television -> Vikings Season 2 Episode 1 Review

Vikings Season 2 Episode 1 Review

Brother's War

by James Chantrill

Warning! Spoilers ahead!


It was a whale of a season opener as the first hour of season two seemed to unfold in a fast-paced whirlwind of emotional dissonance and violent chaos — to put it simply:  a ton of major, story-changing things happened.  In the aptly titled season two premiere episode of “Vikings,” “Brother’s War,” the ramifications of Rollo’s decision to turn on his brother was only part of the focus. 

Immediately this episode throws the viewer into the conflicts and cliffhangers that left everyone wondering after the season one finale.  Why did Rollo betray Ragnar to pursue his own destiny? How did Ragnar handle the death of his daughter? What about Ragnar’s unborn son with another woman (Aslaug)?

With this episode as the flagship to season two, it’s supposed to get our blood curdling and to get our adrenaline flaring to the point that we are yelling along as they call for the shield wall in the skirmish between Rollo and Ragnar. As Rollo visually burns with jealousy and contempt for his brother, he carves a bloody path through the Ragnar’s forces.  Despite this hate that Rollo feels, he cannot bring himself to fight Ragnar due to the love that he still has for his brother. He submits as quickly as he initiated the battle and the climax occurs in an anticlimactic fashion.

This episode had the tempo and pacing of a locomotive as it jumped from one extreme to the next:  whether it be violence, emotion or intrigue.  Though we all like the gritty realism of the battles in “Vikings,” I do have a slight paranoia that “Vikings” will give into the fear of a sophomore slump and begin to rely too much on the violent, gory scenes to keep the blood-lusters interested.  I sincerely hope that is not the case as this show truly has undeniable potential. 

“Vikings” is known for skipping ahead in time — months and even years to get to more of a flowing yet still interesting story.  As such, we are left wondering why some things get explained and others get glossed over.  Perhaps it was an attempt at subtlety, but there exists a fine line between subtlety and skipping over impactful moments.

What would have made this episode better is if we saw more of Rollo before the battle with Ragnar.  Additionally, I would’ve preferred more insight into the collective pain of both Ragnar and Lagthera in losing their daughter rather than the gloss-over.

One of the more fascinating things was to watch the friction between Lagthera and Ragnar when Aslaug showed up and the resulting conclusion that had Bjorn leaving with Lagthera.  It felt like a moment of true irony for Ragnar as he won the battle but perhaps lost his family because of his own carelessness and neglect.

“Vikings” saw incredible success during its first season and with the fickle nature of television-viewing public, holding on to an audience can indeed be like trying to hold a wolf by the ears.  Hopefully in the next few episodes “Vikings” will continue to deliver the action that we all love to watch but also maintain an emphasis on the character development that made it the compelling show that caught everyone’s attention last year.

Although the pacing felt rushed in the process of tying up season one conflicts (some that could have used a little more explanation), I expect that season two of “Vikings” will not disappoint.  Telling a story is not a sprint, it’s a marathon and this race has just begun.  

Keywords: Vikings, History Channel Vikings, Vikings Season 2, A Brother's War, Ragnar
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