While series creator and writer Michael Hirst's (Elizabeth, The Tudors) critically-acclaimed series Vikings may be coming to an end this month (on Amazon Prime, later in 2021 on History), his Vikings-verse is set to live on at Netflix with sequel series Vikings: Valhalla. Written and executive produced by Jeb Stuart (Die Hard, The Fugitive) and set to premiere in 2021, the sequel series begins 100 years after the original series concludes and dramatizes the adventures of the most famous Vikings who ever lived – Leif Erikson, Freydis, Harald Harada, and the Norman King William the Conqueror. These men and women will blaze new paths as they fight for survival in an ever-changing and evolving Europe. This is the explosive next chapter of the Vikings legend. Fans of the original series are now learning more details on what they can expect, courtesy of interview excerpts from a recent interview with Collider. Here's a look at some of the highlights:
Though set in the future, "Vikings: Valhalla" respects the past. "What Jeb [Stuart] does actually is he pays attention to the mythology of the Vikings. So whenever they meet in the great hall in Kattegat, and of course they talk about the great eras who used to sit in the same hall at the same table, and they were Ragnar Lothbrok, Lagertha, and Bjorn Ironside, and Ivar the Boneless, who are now mythic characters even within the show, even within 'Vikings: Valhalla.' That's a really great connection and effect. It gives ready-made histories to the new show," Hirst explains. "So you don't need to know who Ragnar is to watch the new show. But it enriches the show and it hopefully will make people go back and find out, 'Well who are these people they keep talking about? Was Ragnar so great? Why are these people mythic characters?' So everything connects in a useful, and interesting, and fascinating way."
Production on the series was COVID-ready. "They've shot the first season in Ireland, back at the same studio in remarkable circumstances. They had like 30 COVID workers. They took over a big hotel so they could quarantine all the actors. They tested them twice a day. It was a remarkable achievement. They only lost three days," Hirst revealed. "I just have a kind of oversight, I'm not writing any of it myself. I'm an Executive Producer. But Jeb Stuart, of course, he's much more a thriller writer and that shows. So it will look different, but it's still good, really good from what I've seen of it so far."
"Vikings: Valhalla" and "Vikings" are tough to compare because history. "It couldn't be on a greater scale than the final episodes of my Vikings. Because the armies and the big battles we had… You really can't get much bigger than that, actually. But what can I say? It is being made in the same places, a lot of it. We go back to Kattegat. That, of course, is the spiritual home of the Vikings. But it's a changed Kattegat. It's an established… It's one of the biggest ports really, trading ports in Europe. It's grown in size and significance. The King of England has become a Viking. The Vikings have overrun most of England and they own Normandy. In that sense, considering where we came from in my show, they've established themselves on the world stage big time," Hirst explains. "But the same conflict between Christian and Pagan has become an internal conflict, because a lot of Viking Kings have converted to Christianity. So there is a perpetual conflict and huge warfare between Christian and Pagan Vikings. That's different for my show. Of course when the enemy, the Christians, were different people they were sacrificial. But now, as Floki feared, the Christians are overcoming the pagans."
Netflix has ordered 24 episodes of the new series, with Stuart, Hirst, and MGM Television's Morgan O'Sullivan executive producing. Though Netflix does not currently stream the original series, they will look to acquire SVOD rights to stream alongside the sequel series. "I am beyond excited that we are announcing the continuation of our Vikings saga. I know that the millions of our fans across the globe will be thrilled by the belief being shown in our show by MGM and Netflix," Hirst said in a statement when the series was first announced. "Jeb Stuart, a truly wonderful writer, will bring new story-lines and a powerful visceral vision to stories about some of the most famous Vikings known to history."