“Vikings” — it’s one of the most successful series around. Created by Michael Hirst — of “The Tudors” and “Camelot” fame — the historical drama series has built an army of fans, thanks to its storylines of family feuds, of epic battles and of pillaging. Norse legends have always captured the interest of people and Hirst, with his passion for storylines rooted deeply in fact, has seized upon it to create a magical, well-balanced blend of fact and fiction that has captivated audiences. The series is currently in its fifth season, but even before this season aired, the makers were drawing up plans for a sixth series.
The end of an era
Unfortunately, the makers have announced that Season 6 will be the last ever season of “Vikings.” They’re still making it and the series might not air until November, so fans are just going to have to hold on for a little while. It’s one to watch, though, as the characters fall just as quickly as they rise (and maybe the other way around, too). Not only this, the new season has provided Katheryn Winnick, who stars as Queen Lagertha, with the opportunity to make her directorial debut and go behind the camera for one of the episodes.
The series centers around what goes on following the Battle of Kattegat, where viewers witnessed the defeat of Ivar, and there are some standout moments in this new season. The main event hitting the headlines is the suspected death (or not) of Queen Lagertha. Fans are speculating that she’ll die in the final season — in the sixth or seventh episode. Some believe a son of Ragnar will take revenge. Despite the hints at the possible death of the character, the actress herself hasn’t come right out and said this. A spectacular ending of some description does seem in the cards, though.
Another development to savor will be the arrival of Oleg of Novgorod. Russian actor Danila Kozlovsky plays this Viking prince who was also known as ‘Oleg the Prophet’ and conquered cities. The real-life Oleg sailed the rivers of the Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. His introduction could see the series move further east (although the creator has it clear he wants it to end in North America).
The show’s legacy
There’s no doubt about it. The show has been a hit with audiences. Some have loved the show so much they’ve even got Vikings-themed tattoos. All this success has led to the creation of “Vikings” merchandise, such as hooded tops and Ragnar T-shirts. There’s even a ‘Vikings’ online slot game, so these Norse heroes could even help their fans to win a little money!
Unlike the playful Rainbow Riches, the “Vikings” slot is serious. The main game has five reels, which feature images of some of the most popular characters from the TV series on them — and offers a myriad of ways to win. Players can bet up to £100 and win up to 10,000 times their initial wager. Activate the “Rapid Spins” feature — the most lucrative — and the number of reels expands to seven and gives the player more than 78,000 ways to win. This bonus is just one of three different bonus rounds, the others being the Hotspot and Shield Wall.
How have critics responded to the show?
“Game of Thrones” is a tough act to follow and for some this is the medieval drama show par excellence. Critics have met the show with a wave of responses and a lot of them have been positive, including one that reminded the viewers when it first came out that “Vikings” isn’t GOT; that it has a different kind of detail which makes the series special in its own right. It’s not only the first series that reviewers greeted with warmth; each of the first seasons matched expectations, garnering favorable reviews on benchmark sites such as IMBD.
There is a sense, however, that Season 4 is something of a turning point in the popularity of the series, with some reviewers starting to feel that “Vikings” had started to run out of steam. Some reviewers had commented they’d started to no longer care about the subplots, despite some of the twists in Season 5 that would have otherwise impressed them. They don’t welcome a sixth season but do look forward to a fresh series by Michael Hirst, which would have new characters, if talks are successful.
That doesn’t mean the reviewers have dismissed “Vikings” as a lost cause, however. Despite panning the earlier episodes of the penultimate season, as the show has gone on one reviewer has found a positive voice again — to the point they almost regret having criticized these initial episodes — and praised the ending of the season. One of the greatest sources of this praise was the makers’ decision to cull some of the characters that were ‘surplus’ and to put some of the more run-of-the-mill storylines to bed. Streamlining the cast has contributed to the quality of the series.
It seems the epic battles have helped to restore confidence in the series, too. The dramatic death of Magnus earned praise as well, since he found the courage at long last to charge the castle but Harald — who gets stabbed, but the audience doesn’t see die — pulls him back. He (Magnus) confesses to finding out who he is before falling to the ground and dying, wounded by an unexpected shot in the back and not uttering a single word.
“Vikings” Season 5 has left audiences with a lot to think about as they turn their attention to Season 6. Will the series go back to ‘brother vs brother’? Does Harald survive the stabbing? Is it the end of Floki, too? And of course, what fate awaits Queen Lagertha? Fans will just have to hang in there to find out and, in the meantime, entertain themselves with discussions in the online forums until the series starts.