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    Vikings 2.09 & 2.10 are carefully plotted, but suffer for it

    I’m a fan of Ocean’s Eleven. Ocean’s Thirteen, too, though we shan’t discuss the muddled wreck that was Ocean’s Twelve; and besides, that’s besides the point. The point is, both of these hustle films were required to con the audience by disguising their primary twist as part of their very makeup. But when a novel shortlisted for the Man Booker employs such a twist with no particular narrative reasoning, or a piece of long form television does the same, it comes as a bit of a slap in the face. More

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    Vikings Ep 2.08, “Boneless”, introduces new sources of heartbreak for its leads

    Boneless, titled for Ragnar’s latest son, is a stand-out offering from a largely sure-footed series; crammed with glorious portent of battle (and battle scene alike), and flinty farewells backed up against luxuriously shot love scenes. Moreover, all the loose plot-threads are carefully spliced into one another; without any loss of gravitas or mood, too. Is some of this hyperbole? More

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    Vikings Ep 2.07, “Blood Eagle”, dabbles with notions of status but forgets to back them up

    Ragnar — who is so ill-inclined to violent acts unless they serve a purpose — opens tonight’s offering by killing and skinning a rat. It’s our first look at the new gears he’ll be settling into; those being of a political ingenuity which is new for the age. Still, the insistence upon drawing in mythological aspects mar the otherwise crystalline set up of Ragnar’s major rivalries and other minor character conflicts: what is the point of investing ourselves in the bruises or pitstops our heroes must grapple with, should their paths already be preordained? The animals which populate the screen tonight don’t fall into either categories of frustratingly explicit or string-pulling metaphor, however: they at least serve as easily-understood doubles for some of the onscreen cast. More

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    Vikings Ep 2.06, “Unforgiven” sets up the foundations of Ragnar’s endgame & sheds further light on its ladies

    Vikings is one of the few shows, in my mind, that cleverly draws upon its oft-times anachronistic soundtrack and cinematic angles in order to construct a narrative that mimics the headspace of its primary cast; and in doing so, draws the viewer further into its milieu. All in it all, it intends — either consciously or subconsciously — to parcel up modern-day moralistic questions with uncommon antique stories, and make the pair more compelling in this juxtaposition. More

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    Vikings Ep 2.05, “Answers In Blood” blends the esoteric in with the bloody

    I’ve previously remarked upon, the plots Hirst and co have put into play appear to be converging; and to it’s credit, it’s not just battle stories alone that are unfolding. Rather, tonight sees Bjorn drawn into battle alongside his father — and the determined eagerness upon Ludwig’s face feels both heart-breaking and authentic. It’s not difficult to imagine the limits Bjorn would toe in order to prove his place among the Lothbrok family — particularly given his implicit rivalry with Aslaug’s sons — nor is it difficult to imagine, after the starkly-shot battle scenes of tonight, that Hirst could take him down the road of self-sacrifice. As we’ve previously seen in the case of Gydda — and to a lesser extent, Lagertha’s abandonments of the group — no player in the Vikings community is entirely secure. Furthermore, Bjorn’s now of an age where he stands alongside the members of his family as a veritable warrior; he’s not impervious to blood or pain, no matter how Ragnar rushes to defend him when the former stumbles. There’s something particularly lovely about this moment, in among all the cinematic jostling and callous thrusting of swords that occurs during this stretch of fighting. I’d attribute this to the emotional heart Vikings occasionally excises, in favour of thrills and slick war plotting. (Similarly, Lagertha’s quick glance-over at her son, in the heat of the battle, also tugs at the heart. No matter how indomitable and icy a force Lagertha is on the battlefield, or while defending her honour, she is still ultimately human; she has those she needs to protect.) More

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    Vikings, Ep. 2.02, “Invasion” a sleek, slickly-paced return to form

    Vikings glides across the space of years with an eerie sort of grace – something that could surely be attributed to the considerate lushness in the shots selected. All the same, the four-year lap tonight’s episode makes is a considerable length of time to scan over and as such, some of Aslaug and Ragnar’s conviction to one another and the family they’ve grown occasionally feels like a mock-up of a relationship. To his credit, Travis Fimmel’s uncanny ability to live in a scene prevents each tender moment or threatening one from sliding into melodrama. He pronounces each line as if it sits on the tip of his tongue: with a low, curmurring warmth that invites strangers – such as the serving girl who briefly speaks with him – to lean closer, to invest in this blue-eyed leader, to understand he has a wealth of untapped potential and ambition which he’ll soon unleash. More

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    Vikings, Ep. 2.01, “Brother’s War” disappoints with leaden, soapy script

    In the return of the History Channel’s Vikings, viewers will expect to be reacquainted with all the savagery and remorselessness of writer-creator Hirst’s compelling universe. Pitiably, the second season’s first offering, “Brother’s War”, is a patchwork of the first season’s dramatic elements, and one that’s shot through with lead-footed dialogue. In it, Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) remains where he was last left, the newly appointed leader of his people, despite opposition from his Loki-esque brother, Rollo (Clive Standen). Considering this complex relationship, Rollo’s surrender to Ragnar on the battlefield (and his later release by virtue of some anticipated divine plan) feels unwieldy, the narrative buckling under the need to save an intriguing character from an anticipatable fate. The title of the episode’s a little a bit of a misnomer then; tonight’s focus is upon Ragnar’s ongoing connection to the sea, and all the ties that come with it: personal, spiritual, and fortuitous. More

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    Face Off: Game of Thrones versus Vikings

    As Season 3 of the Seven Kingdoms epic comes rampaging out of the starting gate like a ravenous direwolf in search of fresh meat, you could be forgiven for thinking that, like the Walking Dead, Game of Thrones has no serious competition in TVLand. Think again. Lurking in the shallow waters of the History Channel […] More

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    Vikings, Ep.1.01: “Rites of Passage” The Norse gods are off to a decent, though not deific, start

    Vikings, Season 1, Episode 1: “Rites of Passage” Written by Michael Hirst Directed by Johan Renck Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on History Channel After the success of last year’s miniseries, Hatfields & McCoys, The History Channel travels deeper into the past with its first scripted drama series, entitled Vikings. Created by Michael Hirst (Elizabeth, […] More