When the cable channel History decided to branch out into scripted programming, it didn't take any half measures. The network's first foray, Vikings, is a historic drama on a truly epic scale. Here are five things you may have missed from the very first episode of Vikings. But be warned, we'll be talking about the episode's impact on future episodes and seasons. Spoilers for Vikings ahead!
For the most part, Vikings tells its story without breaking out of the narrative mode to provide lots of rote historical exposition. Instead, viewers have to look for context clues to place the series' events within the loose historical record.
As the first episode begins, we get a subtitle: Eastern Baltic, 793 A.D. For those of us going in without much knowledge of medieval history, this is just a helpful way to establish the setting of the show. For those coming into the series with some knowledge about the history of the actual Vikings, that date has a very specific significance.
The year 793 is considered by most historians to mark the beginning of what we now know as the Viking Age. To be more specific, historians consider the Norse raid on a monastery on the island of Lindisfarne, off the coast of Northumberland in the northeast of England, to mark the beginning of this tumultuous era. We see a dramatized depiction of that famous raid on the show's second episode after Ragnar goes rogue to build his own seafaring ship and travels west, despite Earl Haraldson's insistence that they continue to raid the lands to the east.
Ragnar's discovery of England and the monastery at Lindisfarne initiates a century of armed conflict between the resident Anglo-Saxons and the Scandinavian raiders covetous of their fertile shores.
In some sense, Vikings really does begin at the beginning. Keep watching the video to see all the things you missed in the first episode of Vikings!
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Begin at the beginning | 0:00
Lagertha's spear | 1:44
Bjorn and bears | 2:57
Early brotherly rivalry | 3:54
Floki's prediction | 4:44
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