With the recent announcement that Game of Thrones won’t be returning for its final season until 2019, fans were, well… slightly gutted. And that’s despite knowing ahead of the confirmation that a lengthy wait would likely be the case. But never fear, lovers of all things Westerosi, because there’s a new show coming to small screens that will scratch your Game of Thrones itch until Season 8 comes along. And it’s called Britannia.
Set in 43AD and based around a genuine moment in history – the second Roman invasion of Britain – Britannia’s anchoring in reality pretty much stops there. It’s definitely not a historical epic – it’s fantasy that comes to the fore here. This is a show very much in the same vein as Game of Thrones, with plenty of swords, sorcery and sex. And here’s why, if you love GoT, you should be watching.
A Battle To Rule
The Roman legion led by David Morrissey’s General Aulus wants to seize control of Celtic Britain, on Emperor Claudius’s orders. The same Celtic Britain that led Julius Caesar to abandon his efforts to invade nine decades earlier. He’d come up against the Druids, we’re told, who forced his retreat.
Aulus, brash, bold, bossy and bolshy, is intent on claiming the land by force – and charges in violently with his men, something we’ve seen time and again throughout seven seasons of Game of Thrones. But it’s clear that the residents of this land aren’t going to give in easily – there are proud Celts and mysterious Druids to be reckoned with.
Bloodlust and Ruthlessness
Unsurprisingly, with that single-minded aim to conquer comes a heck of a lot of bloodshed. Aulus and his right-hand man Lucius (Hugo Speer) don’t think twice about callously toying with and dispatching would-be deserters, much less running through Celtic strangers with a blade. Although brutality isn’t the preserve of the Romans. From the off, prepare yourself for a gory arm removal and a graphic throat-slit that comes from nowhere.
The Women Have the Power
Game of Thrones has its fair share of powerful women, from Cersei Lannister to Arya Stark and several in between. But while GoT took a while to get into its stride with regards to empowered women, in Britannia they’re visible from the outset.
There’s Zoe Wannamaker’s steely Queen Antedia, while young Cait, played by Eleanor Worthington-Cox, is a little badass in the making, very much in the Arya Stark mold.
There’s also a Druid woman with freakish black eyes who is absolutely terrifying, but rightfully so. It’s especially wonderful when she threatens to eat one particular character’s eyes if he ever comes back. You would too if some raving maniac approached you smelling of excrement and wittering about the sun not rising.
Amena, on the other hand, is a woman very much in charge of her sexuality, trading one husband for another and playing them off against one another. Let’s see how this pans out though, as we can’t see her getting away with it.
A Badass Princess
Another one of those powerful women has very resounding echoes of a certain white-haired GoT royal. Yes, we mean Daenerys Targaryen. Kelly Reilly’s Kerra is independent and warrior-like. She just wants to get involved, but that goes against her father’s wishes. Her father, King Pellenor, is played by Ian McDiarmid, incidentally, who is, of course, Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars. We’re looking forward to seeing how Kerra develops.
The Druids in Britannia are mysterious, and have bizarre rituals and unexplained powers. As do the Celts. But Divis (Nikolas Lie Kaas) – known as The Outcast – also has visions of the underworld, possibly explained away by the hallucinogenic substances he seems to take. There are clear parallels here with Game of Thrones — in the Red Priests’ powers, and also in the Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven storyline.
A Khal Drogo-Alike
In Stanley Weber’s Lindon, one of the strongest men in the Cantii tribe, Britannia has its own Khal Drogo. Which is great because Jason Momoa’s Dothraki warrior has been dead for a while now in GoT and his presence has been sorely missed. In Britannia, Lindon is married to Amena but apparently likes Kerra better.
Plaits and Lots of Hessian
All episodes of Britannia are available on January 18 in the UK on Sky and will be available at a later date in the US via Amazon Prime Video.