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Vikings: Valhalla Reviews Are In, See What Critics Are Saying About Netflix's Historical Spinoff

Sam Corlett as Leif Eriksson.
(Image credit: Netflix)

It’s been since December of 2020 that fans of Vikings have been without the historical epic, so it’s with great anticipation that the Netflix sequel spinoff Vikings: Valhalla makes its debut. Taking place a century after the original series, Vikings: Valhalla will show what has become of the lands previously conquered by Ragnar Lothbrok and his descendants, all through the eyes of some of the most famous explorers of that era. Critics have had the opportunity to screen the series ahead of its release, so let’s check out what they have to say after a bit of background info.

Sam Corlett leads the upcoming Netflix series as legendary explorer Leif Eriksson. Alongside Eriksson are his headstrong sister Freydis Eriksdotter (Frida Gustavsson), and the rank-rising Nordic prince Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter). Vikings: Valhalla takes these explorers and other noteworthy leaders on an epic journey as their people clash with the English and beyond over conflicting Christian and Pagan beliefs. So what are the reviews saying about the Netflix sequel series? 

Hannah Shaw-Williams of SlashFilm says there are times that the series sacrifices substance for simplicity, and it doesn’t have quite as interesting a story to tell as Vikings did. However, the consensus is that it’s still wildly entertaining — come for the vikings, stay for the battle sequences.

Even if you don't care about the characters at all, ‘Vikings: Valhalla’ is worth watching for its battle scenes alone. When I first learned that the Netflix sequel was in development, I was afraid we'd get Budget Vikings: cheaper-looking costumes, flimsy sets, and less attention to detail. But you can see the love of history all over this show, both in the technical details and in the space it gives to both high-tension politics and elaborate battle scenes. The climactic siege of Kattegatis a gripping watch, thanks in large part to the marrying of the scenes of battle with a rhythmic, beautifully nightmarish score.

Matt Fowler of IGN rates it a 7 out of 10, or “Good,” also noting that the circumstances that the sequel’s characters are facing are much different than those of the History series. Seeing the vikings conquests at the end of Britain’s Viking Age requires a different approach than Vikings, which was set in the beginning of the era.

Vikings: Valhalla is a crafty continuation of Vikings, though lacking in the original series' spiritual (and structural) opaqueness, which was an element that made the old show stand apart from other historical dramas. It infused the Norse warriors' perspective on life and the afterlife into the fabric of the series so that events, and time jumps, often flowed like a dream. Valhalla is more pointed and purposeful, unraveling events in a more conventional manner, though that doesn't mean it isn't compelling or complete. It presents a much different time for vikings, so it stands to reason it should tonally change course as well.

Bradley Russell of GamesRadar scores it 3.5 stars out of 5, agreeing that the battle scenes are one of its many strengths, along with its magnetic characters. In this reviewer's eyes, however, Vikings: Valhalla lacks nuance and flickers out in the end.

Vikings: Valhalla isn’t one for fan theories and beat-by-beat breakdowns. It’s a breakneck rollercoaster; a big, grimy axe swing of a series that will appeal to many but will put off those craving more minutiae in its characters and drum-tight plotting in its story. Ultimately, it burns bright and flickers out towards the end of the first season – but not without first delivering a lean, sinewy historical series that aspires to one day be an epic.

Thelma Adams of The Wrap says creator Jeb Stuart succeeds in following up on Michael Hirst’s Vikings, providing Netflix viewers with a road to epic escapism as exciting as the series that preceded it. 

Now, Hirst has passed the shield to Netflix and creator Jeb Stuart, famous for writing such classic star-driven thrillers ‘The Fugitive’ and ‘Die Hard.’ That means that 'Vikings: Valhalla' has a narrative elegance and drive without sacrificing the pillaging, passionate sex, pagan rituals and political intrigue that is played out everywhere from the pluralist port Kattegat in Norway to Britain’s London of the falling bridge.

Kate Sánchez of the But Why Tho? podcast rates it 9 out of 10, saying the first season references the past world of Vikings without overwhelming the stories of the new characters.

Vikings: Valhalla is a worthy sequel that accomplishes in building a larger world. While the execution isn’t perfect, where it falls in history and the story it’s trying to tell is a natural progression that takes Vikings into franchise territory beautifully.

Overall the critics seem to enjoy the way Vikings: Valhalla continues the epic that was started in Vikings’ six seasons. Naturally the sequel adapts a different tone, as it’s set 100 years after the original, but it has maintained the character development and bloody battle scenes that were among what attracted fans to the epic in the first place. 

The eight-episode first season of Vikings: Valhalla premieres Friday, February 25, on Netflix. Be sure to check out these other shows on Netflix, and stay updated with what premieres are coming with our 2022 TV Schedule

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.