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TV Report Card | 'Vikings' Season 2 Review

History
Overview: Battles were waged, and wars were won as Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) tried to maintain a grip on his growing kingdom and his splintering family.

Storyline Direction Pros: The progression of power plays and backstabbing presented the roadmap for a captivating Season 2. Two characters, in particular, were intriguing to watch, and Lagertha was chief among them. Her rise to Jarl was an exciting one, and her “Vikings” story continues to be the most compelling of the series.

As she dealt with the age-old problem of a cheating husband, she walked away from her comfortable life to an unforeseen future without Ragnar and her people. Lagertha is one of television’s premier heroines, and for many good reasons. She is a defiant, headstrong warrior who still maintains her feminine edge. The character bucks all convention and is enthralling viewers in the process.

The second character who proved central to Season 2 was Rollo, who had an interesting “Vikings” journey, rebelling against Ragnar before remaining steadfast to his authority. His character felt more fleshed out in Season 2, and a near-fatal battle proved how vital he is to the DNA of the show.

Among a sea of characters that lost/destroyed what remained of their moral authority, Rollo pushed the envelope and somehow remained likable. Surprisingly, Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland), who began Season 2 as a vile homewrecker became difficult to outright detest due to her decisive moments of humanity, and compassion.

Storyline Direction Cons: The violence in Season 2 pushed things to their breaking point. Graphic and disturbing, it was nightmarish beyond belief. Chief among the legacy of “Vikings” will be that it never shied away from being queasy. There has not been a season this gory on HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” The character fallout from the vile act rested with Ragnar, who fell from any grace he might have once tenuously held.

It was not like he had any ground to spare, given he started Season 2 off in a horrible place. After fathering a child with his mistress (Aslaug) and asking Lagertha to engage in a plural marriage, his behavior was indefensibly despicable. As with all things on “Vikings,” it never stays that simple. 

As the season wore on, Lagertha seemed to forgive him, and his warmth towards his children thawed a bit of the narrative ice. Rooting for him to succeed, at this point, would be impossible, though. As Season 2 thoroughly demonstrated, he is a psychopath.

Production Caliber: The grey cinematography demonstrated the bleak and dreary world at hand with masterful atmosphere.

History

Performance Quality: The entire “Vikings” cast felt more at ease in their roles in Season 2, and there was not a poor performance in the bunch. Travis Fimmel’s unique acting choices sustained Ragnar’s hypnotically wacky presence with its unconventionality. Katheryn Winnick continued to demonstrate both the emotional and physical ferocity of Lagertha. Season 2’s writing underlined Winnick’s winning portrayal with moments that emphasized the depth of her characterization. 

George Blagden went deep to capture the emotional deterioration of Athelstan and drove home the internal torment that the once devoted priest now faces in light of his time with the Vikings. Clive Standen (Rollo) and Jessalyn Gilsig (Siggy) both offered strong performances, building significantly on their turns from the first season.

Gelsig with her feminine charm and Standen with his intense masculinity complimented each other’s energy well and proved to be a great screen match. Thorbjorn Harr’s portrayal of the doomed Jarl Borg was exceedingly crafted as well. A turn that exemplarily ran a gamut of emotions while always showing a noble conviction. 

Musical Score: Trevor Morris’ integral score played a pivotal role in Season 2, being utilized throughout severally powerful montages that set the stage for riveting foreboding.

Overall Grade: B+, Things in the “Vikings” universe are never black and white or cut and dry. Showrunner Michael Hirst, once again, drew viewers into the often morally revolting universe of the Vikings. The characters, while not always sympathetic, are humanity at its most native level. They operate at their least civilized and most brutal. 

It is not a pretty picture, and it should no be. The use of mesmerizing direction proved to be paralyzing during the grimmest moment in television history. This is and has never been an effortless show to watch, nor is it what I would describe as fun. “Vikings” is educational. While on paper, a difficult sell, the engrossing nature of its creative approach ensures its captivation.

Want more  “Vikings”? Check out Eclectic Pop's Review of Season 1 here. What did you think of  Season 2? Eclectic Pop wants to hear from you! You can share your thoughts by tweeting @EclecticPop or leaving a comment below.

Comments

  1. I love it. Lagertha was my favorite part and I hope that she continues to be awesome and a great leader in season 3. Ragnar is great and Fimmel does a great job portraying him with few words and many expressions. However, Floki, Rollo and Siggy are my favorite people (second to Lagertha) right now.

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    1. Thanks for leaving a comment. I really enjoy those characters too. Like you, Lagertha is my favorite part of the show. Case and point, her civility towards Aslaug. She had every reason to go primal and instead she handled a horrible situation with dignity. Personally, it's these subtle character arcs that are by the far the most rewarding aspect of the series. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts! - Britt

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