Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Friday, December 20, 2013

Television Review: Vikings

In my darkest night it is the tale that leads me forward to persevere on this forlorn journey that is life. I am small and I am weak, but I look to those stories and seek lions. Men and women who grasped what they wanted without hesitation, who would not waylaid by doubt or other men.

I seek the whirlwind in the hope that I shall become the tempest itself. I will earn this name! I choose it not as some coy joke but for when I die as all men must all those who mourn me will say, "that cipher of a man had the wolf in him, a fury and restlessness unbound and untamed."

Tonight I watch Vikings.

Anyway Vikings loosely tells the story of Ragnar Lodbrok, a historical figure who is said to have become king of Sweeden. I say said so called because dude it was the dark ages, so called because we now very little what happened then.

Anyway Vikings follows Ragnar in both the quest and the later fall out of the journey west to the land of the Angles.

But before I delve into that let's get this straight. These are fuckin' vikings! While I like the badassary that ensues we are talking about pillaging, looting you know viking stuff. Whenever watching historical drama you have to allow for some values dissonance. That said, I have inadequacy issues so yeah this show taps right into my empowerment fantasies. Mastering new technology, bringing untold wealth to your homeland, inciting revolutionary change, bringing forth glory to yourself and your family that will last the ages, and generally kicking huge amounts of ass.

There is no west? There is no west? THERE IS NO WEST?!

It also helps that I really like the protagonist. See Ragnar starts the tale as a farmer, loyal to his king but he has eyes, eyes that see across the sea and gaze upon glory. There is a west, a west of riches and plunder unheard of if only one has the balls and brains to tie the rigging and man the helm.

Regardless of the fate of the journey Ragnar has chosen to disobey his king, who commanded the men to sail east to the Baltic.  

But enough with plot, what really makes the show is the world. Ragnar does not exist in a vacuum. There is an alienness to this place that intrigues. Apart from historical accuracy everything is believable. These are men have all they have acquired through guile, strength, theft, cruelty and ruthlessness. Compassion is a vice here, a vice that will kill.  The mortar that builds viking sagas is not soft.  Do not pray to God for mercy for you will receive none at the hands of these men. This is no story for the weak or the dim. Though the mad may just survive it.

The supporting cast further advances the world. A captured monk, a jealous brother, a fierce wife, a clever son, a tyrannical king, a mad genius shipwright, all of these character have their own tales to tell and the actors do so impeccably.

Also the sweeping musical score adds to every victory and loss on the journey. The cinematography and costumes are also amazing.

When I complain of the laze of cop drama it is shows like these I contrast.

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