I dont watch much TV unless it involves sports. In 2013 my family gathered around the TV to watch the History Channel’s historical rendition of The Bible. A couple weeks in they also aired Vikings. I was intreagued by the previews. One episode in, my wife and I were hooked.
It was a big break from her addiction to Downton Abbey; a show I couldnt get 20 minutes into. “Just talk about something other than the Titanic, please!” Vikings is a great show. If you haven’t watched it, let me give you 5 reasons to watch this second season starting today, 27 February. Warning: Contains Season 1 spoilers.
1. Understand Your Christian History
The Scandinavian people, particularly the Vikings are of the most hyperbolized people of antiquity. Only in the last 200 years have people began to take on a different view of everything from their behavior to their attire. There exists only one depiction of a Viking wearing a helmet with horns, and historians likely place its use in wedding cerimonies. They were known for fair trade, building communal societies with their neighbors, but, yes, they did pillage and they were the followers of the Norse-Pagan religion.
Nonetheless, the History Channel’s show Vikings produces an accurate portrayal of the historical epic poetry written by Ragnar Lothbrok. Much of the narration is overwholemingly awesome, and equally concocted by the minds of the producers.
What you should look for is the historical playout of the Christianization of the Scandinavian people. History accounts for several waves and attempts at converting these people between the 9th and 11th centuries. Much of the conversion took place during the setting the show is in, the late 9th.I’m hoping that this season we see a little more of that continue to work its way into the storylines.
2. Foster Your Convictions
In Season 1 we fell in an unhopeful love with Ragnar. He is the protagonist who defied his Earl, has a problematic brother (Rolo), invites a priest for an orgy, and in the end of the season impregnates Aslaug while his wife Lagethra is the lone leader of the village during a nasty plague which claims their only daughter. All of this with his young son at his side, reminding him of his foul play.
Though we love Ragnar for his charisma, we became disappointed in the man he chose to be. If you are like me, consider yourself on team Lagertha, and hope as their son suggested, that she cuts off Ragnar’s [you know what] when she finds out.
3. Witness Endurance
Is there anything more compelling than the priest, Athelstan? The pious and devout though naive monk from Northumbria, England witnesses his brothers being slain in cold blood and sold as slaves. As Ragnar’s chosen keep from the loot, Ragnar offers him an orgy, continually pesters Athelstan about his Christian faith, and in the end of the season volunteers Athelstan as a human sacrifice. In the moments where we are sure Athelstan has given into his fear, the seperation from his God, and begins to look, act, and think like the Vikings, we find him defying the oracle who trounces the Lord Jesus Christ by name, and hidden in Athelstan’s hand is a cross. He is still Christian, perhaps barely.
Ragnar’s brother, Rolo, has made us second guess him on multiple occasions. In the first season it appears he was at odds with his brother, even feeling eneath him as a man and Viking. When Earl Heraldson realizes this, he attempts to turn Rolo against Ragnar by forcing him to falsely confess that Ragnar has killed one of the Earl’s men while on a pillage. In reality, Lagertha was being raped by this man and killed the man herself. Rolo embarasses the Earl in his confession of the real truth and is put through a series of grizzly tortures. But he remains loyal to his family.
This situation comes up again at the end of the season. Rolo grows apparently envious of Ragnar’s new status as Earl, and decides to side in a plot against Ragnar with a neighboring Earl in order to plunder and take over the village and the treasures and land that go with it. I am hopeful to see once again a Rolo that is willing to bid into the games of his family’s enemy in order to double cross in favor of Ragnar and the gang. However, with the severity of the consequences of Ragnar’s new child and recent affair, I doubt things are going in that direction. That takes me to my last point of interest.
This is a show were we see brutality, envy, and other nagatives, but we also see fidelity, honor, and acknowledgement of a higher good. Along with the acts of the will that accompany these feelings and virtues we have consequences. Nobody is free of this in Vikings. Ragnar will pay and his actions will affect the entire village. Floki will be stirred in the gods he loves, and Athelstan will struggle in his near rejection of his God. As such, the show has an element of reality. People are paying for their dishonoring choices and reaping the benefits of their better ones. #SAIL