I’ve said it before, and I will likely say it again; I am so glad my reluctance to watch History’s Vikings abated enough for me to actually watch and finish Season 1. The only thing I “knew” about Vikings in general was that they were giants who tore through towns, which led to pillaging and rape. Led Zeppelin wrote “Immigrant Song” about these enigmas. Even with this, though, those first few episodes lagged for me – but I kept on watching. I’m impatient; I don’t like putting in the time necessary to develop characters. So, unless a show is just outright amazing, I tend to get bored and move on to something else. Vikings reminds me of Sons of Anarchy, so I was able to feel nostalgic. This is what got me through the beginning of the series. Each Viking is such a complex character that you have to pay attention. I am such a boring person, guys. I will always follow the rules. I rarely rebel. Psychoanalyze that and I’m sure you will find that I get some sort of pleasure out of watching shows rife with violence, rebellion, and poor life choices.
I found myself confused and sometimes overwhelmed with the story. This is mostly due to my lack of basic understanding of the Norse. So, in order to watch the show, I had to first understand who and what and why, this began with the characters themselves. Maybe if I do the legwork for you, you will then be inclined to watch the series yourself.
The Vikings of Kattegut are a brotherhood of men who help farm and conquest under the Jarl (Earl); when a boy comes of age he is sworn to protect and work for said Earl and is then initiated into the brotherhood. This understanding is signified by oath and the wearing of a gold band around the boy’s arm. That boy then begins his basic training as a Viking, (i.e. fighting) Later, as the boy grows and fights he will style his hair in ways you cannot understand and possibly get tattoos. Vikings worship pagan gods. Odin, Thor, and Loki are just a few that they pray and look to for safety. They believe everything in life happens as it should according to the gods’ will and therefore there is no cause to worry or regret. They are a superstitious group though, and are constantly trying to win the favor of the gods. The women of Kattegut are warriors as well. If she wants, a woman can learn to fight in combat alongside the men. A woman fighter is called a shieldmaiden. Women are given the same honor as men when it comes to fighting and leading. The women of Vikings are cunning and strong. They are also honor-bound. Vikings are a proud group of people just trying to conquer the world. It should also be noted that the Vikings in Kattegut are not the best farmers.
What Do the Vikings Want: Vikings want honor. This life is temporary; they live to die, essentially. Honor is begat by roaming and pillaging. Taking care of your brotherhood, fighting alongside your brothers to protect your home is also important. Believing in the gods Odin, Thor, Loki, etc is mandatory. The Vikings have no desire to understand Christianity or any other belief systems. They are living for the reward that only Valhalla can give them.
Why: When we meet the Vikings of Kattegut we learn they are in turmoil. The summer will be coming soon. This means pillaging will take the strongest men away from the city in order to steal from other surrounding lands. These Vikings have never gone in any direction but East. The East is becoming poorer than Kattegut as they have already taken everything of value. The crops are not doing well. There needs to be a change in order to survive. There are a group of men willing to help Ragnar Lothbrok pillage to the West, against the orders of the current Earl. Ragnar has been planning this trip for a long time and feels he can and will get the Vikings to lands in the West safely.
Now, if you haven’t, then you are ready to watch Vikings.