So, the final season is bad. But not overwhelmingly so compared to the previous few seasons, just a more of the same kind of bad. First off the have fucked with the intro and the intro song and it is awful, absolutely awful.
The Rus story, the threat that they spent the entire previous season building up, is anticlimactically dealt with in the first episode. Then the story drags on for another agonizing five episode before it is finally aborted. It all feels really weird, like they realized what a miss-step this entire plot-line was and was just scrambling to find a way to the whole thing over with as soon as possible.
I will say that for a moment, when they was done with the Rus and had the whole issue of Kattegat's succession worked out, I actually thought that the show might get kinda decent again. I thought they were finally done with all the needles plotting and scheming and was finally going to focus the who on what made it good in the first place. But then they jumped right back into the scheming with both feet and it was beyond awful.
The Kattegat story-arc this season, especially the last half of the season is probably the single worst storyline in the entire series. It is a miserably uninteresting and boring plotline filled to the brim with scheming, bad plotting (from both writers and characters) and political machinations. And it is centred around two new characters that I cant possibly imagine anyone actually gives a single fuck about. It's is beyond awful, truly a new low-watermark for the show.
The battles are awful this time around. I don't know if they blew all the budget on other stuff or the earlier seasons but the battle feel really low scale. They don't feel as though through as the smaller battles of earlier seasons and lacked the spectacle of latter season battle.
There are some weird character character choices. Hvitserk does nothing but follow others around as per usual and then ends up getting the historical role of Guthrum, becoming baptized and made king in East Anglia as Athelstan. Oh, and he also has sex with a Norse Goddess before that. Gunnhild (a.k.a Bjorn wife #1) seems like she is being built up as the new central female character of the show, a new "Lagertha" and leader of Kattegat. But then after Harald reappears she just decides to commit suicide by drowning in order to join Bjorn in Valhalla, although I'm pretty sure that's not how that is supposed to work. Ivar's death is really anticlimactic and Alfred stopping the battle just because Ivar dying is so silly.
I actually kinda liked the Ubba story line once they actually got to America, unfortunately that happened in the third to last episode so there just was not enough room for that story to actually go anywhere. If only the had skipped the entire Greenland bit and the several episodes spent suffering on boats, this part could have been real good. It helps that Ray Stevenson gives some assistance here. Plus it was nice to seen Floki again, ending on him en Ubba sitting on beach it North America was actually pretty good.
The best scene in the whole season was probably Harald death. The set-up for it is really stupid, with Harald getting lost in the mist after a battle and then getting stabbed by a randomly appearing Saxon mook (that's why you should have battlelines). But the actual death, with Halfdan appearing to take him to Valhalla was really nice. Peter Franzen was easily the best actor on the show in these later seasons and always gave a performance that was way better than the material deserved, so I liked that he got to go out on a strong note.
I also realized that after the first episode, when Bjorn and Alexander Ludwig makes their exit, Georgia Hirst it the regularly occurring actor on the show that has been around the longest, if you don't count the guy who plays the Seer, who still makes occasional appearances despite the character having been dead for over twenty episodes.