The father, son, and holy spirit.
What They Say:
Episode 15. “After Yule”
After losing Canute, Thorkell decides to halt his advance in central England. Thorkell hears that the end of the war between Denmark and England is near, and bemoans the end of the war. However, he later gets wind of an interesting piece of news.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
A week passes in the ill-gotten village where Askeladd and his men are held up. The weather clears and the pious pray for the souls of those who lost their lives in the carnage. The priest though, he’s almost at the end of his rope. He has a crisis of faith and is set in his place by an angry and frustrated Canute. After all, a father always loves his son, how can he question the love of God?
Thorfinn, our reluctant protagonist, sits nearby scoffing at the group. While Vinland Saga is overall Thorfinn’s story, he’s not in control of it at this point. That doesn’t mean he is left out of the ongoing action though. Having been placed into Canute’s inner circle, Ragnar invites Thorfinn to dine with them after seeing the young warrior returned with a rabbit. During this quiet time, we learn that Canute enjoys cooking and is quite good at it. It’s a talent that King Sweyn didn’t appreciate. The King saw his son lowering himself to the level of a slave by performing such an act.
The King, meanwhile, sits in his bed tended by slaves and bemoans without emotion the fact his youngest may have perished. It’s clear that the King cares little for his son. Ragnar however does. It’s easy for us to see how Ragnar treats Canute as his son. He encourages his hobbies, protects him, and is basically the only one who loves the boy.
The moment of quiet shatters when the English learn the location of the encamped invaders. The village girl who escaped lived through the storm. Thorkell is informed of the location of Askeladd. Forces start to move in and Askeladd finds himself pressed for time. He fends off the first wave of soldiers but is forced to gather his men to flee. In the lead up to moving on Askeladd’s patience with Ragnar runs out.
The moment was coming, but it’s still hard to watch. Askeladd is nothing if not calculating. He is the ultimate manipulator, and Ragnar’s death will force Canute to grow. Ragnar then tells Askeladd the truth about why Canute was essentially left to die. The King is trying to prevent a war of succession. Yet, despite the plotting and planning, the noose is tightening on Askeladd. His men are starting to notice his change in luck. Tensions are mounting and time is growing short. The situation is growing more desperate.
The previous episode had a weight and gravitas that implied that big changes might be coming. Askeladd’s luck is changing, and his men are taking notice. The tension mounts as the sole survivor alert the English to the location of Askeladd’s men. Thorkell is on the move once again, longing for blood. Time is not on Askeladd’s side, and his move to make Canute from a boy into a man may not have come at a worse time. With the truth about King Sweyn and his heirs finally known to Askeladd, the situation becomes more difficult.
Episode Grade: B +
Streamed by: Amazon