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TV Review: “Vikings” Won’t Break Your Heart

Martha Trydahl Martha Trydahl TV Review: “Vikings” Won’t Break Your Heart
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Hooray! The fourth season of Vikings is now on the History Channel! The uber-promoted final episode of the season appeared on Thursday, April 21. And if you didn’t catch it, you’ll find the spoilers below…

If you’ve been watching the previous seasons on Amazon, the Vikings have been pillaging their way through England and France. We’ve discovered that although the Vikings were really good at partying and fighting, they were pretty terrible at making any money. So they have been successfully raiding the richer countries and bringing home the loot.

And these Vikings? They look a lot like that hipster sitting near you at the bar: man bun, beard, tattoo sleeves, and maybe a little eyeliner.

This season began with the Vikings back from their raid in Paris. King Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel-you can catch him in Warcraft in June) is recovering from his internal injuries. His brother Rollo (Clive Standen) has been left behind in France to maintain a presence there until the whole gang returns for another raid in the spring.

Bjorn Lothbrok (Alexander Ludwig, of Hunger Games fame) does some soul searching and pulls a Life Below Zero by living in a hut in the wilderness. After killing a bear and a berserker with his bare hands, this super-Viking returns to civilization and steals another man’s wife, just in time for another raid.

Bjorn’s mother Lagertha (karate champ Katheryn Winnick) also embodies the Viking ideal. On her wedding day, she kills her co-Earl and father of her unborn child, Kalf (Ben Robson). She then charges out into her village, covered in blood, as her loyal subjects chant her name.

Meanwhile, in Paris, the Emperor (Lothaire Bluteau) wants to prevent another Viking attack, so he persuades Rollo to marry his spunky daughter, Princess Gisla (Morgane Polanski). For one thing, they don’t even speak the same language, and the show is awkward about language differences. Whenever the Vikings come to a new country, everyone starts out speaking foreign languages, but then they all switch to English within a few minutes. Predictably, the rocky relationship between Rollo and Gisla turns a corner, and they end up falling in love and getting pregnant.

In Kattegat, the Vikings huddle up and head back to France. Except this time, Ragnar is hooked on psychedelic drugs, thanks to his new slave/mistress Yidu (Dianne Doan). Ragnar seems to have a thing for slaves (Athelstan, Yidu), and is heavily influenced by them. Ragnar is tripping so hard, he is losing his edge, and his interest in the fight.

But fight they do, and honestly? I thought it was kind of lame. The super-hyped battle of brother against brother, pagan against Christian, Frenchman against Viking… fell flat. I mean… when Ragnar and Rollo jump in the air and clash swords? (*eyeroll*) A fight to the death it is not. Both of them walk away, back to their respective corners.

But that’s why this show is no Game of Thrones. It’s a very safe, warm place. You will NEVER lose a favorite character in a shocking plot twist, and we could stand to lose a few. Vikings is so character-heavy, I got carpal tunnel scrolling through the cast list on IMDb. There’s no gasping or yelling at the screen with this show. In fact, you can see most of the plot twists coming from a mile away. The show only tests out daring plot lines within the safety of the characters’ visions and dreams. I wish they would take more risks, and make the show less predictable.

But maybe we’ll have some surprises in the next season?

Grade: B-

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