and folklore the sagas of Viking Ragnar Lothbrok, credited with pillaging England and France eventually establishing himself as King of Denmark. Typically are at best only loosely based on the source material but considering that this is from the History Channel, it should come as no surprise that a greater attention to detail. Since the series was based upon legends that were initially an important part of the Norse oral tradition and was only committed to writing many centuries later, any claims or precise accounts could never be subject to proper scrutiny or verification. What the History Channel did manage to accomplish was to bring the viewer back to the time of the Vikings. In keeping with the above saying, is not only impossible to watch this series through the vantage point about politically correct society, you must remember that there were civilizations that functioned for centuries under codes of conduct; rewards and punishments, that although barbaric by standards permitted their culture to thrive several centuries.

The initial season of the series and amazingly accurate job of creating the look and feel of the height of the Viking era, bringing the audience into a modestly textured environment. A segment of the women in this society able to choose to be warriors and fight alongside their men and was known as, shieldmaidens). An example would be the wife of Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), possesses the blonde hair and height appointment region ancestry. She is also lethal. In the first season a husband decided to leave her at home with the children to look after their farm. Much of that was because the laws of the land, Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne), had to the previously impossible during the west. By the time of the second season, Ragnar has made many highly successful raids to the west. Now he finds his position changed from leading a raiding party to that of a conqueror. The change in his primary objective for making off with as much loot as possible to subduing cities and even nations by dismissing their own authorities, frequently permanently, and instilling himself as their ruler. Ragnar’s major obstacle in this season was learning how to be a ruler rather than just the captain of a longboat.

Over your voice to the advice about the project their own morality onto these very hardened people. They are still human beings and subject to the same foibles and tribulations that affect us all. Even with the barbaric setting of the Vikings, a wife still feel extremely possessive about the husband and all the children. Ragnar embraces the full scope of the traditional ‘raping and pillaging’, means of entering a new land did not sit well with Lagertha. Even though Ragnar is a formidable warrior when your wife happens to be a shield made in you have a definite cause for concern. The second season may shift the emphasis on the new technology that permits accurate Westwood navigation; it did lay the basis for the political struggles that even this barbaric world had to contend with. While slightly different in nuance, the biking, society had similarities to the hierarchy that were developed in Europe. The Earl, with the absolute, undisputed political power, always despise Ragnar was aggressive and defiant ideas. When those ideas panned out to be true beyond the wildest dreams of anyone, the Earl would soon find himself on the precipice of succession. With such a change in power structure Ragnar’s marriage to Lagertha is strained beyond the breaking point. Alliances change rapidly and considering the unfamiliarity of many Nordic names the audience has to pay specifically intense detail.

The invasion of the so many new lands allowed for the introduction of a character played by one of the great journeymen actors about time, Donal Logue. His portrayal of King Horik of Denmark is absolutely brilliant, as to be expected from a character actor of his stature. Keeping true to the trademark balance between action and politics that has gone into reputation series, Ragnar finds that dealing with this King requires more political finesse that out right force. Some may be constantly amazed that politics played such an important role in such a little and bloodthirsty culture. Some of the details such as the scope of battles or conquests may change such time-honored techniques as alliances, betrayal and the threat of superior military might. Ragnar discovers that betrayal can come not only from monarchs of foreign lands from those closest to him. His brother, Rollo (Clive Standen), has always lived in the giant shadow cast by Ragnar. In a similar plot line to the Godfather’s Fredo, fraternal allegiance is subject to the temptation of wealth and power.

Another facet of the series that I found extremely fascinating was how it depicted the influence of one culture upon another. The Vikings, as the victors of most of their conflicts could retain their beliefs in the Parthenon of Nordic God’s including Odin, and in Loki. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe space should resist the urge to superimpose your preconceptions of these characters to the context established here. The Vikings were people who were serious about the interaction with their gods. Bringing your ship successfully through a tumultuous maelstrom could mean only one thing; you have found favor with Thor for surviving the terrible weather he used to test the humans. In the first season a Christian monk, Athelstan (George Blagden), was taken as a slave after his monastery was raided and the rest of the monastery summarily killed. He has done much traveling and therefore knew the biking language. Ragnar may be deadly in a fight but is most dangerous attribute is undoubtedly his cunning and intelligence. Although extensively a farmer he was able to think in terms of strategy that allowed him to take the long view of any situation you might encounter. One part of this was taking the monk as his spoils, a slave. Much of the second season was made possible by the basic intelligence derived from the monk as to the lay of the land and the controlling political factions. The also educated Ragnar in the fundamentals of the language is used in England. Athelstan proved to be more of a survivor than a devout follower of Christianity. He eventually converts to worshiping Odin. Although subtly introduced, this is an important historical fact that is often overlooked in the action oriented movies and TV series concerning the Viking culture. That goes beyond the Nordic expansion to the west and pervades all of history. Raping and pillaging does more than just destroy the continuity of a people. It introduces the gene pool of the conquering people as well as the religious and political views that guide the invading army. This series is one of the exceptionally balanced presentation have ever seen with regard to a holistic picture of these violent times. By personalizing so many of these historical trends, archetypes and tropes, it takes history out of the dry pages of textbooks making it come alive. This is always been the mandate of the History Channel. While most cable networks have turned to original programming all too many embrace the horrendous so-called reality shows. There may be a couple on the history channel of this sort but this series is by far one of the most intriguing and captivating you are likely to come across.

bulletAudio Commentaries
bulletMy Family, My Enemy
bulletA Warrior Society: Rites of Passage
bulletImagining and Executing Climactic Battles

Posted 03/28/2015

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