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The Ending Of Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 Explained

Like the legends of the Vikings themselves, the "Vikings" universe lives on through the sequel series "Vikings: Valhalla," and that, too, won't die easily. Season 2 picks up right where the first season left off, reuniting us with Freydis (Frida Gustavsson), Leif (Sam Corlett), Harald (Leo Suter), and the rest. It also finally answers some of Season 1's biggest unanswered questions. The politics and warfare of the Viking Age continue in Season 2, and they're as muddy, bloody, and brutal as ever. This time, however, the story has expanded to include a slew of new territories and peoples, each with its unique brand of savagery and drama. With so much more to follow, the end of Season 2 has a lot that bears explaining.

After eight more gripping episodes, so much has happened to the series' main characters, and to the Viking world as a whole. England, Norway, Denmark, Greenland, Russia, and even the Middle East are all irreversibly changed by the schemes and skirmishes of the many kings, queens, jarls, and earls that make up the series's main cast. Join us as we help untangle the convoluted lines of successions and territories by explaining the end of "Vikings: Valhalla" Season 2.

The Jomsvikings evolve

The first episode of "Vikings: Valhalla" Season 2 introduces the Jomsvikings, a group of Viking mercenaries and pirates, feared in equal measure for both their battle prowess and ruthlessness. They were a real group of historical Vikings, or at least a real Viking myth, and at one point, Olaf Haraldsson (Jóhannes Haukur Johannesson) actually references one of their historically-attested leaders, Thorkell the Tall. In the series, however, they are led by the fictional Lord Harekr (Bradley James), who ensures the fierce raiders rigidly adhere to their own selfish, merciless code — that is until Freydis arrives in their capital city of Jomsborg.

Following Freydis's arrival, her preceding reputation and her subsequent string of valiant deeds combine to earn her a place as the religious head of Jomsborg, and then eventually its undisputed leader. After a number of lengthy conflicts with Harekr and his most loyal Jomsvikings, including multiple attempts on Harekr's part to murder Freydis and kidnap her newborn son, Freydis prevails, earning absolute faith and respect from Jomsborg's citizens and the remaining Jomsvikings. This represents a complete 180 for Jomsborg and its people, who until then had only known pillaging and marauding as a means of survival. Following Freydis's ascension to head of Jomsborg, the people jump at the chance to live peacefully, meaning at the end of Season 2, the Viking world has lost its fiercest warriors.

Harald and Freydis' son

When Season 2 begins, Freydis and Harald bid each other a solemn goodbye as they part ways on their own missions. Unbeknownst to Harald, Freydis became pregnant with his child just before his departure and chose to hide the news, knowing that Harald would abandon his quest if he knew. The mission to rally an army and retake the capital city of Kattegat is too important to be abandoned, even for the sake of their future family. From the moment Freydis learns of her pregnancy, the child brings trouble to her, Harald, Leif, and many others in the Viking world, and it only gets worse once he's born.

The boy, named Harald after his father (but let's hope he won't go by Harald Haraldsson), is kidnapped mere moments after his birth and used as a political pawn, and that occurs despite his existence being a secret to all but the people of Jomsborg. If his true lineage as the son of the Prince of Norway and claimant to the throne were to leak, his life, along with all of those nearest to him, would be in even greater danger. Despite being aware of this, Freydis brings him before Queen Ælfgifu (Pollyanna McIntosh) and uses him as a tool herself in order to invoke the Queen's sympathy and win a promise of peace. As the Queen herself says, "Mother to mother."

Godwin's new bride and Emma's trickery

At the end of "Vikings: Valhalla" Season 1, fans likely considered Godwin, the Earl of Wessex (David Oakes), as little more than a scheming sycophant, due in no small part to the way he ruthlessly murdered a defenseless child who considered him a close friend. Season 2 gives us a closer look into the depths of Godwin's soul, and by its end, it may have won the majority of fans over — and he has Queen Emma of Normandy (Laura Berlin) to thank for it.

Throughout Season 2, we see Godwin head over heels in love with Aelfwynn (Maria Guiver), one of Emma's attendants. He's tender, loving, and genuine, but all of this comes to an abrupt halt when Emma suspects both he and Aelfwynn of a conspiracy to assassinate her. She tortures Aelfwynn for information, inadvertently pushing too hard and killing her in the process.

In consolation, and to prevent political turmoil, Emma's husband, King Canute (Bradley Freegard) arranges a new marriage for Godwin, this time to his niece, Gytha (Henessi Schmidt). Then, even knowing she was wrong in her suspicions, Emma can't resist one final strike against Godwin. She tracks down the ring that belonged to Godwin's disgraced father, mounts it on a necklace chain, and orders Gytha to wear it always so that Godwin will forever be reminded of his past — the failures and treacheries Emma will never forget nor forgive.

Miriam changed Leif

Season 2 features several major triumphs on behalf of the main trio of Freydis, Leif, and Harald, much to their delight and certainly also to the delight of fans. Among those, one of the purest and most emotional is the way in which Leif is finally able to begin shedding some of his deep-seated, animal rage. Throughout Season 1, Leif's barbarian rage consumed him whenever he or his loved ones faced danger, and for all the good it did in saving their lives, it also ate away at his soul. More than once, he found himself suddenly in control of lost senses, literally covered in blood and unable to control himself again easily. In Season 2, Leif is able to grow beyond some of this, and it is all thanks to Mariam (Hayat Kamille).

Leif meets Mariam in Novgorod, and she joins the party journeying to Constantinople. During their travels, Mariam and Leif become closer and closer, eventually growing to love each other. As Leif gets to know her, he discovers she possesses remarkable intelligence — she's both a polyglot and a polymath. Miriam teaches Leif math, astronomy, and how to read and write in multiple languages, including Arabic, Greek, and Latin. Through the art of learning, Leif discovers that it is possible for him to evolve and better himself and that there is much more harmony and beauty in the world than he could have ever imagined.

Jorundr's sacrifice

Similarly as Season 1 of "Vikings: Valhalla" concluded with a battle for control of Kattegat, Season 2 ends with a climactic fight for control of Jomsborg. In addition to the geopolitical importance of the conflict, it's also the culmination of a personal vendetta between Freydis and Olaf, and a major turning point in the battle between Christian Vikings and Pagan Vikings. The momentous occasion ends with Freydis the victor in every aspect, but the opposite would have come true if not for the actions and sacrifice of the Jomsviking named Jorundr (Stanislav Callas).

Jorundr is an important, but very odd figure in the architecture of the season. He first appears in Episode 1 and brings Freydis to Jomsborg, setting in motion her whole arc. After that, he's forced to play both sides of the conflict between Freydis and Harekr for the political and religious control of the city. Because of this, major players on both sides label him a traitor and even go so far as to cut off his hand and banish him from the city forever.

In an incredible twist of fate, he happens to run into Olaf while he's sailing to take Jomsborg and kill Freydis, granting Jorundr the opportunity to sabotage Olaf's fleet and save the lives of Freydis, baby Harald, Jomsborg, and potentially the entirety of Pagan Vikingdom.

Freydis' trap

A huge part of Freydis's role in Season 2 is her transformation from a deadly Shieldmaiden to an inspirational prophet, or as she comes to be known, the Keeper of the Faith. It's one more big step on her long journey from unassuming, backwoods Greenlander to legendary Viking ruler, and naturally, it means trading in some of her swordplay for statecraft. As Season 2 ends, however, we get one more (and perhaps the last) look at the cunning, ferocious Shieldmaiden Freydis we got to know in Season 1, and it leads to the total destruction of Olaf's fleet and army.

Building off of Jorundr's sacrifice, which gave Olaf and his fleet the false impression that they were clear to enter the bay of Jomsborg, Freydis calmly allows the fleet to fill the bay, even letting them pull up to the city's docks. Then, her brilliance begins to reveal itself as a series of submerged urns begin to open and the blue waters of the bay begin to turn black. Unbeknownst to Olaf and his men, the waters in which they float are now slick with oil, and with one casual flick of a lit torch from Freydis, the entirety of Olaf's fleet burns to cinders. It's refreshing to see that the new, pious Freydis is every bit the tactician she used to be.

A long overdue vengeance

On the one hand, Olaf is a nuanced, compelling character and we want to see him in as many "Vikings: Valhalla" stories as possible, and that is true for Jóhannesson's acting, as well, which shines brightly, even with so much competition from the rest of the main cast. On the other hand, however, Olaf has been a callous monster who murdered Pagans wholesale and tormented Freydis, sometimes seemingly just for fun, and we are more than justified in craving his comeuppance. Well, finally, paying off the story that began all the way back in Season 1, Episode 1, Olaf does indeed receive his just deserts, and it's a suitably grisly series of assaults.

With his ships burnt and his men dead, Olaf engages Freydis in one-on-one combat. He's an expert fighter, has a substantial advantage over Freydis in size and strength, and has the added edge of Freydis's weakness after having given birth so recently. Nonetheless, she beats Olaf, killing him by running a spear through him sideways –  through one armpit and out the other — skewering his heart and lungs in the process. Her vengeance is sweet and long, long overdue. As much as we'll miss Olaf (and Jóhannesson), the ending of Season 2 is better off for providing closure to such an extended storyline.

The new Empress of Constantinople

Hundreds of miles from the Viking territories of England and Norway, Leif, Harald, and a motley crew of sailors and slaves brave the Dnieper River in order to travel from Novgorod to Constantinople. The journey is a long one, filled with deadly ice flows and even deadlier enemy raiders, and many of those that set out with Leif and Harald don't survive for long. Those that do survive, however, form strong bonds, and in the case of Harald and the nobleman's daughter named Elena (Sofya Lebedeva), the bond turns into love.

Despite Harald's relationship with Freydis, and perhaps partially because she kept their child a secret from him, the Viking eventually falls for the young Elena, making love to her and sharing a number of intimate moments. Though Harald had assumed Elena a relatively unimportant figure politically, she is revealed as the exact opposite just as the crew is about to reach Constantinople. Harald is unexpectedly greeted by the great city's Emperor, who reveals Elena to be his new Empress. She reveals herself to Harald, holding herself proudly and shining in extravagant jewelry and robes. For Harald, who made the difficult choice to betray his love for Freydis in order to pursue Elena, the news that she's to be married — and married to one of the most powerful people on the planet, at that — comes as a heavy blow, one that is unlikely to heal any time soon.

Peace between Jomsborg and Kattegat

With Freydis in charge of Jomsborg, having transformed the city into a haven for Pagan Vikings, and raising the son of the Prince there, the city has rapidly become a major power in the Viking world. Though not of a similar size and population as cities like Kattegat and London, Jomsborg has become as important and influential as the rest due to its religious significance and the royalty that call it home. Despite its importance, the newly-reworked version of the city is very young, and that makes it vulnerable. In her final act in Season 2, Freydis seemingly secures peace for Jomsborg, and the level to which her mission succeeds will undoubtedly set the stage for Season 3 (yet to be announced as of this writing).

In what might go down as the single smartest strategic move Freydis ever makes, she spots the young Svein (Charlie O'Connor) — son of King Canute — among Olaf's forces and coaxes him into debarking from his ship and watching her battle with Olaf up close. In doing so, she saves him from burning in her oily trap, thereby saving herself and her people from becoming enemies of the mighty Canute. Her brilliance continues when she escorts Svein to his mother, Queen Ælfgifu, in Kattegat, granting her the gift of her son's life in exchange for a promise of peace between the fledgling Jomsborg and the tremendous might of Norway.

Leif and Harald reach Constantinople

For fans eager to see the resplendence and cosmopolitan culture of the famed Constantinople at the peak of its power, we have some bad news: you'll have to wait until Season 3. The good news, however, is that there won't likely be any surprise delays beyond that, because the final moments of "Vikings: Valhalla" Season 2 see Leif, Harald, and company sailing into the waters surrounding Constantinople, the city itself firmly in view.

Like Freydis finally getting her revenge on Olaf or Leif starting to shed the weight of his rage, the two Vikings reaching Constantinople is a massive triumph in our protagonists' stories. It makes the ending of Season 2 seem like a mini-finale — although their adventures are certainly not over (at least from a narrative standpoint, if not a broadcast one) and many storylines remain unresolved, the season's end comes as a breath of fresh air, a momentary reprieve from the constant struggles and sorrows.

Season 1 ended by countering every one of its little victories with major defeats, but Season 2 is the opposite, at least in the short term. For Leif, Constantinople means access to Miriam's knowledge, research, and a further window into her soul. For Harald, Constantinople means the ability to amass an army, retake Kattegat, and claim the Throne of Norway.

The pot threatens to bubble over

Though Season 2 ends with a breath of fresh air, a number of factors threaten to punch our protagonists in the gut and knock that wind right out of them, either sooner or later — and Freydis and Harald lie at the center of almost every one of them.

Freydis won a huge victory when she killed Olaf, but he was Harald's half-brother. For all the animosity between the two men, they both live within the Viking ethos, meaning both care deeply for their honor and that of their family. Harald may not take the news of his half-brother's death lightly, especially when it is combined with the fact that Freydis just secured peace with Kattegat — the exact city that Harald is set on conquering. Adding further wrinkles to their relationship are Freydis's decision to hide Harald's son from him and Harald's infidelity with Elena. Elena has made it very clear to Harald that, despite her marriage to the Emperor, she wants their affair to continue, which if discovered, could quickly turn the mighty Constantinople from friend to foe.

Even if none of these potential disasters come to pass, and Freydis and Harald once again become a united front against Kattegat, that still pits them against King Canute, Queen Ælfgifu, Queen Emma, and with them: the combined might of most of the Viking world. That makes the ending of "Vikings: Valhalla" Season 2 the calm before one cold, catastrophic storm or another.