There are many similarities between Game of Thrones and Netflix’s Vikings: Valhalla, including the fact that episode 1 features a massacre a la the Red Wedding. Valhalla, a spinoff of History’s Vikings, borrows heavily from its predecessor in terms of storytelling and action, while still making sure it offers something distinctive for both the show’s devoted audience and viewers who are just discovering this world. Vikings: Valhalla is not only influenced by the Vikings, but also obviously by Game of Thrones.
In a sense, these comparisons may be unavoidable—as is true of any TV program that seeks to provide some epic historical action, whether based on a true story or not—but they are also deliberate. Vikings: Valhalla is another attempt by Netflix to snag at least some of that audience, and even after its contentious ending, Game of Thrones’ enormous success is something all networks and streaming services want to emulate.
To that end, the opening sequence of Vikings: Valhalla feels strongly inspired by Game of Thrones, if not in execution and intent then at least in general intent. The in question instance is the St.
King Aethelred II orders the Brice’s Day Massacre, in which the country’s resident Vikings are deceived and ruthlessly massacred. Although there may not be a wedding or familiar individuals, it is still Vikings: The betrayal in this form, and the way it’s shot and how it plays out—men invited to a feast in a hall, with the twist slowly revealed, the enclosed space offering a palpable sense of tension and a feeling that something’s not right, and the arrows flying down from on high—very much evoke Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding.
Unfamiliar viewers will find the St. Brice’s Day Massacre in Vikings: Valhalla to be a shocking scene; while it may not be on the same level as Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding in terms of shocking viewers online, it does show that the Vikings spinoff will be ruthless, shocking, and not averse to a few bloody murders (or dozens). That moment in the first episode of Valhalla serves as a good example of the show’s attempt to establish itself as a massive, brutal series that fills the void left by Game of Thrones’ conclusion.
The Vikings: Valhalla season 1 similarities to Game of Thrones are pervasive. Beyond the massacre, there is a reference to a “trial by combat,” which, while not specific to Game of Thrones, inexorably brings it to mind. Later in the season, there is some timeline confusion, which, again, feels like what happened with Game of Thrones’ later seasons, though that is a less overt allusion. The similarities between Vikings: Valhalla and Game of Thrones help establish its goals as yet another show vying for the top spot, even though it doesn’t just copy its parent show or rest on its successes. Instead, it strikes out on its own and tells its own compelling story with new characters.