Thorfinn still has everything to learn.
What They Say:
Episode 8. “Beyond the edge of the sea”
After capturing the treasure from the Franks, Askeladd’s men return to the village of Gorm on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark to pass the winter. Thorfinn challenges Askeladd to a duel as a reward for bringing him the head of the captain of the clan of Franks. Even though Thorfinn has grown in skill through his experience in battle, he is still no match for Askeladd.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Askeladd’s men return to home base for the winter, rolling in like rockstars. Gorm, the local leader and uncle of Askeladd, is less than enthusiastic about his return. The penny-pinching miser nickels and dimes Askeladd even as the ladies of the village vie for his attention. Askeladd’s mind is elsewhere, focused on the fact that he’ll have to honor Thorfinn’s duel.
Thorfinn remains stoic and aloof. The duel begins with Thorfinn composed and calculating, not allowing Askeladd to chat and going in for a strike before narrowly dodging a grapple by Askeladd. Thorfinn even manages to surprise Askeladd and disarms him. Askeladd is impressed but knows how to get under Thorfinn’s skin. He goads Thorfinn into a rage and repeats the grapple, taking Thorfinn to the ground.
While the fight animation is fluid there are a few moments of restraint. The background figures are static during the duel, which I found distracting. The background scenery in this episode is nicer than the previous but doesn’t reach the heights of a few episodes ago.
Going back to look at the manga has been a revelation. This adaptation is sticking so closely to the source that many of the camera angles and framing shots are identical. The key movements in the fight are exactly the same. The animation team has been able to fluidly fill in the between moments logically in a way that astounds me.
While Askeladd contemplates the nature of humanity, Thorfinn sulks in his father’s boat. He dreams of a father who isn’t disappointed or saddened, but hopeful that his son will someday come to the same conclusion he did. When a newly enslaved woman brings him some dinner he tells her he’d never let himself become a slave, he’d fight and die first. He doesn’t realize what Askeladd does, that everyone is a slave to something. Once again Vinland resurfaces in his thoughts, a land without war and kings.
Because that’s where the story is headed, straight into war. King Sweyn leads his army, including his son Canute, into battle along with the man who put the hit out for Thors. Oh, and we’re reintroduced to Thorkell the Tall who is still just as crazy as we saw in episode one.
Thorfinn may have become an amazing warrior, but Askeladd knows just what it takes to manipulate people to throw them off their game. The lessons that Thor’s tried to instill in his son have been left by the side of the road. There’s some intense foreshadowing in this episode, setting up the future of this series and the direction the immediate conflict is going to take for the rest of the season. I look forward to meeting Canute and the reaction that Thorfinn is going to have to the young future ruler of the realm.
Episode Grade: B +
Streamed by: Amazon