Vikings: Valhalla season 2 continues the stories of Leif (Sam Corlett), Harald (Leo Suter), and Freydis (Frida Gustavsson), and while it was an exciting season, it also confirmed that it will never beat its predecessor: Vikings. Although Vikings covered the first years of the Viking Age and explored the stories of legendary figures like Ragnar Lothbrok and Lagertha, there are many more stories to tell, and that’s where Vikings: Valhalla comes in. The sequel series to Vikings is set over 100 years after the events of the main series, following a new generation of warriors struggling with different issues, with the conflict between Christians and pagans at the core.
Vikings: Valhalla season 2 saw Leif, Freydis, and Harald reuniting briefly following the invasion of Kattegat, and while Olaf (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) put a price on their heads, Freydis was taken to Jomsborg, and Leif and Harald traveled to Novgorod before sailing to Constantinople. Meanwhile, in England, while King Canute (Bradley Freegard) was still away, Queen Emma (Laura Berlin) and Godwin (David Oakes) were looking for the ones responsible for an assassination attempt against Emma. Even with all these storylines, conflicts, and battles, and while it wasn’t a bad season, Vikings: Valhalla season 2 only confirmed that the series won’t beat Vikings for different reasons.
Valhalla Season 2 Doesn’t Develop Its Characters As Well As Vikings
Although Vikings: Valhalla is only in its second season (with a third already confirmed to happen), it hasn’t properly developed its main characters, and it’s even more evident when compared to Vikings. The first season of Vikings: Valhalla was focused on the Vikings’ revenge on the English royals for the St. Brice Day’s massacre and the conflict between Christians and pagans, quickly establishing who the antagonists would be: Olaf, a Christian Viking next in line for the throne of Norway (and Harald’s brother) and Jarl Kåre (Asbjørn Krogh Nissen), a Christian berserker. On the other hand, the characters to root for are siblings Leif Erikson and Freydis Eiríksdóttir, who came from Greenland to avenge Freydis, who was raped by a Christian Viking, and Harald Sigurdsson, a Christian Viking looking to take the throne of Norway. Meanwhile, King Canute of Denmark, who led the Vikings against the English, served as a neutral character.
Now, Vikings: Valhalla season 2 continued the stories of every one of these characters, but it didn’t do much to develop them beyond what the first season established. Canute spent most of Vikings: Valhalla season 2 away, so he didn’t really have a storyline beyond arranging the marriage between his niece, Gytha, and Godwin, and Freydis is still on the path of being a warrior and a figure of hope at the same time. Harald was blinded by his need to fight Olaf for the throne of Norway, and Leif didn’t have a motivation at all, simply following Harald around, with season 2 forgetting that the final minutes of season 1 had Leif unleashing his inner berserker. The main characters of Vikings: Valhalla continued on the same line throughout season 2 with only a change of scenery and a couple of new characters around them.
Vikings, on the other hand, didn’t waste time in showing that its main characters were complex and there was more to them than what the first episodes showed. By the time season 2 began, Ragnar was already dealing with the betrayal of his brother, Rollo, his deals with Horik and Borg, and his marriage fell apart after his affair with Aslaug, which resulted in her pregnancy. Lagertha not only showed that she was a fearless shieldmaiden but also a caring and fierce wife and mother, who went through a miscarriage and the death of her daughter, Gyda, while her husband cheated on her. The characters of Vikings already had new motivations and goals in season 2 and their paths were in constant change, something that Valhalla failed to do.
Valhalla Season 2’s Story, World & Mythology Aren’t As Interesting As Vikings
The characters, places, and stories in Vikings: Valhalla season 1 were connected through the conflict between Christians and pagans, but there’s nothing linking the English, the Greenlanders, and the Norwegians anymore in season 2. Sending the characters to different places gave each of them something to do, but it didn’t make for a cohesive season, and the storyline of tertiary characters Emma and Godwin was a lot more engaging and interesting that those of the title Vikings. Perhaps the biggest change is how Vikings: Valhalla has approached Norse mythology, which in Vikings was a key element.
Ragnar and company believed in Norse mythology, though Rollo was baptized and Ragnar went through a crisis of faith after meeting Athelstan. Floki was a loyal believer, so much so that he tried to behave in ways that wouldn’t anger the gods, and even Ragnar believed himself to be a descendant of Odin, with the Allfather manifesting himself in different ways, whether through his loyal ravens, Huggin and Munnin, or by taking a human form. Norse mythology isn’t as heavily present in Vikings: Valhalla, mostly due to the series focusing on Christianity taking over, and while Norse mythology is still addressed thanks to Freydis and now the Jomsvikings as well, it’s not explored as deeply as in Vikings, and thus is not as interesting as it could have been.
Why It’s Okay Valhalla Season 2 Isn’t As Good As Vikings
Although Vikings: Valhalla season 2 didn’t improve much in terms of developing its characters and giving them engaging stories, more so when compared to Vikings, it’s not bad that this season wasn’t at the level of the main series. Ultimately, and even though Valhalla is a sequel series to Vikings, it’s a separate entity, set many years after the main series and with new characters from completely different backgrounds and upbringings than Ragnar and company. Valhalla has to be different from Vikings, and it’s not too late for it to learn from its initial mistakes and take note of what the main series did right, as it’s still in its second season. However, Vikings: Valhalla should pay more attention to its character development in its upcoming third season, or it could risk crashing and burning.