What is love? Baby don’t hurt me…
What They Say:
Episode #18. “Out of the Cradle”
Thorfinn and Thorkell agree to have a duel over the fate of Askeladd. Thorkell looks forward to facing off against Thors’s son, Thorfinn, and asks him what a true warrior really is. Meanwhile, Canute is suddenly ambushed while he attempts to escape, and has a dream about a certain individual.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
What are you fighting for? What’s the point? WHY ARE WE EVEN HERE?
After everything that Canute has been through, including the loss of his father figure, he just wants to be left in peace. As he lies unconscious he dreams of Ragnar and gets to say his goodbyes to the man who essentially raised him. This is Canute’s coming of age moment. When he awakens he is alone except for the priest, who starts to spout off some truly nihilistic and dogmatic philosophizing. Man is not perfect nor at peace while alive. They only truly know love when dead. As Canute watches Bjorn smash all of the remaining soldiers to pieces, Canute can only sit and contemplate.
The conclusion that Canute comes to gets him off his feet. The child is gone and in his place is a man who knows what he wants. He sees all of what’s happening around him as pointless conflict and calms Bjorn. Breaking throw that berserker rage comes across as a biblical moment to the priest. The whole idea of humans being imperfect and of never knowing what constitutes love feels a bit lost in translation. Canute’s Christian upbringing leads him to see it as the consequences of original sin.
While Canute has his moment of realization, Thorfinn is fighting to save himself and his prize. Thorkell is delighted in his match against Thorfinn, dropping tidbits about Thors to enliven Thorfinn’s response in battle. Thorfinn feels like Thorkell is taunting him, yet Thorkell clearly had great respect for the boy. He tells him that Thorfinn isn’t there… not yet. However, Thorkell is the same. He aspires to be as great as Thors was.
The animation in this episode is a bit rough in the context of the rest of the series. Much of that roughness comes from off-model looking characters and less detailed scenes of battle. The action is still dynamic, but you can tell the production schedule is starting to wear down the animation team. (Even though many of the shots in this episode feature into the opening animation.)
Thorfinn, amazingly, is able to chip away at Thorkell’s defense. He ends up cutting Thorkell’s arms in several places but isn’t able to do any permanent damage. It’s a power move by Thorkell that sends Thorfinn flying through the air to crash back to earth. The battle appears to be over, and Askeladd’s last hope at staying alive is crushed.
Yet Canute is returning to the group. He knows this fight is pointless, it’s time to negotiate to become the leader Askeladd was hoping the boy could become.
Love and death, war and peace. Canute’s transformation from a scared child to a determined young leader has been catalyzed. While he’s been shown to be a thoughtful young man, his sudden determination feels like a massive leap and change in personality. Thorfinn remains the frantic, angry child that he’s always been. His assault on Thorkell gives the older warrior the challenge that he wanted, and Thorkell drips information about Thors to the young warrior even as they attempt to kill each other. Canute may believe this battle was futile, but it was necessary for him to step up and take control.
Episode Grade: B
Streamed by: Amazon