Hostages of hostages.
What They Say:
Episode 17. “Servant”
Askeladd’s men continued their march to escape Thorkell. However, Torgrim and his friends were hatching a plot to switch sides and join Thorkell, taking Canute with them. Torgrim finally launches his rebellion and corners Askeladd, negotiating with him to hand over Canute, then Thorkell arrives in the midst of the confusion.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The best-laid plans and all that. Askeladd finds himself facing down his own men as they realize they don’t stand a chance against Thorkell. They surround Askeladd and the sled, hoping to take the prince to Thorkell. Askeladd tries one last time to reason with them before telling them in no uncertain terms just how much he’s always hated them.
At which point all hell breaks loose. Bjorn drives the sled away leaving Askeladd facing down dozens. Thorfinn throws handfuls of knives to take down pursuers, yet he couldn’t take them all out. Soon the sled is overtaken and the horses are killed, causing a terrible crash that sends all aboard flying. Thorfinn backtracks, but not to recover the prince. He realizes Askeladd is likely to die and refuses to give up his chance at revenge.
Askeladd stands strong but not strong enough. Injured, he is just moments away from death when Thorkell arrives. Askeladd takes a knee after calmly explaining the situation to Thorkell. We get more flashbacks to his childhood and the stories his mother told him about Avalon and the King. Always salvation lies towards the west, a land of spring and peace.
Thorkell just chews up the scenery in whatever scene he’s in. Every line, every facial expression, every swing of an ax, he is the embodiment of larger than life. What should be a deadly serious confrontation comes across as a bloody joke to the man. The flippant attitude extends to Askeladd, who watches with detachment as the men he once commanded are mercilessly slaughtered. Askeladd understands Thorkell far better than any of those idiots could have ever hoped to. Not every single turncoat dies. Torgrim, who essentially lead the revolt, is so terrified of facing off against Thorkell that he goes catatonic.
The animation does falter under the strain of so much action, but even so it remains a notch or two above most series. Considering the action is going to continue forward into the next episode it makes sense that they’re holding back before Thorkell versus Thorfinn round two. That’s certainly going to be the rematch of the century.
The suspense breaks as every tension let loose at once. Thorkell brings the over-the-top action back to this epic saga in a splattering of limbs. It’s hard to see how Askeladd can recovery from everything falling apart around him. His former men clearly had no idea about the sort of man Thorkell is and that mistake cost them their lives. Askeladd’s life now hangs on Thorfinn’s desire for revenge at his own hands.
Episode Grade: B +
Streamed by: Amazon