In Vikings: Valhalla the shadow of a strong woman stands in the way of her successor

As posted on CLAUDIA

A few weeks ago I highlighted the difficult trajectory predicted for Queen Emma of Normandy in the Netflix series Vikings: Valhalla. Emma spends the second season in a game of psychological chess with her main antagonist, Earl Godwin, whose true story will put her through unimaginable pain as mother and wife. If you’ve had a chance to read the column, you know that not only will Emma have to literally walk through fire to prove her virtue, but she’ll also see her children tortured, killed, and manipulated by her enemy. The method has already been alluded to in some chilling scenes this season. But Emma, ​​even with prominence, is supporting in the series. The female protagonist of Vikings: Valhalla is Freydís Eriksdotter, played by former Swedish model Frida Gustavsson.

Since the first season, Freydís, a warrior and empowered woman, practically has her trajectory happening apart from the male heroes, a script trap that doesn’t always work, but we’ll talk about that in a moment. The Viking shieldmaiden is feared on the battlefield and loved beyond. With a horror of Catholicism after having suffered sexual violence at a young age by a Christian Viking, Freydís wants to keep the culture of the pagan gods alive, while seeking revenge for the rape. It gets both. But, in season 2 we meet a less bloodthirsty Freydís and we immediately discover the reason: she is pregnant. Obviously, she doesn’t want her son raised with another religion (the father is the heir to the Norwegian throne, Harald (Leo Sutter), a converted Viking), so she sends the prince away without telling the truth and goes in search of a safe place to raise her son. son alone.

On paper, it’s a good story, but on screen, it doesn’t impact. The Freydís of the series is very different from the historical account of the “true” Viking woman, described as greedy, treacherous, and vindictive. She would have killed innocents (including women) and the only similarity was seeing her struggling with an advanced pregnancy (the real Freydís faced enemies with an eight-month-old belly). But nothing really happens, Freydís is seen by fans as the weak link in the series. A shame because the squire Lagertha, played by Katheryn Winnick is iconic. Unfortunately, Freydís is more of a mirror of what we saw with Galadriel of Rings of Power, she doesn’t engage us and almost irritates us. And what leaves her more exposed is precisely the script that places her in a practically parallel plot in the series, often the least interesting of all, in a simplistic and almost childish view.

This leads us to conclude that Lagertha’s shadow has been big for her, just as it has been for characters outside of the Vikings‘ universe. At the time when Vikings and Game of Thrones were shown in parallel, there were those who preferred her to Daenerys Targaryen, a leader that fans of the squire described as a woman who did not know how to wield a sword and that only when she had three dragons – unbalancing the chances of battle with an unattainable advantage for your opponents – went to fight. As a fan of both series, I disagree, of course. But even before this comparison, I had already seen how female duality is not captured by male screenwriters. Around the time the Lord of the Rings trilogy was in theaters, a writing friend complained to me about Aragorn‘s love of life, the elf Arwen, “who stood there while he had a much more interesting woman in Ewoyn, the warrior princess.” ”. I appreciated Arwen’s spiritual and psychological strength to help Aragorn, even though I found Ewoyn incredible. That is, decades later we are still looking for the perfect modern heroine. Lagertha came closest. “She was really great and I don’t think I’ll ever get over her. I feel blessed to have been part of a series that has had such an impact on women around the world,” actress Katheryn Winnick agreed in her interview with CLAUDIA.

In Freydís’ defense, Vikings: Valhalla‘s choice of narrative exposes her and the others with almost three unconnected parallel stories, something Vikings avoided. We have Canute, the first Viking king of England establishing his dynasty on British soil, but since he’s been sorely absent for the two seasons to date, Emma and Godwin give us the Game of Thrones‘ version of the struggle for the Crown. We have a “spare” prince in Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Sutter), who wants the Norwegian throne and is literally traveling the world for that dream, accompanied by Freydís’ brother, Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett). And we have Freydís with his almost fanatical religious saga. To leave her even more in danger of disinterest, the second season introduces us to five new interesting women who had to overcome the machismo and the violence of their time and learned to fight and defend themselves. Princess Elena (Sofya Lebedeva) ends up enchanting us much more than Freydís, it’s no wonder that Harald agrees with us.

As we will have a third season, I still hope that adjustments are made to ensure a longer life for the Vikings. And may we have more Lagerthas on screen!


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