Ragnarok: Season Two

“I killed my brother’s father. I’m a seventeen-year-old who thought he was a god.”

Six episodes in which Laurits finds out who his father is. Several characters die; one moves away, and others step up.

Again, this season is only six episodes long, so I was able to binge without having to take long breaks for sleep and other activities. The episodes were compelling entertainment, and my main concern is that I have to wait a long time for the story to continue!

It’s hard for me to write a review without at least a few spoilers. There! You have been warned.

Anyway, as I mentioned above, Laurits learns who his father is; that is to say, Vidar. As we knew this from the first episode of Season One, it’s not really a spoiler, and we are not surprised. Laurits, however, is surprised – as is Vidar, as giants usually cannot reproduce. Both of them are pleased, but pretty much no one else is. The person most disappointed is Magne, because Vidar has been trying to kill him.

Laurits is happy to learn that not only does he have a father, but a rich father, which is an agreeable discovery when you are literally hungry because your mother can’t afford meat. Then Vidar, by conducting a ritual, turns on Laurits’s giant nature, making him stronger and giving him some peculiar powers. It also creates a friendly fraternal moment between Magne and Laurits as Laurits – who had, rather reasonably, been treating his brother’s claims as crazy – confesses he now has reason to believe.

In my review of Season One I mentioned the fact that I really liked the twist that Magne (Thor) and Laurits (Loki) are half-brothers instead of stepbrothers. I still really like this; it is much more powerful than other interpretations. Still, the brothers aren’t sure if they can trust each other. Magne kills someone, because he thought he was saving his brother’s life. He was, but Laurits doesn’t learn that until later. And when Laurits does learn it, he doesn’t tell Magne, because he enjoys the power that Magne’s guilt gives him. Laurits instinctively reserves information for when it will be most useful.

I have to wonder about the origin of Turid, the human mother of two godlike beings. One son turns out to be the incarnation of Thor; the other is spawned from a giant. Apparently, giants cannot usually mate with humans, so there must be something special about her. Yet she goes on, suffering from the stresses of single motherhood, a dysfunctional family, blithely muttering platitudes as she tries to normalize her sons' experiences.

I like how this series puts the Norse mythology into modern context. The creation of the Midgard Serpent, the removal of Tyr’s arm, the method by which Loki and Odin become blood brothers, the dark elf, are all intriguing interpretations of the ancient stories.

Power has not just responsibilities but consequences. This is not Supergirl, where our protagonist can manage to be a hero without killing people. This is a series in which Magne has to kill to protect himself and to protect others. The Jutuls, far older than our teenaged brothers, discovered this law of the land a long time ago, but the lesson is very hard for Magne and maybe even for Laurits.

The show is good in that we see the giants’ side of events as well. I like the fact that Saxa feels resentment at several millennia of repression of her gender. Fjor does a complete turnabout, and I really liked how he played hardball at the end with the Norwegian government.

The problem with the English dubbing continues. The accents make you feel as if you’re in a different world, but there are difficulties. Some of the actors are much better at English than others are, and sometimes the English translation is odd. Not that I know if it matches to the Norwegian, but they apparently did not get a native English speaker to review the translation. Hence, there are some grammatical constructions that would never be used by native English speakers. However, they would be used by people who speak English as their second language. Perhaps this group makes up the bulk of the the intended audience.

Title musings. This is a season review, but I wrote about Ragnarok last time, so this time we’ll consider the titles of the season two episodes.

The first episode is “Brothers in Arms.” I love double meanings. Not only does the phrases apply to the traditional meaning of soldiers, but Magne hugs Laurits more than once in the episode. The title of the second episode, “What Happened to the Nice, Old Lady?” demonstrates some of the awkwardness of the translators. I’m surprised there isn’t more discussion and even a police investigation about the old lady's disappearance. “Power to the People” is the title of the third episode. This works, because it represents both the youth protests and the fact that Magne is causing power outages. “God Is God, Though All Men Death Had Tasted,” is the title of the fourth episode. This one feels so odd, that I'm wondering if it's based on some unknown-to-me Norwegian proverb. “Know Yourself” is the title of the fifth episode and works well as both Magne and Laurits experience severe crises. The last one, “All You Need Is Love,” has Laurits looking for love and acceptance while Magne gets laid.

Bits and pieces

Thanks to the pandemic, the filming of Season Two was postponed from its original schedule to September 2020. This explains the colors we see on the trees, as they shift from spring to autumn, even though some of the events are supposed to take place on the very same day as the last episode of Season One.

I wonder why the Jutuls didn’t take a much easier approach to the pollution in the barrels that Magne discovered in the tunnel? Yes, the factory was responsible for it, but as they pretend to age and die, they could blame the problems on their predecessors. Besides, if you’ve got a dead guy, then blame it on the dead guy!

Magne gets laid on his 18th birthday. He also activates Mjölnir on his 18th birthday.

Morten Njaakanjohke-Guttorm is the name of the guy from the Environmental Agency. The last name demands respect.

I have spent some time wondering what it is like to be a hero. But now I’m thinking of being a crazy old lady, and going around dropping cryptic prophecies on susceptible teenagers.

I think Iman represents Irpa, a goddess whose name may mean dark brown.

I wonder if Fjor is supposed to be Fenrir? Fenrir is a wolf.

Tyr is the one-armed god of war. Tuesday is named for him.

Isolde’s headstone arrives, and we learn her last name was Eidsvoll. This means “oath keeper” in German.

Quotes

Laurits: I just wanted to piss on the tallest tree and in this town that happened to be Jutul’s.

Laurits: Can I sleep on it and get back to you in the morning on killing giants?

Laurits: It’s expensive being poor.

Magne: Your powers aren’t for getting free stuff.

Laurits: If you’re going to drag me up here on a motorbike to ask me to spy on my brother, maybe you should practice a little bit first.

Iman: Listen, I’m asking you as a friend – have I been chosen by the losing team?

Ran: From now on, no more emotions. We’re not good at them.

Fjor: I don’t think anyone can be neutral. And I don’t want to be.

Turid: Maybe you should start listening to your mother. She’s right sometimes.

Wotan: You know, sometimes, there are no other ways.

Saxa: Those of us who have lived through a thousand years of women’s suppression are ready to show in can be done so much better.

Fjor: It’s my duty. It’s what is written.

Wotan: Anyone carrying the gift of your powers must be prepared to pay the highest price.

Magne: If the good can only win by killing then they have already lost.

Laurits: Look at that. I’m not the only one who can ruin the mood.

Customer: Some of us would rather drink a bit of poison than lose our homes.

Magne: Did Thor create lightning or did lightning create Thor?

Overall rating

I am still intrigued by this show. It has flaws, but it is compelling. Three out of four unpronounceable hammers.

Victoria Grossack loves math, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.

1 comment:

Billie Doux said...

I have spent some time wondering what it is like to be a hero. But now I’m thinking of being a crazy old lady, and going around dropping cryptic prophecies on susceptible teenagers.

LOL, Victoria. :)