Some men are very, very concerned about length. Length of fight scenes, I mean—get your mind out of the gutter. For some—and I often number myself among them, so no shade intended—the ratio of carnage to running time is one of the paramount critical criteria. Those folks will likely be well-pleased by Vikings: Valhalla, a sequel series to The History Channel’s Vikings.
In theory, Vikings: Valhalla depicts a number of battles over the course of its first season’s eight episodes, but you could be forgiven for thinking it was just one long, extended scrap; with scenes of big, burly lads hacking each other to pieces on the battlefield, intercut with scenes of big burly lads scheming in torchlit castle chambers, just for variety.
In the show’s defence, it’s set in a time of vast and frequently bloody political and cultural upheaval at the tail end of the Viking Age, long after the events of its parent series (times of peace being not much use as narrative fodder here). Vikings have lived in Anglo-Saxon Britain for years when the series kicks off in November 1002, living in an area called the Danelaw because it was ruled by—you guessed it—Danish Law. This does not sit well with English King Aethelred the Unready (Bosco Hogan), who orders the slaughter of all the Norse living on his patch.
Known to history as St Brice’s Day Massacre, this carnage does not sit well with any Viking, particularly King Canute (Bradley Freegard), who quickly gathers a large, multinational Viking Army on the continent with the sole aim of putting all of England to the torch. To his banner flock Greenlanders Leif Erikson (Aussie Sam Corlett) and his warrior sister Freydís Eiríksdóttir (MVP Frida Gustavsson); ambitious noble Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter); and a horde of fur-clad fighters determined to leave no inch of English soil blood-free. Soon an armada of longships is sailing…