Vikings — Finale Season Review
Note: The finale season was categorised as “Season 6B”, as the Viking show was typically released in half-season installments. They were also released on a weekly basis, but the finale-half of the season was released in one go, which I quite appreciated.
The story starts with the defeat of the Viking army at the hands of the Rus, i.e. Old Russians. The Rus army was led by Prince Egor under the guidance of Ivar The Boneless and Hvitserk, both of whom are sons of Ragnar. King Harald has been captured whereas Ragnar’s eldest son, Bjorn, escapes captivity and is summarily transported back to Kattegat. He is heavily injured and is looked after by his two wives: Gunnhild and Ingrid.
Bjorn is expecting another attack by the Rus, this time in their homeland of Kattegat. He is too injured to prepare and so his wives take a focal point in supporting their husband in his endeavour. Throughout the premier, the episode is primarily about battle preparation before the credit rolls.
It’s no secret the Vikings culture eventually dissipates and gets replaced by Christianity. All empires rise and fall and the Vikings are no exception. Over the course of this season, it is evident that this ancient culture is gradually dying out and being replaced by another force. There are significant characters deaths, once-feared armies are slowly defeated, the fighting culture is becoming more relaxed, ready to be replaced by external forces.
I felt it fitting that the finale reflected the end of the Viking era. I believe it was handled well.
The show has a variety of characters. The character makeup of the last season is significantly to what it was when the show began 7 years ago:
- Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig)— Eldest son of Ragnar. The most battle-experienced of all his sons.
- Ivar The Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen)— The second most prominent son of Ragnar. He was the last son to see him alive.
- Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø) — Remains close to his brother, Ivar. A good fighter and companion.
- King Harald (Peter Franzén)— The king of all Norway. He is also a great fighter was elected in the previous season.
- Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) — This son has the closest resemblance to Ragnar’s facial characteristics. He is currently on Iceland.
- Gunnhild (Ragga Ragnars)— First wife of Bjorn. She is a great fighter.
- Ingrid (Lucy Martin) — Second wife of Bjorn. She is a great diplomat.
The world of Vikings appears to be largely authentic. There is no fantasy, aside from vague visions of the future. The adaptation of the Viking culture in comparison to the society of Wessex (England) and the Rus appears to be historically-accurate. The difference (and similarities) in their ways of living are apparent.
The journey of Ubbe across the Atlantic to discover new islands is also well played out. His journey and the endpoints are in line with the real historical facts and reasonable speculations of how widespread the Vikings actually managed to become and their eventual establishment of the respective colonies.
The customs of the Vikings are also accurately portrayed. The show does not shy away from the polygamous relationship between the Bjorn and his wives. This is different from Rafe Judkin’s approach on polygamy in his Wheel of Time adaptation, who probably finds such relationships too icky to portray for his show. According to what I heard, the American entertainment medium do not typically portray such relationships authentically, aside from HBO’s Big Love. Viking manages to stay true to the culture it represents.
Without spoiling too much, the dissolution of the Vikings was also portrayed in a satisfactory manner. All empires and organisations rise and fall only to be replaced by another. The Vikings were no different, which is represented in this final season: Vikings expanded colonies far and wide, their armies were eventually defeated and the society itself gradually became Christian, destroying their pagan traditions once and for all.
I watched Vikings since its premiere. I always appreciated its authenticity in regards to the history and culture of these ancient times. The first few seasons saw the the rise of the Vikings and their eventual domination of various landmass surrounding the North Sea. The middle seasons were about holding their established colonies as well as pursuing other ambitions and exploration. The last season was about the downfall of the Vikings and the erosion of their once warrior culture. It was a great journey to witness.
- This was the finale season of Vikings.
- The main characters were the sons of Ragnar, like in the last few seasons.
- Ivar and Hvitserk start off as allies of the Rus.
- Bjorn and King Harald are defending their homeland against the Rus.
- Ubbe is currently on Iceland and is planning to sail further to the west.
- Polygamous aspect was portrayed well.
- The ending of the series is in line with the eventual dissolution of the Viking culture and historical archives.
This was a pretty good season and overall a really good show. I like the authenticity of the world and the TV show did not shy away from the more violent aspects of the Viking culture. There were great battle sequences, action and drama as well as character progressions. The character makeup from the first season is dramatically different to the finale season which accurately portrays the replacement of the old generation by the newer generation. There were only a few characters present from the first season in this last season. The TV show finally ended in lines with the outcomes of the Viking invasions and their consequent disintegration of their culture.
The following paragraph will contain spoilers for the first two episodes of season 6B:
During the progression of the season premier episode, Bjorn’s first wife Gunnhild, gives a spectacular memorial towards her husband, who is basically killed in battle by the end of the episode. This clearly shows her devotion to him. During the next episode, after her husband was killed, she immediately takes a lover for no discernible reason. It feels out of place and somewhat forced. There was no basis for her quickly take a lover, especially after the memorial she gave.
The following paragraph will contain spoilers for the finale episode of season 6B:
Ivar the Boneless decides to kill himself for no reason during the final battle of the show. He was struggling to figure out what to do next in his destiny and this was his interpretation. That being said, the death was spectacular and is his passing symbolised the end of the Viking conquests. In the same episode, Hvitserk converts to Christianity. Hvitserk was never interested in a foreign religion in the first place nor did he have any significant philosophical discussions in such matter, so this felt out of place and somewhat forced. However, his conversion symbolises the disintegration of their Viking culture. By the end of the show, almost all of the big characters were gone, marking the final nail in the coffin.
Overall, it was a great experience and the entire experience, from the first season to the last, was worth it.
A great authentic historical experience. An experience which I enjoyed with my family. God bless Michael Hirst! Of course, each time period has its own struggles. A couple of centuries later, another major conflict will hit the British coast…
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