Updated: May 29
The end of the world is probably already here and we just don’t know it yet. This is the whole premise of the Netflix original, Norwegian series, Ragnarok. While it does not blow you out of the water with special effects or plot twists, it presents Norse mythology in a modern context. It talks about the slow demise of the world through climate change, as T S Elliot put it - ‘This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.’
No surprises here. As the saying goes, in a tale as old as time, the Norse Gods of Æsir (Aesir) throw down with the giants of Jotunheim and the fire giants. The resulting apocalypse - Ragnarok is said to drown the world in a deluge, to emerge again, renewed somehow.
The timeless lore of this mythos has been adapted to the current day setting, with the giants ravaging the earth’s natural resources, bringing doom upon the planet. The Jutul’s (Jotuns of Jotunheim) have made themselves at home in the immensely beautiful town of Edda in Norway. Their success in industry comes at the cost of the well-being of the locals, using environmentally unsafe practices to run their factories.
At the same time, a young Magne (David Stakston) feels an awakening inside himself that puberty and hormones alone can’t seem to account for. This coming-of-age story sometimes reminds you of that scene in the Twilight parody “Vampires suck” - the teen angst meter. Diedrich Bader analyses his daughter’s teen angst on a hilarious contraption that lists TV series as levels of angst.
The brooding aside, David Stakston’s Thor moves the plot along well. His supporting cast delivers great performances and keeps you engaged for the most part.
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The cast really does justice to the concept of Norse Gods, with most of the actors being stunning to look at. Their blonde hair, blue eyes, tall stature are a perfect fit for portraying the wild untamed beauty that was characteristic of Norse mythology. Emma Bones seems to be as pretty as an angel playing Thor’s crush and Synnøve Macody Lund is a total knockout as the queen of the giants. Theresa Frostad Eggesbø breathes life into the role of the sidelined daughter in the Jutul family.
Gísli Örn Garðarsson portrays the Jutul patriarch well as a person of towering stature. David Stakston plays a Thor with teen angst, trying to get along with his brother (Loki) played by Jonas Strand Gravli.
Netflix Ragnarok Season 1
Season 1 of this Norwegian series spends a lot of time on the origin story and exposition in general. You see the pre-Thor version of Magne, being the silent type and keeping to himself and just plodding through life -for instance: Spidey’s origin tale or Cap’s origin story to some extent. The rapid transformation of Magne into the Norse deity sees him explore his strength and other gifts such as enhanced sight and more.
Socio-economic inequality is addressed in Ragnarok, with Magne and the Jutuls being on the opposite sides of the spectrum. It’s also fun to see Greta’s celebrity seeping into pop culture with a mention of her name in this season.
The cinematography is amazing in this series, with the mountains and fjords of the idyllic town of Edda (Odda in Norway) being captured in all their glory.