Vikings: Valhalla Ending, Explained: Is Liv Dead or Alive?

Image Credit: Bernard Walsh / Netflix

A sequel to the History Channel’s popular series ‘Vikings,’ ‘Vikings: Valhalla’ is a historical drama action-adventure series set in a crucial period of Scandinavian and British history. One hundred years after the days of Ragnar Lothbrok, Lagertha, and Bjorn Ironside, the old pagan faith is gradually dying and being replaced by Christianity.

The show follows the adventures of Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett), Freydis Eriksdotter (Frida Gustavsson), Harald Hardrada (Leo Suter), and others in the twilight days of the Viking Age. Historically, many of the characters in the show never really encounter each other, and the timing of certain things seems distinctively off, but that’s the fictitious aspect of the series. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Vikings: Valhalla’ season 1. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Vikings: Valhalla Season 1 Recap

In the 11th century, many people of Northern Europe have left their native lands and settled in other regions across the continent. A number of settlements have sprouted in England, including one named Danelaw, not far from London. The existence of these settlements makes the local Saxon population uncomfortable, and King Aethelred II of England is convinced by his nobles to deal with the “Viking problem.” The Saxons massacre the residents of Danelaw on Saint Brice’s Day. Harald, who has been visiting his brother, barely manages to escape with his life. He goes back and helps King Canute of Denmark amass a massive army for an invasion of England.

Meanwhile, Leif, his sister Freydis, and their friends brave through a storm to arrive at Kattegat from Greenland. Like the army that gathers around them, they too are there seeking vengeance, but of a different kind. Sometime back, a Christian man raped Freydis and left a mark of a cross on her back. Initially, the show implies that the man responsible is Olaf Haraldsson (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson), Harald’s half-brother. As Olaf helped Aethelred build London’s defenses, he is set to play an important role in Canute’s invasion. Ultimately, a close aide of Olaf, Gunnar Magnusson, is revealed to be the rapist.

Freydis kills Gunnar in the main hall of Jarl Haakon (Caroline Henderson), a great female Viking warrior of African descent. Harald, who develops romantic feelings for Freydis, convinces Jarl Haakon and Canute to make Leif fight for the Viking cause so that his sister can live, effectively saving Freydis from certain execution. Harald knows that Leif has successfully piloted his ship through a tumultuous storm and is an exceptional fighter. His addition to the Viking army can only be a good thing. And he is proven right.

Image Credit: Bernard Walsh / Netflix

By the time the Vikings arrive at the English shores, Aethelred is on the deathbed and set to be succeeded by his inexperienced young son, Edmund. Aethelred’s queen, Emma of Normandy (Laura Berlin), takes charge of the English defenses. Helping her is Godwin, a trusted and ambitious advisor of Aethelred. Leif nearly dies during a skirmish. He has a vision of a young girl putting a cross in his hands while he is on the verge of death. Harald arrives and saves his life. But after that incident, a transition starts to happen in Leif’s faith.

Not long after Aethelred’s death, London falls to the Vikings. Leif plays a pivotal role in the victory of his people and is hailed as a hero. This is when Canute reveals his actual plans. He declares himself as the King of England. He tells his people that he will rule alongside Edmund and begins an affair with Emma.

Meanwhile, Olaf returns to the North and informs Ælfgifu (Pollyanna McIntosh), Canute’s first wife, about what is happening. This prompts Canute to marry Emma and sail back to Denmark. In his absence, his father, Sweyn Forkbeard, takes over England. While her brother is busy fighting in England, Freydis visits the famous temple in Uppsala. There, she meets a mysterious Seer, who tells her that she will be “the Last,” possibly implying that she will be the last of the Vikings.

In the season 1 finale, titled ‘The End of the Beginning,’ Leif and Freydis, once more reunited, face the attack on Kattegat by Olaf and his forces. In England, Ælfgifu gains an upper hand on Forkbeard and Emma, seemingly forcing the latter to go back to Normandy.

Vikings: Valhalla Season 1 Ending: Does Harald Betray Freydis and Kattegat?

Olaf wants to be the king of entire Norway, but the existence of a powerful Kattegat under Jarl Haakon proves to be a hindrance. He joins forces with the fanatical Jarl Kåre, who destroys the temple of Uppsala and has a vendetta against Freydis and attacks Kattegat. Harald also wants to be the king of Norway. After returning from England, he resumes his relationship with Freydis and agrees to fight for Kattegat.

Image Credit: Bernard Walsh / Netflix

However, in the penultimate episode of the season, he leaves Kattegat and reunites with Olaf. As revealed in the season finale, it was all a ruse. He never intended to betray Leif and Freydis. During a parley, he passes his half-brother’s plans to the defenders of Kattegat. However, Olaf saw through his act and fed him false information.

Does Kattegat Fall?

Yes, Kattegat falls. Olaf tells Harald, Kåre, and the others that he will attack Kattegat through the sea during the wolf moon when the high tides will take the ships over the city defenses. Meanwhile, Kåre will attack from the land. Together, they will crush Kattegat between two great forces. However, during the battle, Harald discovers that this was not the real plan. Olaf figured out that Harald didn’t change sides and would find a way to relay what he had learned to Leif and Freydis. Moreover, he needed to get rid of Kåre, who was absolutely insane.

Image Credit: Bernard Walsh / Netflix

Kattegat splits up its forces to fight the war on both fronts. Kåre and his soldiers attack the walls of Kattegat. The zealot warlord ultimately gets killed by Freydis. Olaf moves in after him and takes control of the important city, fulfilling his dream and becoming the king of Norway. However, this was not meant to last long. In England, Emma and Forkbeard work together and wrench the control of the Danish navy from Ælfgifu.

Forkbeard then takes the fleet and travels to Kattegat to punish the traitors. He arrives right after Olaf and his soldiers have taken control of the city. Realizing what is happening, Olaf’s soldiers desert him. Soon, he has no choice but to leave as well. His attack on Kattegat ends up making things worse for him. With Canute and his family now controlling Kattegat, their aspiration of establishing a North Sea Empire has become a reality, and Olaf likely has to go into hiding.

Is Liv Dead? Will Leif Kill Canute’s Son Svein?

Yes, Liv is dead. The relationship between Liv and Leif runs parallel to the one between Harald and Freydis. She is the only Greenlander that returns from England alive besides Leif. She is aware of his recent interest in Christianity and doesn’t seem to know how to respond to it. Liv becomes mortally wounded while defending Kattegat. She asks Leif to promise her that he will join her in Valhalla, hoping he will not desert his gods. However, she dies before he can answer.

Image Credit: Bernard Walsh / Netflix

Liv’s death and the subsequent onslaught of grief turn Leif into a berserker. He kills several enemy soldiers that were trying to rape two women. Forkbeard has brought two of his grandchildren with him. One of them, Svein, sees a woman coming out of a shed and goes to inspect, encountering Leif. As the episode ends, it seems like Leif will kill Canute’s son.

Leif has never met Svein, so he has no idea who he is. However, that doesn’t mean he will kill a hapless young boy. Cliffhangers generally serve as a hook to keep the audience interested for the next installment or season. The first season of ‘Vikings: Valhalla’ is no exception. In season 2, Svein will likely survive the encounter, and Leif might go on a search for his sister, who left the Kattegat with Harald.

Read More: When and Where Does Vikings: Valhalla Take Place?