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Even if you’re trying to be a peaceful Nord, there’s only so much horror you can see before finally reaching for a sword and doing what Vikings do best. Vikings: Valhalla has been a breakout hit at Netflix, and the epically violent onslaught that Leif Erikson (Sam Corlett) unleashed on the bad guys in the Season 1 finale dispensed, perhaps once and for all, with his default reliance on watchful pacifism.
In the process, it might’ve signaled viewers to be on lookout for a very different Leif when Season 2 arrives. Speaking recently with Express, Corlett reflected on how his character transformed at the end of the first season, saying he’s finally casting off the iconic shadow of his feared father (Erik the Red), and unleashing all those pent-up Viking traits that seem, after all, to run in the family.
“Yeah, well, for me, like, that was like the element of his father that was in him that he wasn't accepting,” said Corlett on Leif’s violent rampage after watching helplessly as Liv (Lujza Richter) died at the tip of an invader’s sword — one wielded by the ruthless Jarl Olaf (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson), eager to seize the throne of Norway as a Christian king.
"[It] came out reactively,” explained Corlett. “I suppose it brings a sense of understanding for why his father is the way he is and what his father may have been through [in] his raids.”
The historical drama series unfolds about 100 years after the events of Vikings, its Netflix predecessor, and the streamer went to extraordinary lengths to create visually arresting set pieces worthy of the show’s 11th-Century setting. Check out this cool behind-the-scenes peek at the Vikings’ assault on London Bridge, one of the season’s biggest set pieces from Episode 4:
Leif led the charge in that midseason surge, but that was back when he was still keeping his violence (mostly) in check. Things were tactical and targets were clear — until, that is, he saw firsthand the indiscriminate rapaciousness and bloodshed that Olaf and his coalition were willing to unleash on the innocent. Even if it took until the season’s final episode, said Corlett, at some point — well, a Viking’s gotta snap.
“[It] was certainly an eruption and an expression of held trauma,” he said of finally finding Leif’s dark side. “Although it was a very full on scene, Lujza Richter, who plays Liv, really helped create a very sacred space for me to enter that grieving space with her…To enter, to allow a viciousness to arrive, it was a big day, it was a big day.”
Season 2 is already on the way, though Netflix hasn’t yet said when Vikings: Valhalla will return with its next batch of episodes. Until then, there's plenty of time to get caught up on the story so far: Season 1 of the hit series is streaming in full at Netflix right now.