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Vikings: Valhalla - Season 2 - Review

Vikings: Valhalla picks up right where Season 1 left off. Freydis and Harald are living in isolation though Harald itches to return to the action. Freydis eventually acquiesces and along their journey, they run into some refugees who are excited to meet Freydis though she denies who she is. The refugees are heading to Jomsborg, a safe haven for pagan believers in the midst of the Christian oppression.

Leif meanwhile is hunting down Olaf, still hurting from the death of Liv at the end of last season. The three heroes eventually reunite and escape from Olaf before Harald and Leif part ways. Freydis is destined for Jomsborg after seeing the same tattoo the Seer drew on Jorundr's arm and Harald is heading to Constantinople to secure an army to claim his rightful place as King of Norway.

It's a shame that they don't get to spend more time with each other before they split off on their separate journeys. It's largely understandable for Harald and Freydis as they both have such grand destinies as leaders of two separate people that they would never really have been able to be together for long but I would have liked to see more of Freydis and Leif's sibling relationship before they parted again.  

Leif and Harald spend much of the season on a road trip down the river with a motley crew, facing a wide variety of dangers from a frozen river breaking beneath their boat, a perilous drop off a waterfall and a tribe of Pechenegs with connections to the Khan. 

I often like the road trip formula to a story as each little obstacle and event on the trip contributes to adding a little more to the characters we're following and that worked especially well for Harald and Leif as well as the crew they were travelling with. The slave girls, Cadlin, Dorn and Brigtoc, got their moment of vengeance followed by liberation, exercising their free choice for the first time by not wanting to follow Harald over the waterfall to their possible deaths. In fact, they all only follow him after he makes a sacrifice in return.

Elena also proved to be a fun character who could take care of herself. A big theme in this season was freedom and she and Harald have a conversation about freedom before it's revealed she is betrothed to Emperor Romanos. Harald is a character who has a lot of grand ideas around idealism and passion while Elena is more of a thinker like Leif. 

Leif gets a lot of room to grow as a learner this season, paving the way for him to become the famous explorer we know from history while Harald does what Harald does best which is get lucky and inspire people. By the time we get to the end of the season, they're both in very good standing as they've gained the favour of the emperor and have finally reached their destination though not without a few losses along the way. 

Freydis meanwhile becomes the gothi of Jomsborg where nothing is as it seems as Harekr, the leader of Jomsborg, is more concerned with his own power and goes as far as to massacre innocent refugees for doing something as simple as defy the order he's trying to create. 

It means Freydis gets to do what she does best and be both a warrior and a leader, possessing the same inspiring presence as Harald though she wields it more efficiently. Her actions over the course of the season inspire loyalty and she successfully wins freedom and equality for the refugees of the town.  

By the time the finale rolls around, she's fully accepted her role as the Keeper of the Faith, using fierce strategy to complete decimate Olaf's forces and negotiate peace with Queen Aelfgifu. She gets all of the best fight scenes of the show as well, whether she's finally besting Olaf in a symbolic move for her pagan-centric storyline or losing against Harekr but exposing his lies and incensing the citizens to overthrow him. 

Harekr was a pretty good scene partner for the fight as well. The fight choreography in this show is pretty clever in how it manages to reflect each character's personality and Harekr's fighting style is just as chilling, efficient and indifferent as he is, whether he's shrugging off Freydis or jabbing Jorundr in the throat to incapacitate him. 

The time spent in London this season is less interesting and a little dragged out for the amount of substance in the side plot but there are a few good moments such as Emma's guilt over killing Aelfwynn or when she gifts Gytha Godwin's father's ring and tells her to never take it off. Godwin may have won his goal of getting himself into royalty - a clever if somewhat ruthless scheme as far as the ill-fated Aelfwynn is concerned - but I think Emma won a much more important deeper battle by the end. 

What did you think of Vikings: Valhalla season 2? Which was your favourite storyline? Sound off in the comments below!

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