Vikings: Valhalla Trailer Explained: London Bridge Is Falling Down

There's a lot to unpack here.

It’s going to be another exciting year of brutal Viking battles, wars, and bloodshed. Vikings: Valhalla’s first official trailer has dropped, but with all the angry Viking shouts and epic shots of the set design, it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on. So, we’re here to help you out. 

The Saxon Royals 

The trailer starts with battle cries as the English Christians prepare for war against the Pagan Vikings. Like the main series, faith is still a huge driver in the tension between the two armies.

“I hear drums,” says Louis Davison as Prince Edmund, hearing the Vikings approach. “No. Shields,” replies Laura Berlin as Emma of Normandy, his stepmother and the queen of England. 

Edmund is the son and heir of the Saxon King Aethelred the Unready, who is conspicuously absent from the trailer. Despite shunning pagans, it is the Christian royals that are the show’s strongest ties to the original Vikings show. 

Edmund, who is yet to earn his historical name of Edmund Ironside, is a descendant of Alfred the Great, one of the first great kings of English history. In the show, he was made to be the illegitimate child of Aethelstan, the monk-turned-Viking who was one of Ragnar Lothrbok’s friends. Meanwhile, Emma of Normandy is a descendent of Rollo, Ragnar’s brother, who settled in Frankia after leaving behind Kattegat. 

But that’s where the connection ends as these Viking descendants will fight tooth and nail to keep out the Vikings at the gate. 


The Death of Vikings

"You have been summoned here to avenge the death of Vikings," says Bradley Freegard as King Canute of Denmark in the trailer. "Bring me England!”

Like all great epics, Vikings: Valhalla will begin with a tragedy. Although it’s not mentioned, it’s easy enough to infer that the Vikings have arrived to fight the Christians as revenge for St. Brice’s Massacre. 

Now, this actually happened. In 1002, King Aethelred the Unready ordered the massacre of Viking settlements in what is now modern-day England. The Danes had been invading, raiding, and pillaging English lands for decades, causing deep-seated hatred on both sides of the war. 

London Bridge is Falling Down 

The trailer focuses on two sides of an epic battle, the Vikings and the Christians, culminating in what’s likely the event that inspired the nursery rhyme, “London Bridge is Falling Down.”  

It’s a simple rhyme that goes: “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.” 

But like all nursery rhymes, it’s rooted in history, particularly bloody Viking history. The Viking Olaf Haraldsson tore down the London Bridge in 1014 to stop the attacking Danish forces in order to help his ally, King Aethelred. However, the story is not mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle so some historians doubt it happened or believe the rhyme merely embellished the real story. 

But Valhalla is not a historical documentary, so we can forgive Netflix for taking creative liberties, especially if it produces an exciting scene of the London Bridge falling down. 

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The King, the Explorer, and the Pagan

While the trailer has set up the events that will drive the first season, it only showed us glimpses of the three main character arcs of the show: Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter), Leif Ericsson (Sam Cortlett), and Freydis Eiriksdottr (Frida Gustavsson). 

We only hear one line from the trio coming from Harald when he yells, “This blood is not my blood. It is our blood. It is Viking blood!”

The three main characters will represent three important developments in the dying Viking age: Harald Sigurdsson is known to history as King Harald Hadrada, one of the last great Viking kings whose death is largely agreed to have marked the end of the Viking age. Meanwhile, Leif is known as the explorer who set foot in North America 1,000 years before Christopher Columbus even knew it existed. And Freydis will fill in the role of the faithful Viking pagan who clings to the old ways and the old gods and rejects Christianity. 

That’s a lot to unpack from a brief trailer, but it’s already got us hyped for the series premiere on February 25. Be sure to check out this epic genre-bending series, only on Netflix.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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