Netflix is set to premiere season 1 of Vikings: Valhalla, the sequel series to History Channel's Vikings, later next month. But showrunner and creator Jeb Stuart is already thinking much further ahead. "You have to for a show like this," he tells EW in an interview ahead of the show's trailer debut this Tuesday.
Deadline first reported in 2019 that Netflix had ordered 24 episodes of Valhalla, set 100 years after the events of Vikings. Stuart confirms that to be accurate with eight of those episodes reserved for the first season.
"We're already in prep on season 3. There's a lot under the dam already that is exciting and big," he says.
Bernard Walsh/NETFLIX Leo Suter as Harald Sigurdsson in 'Vikings: Valhalla'
Netflix has not announced a third season, let alone a second season of Vikings: Valhalla. And we've seen in the past how shows with seemingly clear multi-season trajectories can fall apart. Cowboy Bebop, as a recent example, had cast actors for a second season that were then reworked into the first — and Netflix ended up cancelling the series altogether shortly after it debuted.
Vikings: Valhalla, however, is a continuation of a long-running, sprawling show with an embedded fan base that has followed Vikings from History Channel to Amazon Prime Video and, now, Netflix.
"We've got several great characters and we've got stories in different countries and things like that. I think that you almost need to be able look over the horizon," Stuart says. "When I was out pitching it, I was trying to pitch it as a multi-season thing, because that way I can develop those characters in the storylines over a longer, longer throw. It wasn't like, 'What can we do with the Vikings this year?' Because those characters really do have not just emotional arcs, they have literally historical arcs. You can't just get to theme tomorrow or next year."
Valhalla season 1 centers largely on three Vikings: famed explorer Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett), his tough-as-nails sister Freydis Eriksdotter (Frida Gustavsson), and Nordic prince Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter).
The fates of these three become entangled after the St. Brice's Day Massacre, in which King Aethelred II of England (Bosco Hogan) orders the slaughter of all Danes on his lands. The Vikings now seek revenge, but they are torn amongst themselves between the Christian and pagan sects.
Bernard Walsh/NETFLIX Frida Gustavsson as Freydis Eriksdotter and Sam Corlett as Leif Eriksson in 'Vikings: Valhalla'
Michael Hirst, creator of the first Vikings series, returns as an executive producer on Valhalla, though he's not as actively involved. Stuart says he and Hirst had worked together years earlier on a television show "that was never made," but he "enjoyed the process." After Vikings ended with season 6 in 2019, the show's EP Morgan O'Sullivan came to Stuart with a simple comment: "We feel like that there's something else out there."
Hirst offered a similarly vague direction for a spin-off: "I feel like it should have some nostalgia."
A focal point, which Stuart came across in his research, became the St. Brice's Day Massacre. "Let's just say it's not a bank holiday in Britain," he says with a laugh.
"They went in and really scoured the Dane regions that had become very thick with Vikings," he continues. "The idea was, as Aethelred says, 'clean the cockle from the fields.' They thought the Vikings up in Norway and Sweden were fighting among themselves and wouldn't pay any attention to what was going on in England. Funny thing, the Vikings dropped being a pagan Viking or a Christian Viking and became a Viking."
Valhalla is a "muddier show" than Vikings, Stuart remarks. If the first show was about the birth of the Danes, then Valhalla is about the beginning of the end. "I hate to say this ever, the end of a show," he says. Still, there's plenty of story to tell here... at least 24 episodes worth, to be exact.