When History Channel (is it still History Channel, or just History now?) first announced Vikings a year or two ago, I was all, "Laaaaaaaame." But a few weeks ago, I decided to give the show a chance after hearing some good things, and I quickly realized that it was I who was laaaaaaame. I feasted on the nine-episode first season after History made the series available on demand, and I'm glad I did. Vikings may not be the best show on television, but it's a fun series with plenty of strengths and few weaknesses. Season 2 starts next Thursday, February 27, which means you've still got plenty of time to catch up. And here are 10 reasons why you should.
1. Vikings are very cool...
You know what Vikings do? They get on a boat, they sail somewhere, they get off the boat, they kill everyone they find, they take their victims' stuff, and they sail back home. They worship Norse gods, they eat with their hands, they go to Valhalla when they die, and they do psychedelic mushrooms in the forest. Now THAT's the life for me. Vikings depicts these hulking barbarians in all their plundering glory, but it also shows off more respectful qualities like loyalty, the importance of family, and respect for the old ways.
2. ...but Vikings doesn't glamorize them.
C'mon, they're still Vikings. That means they're prone to having their way with the women of the lands they conquer, their legal system is laughable, and sometimes they'll sacrifice their own friends to the gods. It's a brutal society, and Vikings never lets you forget that.
3. Ragnar Lothbrok
Vikings' main character is an up-and-coming warrior named Ragnar Lothbrok, and he's one of television's better leading men. While others Vikings thump their chests and bellow earth-shaking roars to prove their worth, Ragnar gets ahead by intelligently thinking things through and questioning the old ways. But the most striking thing about the man is his sense of curiosity. He doesn't just level the towns he pillages, he makes an effort to learn about their people and their customs, in order to understand the world a little better. And then he kills 'em. He's like the Viking version of Sons of Anarchy's Jax Teller. And he's played by...
4. Travis Fimmel
Ladies! The Australian Fimmel was once one of the most sought-after male models in the business, serving as Calvin Klein's main man for a number of years. You may also remember a clean-cut version of him starring opposite Patrick Swayze in The Beast or a longer-haired version starring as Tarzan in The WB's Tarzan. But now he's grown a bearded and been butchered by a barber to play Ragnar, and it's his best look yet. What's more, Fimmel is more than just a pretty face, and as Ragnar, he adds a perfect mixture of ferocity, cunning, and playful cockiness to Vikings' cast.
5. Katheryn Winnick
Canadian actress Winnick plays Ragnar's wife Lagertha, and she's hot like the sun. She's my current TV crush, so keep your filthy hands off.
6. Vikings is simple
I love that today's top-tier television is so intricately woven that every single detail matters, but sometimes it's nice to sit back and watch two grown men in animal skins bash each other's brains in because they don't like each other. Vikings isn't THAT basic, but it's mastered the art of producing simple television without dumbing things down. The characters are well drawn and the storylines clearly connect and resonate without the need for a cheat sheet or repeated trips to a Wiki, which makes for a perfect palate cleanser after the mental acrobatics required to watch "challenging" series like True Detective or Breaking Bad or unnecessarily convoluted ones like Sons of Anarchy. And don't worry, there are plenty of "Oh sh*t!!!" moments.
7. It's nicely paced
The first seven or so episodes of Season 1 are comprised of one- or two-episode arcs that have full beginnings, middles, and ends and they just fly by; most of them also involve English kings pissing themselves out of fear. There are no dragging storylines that take forever to materialize; Vikings starts something and then finishes it, which makes it perfect for micro-binges. And if you make it to Episodes 8 and 9, you'll see things open up as the series prepares for a more immersive Season 2.
8. Ireland is pretty
The series is filmed in the land of leprechauns, and it's gloomy, misty, and gorgeous. (Yup, that giant tree is CGI.)
9. This guy!
Who IS this guy!?!?!?!?
10. Bigger-budget LARPing
There is nothing cooler than a bunch of dudes in armor smashing each other with swords, and there's plenty of that in the first two-thirds of the first season. The blood of spineless Englishmen will run!
Are YOU ready for Vikings Season 2?
AIRED ON 5/1/2014
Season 2 : Episode 10