April 16, 2018  (Web Review)

Vikings: The Complete Second Season

Fox, 3 discs, 920 min., not rated, DVD: $19.99, Blu-ray: $29.99

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

A hit for the History Channel, this second season continues the saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, whose eventful life is related in Old Norse literature. In the first season, Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and his brother Rollo (Clive Standen) initiated raids on Anglo-Saxon England that were opposed by their ruler Earl Haraldson, whom Ragnar eventually defeated to secure the earldom for himself. That brought him under the suzerainty of King Horik of Denmark (Donal Logue) but also enflamed the ambitions of Rollo, who turned against his brother. As this 2014 second season begins, the Viking lords agree to end their internecine strife and join forces to attack England together, which brings them up against canny King Ecbert of Wessex (Linus Roache). Personal crises add to the mix of battles, betrayals, and political skirmishing (not only among the Vikings, but within the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms as well): Ragnar alienates his wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) by taking a second bride, after which Lagertha and their strapping son Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) abandon him. Religious issues are also raised as Ragnar is introduced to Christianity by an Anglo-Saxon monk (George Blagden). The season concludes with the departure of a major character and Ragnar’s ascension to a still higher level of power, although it is clear that his ambitions are not yet sated. Filled with bloody combat and sudden shifts in alliances, this sophomore season of Vikings maintains the promise of the first, and while much of the narrative might be legend or pure invention, the level of authenticity in cultural detail is impressive. Compiling all 10 episodes from the 2014 second season, extras include extended episodes and select episode commentaries. Recommended. (F. Swietek)