Reviews: Vikings

First Impressions

I am only four episodes into the series Vikings, so whilst I can't give a full review of the series, I can at least report a basic set of impressions that I imagine can be extrapolated out to the rest of the season.

The first thing that stands out: These Vikings kill a lot of people, don't they? That sounds like it should be obvious, but what I mean is that, raiding parties aside, I am not sold on the idea that the people in this setting would be killing each other so willy nilly. One scenario plays out like this:
Jarl: "Did you make an anchor for that guy I don't like?"
Blacksmith: "Er, yes?"
Jarl: "Guards! Stuff this man's face into a furnace!"

No one seems particularly troubled by the town leader spontaneously executing people on the spot for doing things that aren't even illegal. Similarly, our hero, Ragnar, stabs one of his own sailors through the throat because he starts having a panic attack... I imagine that should have resulted in a very awkward conversation with the man's family once they get home from a raid, but no one seems to have even asked Ragnar about the missing crewman.

I tend to like my gritty historical dramas, but I don't think you can rub Deadwood onto every setting and expect it to remain plausible. I don't care so much about realism and I can live with such absurdities as Vikings apparently having no idea where England is, but the plausibility does get strained when an apparently lawful society of proud warriors behaves exactly like a lawless town run by gangster saloon owners.

The issue of plausibility aside, I do like this relatively uncomplicated and attractive story. The heroes are extremely cool, enough so that you can almost overlook that they are a bunch of violent marauders and still regard them as the "heroes". It is an interesting setting that has been relatively unexplored in popular culture and I look forward to seeing more of it.