Vikings Rites of Passage Review. Vikings: Season 1, Episode 1: Rites of Passage was the beginning of a series second only to Game of Thrones in realism and seriousness and third only to Spartacus: War of the Damned in terms of scope. At the outset of the episode, I thought the entire series would be in Old Norse as characters began speaking it but quickly that great hope was dashed. It would have been wonderful, like The Passion of the Christ, for this period piece TV series to be complete with the language of the region and the time. Even without it, the show is highly enjoyable and laid the ground for future events.
The beginning battle makes use of slow motion like Starz’s Spartacus but not in such an aggrandized way. This is a good thing. Since Vikings is on a network television station, it has to abide by different rules. Two of which are no swearing (why not have the characters swear in their native language and not translate it? Joss Whedon did that on Firefly.) and no nudity. Since viewers are desensitized to violence, that is shown on this TV series.
Vikings seems like a show you would find on Starz, HBO, or AMC. It is that well-constructed (the scenery is not forgotten), finer than a ship Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) could construct. The History Channel produces good programming but I was not expecting this.
From the outset, the viewer is shown that Vikings will revolve around four main characters: Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), Rollo (Clive Standen), Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), and Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne). The most interesting relationship is that of Ragnar and Rollo. On the one hand, they are brothers in battle and in schemes. On the other hand, Rollo wants many of the things Ragnar possesses. Ragnar knows this yet does not openly acknowledge it. It was all in his unguarded facial expressions.
What was also shown is that of all the main or secondary characters, it is Ragnar that is the dreamer, the one who strives to be more than a farmer that goes of raids with the leave of his lord.
Ragnar and Rollo are warriors yet their code of conduct and morals are different. One is ruled by impulse and desire, the other a sense of duty, honor, and obligation.
The flashback sequence involving The Earl was harsh but it answered many unasked questions about his linage and the future rulers of his people. It also showed a different side of The Earl and some of Gabriel Byrne’s range as an actor.
Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig) was reduced to eye candy in this episode but this was not the case with Lagertha. She showed ferocity and mercy within the span of 25 seconds in one scene. Its no wonder someone like Ragnar chose her to be his bride.
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