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Every Season of Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla, Ranked

Every Season of Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla, Ranked

Original shows and their spinoffs are rarely equal in quality, but Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla are exceptions. The two small-screen productions not only enjoy similar levels of critical acclaim, but are also ideal for any historian or casual viewer thirsty for tales about Norse mythology. The former covers the adventures of the legendary Ragnar Lodbrok (Lothbrok in the show) and his sons, while the latter covers the events that occurred shortly before the end of the Viking Age.





Release Date
March 3, 2013

Peter Franzen


The History Channel

Each season of the two shows is a work of art, hoisted by great casts, perfect tales, first-rate costume designs, and breathtaking action sequences. Even though the writers exercise creative liberties in character development and alter the exact periods in which events happened, the historical basics are maintained.

Still, some diamonds often shine brighter than others, so a few seasons are more robust in some areas than the rest. This ranking is, therefore, not a case of good and bad but a case of good, better, and best. Stream Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla on Netflix.

8 Vikings – Season 2

More power, more problems. Season 2 introduces viewers to a version of Ragnar who is more powerful than ever, having taken over as Earl after defeating his archenemy Haraldson in a duel. He faces even greater opposition from King Horik and Jarl Borg in his new role. His attempt at creating a polygamous union also fails. Eager to have Aslaug and Lagertha as his wives, Ragnar is shocked when the latter chooses to leave rather than share.

More Rivalries… but a Few Notable Character Inconsistencies

The second season tops the first one in family and relationship arcs. Infatuation causes Ragnar to choose Aslaug, but he is shown to be unhappy throughout their union. Still, this relationship serves as an important foundation for future events. She bears him children destined to be important figures in the future, and it’s thanks to her induction that a woman ascends to the throne of Kattegat. Elsewhere, Lagertha’s marriage to Earl Sigvard goes terribly, and through her tribulations, the show gets to condemn chauvinism and domestic abuse.

For all its great aspects, Season 2 is weakened by character inconsistencies. For example, Ragnar quickly forgives his brother Rollo for betraying him, yet in the previous season, it had been constantly emphasized that no turncoat ever escapes a death sentence. King Horik’s impulsive decision to turn against Ragnar also makes little sense because he had already worked with the Viking leader and seen how cautious he was.

7 Vikings – Season 1

The first season of Vikings is mainly a story of ambition. Unhappy with the redundant nature of the Viking raids, Ragnar suggests exploring the West, but Earl Haraldson shuts him down. He doesn’t do this because the idea isn’t viable. He does it because he understands what will happen when one warrior starts appearing smarter and more competent than him. Still, Ragnar defies his ruler, resulting in a rivalry between the two that ends with the protagonist as the victor.

Tense and Precise… but too Patriarchal

Season 1 offers plenty of lessons about Norse mythology. These include the function of each god and the importance of rites of passage. Besides that, the plot is easier to follow because there is only one central feud. The danger of Rollo’s betrayal keeps looming, yet it’s mostly Ragnar and Haraldson who spar verbally and physically. Additionally, there’s a single mission — the foray into Northumbria. As for the battles, they are limited in scale, compared to what would be on offer in subsequent installments, but they are still captivating enough to position Viking as one of the shows with the most incredible action sequences.

Regrettably, Season 1 lacks a strong female character. Lagertha, who would be granted proper arcs in the following season, is relegated to the traditional ‘wife’ role. Princess Aslauf and Siggy don’t do much either. It’s a testosterone affair, and even though the general proceedings are fun, gender imbalance puts a tiny stain on the season, preventing it from being regarded more highly.

6 Vikings: Valhalla – Season 1

In the first season of Vikings: Valhalla, the conflict mainly stems from religious warfare. It’s been 100 years since the events of the original show took place, and during that period, many Northmen have converted to Christianity.

The foray into Wessex and Frankia is all to blame, but it’s all irreversible now. The events mainly revolve around Leif Erikson (Sam Corlett) and Freydís Eiríksdóttir (Frida Gustavsson). The two Greenland natives head to Kattegat to join fellow Vikings in a fight against the Saxons. But there is King Canute (Bradley Freegard), who is eager to unite all Norsemen under one English umbrella.

A Treat for Fans of the Original Show

For the first chapter of Vikings: Valhalla, showrunner Jeb Stuart serves viewers exactly what they want, and that’s pretty much the same magic as the old show. Stuart presumably knew that the spinoff wouldn’t attract many casual fans. Fans of the parent series would be the ones most likely to tune in. References to characters such as Ragnar and Lagertha are thrown in. Some new characters also share names with those from the original series. The action is breathtaking, too. After all, Stuart is the same person who wrote ’90s and ’80s hits like Die Hard and The Fugitive.

Sadly, there is a general lack of urgency. The story lags more than it should, especially from the second episode, and at times, the characters engage in downright implausible actions. Besides that, the dialogue is mostly cheesy. Thankfully, all these wrinkles get straightened in the following season.

5 Vikings – Season 4

The bulkier Season 4 has 20 episodes and is more poignant than the rest. Here, it rains and pours for Ragnar. He raids Frankia, but he is outsmarted by his brother Rollo, who has long switched sides after being forgiven for his previous transgressions. The loss affects Ragnar so much that he hibernates for years. Shortly after his return, he is captured and put to death.

Loss, Transition, and a New Beginning

Vikings fans are often split between those who love the pre-Ragnar and post-Ragnar eras, yet Season 4 appeals to both sets of fans because it’s a bridge between the two parts. Ragnar dies five episodes before the finale, but the gloomy atmosphere never lingers for too long because his sons quickly step up, form The Great Heathen Army, and get to business.

Before that, the attack on Paris takes up a huge chunk of the plot, which is good because fans witness Ragnar and his enemies mapping out proper military strategies for the first time. Apart from Ragnar’s baffling decision to disappear, the season remains solid.

4 Vikings – Season 5

With Ragnar no longer present, many predicted doom, stating that the show would fall into obscurity. Thankfully, a strong fifth season put Vikings in the league of shows that fared well after the main character’s departure. The season mainly revolves around Ragnar’s sons as they try to assert their dominance after their father’s death. Other great storylines include Floki’s quest to find Asgard and Bishop Haehmund maneuvering the corridors of power.

The Rise of Ivar the Boneless

Ivar might be one of the most despicable television characters of all time, but he is well-fleshed-out in all respects. In this chapter, he truly comes to life by taking control of the Great Heathen Army and beginning his reign of terror. The show, therefore, morphs from a show centering around a hero to one centering around a villain.

The rise of Ivar and Ragnar’s other sons boosts the quality of action greatly. With revenge and power on their minds, they fiercely go after the Saxons, who prove to be formidable enemies too, thanks, in part, to the introduction of Heahmund. Elsewhere, Loki’s new colony paves the way for other interesting subplots.

3 Vikings – Season 6

By the midpoint of the sixth season, Vikings is barely recognizable. Many initial main characters are out of the picture or on the sidelines. Lagertha and Ragnar are dead, Rollo is comfortable in Frankia, and Floki’s whereabouts are unknown (though he reappears towards the end. Despite that, there are still numerous engrossing storylines. These include Bjorn and Harald’s fight for the throne, Alfred’s quagmire in Wessex, and Ivar’s complicated relationship with the Rus.

Ideal Endgame

Crafting a perfect final season has always been challenging for most showrunners, yet Michael Hirst served a memorable delicacy. This might not be one of the most satisfying final seasons of television shows, but it ticks most boxes, making it worthy of praise. No threads are left hanging. Most importantly, most characters get what they deserve.

For all his arrogance and aloofness, Bjorn dies in battle, while Ubbe (arguably the most reasonable of Ragnar’s sons) lives happily ever after. Ivar, on the other hand, becomes a victim of the same brutality that he often subjected others to.

2 Vikings: Valhalla – Season 2

While the first season of Vikings never created much buzz, Season 2 proved that this spinoff should be taken seriously. The season picks up exactly where the previous one left off. Freydis and Harald are in isolation; Leif is hunting down Olaf and grieving the death of Liv, and Eleana learns that she is betrothed to the Emperor, Romanos III. The multiple stories don’t necessarily intertwine, but each is detailed enough to keep viewers invested.

Expansion Beyond Scandinavia

Both the network and the showrunner might have heard about the complaints about the first season. Consequently, they stamped their feet harder on the gas. This time, there aren’t any dull episodes worth singling out. There are more tales, extra confrontations, and even more geographical locations than fans have been treated to before. Most of the main characters are let loose, allowing them to chart their paths, rather than rely on collective arcs.

The main point worth acknowledging is that the show breaks free of the behavioral format of its predecessor. Fans had been accustomed to looking at these screen Vikings as people obsessed with Kattegat and nothing else. Here, Kattegat has fallen, so the characters not only open their minds to fresh European settlements, but also to intercontinental exploration.

Vikings: Valhalla

Vikings: Valhalla

Release Date
February 5, 2022

Sam Corlett , Leo Suter , Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson , Frida Gustavsson

Jeb Stuart

1 Vikings – Season 3

From the Northmen’s creative infiltration of Frankia (which involves Ragnar faking his death) to Floki’s feud with Athelstan, the third season has plenty to offer. There are also plenty of surprising romantic pairings. Princess Judith declares her love for Athelastam, while Lagertha sleeps with King Ecbert. Things get even more interesting towards the end of the season, with Emperor Charles putting a huge dent in the Vikings’ defenses by making Rollo an offer he can’t refuse.

A Blend of Psychological and Physical Warfare

On the battlefield, the Vikings are often unmatched, so in Season 3, their enemies opt for more psychological battles. This makes the show a lot better than other blood and sand offerings. King Ecbert proves to be the ultimate Chessmaster. Eager to turn his territory into a violence-free utopia, he offers the Northmen some farmland to cool their tempers, and by the end of the season, he is shown to have convinced them to fight for him.

However, it’s Emperor Charles who makes the biggest chess move, one that would result in Ragnar’s downfall in the following season.

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