Or, rather, Longhouse Fever.
Last week the third season of Vikings premiered on the History Channel. Yesterday, my wife and I watched the first episode. It's titled "Mercenaries" but should be entitled "Cabin Fever."
I like the show for many reasons - I am a legacy History channel fan, before it became the every-thing-but-history-reality-tv-channel. I am excited they found a good balance of show centered around the semi-mythical Ragnar Lodthbrok so they can build some main stream melodrama and still have a interesting story line based off some actual history.
I'm also a fan of the concept surrounding the Viking Legacy. The Vikings themselves are semi-mythical. A warrior culture in which every man and woman strive to emulate the heroic deeds of their Gods and demigods. Truly, the only way to make it to the Viking Heaven, Valhalla, is to die a hero. We should all aspire to such epic action.
Thirdly, I like Vikings because it is an awe inspiring story, well told. What we all want is a good story, with great characters we can either relate to or aspire to.
What really struck me about the premier was the Jungian subplot of the first third of the episode and something everyone in the North can relate to. It's been a long winter and and we are all ready to get out and seek action.
The male characters of the show all represent a different stop along the archetypal story-line. They all have longhouse fever and all for different reasons.
Ragnar is making the transition from explorer to ruler, from self to selfless and wants out of the long house for his one last hurrah. He is trapped in a complex 'modern' family where both his wife and ex-wife are close at hand and he is required to balance the needs of a knitted family in which his eldest son Bjorn, by his ex-wife, is the heir apparent and his youngest son Ivar, by the current wife, is physically disabled.
Bjorn is young, transitioning from innocent to hero and anxious to make his own name before he inherits the family biz. He has also knocked up his lover, Porunn. She has no interest in being a doting longhousewife but aspires to be a career-woman as a shield maiden. Let's just avoid our domestic problems and go kill some Saxons, that'll solve everything.
Rollo, the brother, is a recovering alcoholic and on the way from Hero through Rebel back to Hero and on to Sage. He has been struggling to get from beyond Ragnar's shadow and hopes to find a new path. In other words, he just quit his job at the meat packing plant and sunk his 401k in a new cross-fit gym. Oh yeah and his gal, Siggy, used to be a Real Housewife of Kattegat.
Torstein, the dependable #3, wants to get the heck out of dodge because Maury Povich won't stop collect-calling the fjord. He has managed to knock up both his mistresses and isn't the least bit interested in the paternity test results.
Athelstan is a born-again-pagan with all the baggage that concept entails including a stigmata from a recent Crucifixion (yes, literally). He is the Orphan (abducted by Ragnar from Lindespharne) and anxious to return to England to discover/rediscover his roots and perhaps be re-re-born-again (echem...again).
Lagertha, Ragnar's first wife, (whom everyone man, woman and child has a crush on) made the widest arch. Before we knew her she was a shield-maiden and has since moved from Hero to Lover to Caregiver to Orphan, back to Hero and onto Ruler parallel to Ragnar. Despite all the BS she's had to put up with from Raggedy Andy, she still loves him and hopes to rekindle the sparks if she can get Ragnar away from his 6 foot tall born-of-an-epic-hero-and-shield-maiden Victoria Secret model of a wife and her equally epic chin.
Floki is going through his third-life-crisis. He has everything that he could want but is still unhappy. He feels smothered within his new marriage turned new family and can't put his axe upon the reason why. His wife, Helga, understands and hasn't said anything about the REO Speedwagon T-shirt, the new long-ship parked in the driveway or the constant need for 'space.' Floki, the Jester/Creator, must have this last night in Vegas with the boys before he can realize what he has and make the leap from Creator to Magician.
No matter how the story ends we know their hearts return to Kattegat.
Every guy watching the show can relate to one or all of the Vikings, especially this cold time of year as we all get a little stir crazy. Every gal watching the show can understand too, especially as she offers a knowing glance at the warrior sitting next to her.
We all know that whatever we hope to find while raiding pales in comparison to what is back home on the fjord. It is the journey that makes the story worth telling.
So, whether you still rock the long-ship or have long since traded it in for a minivan - Get out there and Be the Hero. Skol!