Vikings, TV review: As unsubtle as a thwack over the head with Thor's hammer


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The Independent Culture

In sharp contrast to Stewart Lee, the ninth-century warriors in LoveFilm’s Vikings always say what they mean and mean what they say.

It’s as unsubtle as a thwack over the head with Thor’s hammer. The show’s second season, made available to stream this weekend, has many qualities to recommend it – the exquisite Irish countryside, a theme tune by Swedish oddball Fever Ray, costumes to provide fashion inspiration at every crusty squat party from here to Stockholm, the sparkling blue eyes of former male model Travis Fimmel – but the dialogue certainly isn’t one of them.

As the series begins, Ragnar Lodbrok (Fimmel) has been forced to delay conquering England so he can do battle with his envious and ambitious brother Rollo (Clive Standen). Then princess Aslaug arrives in her longboat, bearing a particularly nasty shock for Ragnar’s wife Lagertha – by the looks of it, she is about six months pregnant.

Ragnar, the dirty beggar, can’t see why they shouldn’t all just be... ahem... friends. “I have heard that similar arrangements exist all over the country,” he said, casually stroking that ancient symbol of lasciviousness, a goat, as if it were only his pet tabby. In Game of Thrones, such a suggestion would no doubt have been greeted by the sound of two chastity belts clattering to the floor, but raunch is one of those other things that Vikings lacks. Don’t get your hopes up just yet.