‘Valhalla’: Similarities & Differences With ‘Vikings’ the Spinoff Should Keep

Valhalla-main-characters
Courtesy of Netflix

Vikings: Valhalla has brought us back to Kattegat.

The sequel series to History’s Vikings, set 100 years in the future, follows the adventures of 11th-century explorer Leif Erikson (Sam Corlett), his pagan sister Freydis (Frida Gustavsson), and Harald (Leo Suter), the prince of Norway. All three will reprise their roles in Seasons 2 and 3, in addition to other cast members. (Filming on Season 2, which will be released in 2023, has already wrapped. Production for season 3 will begin this spring.)

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Back in Kattegat, there is search for destiny, rising female power, bloodshed and gore, and the Vikings’ end is drawing closer. The spinoff makes references to the legends we loved from Vikings, and we can’t help but feel nostalgic for characters like Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) and Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen). We also can’t help but compare the two shows as the drama and action unravels when watching Season 1 of the spinoff.

Keep reading to find out what similarities and differences we picked up on when comparing these two that should remain part of the series going forward.

Vikings: Valhalla, Season 1, Streaming Now, Netflix

Vikings: Valhalla Frida Gustavsson as Freydis and Sam Corlett as Leif
Bernard Walsh/Netflix

Family above all

In both shows, family is clearly very important to the characters. Brother and sister Freydis and Leif are our favorite half-siblings — their father is Erik the Red (Eric Johnson) — as they share strength and courage. After an order from England’s king to eradicate all Vikings from Saxon lands, King Canute (Bradley Freegard) and Prince Harald Sigurdsson form an army of Danes to seek revenge. Greenlander Leif Erikson is roped into the plan of vengeance when he agrees to pay his sister’s debt by reluctantly leading the Viking army into the annals of history.

Leif risks his life for his sister, a huge leap from the original Vikings where sons of Ragnar would betray one another out of greed and thirst for power. For Leif and Freydis, just like Ragnar had believed until his end, family is the most important thing. After the finale of Season 1, we expect this sibling love to become more powerful as they will be each other’s support after what they have gone through since arriving at Kattegat.

Valhalla Frida Gustavsson as Freydis
Bernard Walsh/Netflix

Female leads

It wouldn’t be a Vikings spinoff if it didn’t have at least one strong female character. Freydis can easily be compared to dauntless Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) from the original series. Both women are stubborn, courageous warriors who could have fought alongside one another if not for the 100-year gap. Ultimately, Freydis seeking her destiny at Uppsala may have told fans that she could be the last Viking warrior standing on the battleground, which makes her a legend — along with her braveness that seems to go beyond some of the cowardly men of this show.

Lagertha had many lovers but Freydis seems to be focusing more on her destiny rather than love. However, her chemistry with Harald is undeniable, which makes us wonder what will happen between them in Season 2. When Freydis saves Harald in the finale and takes him to safety, fans are given hope that the two will make amends after what seemed like a betrayal on his part. They seem to be each other’s Achilles heel as they can’t seem to stop protecting one another.

Vikings Valhalla
Courtesy of Netflix

Fierce action

There certainly isn’t a shortage of action in Vikings: Valhalla, with a major battle taking place roughly every other episode, but there is a certain degree of intensity that feels to be missing in many instances. Ragnar’s battles (as well as his sons’) were all deeply personal and emotional, motivating him and his warriors to fight with animalistic ferocity that is unmatched in the world of the spinoff. Its warriors feel so different from those in Ragnar’s time, with some of them even turning out to be cowards. Harald and Freydis’ fierceness on the battleground reminds us of Ragnar and Lagertha’s, whereas Leif’s innocence and remorse are traits the previous show didn’t exhibit.

This may be because Vikings creator Michael Hirst is not the sole writer of the spinoff. He remains involved as an executive producer, but he has so far only written two episodes for the series, with the bulk of the season by Valhalla showrunner Jeb Stuart. That being said, the quality of the writing remains witty and flavorful as we see more of the characters’ personalities coming through, which we expect to see more of in the next season as the characters embark on bigger missions.

Valhalla Sam Corlett as Leif Eriksson
Bernard Walsh/Netflix

A male lead destined for greatness

There is always something about the Viking men that makes us want to know how they became the legends that they did. Prince Harald instantly notices the mystical, special qualities of Leif when he meets him and, if we dare compare him to the legend of Ragnar, he is a strong warrior with a quiet demeanor that deems him mysterious.

It is obvious to everyone, especially Harald, that he is going places, just like we could tell with Ragnar — why would they be the leads? — but Leif doesn’t seem to be power hungry like the other man was. However, the glory that he gets a taste of after the successful raid in London because of his brilliant plan is something he can’t get enough of, just like how Ragnar became addicted to power. The finale of season 1 introduced us to a new, barbaric Leif as he kills uncontrollably after Liv’s (Lujza Richter) death. We can’t help but think that Leif, from here on, will be more prone to such animalistic outbursts as he is, after all, the son of Erik the Red, one of the most murderous Vikings at the time.

Frida Gustavsson as Freydis in Vikings Valhalla
Bernard Walsh/Netflix

Revenge

It’s always about revenge somehow, isn’t it? Vikings and Ragnar’s sons come together to avenge Ragnar’s death, King Canute (Bradley Freegard) and Prince Harald Sigurdsson seek revenge for the slaughtered Vikings in England, and Freydis wants personal vengeance for her rape. What stands out in Freydis’ case is that the rape is not shown onscreen — but the revenge is. She kills the Christian Viking who raped her, beaten her, called her a “pagan whore,” and carved a cross into her back.

Revenge seems to be fueling the Viking blood and nothing can stop Vikings when they want to get even, not even kings and queens. Freydis killing Jarl Kåre (Asbjørn Krogh Nissen) as vengeance for murdering the whole of Uppsala and her friends foreshadows more violence to come, as more like Jarl Kåre could potentially come for revenge.

Caroline Henderson as Jarl Haakon in Vikings Valhalla
Patrick Redmond/Netflix

Female power

Many badass women are front and center in Season 1 of Vikings: Valhalla. Among them: Freydis’ mentor, warrior, and fellow pagan Jarl Haakon (Caroline Henderson), the diplomatic and tolerant ruler of famous Viking city, Kattegat. The peace there is threatened by conflict between pagan and Christian Vikings, but it is evident that Haakon’s shield-maidens are not ones to pick a battle with. Vikings had equally as distinguished female power throughout the series. There was, of course, Lagertha, and alongside her were shield-maidens Torvi (Georgia Hirst) and Astrid (Josefin Asplund).

And let’s not forget about Valhalla’s Emma of Normandy (Laura Berlin), great-granddaughter of the Viking and Duke of Normandy Rollo (Clive Standen). She can be compared to Vikings‘ Judith (Jennie Jacques), former Queen of Wessex and Mercia. Both women are beautiful, powerful queens who ruled England. After the murder of Haakon and violence against the shield-maidens, we expect to see more of Freydis as the strong warrior and courageous woman she’s proven to be.

Leo Suter as Harald and Sam Corlett as Leif in Vikings Valhalla
Bernard Walsh/Netflix

Bromances

Harald and Leif’s bromance in Valhalla has us wanting more and the duo comes pretty close to the friendly, brotherly love that Ragnar had with the priest Athelstan (George Blagden). After they save one another and fight together, Harald and Leif become so close that they call each other “brother.”

Fans loved Athelstan and Ragnar’s friendship in Vikings. The two characters had one of the strongest and most interesting bonds in the entire show, and they influenced each other in surprising ways, especially since one was pagan and the other Christian. (Harald is a Viking but a believer in Christianity, while Leif was raised in the old ways.) Still they figure out how to be friends just like Ragnar and Athelstan when they grew fond of each other. We are hoping this bromance continues to evolve as the seasons go. Now that Leif has shown a slight hesitation to paganism and willingness to lean towards Christianity when in need, he might have more in common with Harald than he thinks.