(Credit: Netflix)

Everything we know about Netflix’s 'Vikings: Valhalla' season 1

“I always believed that death is a fate far better than life.”

Michael Hirst’s Vikings gathered a massive fan following due to its impeccable setting, cinematography, evocative music and gripping storyline. As a quasi-historical drama inspired by the Viking saga comprising legendary Norse mythology, the script is incredible with graphic fighting sequences and detailed historical references. After six successful seasons, produced by MGM Productions once again, Hirst is returning with a spin-off series with Jeb Stuart named Vikings: Valhalla which is set nearly a century apart from the original series and will focus on the Scandanavian leaders. 

Hirst, when asked about the new series, had a lot to share.  “It couldn’t be on a greater scale than the final episodes of my Vikings. Because the armies and the big battles we had… You really can’t get much bigger than that, actually. But what can I say? It is being made in the same places, a lot of it. We go back to Kattegat. That, of course, is the spiritual home of the Vikings. But it’s a changed Kattegat. It’s an established… It’s one of the biggest ports really, trading ports in Europe. It’s grown in size and significance. The King of England has become a Viking. The Vikings have overrun most of England and they own Normandy.”

Netflix US is unlucky enough to not have streaming rights to the original Vikings. While regions like India have been lucky enough to watch this spectacular series, in the United States, only Hulu and Amazon Prie have streaming rights. Thus, Netflix US will, as of now, only feature this spin-off series and wait patiently to bid for the original series once the license is up at their rival platforms, Hulu and Amazon. 

Vikings: Valhalla will feature as a Netflix Original at some point of time in 2021 or latest by 2022. Before the series take us by a storm, here are certain sneak peeks into the show which will possibly fuel our interest in this show even more. 

What is Vikings: Valhalla all about?

Set nearly a hundred years after the original series, the premise of this show will witness the near obliteration of the Vikings as the English kingdom stands steadfast against the Scandanavian raiders. Three claims to the English throne following the demise of King Edward the Confessor change the historical course of England forever. A sexual assault alters the faith of a woman who vehemently defends the old Norse religion. Her half-brother has issues with his father and her lover is on his way to avenge an attempted genocide. With an extraordinary premise that promises blood and gore aplenty, we cannot wait for the premiere. 

Hirst has affirmed certain connections between the two series. He has spoken of how the meetings will take place in the same great halls of Kattegat as before; the older characters are now going to exist as legends. He hopes that these subtle connections will help people find out answers to questions like “Well who are these people they keep talking about? Was Ragnar so great? Why are these people mythic characters?” He further hopes that the new series would help tie up loose ends such that “everything connects in a useful, and interesting, and fascinating way.”

Who are the cast members on Vikings: Valhalla all about?

Vikings: Valhalla has an interesting lineup of cast and characters. We have enlisted the nine most important characters from the show, seeking help from Deadline.

  • Leif Erikkson- Played by Sam Corlett, this character is a fearless sailor who, as a Greenlander, belongs to a closely-knit family with intrinsic pagan beliefs. He has problems with his father and shall guide the audience into the Viking world plagued with violence and tumultuous political climate. 
  • Freydis Eriksdotter- Frida Gustavsson plays this fierce and spirited anti-Christian pagan whose staunch belief in the old gods stems from the experience of sexual assault. 
  • Harald Sigurdsson- Leo Suter features as one of the last noble Vikings who are also berserkers. He is an ambitious and ferocious leader who unties the Odins and the Christians. 
  • King Canute- The wise and ruthless King of Denmark is a Viking leader who becomes one of the most distinguished characters in the series due to his cunning and ambition. Bradley Freegard shall be seen portraying this role. 
  • Olaf Haraldson- Played by Johannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Olaf is Harald’s elder brother who is an “Old Testament” Christian with stern beliefs and of enormous stature. 
  • Emma of Normandy- Laura Berlin plays this young and ambitious character who is extremely affluent and a possible descendant of Rollo from the original series. 
  • Earl Godwin- David Oakes’s character is the English King’s chief counsellor and a tough nut who survives almost everything with his political wit and cunning.  
  • Jarl Haakon- Caroline Henderson plays this able leader and warrior who, despite being a pagan, harbours secular beliefs, and functions as a mentor to Freydis. 
  • Queen Ælfgifu- Played by Polyanna McIntosh, this charming character is a calculative and witty lady who influences the socio-political issues in Northern Europe in accordance with her personal interests.

 Some other important cast members include Asbjørn Krogh Nissen (Jarl Kåre), Yvonne Mai (Merin),  Bill Murphy (Odgar), Bosco Hogan (Athelred), Karen Connell (Angel of Death) and more. 

(Credit: Netflix)

Will original cast members return?

The audience is intrigued whether the original cast members from the Vikings show shall make a comeback. Good news, some of them surely will! As confirmed by his agency, John Kavanagh shall make a return. In the previous six seasons, he had featured as the Ancient Seer who also made appearances in characters’ visions and dreams. It is expected to see him return as the same character once more in the series. 

Among other notable returns, we have Karen Connell, Bosco Hogan, Gavan O’Connor Duffy and more. While Hogan and Duffy, who played Abbot of Lindisfarne and King Frodo respectively in Vikings, shall feature as totally new characters, Connell will reappear as the Angel of Death. 

How many episodes will there be?

Usually, Netflix plays safe with a threshold of 8-13 episodes per new series. However, the platform seems to be very confident about Hirst’s creation as they have ordered nearly 24 episodes.

It is expected that Vikings: Valhalla shall follow its predecessor’s suit and split a season into half to increase the hype and anxiety. Thus, season 1 is expected to have a whopping 12-episode run. 

Where has Vikings: Valhalla been filmed?

Original Vikings fans will be elated and delighted to know that the show is being shot at their very own Ashford Studios in Wicklow, Ireland. After the success of the original series, Ashford had secured five more studios and support space with a whopping €90m. Thus it is expected that ample space and renewed technology will help accentuate the quality. The show will also feature certain popular Irish spots. Watch out for these scenic locations!

Some of the most important cast and crew members include Steve Saint Leger, the director of quite a few episodes in the original series, Niels Arden Oplev, a well-known BAFTA-winning director, Hannah Quinn, a well-known director of Netflix Originals, as well as the beloved composer for Vikings, Trevor Morris. 

Production Trivia 

Earlier in 2020, the pre-production formalities had already started which comprised an elaborate plan including an extensive shooting schedule from March to October. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, production had halted momentarily before resuming in August. 

It is rumoured that the second season is already in progress. Unlike other well-known TV shows, the original Vikings have been very pragmatic and meticulous as well as audience-friendly by launching a follow-up season not long after the release of the previous season. It is expected that season two should release by the end of 2022 or latest by 2023.

In October, however, truckloads of cast and crew members allegedly tested positive for the virus which shut down production immediately. However, it was confirmed that a bunch of false positives had sent waves of panic and thus they resumed shooting later that week. By November 2020, they had allegedly started wrapping up production, making fans eagerly wait to witness the Vikings get back to their business of grisly politics. 

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