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How Much Of Vikings Do You Need To Watch Before Vikings: Valhalla?

December 30, 2020 marked the end of an era for fans of televised 8th century Norse epics, as Vikings, History's gangbusters historical fiction series, came to an end. After six seasons, we had reached the final chapter of pop culture's most consistent reminder that the letter J can sometimes be pronounced like the letter Y, its conclusion foretold both in prophecy and a 2019 press release.

But never fear. Less than a year after the announcement that season 6 would be the series' last, The Hollywood Reporter let viewers in on some fine news. Netflix was bringing Vikings back with a sequel series, titled Vikings: Valhalla. Tentatively scheduled for a 2021 release, Valhalla brings with it a number of substantial changes on both sides of the camera. On the production end, Vikings showrunner Michael Hirst, who penned every episode of the original series, will be taking a well-earned step back, serving as executive producer and opening the door for incoming writers like Die Hard's Jeb Stuart to make their mark. Meanwhile, the series itself will leap forward by an entire century, telling the stories of historical figures like Leif Erikson, Harald Harada, and William the Conqueror.

With so many changes underway, and with a hundred years of blank space between the Vikings finale and the sequel's premiere, prospective fans of the upcoming series might be curious to know exactly how much of Vikings is considered required viewing before jumping into Valhalla. Hirst addressed the issue in a recent interview with Collider, stating that the new show will appeal to fans and newcomers alike.

Vikings: Valhalla will give both old and new viewers something to smile about

"What [Valhalla showrunner] Jeb [Stuart] does actually is he pays attention to the mythology of the Vikings," Hirst told Collider about his successor's approach to the series. "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. 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."

At a point when an overwhelming amount of pop culture seems bent on creating interlinking extended universes, it'll be interesting to see how the sequel's non-load-bearing approach to its own history pans out. With Netflix's day-one order of 24 episodes, fans will have plenty of opportunities to make up their own minds when Vikings: Valhalla debuts (probably) in 2021.