The second half of Vikings season five is now streaming first and only on Showmax, with new episodes coming weekly every Thursday, express from the US. Here are six reasons you should be watching HISTORY's breakthrough drama.
You'll rethink everything you know about vikings
As Africans, we should know better than to trust histories written by the victors. As Jordan Patrick Smith, who plays Ubbe, says, "When you look up all the history of vikings, it's all written from an English perspective, so it makes the vikings look like a bunch of bearded lunatics who killed and raped everybody, but there was a lot more to them than that." In fact, Vikings creator Michael Hirst (The Tudors, Elizabeth) says that "their attitude toward women was much more enlightened than societies around them - England, France, Spain - and they were more democratic than most other societies." It's not often that you can watch something this entertaining - and say you're learning something at the same time...
It's widely acclaimed as one of the best shows on TV
Vikings has eleven Emmy nominations, a 93% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 8.6 rating on IMDB, where it's listed as one of the Top Rated TV shows of all time. Huffington Post praised it as "one of the most visually striking shows on TV;" Salon wrote that its "contemplative view and portrayal of religion is unique among television series;" and The Guardian compared it favourably to Game of Thrones, describing it as "altogether more streamlined" and "as good, if not better, at a lot of the elements familiar to fans of George RR Martin's epic." As the Rotten Tomatoes critics consensus for season four puts it, this is a show full of "fantastic performances, epic battles, and sharp writing sure to please its barbarous hordes of fans."
Lagertha is "the most exciting feminist character on TV"
Katheryn Winnick plays Lagertha, a fierce shield-maiden who fights alongside the men and rises to become Earl Ingstad and, by the start of season five, Queen of Kattegat. She's an independent woman who has no patience for the patriarchy, but she's also a caring mother with a touching relationship with her son Bjorn. As Entertainment Weekly wrote, "she may be the most exciting feminist character on TV." It's not an act for Winnick either: in real life she's a former bodyguard with black belts in both Taekwondo and Karate and has founded three martial arts schools.
The fight scenes are epic
"We do battles very well, better than other shows," says Hirst - not very modest but entirely true. As Inverse says, "Vikings has hands-down the best battle scenes of any network TV shows." The good news is that season five has some of the most epic fight sequences yet, up there with the siege of Paris, as civil war looms...
Now starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
"There are many pleasures, some admittedly base, to be taken from Vikings," wrote Entertainment Weekly, just before calling the show "a visual feast of sweaty men with the physiques of CrossFit coaches." Sadly, Ragnar Lothbrok, played by former Calvin Klein underwear model Travis Fimmel, is [spoiler alert] no more, but season five has no shortage of heart-throbs, including Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (The Tudors), who has a Golden Globe and multiple 'sexiest man alive' titles to his name. Rhys-Meyers joins the cast as Bishop Heahmund, a warrior bishop.
Season five is a good place to start
If you've never watched Vikings, we recommend you start at the very beginning on Showmax, but season five sees the show shift focus from Ragnar to his sons, so it also works as a place to start fresh.
"I always said from the beginning that the show was not just about Ragnar, but about Ragnar and his sons," says Hirst. "In fact, in many ways his sons became more famous than Ragnar. Bjorn did actually go to the Mediterranean and Tunisia and Ivar the Boneless was a very famous viking. I seem to have waited a lifetime to get Ivar the Boneless into the script - who knew the most important viking leader was a cripple, considering what the assumptions are about vikings? Ivar was one of the cruellest and most successful vikings and we are very lucky to have Alex Hogh Andersen playing him - he is brilliant."
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Watch all Vikings seasons on Showmax here.
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