Warning: contains spoilers for Barbarians season one.
While historians may have other items on their wish list (including more a more accurate representation of 9 AD, judging by some responses), what most viewers want from a second season of Barbarians is escapist action. We want hefty sword fights, ferocious armies, blood-daubed faces screaming for revenge, shocking deaths, betrayals, and naked hook-ups in the dye shed.
All that is hopefully in the pipeline now that filming on season two is underway. As reported by Deadline, the second season of Germany’s most successful Netflix production went into production in and around the Polish city of Krakow at the beginning of September. It’s obviously too early for an official release date but the smart money would be on the six new 45-minute episodes arriving at some point in late 2022. There’s no word as yet on which historical events the new season will cover (the first was set during the run-up to The Battle of Teutoburg Forest, a decisive victory by the united Germanic tribes against their colonial Roman masters), but we’ve suggested a few possibilities here.
Appreciating that the history books provide answers to the fates of many of Barbarians’ characters, here are a few additional plot points left hanging by the first run that we’d like to see resolved.
What will Folkwin’s sacrifice to the gods mean for his and Thusnelda’s baby?
In Barbarians episode three ‘On the Edge’, Folkwin is being hunted down on Varus’ orders for his part in stealing the Roman legion’s eagle standard. Unable to find Folkwin, the Romans raid his village and crucify his entire family. Devastated, Folkwin prays to Woden and the gods for revenge upon the Romans. He asks that “Varus, and all who ride under his flag shall shed their blood on our soil,” and promises in exchange, “for this, I will sacrifice what’s most precious to me. My firstborn.” The gods kept their side of the bargain in the blood-soaked Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, after which Varus fell on his own sword after his legions were defeated by the Germanic tribes.
Folkwin’s childhood friend and former lover Thusnelda ended season one pregnant by him. Will the gods take their sacrifice in season two, thus dooming Folkwin and Thusnelda’s child? History tells us that the real Thusnelda did have a child, but as Folkwin’s character is a fictional part of this historically inspired series, perhaps this particular pregnancy won’t reflect the historical course of events.
How will the Folkwin/Arminius/Thusnelda love triangle be resolved?
Thusnelda and Arminius’ marriage may have started out as a political union designed to unite the tribes, but that’s not where it ended. Ari had gone into the arrangement aware that Thusnelda was in love with their childhood friend Folkwin, and prepared for the relationship to be just for show. But when the couple were told that Folkwin was dead, and were given his wolf tooth necklace as proof, they forged a bond and mourned their friend. Thusnelda fought at The Battle of Teutoburg Forest to avenge Folkwin’s death – an unnecessary vow as Folkwin had been alive all along. After the Germanic victory, Ari offered the newly returned Folkwin a lordship under his rule, but was rebuffed, and Folkwin vowed to kill Ari if he became the king of the Germanic tribes. Thusnelda told Folkwin that she intends to rule by Ari’s side. In season two, will Thusnelda stick with that decision? Husband and king, or childhood love?
Will Ansgar complete his gods-given task?
One of Barbarians’ more retrograde storylines in season one was Ansgar’s disability-makes-you-magical plot (not at all unlike Game of Thrones’ Bran Stark story). When Thusnelda’s little half-brother Ansgar attacked a Roman soldier to save his sister, he was struck on the head with a sword and suffered a serious brain injury. Thusnelda stopped her step-mother from euthanising him, and allowed Ansgar to be looked after by the tribe’s seer Runa, who called the boy a favourite of the gods, with special abilities. Runa said that Ansgar had been to the Kingdom of Death but returned to Earth because he had a task to complete in the land of the living. Ansgar was seen predicting The Battle of Teutoburg Forest through his paintings, so perhaps he has other predictions to make in season two? The child survived season one and was last seen being led away from the battle by Folkwin.
Will Hadgan’s betrayal be punished?
Chatti Reik Hadgan is one of Barbarians’ villains. Thusnelda’s father Segestes promised her in marriage to him but she refused and later married Ari. Hadgan tried to force himself on Thusnelda but she fought him off, then he removed his men from the Germanic army, choosing not to join Ari in the fight against Rome. It was only when he and his co-conspirator Segestes (a well-known historical figure) realised that the tide had turned in the Germanic fighters’ favour that they entered the battle. The pair were last seen in the season one finale plotting against Arminius. History tells us Segestes’ fate, but will season two see Hadgan punished for his actions?
When will we properly meet Arminius’ brother Flavus?
UPDATE: New cast-member Daniel Donskoy has announced on Twitter that he is playing the role of Flavus.
Ari wasn’t the only son of Reik Segimer taken as a child from his Cherusci home to be raised as a ‘noble hostage’ by Rome; his younger brother Flavus was also taken. Unlike his sibling, Flavus remained loyal to Rome and served under Roman leader Germanicus in The Battle of Idistaviso, which was fought against the Germanic tribes led by Arminius. Flavus only appeared in Barbarians season one as a child in flashback, but for a drama themed around cultural identity, the adult character will make a rich addition. Three of the new cast members for season two look as though they could potentially play the role – Austrian actor Murathan Muslu, Russian-born Daniel Donskoy and Italian Alessandro Fella. They’re all confirmed as joining the returning cast of Laurence Rupp, Jeanne Goursaud, David Schütter, who respectively play Ari, Thusnelda and Folkin, along with other newcomers Cynthia Micas, Katharina Heyer and Giovanni Carta, all in as-yet-undisclosed roles.
Barbarians season 1 is available now on Netflix.