Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Did someone say chess (or Maces and Talons)?

When I announced my return to the blog, several people asked me if I would write more about RttE. Well, this is my attempt to do so! Haha, I must confess I have not gone super in depth with the tv series, but last season was good, so it deserves more than the one post I gave it! The subject of this post will be Viggo Grimborn. There were two things I've seen people going nuts over after the series: Viggo Grimborn, and Hiccstrid. Since I'm not all that good at analyzing Hiccstrid, I thought I'd give our new frightening villain a shot. Hope you enjoy it.

Viggo is a fairly interesting villain. He is not exactly an original type of character; after all there are many stories with a nefarious mastermind as the antagonist. However, he is a new type of challenge for Hiccup and the riders. They have been tricked in the past before, but they've never had anyone who could predict their movements three steps ahead. He's good at one of the things Hiccup has always been good at: being clever. The problem is... so far Viggo has proven himself cleverer. It's a battle of brain against brain, and Hiccup seems unfortunately outclassed.

I think Viggo is a very realistic, organic feeling villain. Why in a time of vikings, dragons, and brute force, would a man grow up and develop his brain over his brawn. A plan is only as good as those who can see it through, so being clever won't get you anywhere unless you can get help from others. However, I do think I have a guess on why Viggo became the way his is (this is probably pure speculation). I believe Viggo chose strategy over strength because of his older brother Ryker Grimborn. Ryker deserves a post all to himself, but I will at least mention him here. Ryker is a natural  born warrior. He's strong, cunning, and extremely proficient with his weaponry. He would have been the perfect fit in a society of hunters. Viggo is the younger brother. He's smaller, soft spoken, and the younger of the two. I believe this may have greatly impacted Viggo. It is not uncommon for the younger brother to look up to the older and feel that they could never fill his shoes. So, instead of trying to be like Ryker, perhaps Viggo went to opposite rout. He practiced what he was good at. Whatever the history may be, Viggo came out the as the deadlier or the two brothers. He's been plating a strategy game called Maces and Talons for waaaaaaaaay too long, and it has turned his brain into a tactical killing machine. Though he is younger, Viggo now leads the hunters, including his brother. And, I think I'll add, he clearly relishes doing it.

Viggo has several edges on Hiccup, and all of these will pose a serious problem for our hero when he tries to bring the hunter down. One thing that Viggo made quite clear when he was playing a game of Maces and Talons with Dagur is that he is willing to sacrifice almost anything for the sake of victory. He will give up his entire army to a trap if only he can kill his enemy's king and win the match. He's the epitome of cold calculation. While his enemies are reveling in their victory, he slips around behind and knifes them in the back. I am not sure whether he would actually sacrifice his own brother (he might! I am almost certain Ryker would not sacrifice him, though), but he is willing to pay a much higher price in the game than Hiccup is. Hiccup is only ok with sacrificing one person... himself. That may be honorable, but tactically speaking his lone sacrifice will probably not be enough to save his plethora of friends and loved ones. Hiccup has many emotional weaknesses. He can't stand to put his friends in lethal danger. Whenever Toothless or Astrid are in trouble, he will do anything to save them. He is clever... but he is guided by his emotions and his love. This is a "weakness" that Viggo may exploit. The other strength that Viggo has which outclasses Hiccup is his tactical thinking. Hiccup makes plans, and he adapts them mid-battle (which is impressive), but Viggo has made plan upon counter-plan, upon counter-plan. This villainous strategist will have every angle he can see covered, and Hiccup simply has never dealt with anyone like this before. The final thing I noticed that Viggo has an edge on Hiccup is his discernment of motives. Hiccup was fooled in the past by Heather, but Viggo guesses her game almost immediately. He's not compassionate or empathetic, he's analytical. He weighs people and quickly roots out traitors. Hiccup is in much greater danger of being betrayed than Viggo.

So, what hope does our hero have in this deadly game of Maces and Talons. Viggo's goal is the extermination of thousands of dragons, so Hiccup must stop him. I would say I can see one real weakness in Viggo. He is playing a game. He respects Hiccup as an entertaining opponent, but Hiccup sees Viggo as a force that must be stopped. The other thing is that games have rules. Viggo has planned for everything in his playing field, but the real world isn't a board game. Viggo can only plan for the factors he knows about. Unfortunately for Hiccup, Viggo has been hunting dragons and battling whits for many years, so he knows quite a lot. Still, unlike Viggo, Hiccup has been befriending dragons and learning their secrets. One day one of those secrets may surprise Viggo, and before that tactician can adjust his intricate plans, he will have lost. He is dealing with a world that has too many variables even for him. He is trying to be the loan player, moving his pawns, but if he slips up... how many of those pawns will leap in to rescue him? Maybe one... but compared to Hiccup that is very few people willing to put their life on the line. Hiccup's weakness is also his strength. He has friends and loved one... heck, he has a NIGHT FURY as his best friend! When the playing field eventually shocks Viggo, he may find himself in front of Toothless's business end. 

So, I hope you guys liked this. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of Viggo in the future! C'mon out next season!

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