Vikings: Valhalla

Viking Valhalla season 2

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Kennedy Unthank

TV Series Review

Vikings: Valhalla picks up more than 100 years after the violent events of the History Channel’s popular drama Vikings. The excursions of both Ragnar and his sons have faded into legend, and the Vikings themselves are starting to settle down into villages across the land.

But rising tensions between King of England Aethelred II and the Vikings explode when Aethelred preemptively slaughters a Viking settlement in England.

And now he’s poked a hornet’s nest.

Under the call of King Canute of Denmark, Vikings from settlements all over the world sail to converge in the city of Kattegat to prepare a retaliatory strike. And things are going well enough, except for the fact that a large portion of the Vikings are … Christian?

That’s right. Over the years, Christianity has been spreading through the Viking ranks as quick as the utterance of the word “glory” on the Viking tongue. And that’s causing a bit of tension, because even though both the Christian and pagan Vikings want revenge and glory, they really don’t want to get it together.

Because surely, the pagans declare, the gods will curse them for joining ranks with these Christians. And of course, the Christians say, the Lord would never sanction a union between them and the pagans any more than he did when King Jehoshaphat of Judah allied himself with the wicked King of Israel Ahaziah (2 Chron. 20:35-37).

But with the multitude evenly divided between Norse and Christian, the only way they can succeed is by banding together—even if it causes a few cut throats along the way. But with so much bloodshed in the past, what’s a lot more along the way to glory?

God of Grace and god of glory

The original Vikings series revealed the first fruits of Christianity among the Viking clans, and Vikings: Valhalla continues to show us that harvest. But as the Vikings come back to Denmark, we can see the field will be fertilized with blood.  

Though the show is bathed in the red stuff of slain enemies through skilled fight choreography, the true theme of the show focuses on this clash of the Norse and Christian religions. The show balances on a religious tipping point—it’s clear that Christianity is taking hold at a rate that will soon overwhelm the pagan believers. The pagan Vikings desperately cut themselves and offer human sacrifices to plead to their gods, wondering why they never hear back from them. So what can the pagan Vikings do but attempt to fight back before their holy sites are demolished and their faith is lost to memory?

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves—the pagans aren’t the only ones committing atrocities. Many of the Christian Vikings bring the faith a horrendous name.

Now don’t get me wrong—I am all for watching Christianity take root in the hearts of men and women so that all would be made in right relationship with God through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins. But it is evident that many of the Christian Vikings in the show syncretize Christian truths with their own prerogatives, providing a distorted and broken view of the gospel to the pagans. And while many of these Christian Vikings profess their joy in the love of Christ, they’ll be hard-pressed to offer anything but God’s justice on anyone they deem unworthy of salvation.

As the Christian Viking Prince Harald says when confronted about how Christians are supposed to be merciful, “we are,” he explains,

“but I am Viking first.”

The main characters will blot out the sun

Vikings: Valhalla is told through various perspectives, and each has a goal in mind.

Leif Eriksson and his sister, Freydis Eriksdotter, though once isolated “Greenlanders” separated from the rest of Viking culture, have firmly rooted themselves within it now. Following the death of a loved one, Leif struggles with his new, shaky Christian faith. Meanwhile, Freydis has been thrust into the title of “Keeper of the Faith,” a symbolic representation of the remaining pagans who have mostly fled the country for safer, more tolerant, shores.

There’s also a tale of two half-brothers, Prince Harald Siggurdsson and Jarl Olaf Haraldsson, both of whom feel they deserve to be the rightful King of Norway—a title dangled in front of both of them by the current powers that be, namely, the powerful King Canute of Demark.

There’s plenty of other characters in play. The show gives us enough of them to fill a longboat. And many of each’s hopes and dreams conflict with another’s. In a world where the quickest way to resolve an argument is by cutting off the other person’s head, only the most cunning survive.

And believe me, a lot of heads go flying. And if they’re not whizzing through the air, they’re stuck on pikes or used as gruesome decoration. Many others get stabbed with swords, chopped with axes and/or pierced with arrows. Brief sexual encounters also raid the show—with nudity present. And, of course, expect to see pagan practices and mystical elements, some of which seemingly bear fruit based on the show’s depictions.

But surprisingly, these Vikings don’t swear all that often, and that just goes to show that if a people group historically known for being violent, merciless raiders can express themselves in whole paragraphs without swearing, there’s really no need for it to begin with. But maybe that’s just us.

Episode Reviews

Jan. 12, 2022—S2, Ep1: “The Web of Fate”

The battle of Kattegat is ended, and it has left many major characters in different states. King Canute and his father, Sweyn Forkbeard, oversee Kattegat, hoping to keep the relative peace. Forkbeard decides to appoint Olaf as the protector of Forkbeard’s grandson, whom has just been made the King of Norway. And with new power in hand, Olaf sets a bounty on Harald and Freydis, whom he claims come with a pagan army to kill the Christians living in Norway. When Leif hears of this, he sets out to protect the duo. In England, Emma responds to an assassination plot against her life.

Leif shoots arrows and sinks his axes into various bounty hunters. We see many dead bodies in a camp, and Leif presses his thumb into a wounded man’s injury to get the man to talk. We also see Freydis and Harald kill a deer by shooting it with arrows. Fireballs incinerate attackers. A man threatens to kill someone’s son unless he agrees to help him.

A priest speaks in Latin during Mass, and he prepares communion. Another man poisons a communion wafer in an attempt to kill someone.

A couple characters see visions—one brought on by grief, while the other is mystical and pagan in nature. Freydis speaks with the mythical Seer, and she’s given a sign to look out that she later recognizes. Freydis is called a “heathen witch” and “The Keeper of the Faith” for her staunch pagan beliefs. Freydis and Leif talk about Valhalla, and Leif admits that he no longer believes in such a place. Freydis reveals she is pregnant, but she “cannot have a child that one day would be the ruler of a Christian nation.”

While Olaf is captured, he is humiliated, forced to be naked in public, and we briefly see part of his rear. Godwin is seen dressing after implied sex with a woman who is covered by bedsheets. We also see a couple men shirtless, and a man and woman kiss. People drink wine and other alcohol.

Jan. 12, 2022—S2, Ep2: “Towers of Faith”

Freydis arrives in Jomsburg, a safe haven for pagans, and she’s offered a leadership role in the temple. Leif and Harald, meanwhile, arrive in Novgorod to speak with Harald’s uncle about procuring an army. Olaf mentors Svein to train him up as the new King of Norway.

Olaf has Svein execute a pagan man offscreen, and blood splashes the teen boy’s face. A man is tortured for information; his tooth is pulled out, and we hear his screams as someone puts a hot iron bar to his eye. Men fight in a ring, and one has his neck snapped. We see other dead bodies, too. A group of people are said to “skin their victims alive and collect their skulls as drinking mugs.”

People are seen getting high from opium, and Leif asks why they use the drug. “To escape this Earth; to talk to the dead,” Harald responds. This latter mention intrigues Leif, who we see use the drug to try to talk with his dead lover, Liv. However, when Liv asks Leif to join her in Valhalla by jumping off a tall building, Leif clutches his Christian cross and stops hallucinating.

Regarding other religious content, Leif speaks of various pagan myths about the Northern lights and living in Greenland. We also hear of the Skuld, deities which decided human destiny in Norse mythology. Freydis is offered the role of Gudija, a pagan priestly role in a temple, so that she can help “build a new Uppsala.”

People drink alcohol. God’s name is misused once.

Jan. 12, 2022—S2, Ep3: “Pieces of the Gods”

Freydis encounters differing pagan beliefs in Jomsburg, and tensions mount as a result. Harald plans his dangerous journey to Constantinople as Leif bonds with Mariam, an educated woman. Meanwhile, Emma suspects someone who may be behind her assassination attempt.

A merchant sells female slaves. We find one of them has frozen to death in the cold. The slaver hits one of the women. A body is hanged as a warning to an assassin, and the head of the body is later seen on a platter. Freydis spears a charging boar. A man and woman kiss. Emma bathes, though nothing is shown.

Freydis debates temple protocol with a woman. A man calls Freydis’ preborn baby a gift from the gods. We hear a reference to the Skuld. Freydis thanks the “All-Father” for guiding her. Christians pray after a funeral. A man signs himself.

Jan. 12, 2022—S2, Ep4: “The Thaw”

With news of Harald’s journeys, Olaf sets off in pursuit toward Novgorod. Meanwhile, Harald and Leif, journeying to Constantinople, worry about the thawing river. Freydis’ interactions with pagan refugees anger other people at Jomsburg. Emma confronts Godwin regarding his betrothed’s connection to the assassin.

A woman’s breast is briefly visible while she changes. Olaf is seen shirtless after implied sex, and a woman is naked in the sheets behind him.

A man crushes a woman’s finger and breaks her ankle with a hammer while torturing her. A slaver discusses selling female slaves for men to have sex with, and he hits another person who confronts him about it. He also whips a girl, leaving a bloody line on her hand. Someone is swept away by a flood. Someone passes away from injuries. People are hit with axes and shot with arrows. Emma drinks wine.

Mariam is a Muslim, and she prays on a prayer mat facing Mecca. A priest prays in Latin while preparing a torture chamber. Someone exclaims “God may forgive you, but I never will.” A goat is sacrificed in a pagan ritual, and Freydis praises various pagan gods.

“H—” is used once.

Jan. 12, 2022—S2, Ep5: “Birth and Rebirth”

As Freydis goes into labor, trouble mounts on the open waters for Leif and Harald. Emma struggles with the guilt of her actions as Godwin mourns the loss of his fiancé. The Jomsviking Haredr reveals his nefarious intentions.

Many scenes show Freydis screaming in pain as she gives birth. She prays to the All-Father for strength, and she is confident that “the gods will protect us.” Eventually, her baby is born, and she cuts the umbilical cord. Haredr kidnaps her baby.

A woman bathes, and her breasts are visible.

Emma prays to God for mercy, asking Him to wash her of her sins.

We hear a story of a man’s wife being raped and murdered. People are gruesomely stabbed, and others are hit with axes and arrows. One man is stabbed repeatedly before succumbing to his injuries. A woman is strangled unconscious. A man is knocked unconscious. A fish is shot through with an arrow.

“H—” is used once. “B–tard” is used once.

Jan. 12, 2022—S2, Ep6: “Leap of Faith”

Haredr and the Jomsvikings search for Freydis, intent on killing her—and the Jomsviking Jorundr faces trial for helping Freydis. Faced with difficult passage, Harald is frustrated when his boat crew would rather stay where they’re camping. Emma searches for a mysterious man called “the Bear.”

A man and woman have sex, and we see the man’s naked rear. The woman’s breasts are partially visible. We also hear moans and see movements. Later, Leif kisses Miriam passionately, and the two have offscreen sex. Emma and King Canute also have offscreen sex.

Freydis’ naked back is visible, and we see the scar in the shape of a cross on it. A man has his hand cut off. A man is stoned to death in bloody fashion.

People say to trust in “the gods” regarding the outcome of a duel. People attempt to pray to the “spirit” of Freydis.

“B–tard” is used once.

Jan. 12, 2022—S2, Ep7: “Pecheneg”

After surviving a plunge over a waterfall, Harald is captured by Pecheneg raiders—and Leif chases after him. Olaf searches for a lead on Jomsborg’s whereabouts. Freydis opens the Jomsborg temple to everyone.

Harald is dragged through a field by a rope around his neck. He is also tortured by being sliced with a sword and having hooks pierced through his chest, which are then attached to rope to hang him by. Leif’s back is cut by a sword. People are shot by arrows. Someone is found drowned. Someone else is poisoned and dies, and a third person is sliced and stabbed before dying from an arrow to the chest.

Olaf is blessed by an Orthodox priest, and he says he feels that God is guiding him. A man expresses belief in the Turkic god Ulgen, saying that he will be reincarnated as a bird when he dies. Later, a bird is seen, and Leif recalls the interaction.

Jan. 12, 2022—S2, Ep8: “The Reckoning”

Olaf extracts Jomsborg’s whereabouts from Jorundr, and Freydis prepares for battle. Harald and Leif’s crew pause their voyage when one member falls too ill to continue. Emma accuses Godwin of scheming.

Godwin’s bride straddles him in bed. The two are shirtless and kiss, and the woman’s breasts are partially visible. Harald kisses a woman.

Leif tells a Norse myth. Olaf compares his Christianity with Jorundr’s paganism, attempting to find common ground to extract information. “A divine intervention,” Olaf calls it. Olaf further says that God has brought him to Jomsborg for a reason. Both Olaf and Freydis pray for victory. Olaf prays the Lord’s Prayer, and he offers Freydis salvation through Christ “one last time” before they fight.

Emma signs herself. Godwin says that he’s making his “Act of Contrition,” a Catholic prayer. He tells Emma that “God has given me the strength to forgive you.” But Emma still doesn’t trust Godwin, and she accuses him of scheming, saying that God will judge him and find him worthy of hell. “I look forward to seeing you there, my queen,” Godwin replies. “At the wedding, I mean,” he quickly tacks on. A priest blesses Godwin’s marriage in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

People shot by arrows and hit with axes. A man is stabbed in the neck. Someone succumbs to an axe wound. Men burn to death. Someone is stabbed through with a spear and dies. A woman drinks wine.

[Spoiler Warning] A woman passes away from her illness.

Feb. 25, 2022—S1, Ep1: “The Greenlanders”

After the English king, Aethelred ‘the Unready’, slaughters all of the people in a Viking settlement in England, the Viking people arrive in Denmark to prepare for a retaliatory strike. However, with an increasing number of Vikings converting to Christianity, tensions rise within the camp.

The two main characters stand on opposite sides of the faith—Prince Harald Sigurdsson, a Christian Viking who hails from a massacred English village, and Leif Erikson, a pagan Viking who hails from Greenland.

Harald’s half-brother Olaf arrives in Denmark, saying that his ships were spared from a storm by the grace of Christ. Olaf refuses to fight alongside pagan Vikings, saying Jesus would not sanction such a union. Instead, he offers information on the English fortifications in exchange for the mass conversions of the pagan Vikings to Christianity. Olaf explains that revenge is the motive of the heathen because his “Savior, Christ, forbids it,” and Harald responds that it would benefit the Christian mission in the long run if they plundered the English’s gold.

Harald kisses a woman. Harald’s brother blesses him, saying “May the Lord guide you back to Norway.” Harald says in a speech that whether “your god is Odin or Christ” means nothing to him—only courage and honor does.

Harald’s sister Freydis has sex with Leif Erikson, and we see movements and hear noises, but nothing is shown. Later, we briefly see her naked rear. Freydis explains that Gunnar, a Christian Viking, raped her, beat her and called her a “pagan whore.” Gunnar then carved a cross into her back with a knife, saying he was converting her. Freydis mentions feasting in Valhalla with Odin and the gods. Freydis kills Gunnar by using a knife to carve a cross into his chest.

Leif Erikson says, “By the gods.” A man informs Leif that if “that Jesus bunch” caught him, he’d be lucky to get back. On two occasions, Leif fights and wins against a group of men who try to kill him—and Leif lets them all go. In the fights, men are punched and hit with weapons.

The intro sequence shows a man’s face covered in blood. King Aethelred orders the slaughter of English Vikings—an event historically known as St. Brice’s Day Massacre. Both in the king’s castle and in a Viking village, people are murdered—women and children included—as buildings are razed.

We see corpses of people who look to have drowned due to a storm at sea. A woman condemns a fight, saying that they are on sacred ground. A priest prays over many Catholic Vikings in Latin. At one point, Christian and pagan Vikings argue with one another, refusing to fight on the same side, and one Christian Viking says the pagans are “worshippers of Satan.” Two individuals from each group fight, but Harald intervenes, receiving a cut on his arm.

“D–n,” “b–tard” and “h—” are all used once.

Feb. 25, 2022—S1, Ep2: “Viking”

After Freydis kills Gunnar, Leif is forced to join the Vikings’ retaliatory attack of London in order to pay for her debt. Freydis prepares for a trip to the pagan holy site Uppsala, and Prince Edmund of England grapples with soon becoming king (since his father is quite sick).

Leif claims that Christians would burn down Kattegat, the large Denmark city, if Freydis is not punished. A pagan Viking trips and mocks a Christian Viking, and though Leif is pagan, he defends the Christian Viking. Jarl Gorm, another pagan Viking, is confused why Leif would take the word of a Christian over Gorm’s pagan son, and Leif responds that it’s because Gorm’s son is a liar.

Jarl Gorm says the only false god is the Christian God. He later explains that their boat is lost at sea because of the “Christians and their false God.” As a result of his distress, Jarl Gorm kills a Christian Viking with a hand axe to the neck, claiming that “the Christians have cursed us” and “they all must die.” As a result of this, Leif kills Gorm.

Freydis says that the pagan gods know the truth of her innocence, to which the Christian Viking Olaf responds, “false gods!” Freydis tells her brother Leif that she will offer sacrifices to Odin for his safe return. Later, Freydis shops for a sacrifice to Odin, and she later prays in Old Norse as she burns it. When buying the wooden sacrifice, Freydis notices that the merchant sells crosses and asks if the woman is a Christian. She references Yggdrasil, the “world tree” considered sacred to the pagans.

Jarl Haakon, the leader of Kattegat, explains that her husband was forced by Christians to convert from paganism, but when he refused, they tortured and killed him. They then followed suit with the rest of his shipmates, and she said the event only strengthened their resolve. Jarl Haakon sends Freydis to Uppsala, a holy site for pagan Vikings, “before the Christian tide washes it away.”

In England, King Aethelred references a church that had been burnt to the ground by Vikings, and he praises God that they have built it back up. English advisor Godwin says, “God bless the king, and God bless England.” Prince Edmund prays in Latin.

Christian Vikings pray for safe passage on their journey to England, and they mumble repeated chants in Latin when nervous in their ships.

We hear one use of “d–n.”

Feb. 25, 2022—S1, Ep3: “The Marshes”

Having successfully made a foothold into England, the Vikings, led by King Canute of Denmark, struggle to determine how to invade the well-fortified London. Advisor Godwin and Queen Emma advise the soon-to-be King Edward on leadership. Freydis makes her journey to Uppsala, but her group encounters trouble along the way.

The episode opens with a shirtless man soaked in blood.

A Christian man attacks Freydis’ pagan group and kills her companions. Freydis strangles him to death, and she prays to the Norse god Freya.

Soon-to-be King Edward prays in Latin over his dead father. Later, during Edward’s coronation, a priest says, “God crown you with a crown of glory and righteousness, and may you obtain the crown of an everlasting kingdom by the gift of Him whose Kingdom endureth forever.”

A fight takes place between the Vikings and the English. Many people are killed with swords, bows and axes, though the deaths are quick and are scarcely focused on. However, the Vikings kill unarmed priests and women. A priest tells Vikings to leave the church in the name of Jesus Christ, causing a pagan Viking to hesitate. A Christian Viking responds by throwing a spear at the priest, killing him. He mocks the pagan Viking, saying, “Too slow, pagan,” and the Christian Viking pillages a cross off the priest.

After the battle, Prince Harald stabs surviving wounded Englishmen, and Leif questions him, saying that he thought Christians were supposed to be merciful. Harald responds, “We are, but I am a Viking first,” and later, “As a Viking, my goal is revenge. But as a Christian, I employ the virtues my Savior taught me: forgiveness, mercy and love.” Harald relates these three virtues by explaining his forgiveness for the Englishmen, his mercy in ending their suffering and his love for killing them.

An ambush in a marsh kills many Vikings and Englishmen. A girl puts a cross into Leif’s hands as he lay disorientated and wounded.

Feb. 25, 2022—S1, Ep4: “The Bridge”

The Vikings commence their attack on London Bridge, and King Edward brings the fight out to meet them, hoping Eadric Streona, the Ealdorman of Mercia, will answer their call for aid.

In a flash forward, Leif wakes up in a river with corpses all around him.

Leif says they are “blessed by the gods” who alone know their destinies, and they talk about Valhalla and the Allfather—another name for Odin. Leif kills three men with a crossbow. He explains that London Bridge looks like it was “built by the gods.”

King Canute of Denmark parleys with King Edmund and challenges him to a duel. Canute explains that if Edmund slays him, then the Vikings will know their battle was not endorsed by God, and they will leave. Godwin and Emma advise Edmund to refuse, causing Canute to call Edmund a coward, enraging him into battle.

Vikings and Englishmen collide and clash on the bridge. People die. Throats are cut. A man punctures another man’s eyes with his thumbs. A man is stabbed with a spear, and the arrows of archers pierce many. We later briefly see decapitated heads on stakes.

There is one use of “h—,” and we hear one misuse of God’s name.

[Spoiler Warning] Leif’s plan to collapse London Bridge succeeds, causing the deaths of many Englishmen.

Feb. 25, 2022—S1, Ep5: “Miracle”

With London conquered, King Canute of Denmark assumes control of England—but his command causes tensions to rise among the Vikings. While Olaf searches for England’s gold, Harald learns some troubling secrets, and Leif grapples with Christian belief. When Freydis arrives in Uppsala, she receives a vision and a haunting omen.

Freydis enters Uppsala to “learn more about the gods,” and a worshipper dressed in ceremonial paint and garb says she’s in the presence of the gods: “Odin, Thor and Freya.” Freydis participates in a pagan ritual, drinking a cup of intoxicating drugs while others sing in a foreign language. She is laid on a stone altar and drifts off into a strange dream.

In the dream, Freydis sees a ruined village. She also speaks to a man with skin where his eyes should be, and he calls himself “the past, the present and the future,” and he is called “The Seer” in subsequent episodes. She licks his palm, and he later turns into a bird. Freydis later prays before an altar in Old Norse.

Vikings and Englishmen clash, and many are struck and killed by Olaf. Olaf expresses to Queen Emma the difficulties of spreading Christianity to the Vikings. Later, Olaf threatens to kill Queen Emma’s children unless she reveals where England’s treasure is hidden.

Leif finds fellow Greenlander Liv attempting to drag their friends’ bodies out of the river. He pulls an arrow out of her body, causing blood to flow. Concerned that Liv may die, Leif gives her a wooden cross while she sleeps, desperate for any religion to heal her. Later, Liv and Leif kiss, and Liv says that the gods didn’t want her yet. As a result, Leif considers Christianity—moved by the fact that both he and Liv improbably survived serious injury while holding a cross. Prince Harald tells him that Christians call that a miracle, but “miracles come with strings attached.” Leif performs a Viking funeral for his dead friends, and he references the Norse goddess Ran.

Prince Harald throws King Edward to the ground and attempts to behead him before being stopped by King Canute of Denmark. Harald smashes a chair in anger. Harald laments making a deal with Canute—who he calls “the Devil.” He also laments selling his honor for 30 pieces of silver, and Leif says he doesn’t understand his references.

King Canute of Denmark decapitates Eadric Streona of Mercia for his treachery against King Edward, and he holds up the head for all to see. Godwin provides communion to Queen Emma’s children, and he tells them to pray out loud so “God can hear them.” This is so they don’t hear him kill their captors, whom he stabs after they kneel to receive communion. When the children ask what happened to them, he tells them that they’ve gone to Heaven.

Jarl Kåre, a zealous and violent Christian Viking, stabs his finger with a thumb prick, and he draws a bloody cross on the forehead of a baby and her pagan mother. He explains that, in his faith, they baptize babies early on to prevent them from going to Hell.

Women pray around the English throne, asking for the Lord to save them. Vikings drink wine at a dinner table.

Feb. 25, 2022—S1, Ep6: “The Last Daughter of Uppsala”

During Freydis’s return to Kattegat, she finds Jarl Kåre has slaughtered a pagan village. The Vikings, victorious in their conquest of London, voyage back to Kattegat while King Canute of Denmark solidifies his rule over England.

Freydis returns to a village and finds its inhabitants slaughtered, including her friend Yrsa. A crow eats at one of many decapitated heads that cover a forest floor. Freydis says that “Uppsala is threatened by Christians.” When Freydis arrives back in Kattegat, she practices warfare with the Shield Maidens, and she fights them in a test to become one. In this test, she is hit in the head, and her face is covered in blood. Later, Freydis promises “on Odin” to protect Kattegat. She flirts with Prince Harald, and the two have sex, during which Harald’s rear and Freydis’ breasts are visible. Additionally, movements are seen, and moaning is heard.

Freydis also speaks with Jarl Haakon, the leader of Kattegat, about her spiritual experience with The Seer at Uppsala, and Jarl Haakon recounts a vision that she herself received. In Haakon’s vision, she sees a massive tsunami crashing into Kattegat, and she references the Norse goddesses Ran and Syn. (The tsunami in the vision is a  metaphor for Christianity.

King Canute tells the advisor Godwin to build him a gallows to prove his loyalty. King Canute and Queen Emma have sex, during which her breasts are briefly visible, and moaning is heard.

Jarl Kåre tells Freydis that she “bent the bow of God’s wrath” and that he is “God’s arrow.” In a flashback, Kåre visits Uppsala as a pagan child, and people chant in a foreign language. He watches as pagan priests slice his older brother’s throat with a knife on an altar, and in the present Kåre cuts open his own hand and bleeds onto the same altar.

Later, Kåre meets The Seer in a flashback as well as in the present day. After The Seer mocks him, Kåre says that he has returned “by the power of the One True God—as the sword is carried by the cross.” The Seer smirks and exclaims that even Christians cannot resist coming to him for their destiny. Kåre licks The Seer’s hand and is told his destiny. Afterwards, Kåre quotes Jeremiah 48:10 as well as 2 Kings 23:20 and 25 out of context before slaughtering the pagan worshippers at Uppsala.

A man tells Olaf, “May God bless and keep you until we see each other again.” Olaf meets with Queen Aelfgifu of Denmark—King Canute’s wife—to request the aid of her fleet after informing her of her husband’s infidelity after King Canute marries Queen Emma. She and Olaf drink wine together. Queen Aelfgifu says, “Praise God.”

Prince Harald says all religions are flawed. He also praises the deeds of Leif and his dead friends, saying that the dead are welcomed into Valhalla. Arne, Jarl Gorm’s son, attempts to kill Leif for killing his father in episode two, but Liv protects Leif. Arne accuses Leif of being a “Christian lover—and probably a Christian himself.”

There is one use of “a–.”

Feb. 25, 2022—S1, Ep7: “Choices”

As tensions rise between King Edmund and the Vikings, Godwin hatches a plan. King Canute leaves London in the hands of his father, Forkbeard, after a situation arises that requires his attention. The pagan Vikings prepare Kattegat for a Christian Viking invasion.

Freydis and Prince Harald talk in bed after sex, though nothing is shown. She tells Harald that she’d give up her gods for love, and Harald says he’d do more for her, who says he wants to make Norway a place where all faiths can worship. Later, Freydis says that they are in the hands of the gods.

Contrasting his brother Harald, Olaf says he wants to unite Norway under “the banner of Christ,” and he allies himself with Jare Kåre in the attack on Kattegat. Harald rides to meet Olaf, who greets him by saying that the “prodigal brother returns.”

Kåre tells Olaf that “God has instructed” him to build a church in Kattegat with a massive spire that reaches to Heaven—“A beacon so that all who see it may know the love of Jesus.” Kåre mocks The Seer, who he believes is locked in a cage, but Olaf doesn’t see anyone there and realizes that Kåre is crazy. Kåre says that “God has ordered him to destroy Kattegat and to kill Freydis.”

Leif mentions how his father once beat a man to death in front of the man’s children. Jarl Haakon calls upon a crowd for someone to volunteer to be a messenger to Asgard in order to plead for help to the “Chief of the Aesir,” a reference to Odin. A man volunteers, and he is taken away for sacrifice.

A boat drifts into Kattegat with severed heads on pikes, a crucified woman’s corpse and a crying baby whose forehead is painted with blood in the shape of a cross. Near Uppsala, a forest is littered with slain corpses, and Uppsala itself is burnt to the ground. Crows peck at the bodies.

And in England, things are just as dreary, as Forkbeard, the interim King of England while his son Canute is away, stabs and kills a man for insulting his power as king. Forkbeard argues with his daughter-in-law Queen Aelfgifu about the legitimacy of her marriage to his son, claiming that because Canute was pagan when the two married and has since become Christian, the two were never technically married in the eyes of God.

There is one misuse of God’s name.

[Spoiler Warning] King Edmund’s horse trips on a rope, and Edmund’s rib is seen poking out of his body. Edmund’s advisor Godwin reveals that he set the rope, and he stabs Edmund, killing him. A man calls Edmund’s death an “act of God,” but Queen Emma discovers the stab wound on Edmund’s cadaver.

Feb. 25, 2022—S1, Ep8: “The End of the Beginning”

Jarl Kåre initiates his siege on Kattegat, and the pagan Vikings prepare to hold his assault back. In England, Queen Emma and Queen Aelfgifu of Denmark use subterfuge to fight each other for the throne.

Prince Harald greets Jarl Kåre with the title “Murderer of Innocents.” Kåre says that God has answered his prayers by giving him many men with which to attack the “heathen” city of Kattegat. When Harald points out that Christians are present in Kattegat, Kåre responds by saying that “their sacrifice will be accepted in Heaven.” Later, Kåre tells two commanders that God has chosen their armies to be first in the attack order.

Prince Harald praises Kåre’s attack strategy, but he tells Kåre that God would not sanction the battle, prompting nearby commanders to call him a heretic. Harald continues by quoting Matthew 23:13, explaining that they need to offer salvation to their enemies before attacking, or they will otherwise have blood on their hands. He’s concerned Kåre’s passion for revenge will condemn them to Hell. Later, when asked about his relationship with Freydis, Harald claims that she’s “just a pagan [he] slept with.”

On the cusp of battle, Jarl Kåre says, “And then, God’s glory was revealed,” and, “Nothing can stop the will of the Lord.” During battle, Kåre and Freydis fight one another through punches, kicks and slashes. When men attempt to rape a woman, Leif brutally kills them, covering himself in their blood.

Olaf says that the “tent of Christ has room for all” and that God has blessed their patience. In a parley, Olaf offers Kattegat salvation, “both immediate and everlasting,” provided the people are baptized and repent of their pagan past. Jarl Haakon responds to him by expressing faith in various Norse gods.

Queen Aelfgifu asks Godwin to share wine with her. A Shield Maiden says that they are keepers of the faith, and if they die, so do their gods. Jarl Haakon conducts a sacrifice on a male volunteer to try to gain the favor of Odin and Freya. The volunteer is screwed into a pole, and the back of his head is stabbed, killing him. Then, they slice both of his arms with a sword, collecting his blood into two bowls. A woman collects some of the blood with a cup and drinks it.

In the battle at Kattegat, many people die in a variety of ways. People are hit with arrows, trebuchets crush men in their ships, axes, spears and swords slice into warriors and more. A major character is decapitated, and another bleeds out after being hit by arrows. Yet another big character succumbs to injuries after being stabbed by a rival major character.

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kennedy-unthank
Kennedy Unthank

Though he was born in Kansas, Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics and hermeneutics. He doesn’t think the ending of Lost was “that bad.”

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