Ragnarok

Ragnarok

Netflix Series
Watch Now
8.3

Great

Ragnarok is a Norwegian teen drama based on Magne who discovers that he is the living embodiment of Thor, God of Thunder. A quirky superhero series based in modern-day with plenty to like. Simplified but well worth a watch.

Did the mythical gods and beasts of old disappear, never exist, or simply lay dormant? Norwegian Netflix Original Ragnarok suggests that the titans of Valhalla and their ancient enemies the Frost Giants are still among us, and battle is stirring.

Teenager Magne Seier and his family have moved back to small coastal town Edda after many years spent away following the death of his father. Along with overworked mother Turid and provocateur brother Laurits, Magne tries to settle back in. But the community is racked with climate change issues that are swept under the carpet because the likely cause of pollution is the fifth richest family in Norway and the town’s major employer, the Jutul family. And bizarrely, Magne finds his strength becoming immense, his speed unbelievable, his sight superhuman, and his mind filled with gods.

The structure of the show over its short run is Magne slowly realising what we pretty much figure out from episode one: that he is the embodiment of Thor, God of Thunder. But this is very much a teen drama Thor, where revelations about heritage and strength go hand in hand with high school issues and love triangles. Magne is just as likely to be worrying about turning in an essay with sweet work partner, Gry, as he is to fling a hammer into the stratosphere in anger.

Uttering the words ‘teen drama’ can be enough to make some run for the hills, myself included. Indeed, other reviews of Ragnarok appear to have uncharitably labeled it as Norse Twilight, as well as criticising the inaccurate Norwegian dialect used. However, for my money, the short run combined with great performances means that whether the cast is battling in feats of strength, taken over by the force of blood lust music, or trying to win the hearts of love interests, the balance is struck right. Unlike Twilight where it’s hard to care about the lives of personality slabs, Ragnarok gives each character some heart and soul to hook you in.

Filling out the cast for the mythical side are the Jutul family, representing the ‘Jötunn’ from Norse mythology: ancient and often beautiful creatures that are the described as pre-dating the Gods and in constant struggles with them for supremacy. Brooding and powerful, they alternate between human-like endeavours and blood of the land ritual. When we see patriarch Vidal wild-eyed and ripping the heart from a deer on the mountainside it is all the effective for being contrasted with his occasional moments of snack munching couch potato behaviour. Family fights are settled with knife battles, but social standing in the community is just as important.

The plot mechanic of having Magne slowly realise what is happening to him also keeps us as the audience waiting with bated breath for a big lightning moment and Ragnarok’s money shot doesn’t disappoint. I’m certainly looking forward to a second series, not least to see how Magne’s brother Lauritis develops. Surely, logic dictates that he must be Loki, God of Mischief, even if this is never confirmed. Unashamedly gay, Laurits spends most of the series observing and looking wry which makes for some great smug moments (such as turning slowing in a chair to reveal he has overhead a salacious conversation) but never quite gets the big ‘aha!’ moment that Magne does come the end. More Laurits / (possibly) Loki please!

Ragnarok may be simplified Norse mythology for the teen generation but it’s a delight to see it all taking place with huge mountain and fjord backdrops rather than the firework Marvel universe for a change. If you want some Nordic teen drama with slabs of fantasy and an accessible modern framework then Ragnarok could be the show for you.

Words by Michael Record

Good

  • Norse mythology in Norway for a change
  • Solid performances
  • Thor!

Bad

  • Teen drama may not be your taste
  • Some characters not given enough screen time
  • More (possible) Loki please!
8.3

Great

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