After an action-packed six-season run, Vikings came to an end in December 2020. Created, executive produced, and written by Michael Hirst (Elizabeth, The Tudors), the Emmy Award-winning program began as a mini-series — and the History Channel’s first original scripted program — when it premiered in 2013, but it proved so popular with audiences that a renewal was quickly granted. Hirst ventured forth to explore this story, this world, and these characters in ways equally gritty and glorious.
Vikings told the story of Viking explorer Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), his first wife and future queen Lagertha Lothbrok (Katheryn Winnick), his three sons Bjorn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig), Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen), and Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith), his traitorous brother Rollo (Clive Standen), boat-builder bestie Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård), and their exploits as they sought to expand their reach and influence across the vast ocean.
The show may be over, but Vikings fans do have reason to celebrate: the epic Norse adventures are set to continue on in Vikings: Valhalla. The spin-off was ordered by Netflix in 2019, and while it’s not directly linked to the story that began on the History Channel and ended on Amazon Prime Video, the connective tissue will still be there. Fans got an exciting behind-the-scenes peek at the series during Netflix’s Geeked Week event.
— Netflix Geeked (@NetflixGeeked) June 7, 2021
Itching for more details on the upcoming series? Here’s everything we know about Vikings: Valhalla.
[Spoiler alert: while the following details are known to devoted history buffs, tread lightly if you don’t want potential plot points to be revealed.]
(Photo by Netflix)
Unlike Vikings, which took audiences back to the beginning of the Viking Age, Vikings: Valhalla will act as sort of a bookend to the original series and explore the years leading up to the end of the Viking Age, altogether.
The first thing worth pointing out is the timeline of this new tale. Vikings: Valhalla will jump forward nearly 100 years in time to the 11th century and follow the adventures of legendary Vikings like Erik the Red, Leif Erikson, Freydis Eriksdotter, and Harald Hardrada as they struggle to survive in a quickly evolving world.
At the center of this will be a bloody conflict of faith, which Vikings fans know so well. The war between Christianity and Paganism will continue in Vikings: Valhalla and, historically speaking, is one of the driving factors in the Vikings’ downfall. Picking up where Vikings left off at the end of Season 6, the Netflix spin-off will showcase the expansion of Christianity into Scandinavian territories, which will put our Viking heroes in an uncomfortable, defensive position.
“One of the big issues is the Christianisation of the Pagan world,” Hirst revealed to Entertainment Tonight. “You’re going to see Christian Viking armies fighting Pagan Viking armies, and that’s really interesting.”
(Photo by ©History Channel)
It’s pretty safe to say that all your fan-favorite characters from Vikings will be dead — and hopefully hanging out with Odin in Valhalla — once the new spin-off premieres on Netflix. That doesn’t mean the likes of Ragnar, Lagertha, Bjorn, or Ivar won’t be impacting the story moving forward. Legacy was always a big part of Vikings, so we should probably expect to get bigger insight into how their past adventures will influence these new characters’ lives.
It seems that the bloodline will continue, too. Remember how Ragnar’s brother Rollo turned his back on his people and faith to take the throne as the first ruler of Normandy? Well, William the Conqueror (Rollo’s great-great-great-grandson) will be featured in Vikings: Valhalla, which has sparked speculation about Standen’s possible return to play the part. While history may state that Erik the Red was the first Viking to discover North America, Ragnar’s third son Ubbe landed there in the final season of Vikings, leading to a story detail the new series may address.
One of the biggest connective components will be the coastal town of Kattegat. The small settlement where we were first introduced to Ragnar and his pals grew into a bustling trading port by the end of Vikings season 6. The time jump between shows will reap positive results for Kattegat which will now be seen as one of Europe’s largest ports.
In an interview with Collider, Hirst discussed Kattegat’s growth and the ways in which the port will connect both shows:
“Whenever they meet in the great hall in Kattegat, and of course they talk about the great heroes who used to sit in the same hall at the same table, and they were Ragnar Lothbrok, Lagertha, and Bjorn Ironside, and Ivar the Boneless, who are now mythic characters even within the show, even within Vikings: Valhalla. That’s a really great connection and effect. It gives ready-made histories to the new show. So you don’t need to know who Ragnar is to watch the new show. But it enriches the show and it hopefully will make people go back and find out, ‘Well who are these people they keep talking about? Was Ragnar so great? Why are these people mythic characters?’ So everything connects in a useful, and interesting, and fascinating way.”
(Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images)
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Michael Hirst’s creative control of Vikings. The man wrote all 89 episodes of the series, which is a massive achievement and undertaking. It’s safe to say he’s probably due for a vacation.
“I just have a kind of oversight,” he revealed to Collider. “I’m not writing any of it myself.”
That oversight comes as an Executive Producer credit for Hirst. Jeb Stuart, the screenwriter of movies like Die Hard and The Fugitive, has stepped into the role of showrunner and writer for Vikings: Valhalla.
“Of course, he’s much more a thriller writer and that shows,” Hirst continued. “So it will look different, but it’s still good, really good, from what I’ve seen of it so far.”
A project such as this one requires a stellar cast to go with it. Deadline announced the line-up of talent involved with the series in early 2021. Here’s the main casting rundown and character descriptions for Vikings: Valhalla:
(Photo by Netflix)
Netflix has ordered 24 episodes of Vikings: Valhalla for Season 1. That is definitely a lot when you consider the season length for most of Netflix’s shows falls somewhere between six and 13 episodes.
How exactly these episodes will roll out remains to be seen. But if they’re looking to Vikings for guidance, it’s worth pointing out that show was also episodically stacked. History Channel and Amazon Prime handled things by splitting the seasons into halves. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but dropping the first season of Vikings: Valhalla into two 12-episode chunks sounds like a smart programming move.
(Photo by Netflix)
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pre-production on the series was paused for a handful of months. That hiatus ended in the summer of 2020, and in August, filming kicked off at Ireland’s Ashford Studios — the filming location for much of the original series.
During TUDUM, Netflix’s global fan event, the streamer announced the series will make its premiere sometime in 2022. While there’s no other information available as of yet regarding its release, we’d speculate the episodes will drop in the earlier part of the year since a second season is already in development.
(Photo by ©History Channel)
You may want to re-watch Vikings to prepare yourself for Valhalla. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to do that on Netflix.
In the past, the streamer has acquired popular series from other networks and turned them into Netflix Originals — we’re looking at you Lucifer and Cobra Kai — but those shows were canceled before Netflix resurrected them.
Vikings: Valhalla may be a spiritual successor to the original, but it should definitely be viewed as its own thing. And since MGM owns the rights to the series, and Amazon recently acquired MGM, you’ll need to switch over to Amazon Prime Video in order to fulfill all your Vikings needs.