In the two weeks the world has known about Megan Fox’s archaeology show Legends of the Lost, I’ve thought of little else. Who could make the general public care about artifacts if not a gorgeous person who once revealed herself to be an aspiring VICE contributor because of her “bit of a journalistic streak”? Who but the actor who once traveled to the Great Pyramids in Giza to shoot the classic 2009 film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, therefore making her qualified for the job? The show premiered Tuesday night on the Travel Channel, and lo and behold, it’s both educational and fun.
In the first episode, Fox travels to Borre, Norway, 90 kilometers south of Oslo, once a haven for the Viking empire to investigate new research that suggests the ruthless warriors from around 750–1050 AD included women in its military ranks. The first of these fighters—originally found in Birka, Sweden—are known as Birka Warriors. The facts presented are indeed intriguing, though Fox’s narration about these discoveries gets occasionally heavy-handed. She rhetorically wonders if we need to reevaluate notions of Viking culture, which has been presented as a “patriarchal society” full of “rudimentary gender roles.”
The episode’s focus is on the women Vikings who were merchants, traders, and psychics called Volvas. If they weren’t warriors (some archaeologists remain skeptical), Fox notes, they at least defended against intruders who challenged them at home in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and England.
“Our ancestors, in a lot of ways, were more progressive than we are now,” Fox declares in one scene, before heading into a Norwegian forest with a woman who studies Viking sorcery to contact her spirit guide (“Nanny,” her grandmother) through a vision quest. “I’m in tune to energies,” she says afterward. “I was feeling and receiving a lot of different energy, not necessarily my own.”
Exaggerations aside, it’s the team of experts and their narrative-busting—along with Fox’s off-the-cuff remarks—that make the show palatable. Fox meanwhile teeters between nerdy pop culture references and total fear in a way that makes up for what’s often missing in shows about the ancient past: a host who’s actually scared to do all the things they’ve signed up to do.
Here, some memorable Foxisms from last night’s premiere:
“Do you have a husband? Have you ever been mad enough at him that you could swing a sword? I’m a small person, Brian’s a lucky man we don’t have those lying around the house.”
“It has a really cool Game of Thrones vibe.”
“This is forcing us to re-write everything we knew about all ancient cultures.”
“That’s... blowing a story wide-open.”
“It’s cool, to get to hold it.”
“It looks like magic.”
“I’ve never been in a crypt before. I don’t hate it.”
“What are we about to see? Is it a snake? Wow, that looks like Professor Snape’s wand from Harry Potter. Or Gandolf’s staff.”
“I love walking through a graveyard. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I’m being so sarcastic. I’m so scared of energy and spirits and all of that.”
In next week’s episode, Fox visits Stonehenge. Can’t wait to learn which healing rocks are feminist icons.