From the Stereotypes of the Norsemen deliver us… VIIII
The final episode of the first season is SOP in many cases. The clothing, the belts, the buildings, all those damned candles…it has all become, in the minds of the series producers pretty standard stuff. And to Hel with any accuracy!
The sight of Aslaug carrying a fruit and tempting Ragnar was a very good confusion of the temptress Aslaug with the Biblical Eve. An obvious attempt to play upon the cultural knowledge of the viewer. However, even though it is a good piece of dramatic license, it means the gratuitous hijacking of a theme from another faith! Perhaps an expected result of the hodgepodge of chronology, culture and historical events that are paramount in this series!
Jarl Borg asking for a hostage.
The supports for a building are a good representation for the architecture of the period.
A good representation of the process for the succession of Earls/Jarls, owing to election at a þing, even if the other elements of Norse government owe more to later feudal than to current custom!
The “three eye” joke was much in keeping with the sense of humor of the traditional Norseman!
Finally, a spear! And a doggie!
At last, the reappearance of a warped-weighted loom! A good representation even if Lagerthe’s spinning is even less real than that shown in the first episode!
The introduction Aslaug , whom the legendary Ragnar wed after divorcing Lagerthe.
Swearing not to touch Aslaug again was obviously meant sincerely. Too bad about that temptress Eve…I mean Aslaug. It is mirrored by the temptation by Borg to break the oath Ragnar swore to Horik and by the temptation to Rollo to break his allegiance to his brother.
Very few new inaccuracies are introduced. The costumer and producer have done their jobs and are at least consistent with themselves!
The hood worn by Ragnar is not clearly seen but looks strange.
The Norse houses had shingled roofs. Very progressive, since wooden shakes were not introduced until the middle of the eleventh century. Thatched roofs were then the standard!
Almost anything worn by Aslaug and her ladies. Except when she was naked of course…
The lack of compromise on the matter of land, even if we accept the feudal slant of ownership, seems rather contradictory to the way that the Norse got along.
If all the costumes were designed to look different, why do all the interior of the houses appear the same?
The use of hanging bowls as a light source in the Norse culture is dubious in several ways. For one, it was an artifact found in pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon society and, presumably, Celtic as well. They were mostly out of date for the Viking Era n and were not known to be used by the Norse. And they probably did not have the structural integrity to be used as lamps and were almost certainly not chandeliers. But other than that, a great supposition!
The plotline seems to be contradictory about sexual morés, and the morés seem to depend on what is needed by the plot.
The whole wise man theme is getting a little annoying. Prophesy was well known in Norse society, but it was the province of the Völur, the wise women, who were also known as seiðr, for the practice. While there was a term for males—seiðrmenn—they were not often found. Seiðr in particular had connotations of ergi (unmanliness), and some writers have noted that prophesying was probably taboo for men. Men were expected to be the warriors, while women were the wise women. But since the practitioners of seiðr seem to have included sex with a lot of the prophesies—a rare male practitioner, Ragnvald Rettilbein, was known as “straight member”—I’m rather glad they did not attempt to portray their wise men as sexual athletes!
Why are they suddenly using the proper term “jarl?” Apparently “earl” is still being used in the series, and one has to wonder what difference is intended by the producers and whether this is rather like the evolution of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Sabor/Numa terminology.
Bjorn’s cloak is not designed correctly, but the material is nice.
The shawl worn by Gyda is accurate, though the design of the fabric is not especially so.
There is an ongoing overuse of horn cups with a flat end. Forget for the moment that the actual appearance of such a horn cup is controversial. Why no ceramic or wood cups?
Woman wearing a belt (apparently not common practice and one not followed by the other women).
The disposal of the dead seems to owe more to “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” than to anything else. Obviously meant as a deep and dramatic incident, but I kept expecting for one of the bodies on the cart to go, “I’m getting better…”
Where are the spots of light in the house coming from? Very dramatic, true, but quite ludicrous when you start thinking about it!
Athelstan’s sleeping robe seems to be more reminiscent of a woman’s gown than what a man would wear.
The countryside looked more like what I saw in Iceland than anything I saw in Denmark!
When did they decide to do the conclusion with so many loose threads? With the introduction of the viper pit and Aslaug, anyone with knowledge of the legend of Ragnar will be filled with expectations. Yet, aren’t these the same persons who are more liable to be offended by the other liberties with details of the presentation? Since some stills seen before the series have not appeared in the first season, one especially wonders if this was filmed in the manner of Richard Lester’s Three/Four Musketeers. Plotlines concerning Norse excursions into England (and elsewhere, though this series seems to refuse to contemplate this much), the betrayal of Athelstan and much else has been relegated to the back and never touched upon, while other dangling plots—Rollo’s allegiance to his brother, Lagerthe’s miscarriage, the whole prophesy deux ex machina and Bjorn’s snottiness—are rotated to prominence. And new developments—the plague, the appearance of Aslaug, the confrontation between land ownership–come from nowhere and attains great prominence. Very frustrating, especially if done without knowing there would be a second season. Perhaps as judicial editing f what was already shot to take advantage of the second season coming, perhaps indicating that the second season was part of the initial deal, perhaps just incompetence at handling this form…whatever the reason, frustrating.
In a miniseries of this sort, having a single overwhelming theme and including additional elements that can be acted on later is the rule of thumb. And much more satisfying. The whole series seemed to be drawing in elements from different sides, then abandoning them and not exploiting them. It never moved forward to a satisfying conclusion and was even more a soap opera than many soap operas. If the dangling plotlines were meant to engage my curiosity and make me eager to see how they will be resolved next season, they did not work because I have no certainty that they will be resolved or even touched upon. Hirst and company have not given me that much confidence! I was not even intrigued by the characters, and I am blasé about what the next season of “Vikings” will present but will now eager await the next season of “Justified,” which expertly did what I expected and still set me off with continuing and dangling plotlines that leaves me eager to see the next season of that series.
If only they had just tossed Ragnar into the viper pit and gone on to a totally new and different storyline, like the late and very lamented Northlanders by Brian Wood. If that had been done, I would really be looking forward to the next season of “Vikings”!