When someone hears the word Ragnarök, they might think of the popular Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok; where Thor finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk. In this Netflix original show, Ragnarök focuses on a teenage Magne Seier (David Stakston), his mother, and younger brother Laurits Seier (Jonas Strand Gravli) moving back to the Norwegian town of Edda after years of absence due to the death of his father. On their way into town, Magne performs a good deed causing a mysterious woman to activate his underlying power of a Norse god. This results in Magne developing better vision, confidence, superhuman strength, etc.
It is soon revealed that Edda is suffering from climate change and heavy pollution in their town’s water. The town “freak” and Magne’s first friend, Isolde is trying to bring attention to the climate issues; however, the town’s power family, the Jutuls’, run the town through Jutul Industries, a shady power plant. Edda starts experiencing warm winters and violent downpours seems to be headed for another Ragnarök — the cataclysmic destruction of the cosmos and everything in it – even the gods in Norse mythology.
The Jutuls are also Norse giants, mythological creatures that humans used to worship and sacrifice to until Norse Gods came along. The Jutuls consist of Vidar Jutul (Gísli Örn Garðarsson), Ran Jutul (Synnøve Macody Lund), Saxa Jutul (Theresa Frostad Eggesbø), and Fjor Jutul (Herman Tømmeraas). All four possess the power of Norse giants and have a lot of disgust and hatred for humans even though they have lived amongst them for centuries. Vidar is worried that they’ve become too humanized and orders them to cut contact with humans; however, Fjor is already in love with a human girl, Gry (Emma Bones).
Isolde invites Magne to climb up the mountains, despite it technically being owned by the Jutuls. There Magne and Isolde split up due to a concerning text from Laurits, leading Isolde to a melting glacier that exposed a tunnel. Vidar finds out and kills her, sending her paragliding down the mountain and causing her to be hit by lightning, and hitting a powerline.
An interesting part of the show is that it makes Isolde and Magne’s friendship very deep very fast, making the audience root for her. At the end of episode 1, her violent death was shown along with Magne seeing the whole thing and being the one to hold her after she falls to the ground. Magne is seen shaking her and crying, repeatedly saying “no, no, no ” as she showed him that she actually wanted to be his friend on the way up the mountain. The police write it off as an accident but Magne does not buy it, vowing to expose the Jutuls on behalf of his now-deceased friend.
Through exposing the Jutuls’, the Jutuls notice his supernatural ability and make Magne drink mead, a reflection of a Norse mythological story. Through this, Magne discovers that he is Thor after he sees his warrior self in his reflection after Ran reveals her identity for a quick second to Magne. This finally allowed Magne to start understanding his role with the demise of the Jutuls.
Overall, the special effects were a bit cheesy and did not fully convince me of the godlike powers these characters possessed. Due to this being a Norwegian film from Netflix, the production quality is probably different, nonetheless, it did provide elements to the season that made it a standout from foreign films that are released on Netflix. Arguably one of the best scenes is at Edda’s high school dance, where Laurits takes it upon himself to start playing death metal which attracts the attention of Fjor. Fjor then joins Laurits and plugs his phone into the aux, playing a mythical Norse song that seemed to activate his powers and his sisters. Together they dance almost incestuously until Laurits joins, all three creepily jerking their bodies in random positions until the song ends. Everyone in the room claps and no one questions what happened which I interpreted to be a comic relief from the intensity of the previous scene.
The biggest flaw in Ragnarök is the ferocity in Magne is supposed to be portraying when he is in his Thor formation. When he sees his warrior self, the special effects almost looked like a snapchat filter, especially with his beard and the proportions. I feel as though the plot would be more interesting and interactive if the show physically made their characters portray the mythology instead of relying on CGI for the most part, even when the Jutuls are triggered by old Norse. They’re eyes become an off-putting orange-red color that bulges a bit when they are about to kill which sells the Snapchat filter association.
Another flaw is in the plot around Isolde’s death and Magne’s relationship to the investigation. He clearly saw her death, yet his statement wasn’t taking seriously, the police soon telling everyone she hit the side of a mountain. I was confused as to why the police would lie about where they found her because she was not in the mountains when she crashed. The police also do not trust Magne and think he’s going overboard with figuring out how Isolde was killed even though the police were making the investigation shady in the first place. It was very contradictory at some points, but it wasn’t extremely distracting from the focus on Norse mythology.
At the end of the season, Magne and Vidar have a battle, but it is then that Magne discovers his true powers as Thor and summons blue lightning from the sky, violently splitting the two apart. The final frame is Magne’s fingers twitch, hinting that he is alive and there is quite possibly even more to the story.
I recommend everyone to at least try and watch Ragnarök if you’re not into foreign films and shows. However, if you’re a fan of Netflix’s foreign section, you’ll love Ragnarök. It’s full of Norse history and the language is beautiful to listen to as it is all spoken in Norwegian; along with the scenery that accompanies it. Every character has something interesting wrapped up in their lives, not only with each other making for each character more relatable to the viewer.