Vikings makes history entertaining

Keshav Amaro, Eastside Opinions Editor

The History Channel series Vikings delivers far past the cliché horned helmets and long beards. Based off of a true story, this Michael Hirst’s mini-series, delivers a stunning depiction of Norseman and Paegans of the Eastern Baltic. These people live in a culture with the desire for pillaging and plundering for material treasures to please their gods and bring themselves glory in Valhalla.

Despite all of the moral and social gratification these people strive for, the TV mini-series soon takes a more interesting turn, and has one character who disregards these norms. He has an outlook more towards the call of family, friendship, as well as dangerous curiosity for the outside world. Ragnar Lothbrok, played by former Calvin Klein model, Travis Fimmel, ultimately becomes one of the first ever Vikings in history to cross the sea and raid foreign lands.

He is at first a humble farmer living in a small house in Scandinavia with his wife and prominent shield maiden, Lagertha, played by Katheryn Winnick, and two children, Gyda and Bjorn, but he soon becomes curious with the Western world, and learns an effective method in which to navigate safely using only sunlight and a pot of water.

With a small band, he courageously sails west and encounters a monastery. After his men raid and kill almost everyone there, Ragnar spares a single monk named Athelstan, played by George Blagden, who soon abandons his faith and becomes Ragnar’s great friend and companion.  After returning to his village, Ragnar challenges the Earl of his town, and successfully wins and traditionally kills him. Ragnar officially establishes himself the Earl and leader of his tribe. He becomes more and more interested in sailing across the ocean and raiding the west, but as his ambitions and wealth grow, he continues to make more and more enemies, near home and overseas.

The series transports the viewers with its phenomenal story telling. The scenes of the homeland to sea to the western world and back again are glorious. The weather is unpredictable and harsh; like a character, it changes drastically every time the Viking town performs a ceremony or sacrifice.

Fimmel has an unusual, but highly effective approach to playing this historic warrior. Ragnar is unexpected, brooding, and thoughtful at times.  He is also soft spoken and uses suspenseful pauses to make a point rather than use his axe.

The show is full of dramatic, brutal and beautiful scenes, and is into its second season. The History Channel recently signed a contract to continue the series into 2015, and is expected to have several more seasons to follow.