Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) now rules in Kattegat. All Hail! Now that he’s firmly dispatched of Horik (Donal Logue), Kattegat’s king can welcome his destiny, if it be the will of the gods. In season one, Ragnar was driven to explore far off lands. In season two, he is the same. But beyond this, he wants to find places for his people to farm, to expand and to grow as individuals as well as their yield. Ragnar wants his people to be less reliant on barbaric raids, and more on their personal skills. At some point, Horik would have had to go as he was blocking any civilised correspondence with King Ecbert Of Wessex (Linus Roache).
The exit of Horik was dramatic, brutal and outright awesome. Ragnar can now do battle with Ecbert in a bout of intelligence and wits. He has finally met his match, the Moriarty to his Sherlock Holmes, if you will. Much of what happened during season one was all about Ragnar gaining the power and the kingship. Now that he has the power, he must learn how to keep it and more importantly, use it. The show’s acting is stellar. From Clive Standen (Rollo) to Katheryn Winnick (Lagertha) to newcomer Alexander Ludwig (Bjorn) and obviously Travis Fimmel (Ragnar Lothbrok). Plus, let us not forget Gustaf Skarsgard’s shipbuilding Floki. The main cast is truly something special.
Skarsgard is a tall actor standing at 6ft 3, which adds to his performance as I’ve found that he’s a very physical character and this is exhibited through his performance. Fimmel on the other hand, is a non-verbal actor who’s talents are in his non-verbal reactions in certain situations. He’s a man of few words. In the finale, he said a few things but not much. He learned the Lord’s Prayer which showed his tolerance of other cultures and ways of life. He is broadening his worldly view in contrast to the intolerant Horik. That being said, Ragnar is has no fear at dishing out good old Viking justice when needs be.
This is a show about identity, shown through Athelstan (George Blagden). During season one, Ragnar, really struggled but he transformed from a farmer and fighter into an explorer, leader and legend. When he became king, he had to transform himself into something more. Tales and stories will be told of the great feats of Ragnar Lothbrok but ultimately, he became a god immortalized in stone. In season two, he had to become better as he had a new and greater responsibility that would throw him near to death’s door time and time again.
Athelstan (Blagden) was literally kidnapped from his homeland. When he returned with the Vikings to Kattegat, he had to adapt, and fast. Essentially, he had to become a Viking. When Ragnar and company go to England, they had to do something similar. They didn’t have to forget about their cultural heritage, more cast it aside for a while and learn about a new one. It’s about fitting in and respecting other countries but also using the best bits of other cultures to your advantage. Bjorn (Ludwig) spent season two learning about the concepts of being the heir of Ragnar Lothrbrok, and what it feels like to be in love with someone of a lower class, a slave no less.
Meanwhile, Rollo skulks his way back into his brother’s camp and Lagertha makes her own play for power. Lagertha and Ragnar are still emotionally attached, in a way, but she could never forgive him for shacking up with another woman. She exhibited enormous strength of character and chose to retain her self-respect while he married another woman. It’s good to see a character as strong as Lagertha, in both body and in spirit. Despite everything, all these characters are people, and people can be manipulated. What’s more, they have their own ideals and beliefs. They’re not always nice. They can be brutal and unpredictable, even as they pray to the gods or in put their faith in oracles.
Vikings moves swiftly through time and characters’ lives. I never saw Horik as a main big bad guy. He was more of a beetle that needed to quashed, and quashed he was. This show draws a magical picture of culture that is forever moving as Ragnar discovers something new. In the world of Vikings, they are being led by the gods, oracles and a man who think he is a god. Ragnar will always think that things can be done better. He will never rest, and good is never enough. Violence, love and family are merely a few of things in the Norse landscape of this show. This show is really about change, and one’s ability to adapt. You either embrace the change, or die.