How accurate is Vikings: Valhalla? True story behind Netflix series | Radio Times | Opinion and Review

Showrunner Jeb Stuart talks to about the history behind the spin-off.

Source: How accurate is Vikings: Valhalla? True story behind Netflix series | Radio Times

Opinion – Warning: This review contains spoilers

This is actually a mini-review as I found Vikings: Valhalla a refreshing reboot of the original series. At first, I thought, Oh, more stilted speech, swords with phony unsheathing/sheathing sound effects, heavy leather and axes… been there, done that. I felt I had seen it all in the first Vikings incarnation, and frankly, once Lagertha died, for me that series suffered a slow death along with her. Was season 5 the final season? I can’t remember but am pretty sure I stopped watching before the finale.

However, that often happens with me. If it isn’t an ‘opportune time’ (Greek = kairos) to watch, no show will speak to me. A door needs to open. And that it did with Vikings: Valhalla. Just not on first try.

Part of my fascination with this spin-off comes with the odd feeling I often get in early Spring. It’s a strange kind of ‘memory’ as a warrior anticipating some kind of horrid battle out on a grassy field. I do not believe in reincarnation but I do think we can sense traces from other souls who lived on our planet. Sometimes I get a strong feeling – I remember this – as I watch the old rural, seafaring, and forest scenes in shows like Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and yes, that big one too. (Game of Thrones just in case you have been living under a rock for the past while).

So I’m vibing out on the scenery with this show, and that may have a lot to do with why I liked it. Participation mystique is one scholarly term used to describe this psycho-spiritual phenomenon.

But there’s more to it than that. Lots of historical shows do not speak to me because they are so weak or have some really unconvincing acting performances. See Angelina Jolie, for instance, in Alexander. Her star-studded power doesn’t add much to that film.

Vikings: Valhalla, on the other hand, boasts a fine round of performances. Almost all are convincing and if they’re not, the actor has little dialog and dies off early in the series (writers and directors know these things…).

Admittedly, the ruler of Kattegat did not grab me at first. I felt she would be a better fit with something like a Junos celebration (The Junos are the Canadian music awards). But through the episodes, her performance seemed to get progressively stronger and she grew on me. By the time she died, I felt it. It seemed real.

Turns out she is played by a Swedish pop-jazz star, Caroline Henderson. So my initial feeling that her contemporary charms might work better at a Junos gala wasn’t necessarily too far off. But as I say, by the end, her character was working for me. And yes, for the historically untutored, people of color were in Europe at that time. Were women like her and Lagertha Viking rulers? We cannot know for sure but it could have been.

The rest of the main characters pretty much spoke to me right off the bat, some more than others. But none were unbelievable.

For me, the show peaked on a gripping bridge scene where a boy-king is cornered due to his own impetuousness. From there, things don’t go well for him.

Another facet of this show I liked was its unabashed treachery. Not physical violence but the schemes and intrigues that go behind it. I often find that captivating in a grim sort of way. And the contrasts between Christian belief and practice on the one hand, and Pagan belief and practice on the other, were fairly nuanced.

All in all, Vikings: Valhalla is a worthy romp into a semi-fictional universe. Hopefully, the next two planned seasons won’t fade into banality as did the original Vikings.




5 thoughts on “How accurate is Vikings: Valhalla? True story behind Netflix series | Radio Times | Opinion and Review

  1. Pleasantly surprised too with Valhalla as I gave up on original Vikings. Not enjoying the latest version of The Last Kingdom though but could be I am growing horns from Viking over saturation. Totally confused with who is who and locations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, if you mean Vikings: Valhalla, I found it a bit hard to follow/keep track of too. Like those who read a book twice, I watched the first two episodes again after finishing the last. It really helped to tie things up.

      I saw The Last Kingdom has a new season. Looking forward to it. Not quite ready to jump into that scene. But soon, I’m sure. I really like Brida, the brooder who is a nice person but with a massive chip on her shoulder. And Uhtred overflows with charisma.


      1. I see what you mean. I watched Episode 1 last night and had to go back to Season 4:10 to try to sort it all out. I’m getting sort of sick and tired of seeing heads lopped off with one stroke of a sword. So violent and grotesque.

        But I’ll probably keep watching…

        Production values and overall acting seem a tad below that of Vikings: Valhalla. Not quite as convincing. But maybe I just have to get pulled into it.


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