Season 1, Episode 12: The Land on the Far Bank
Askeladd runs into a man fishing. He asks if the fish are “biting,” the man doesn’t care, he’s operates the ferry. Askeladd tells him that he wants him to deliver a letter to an elder. Thorkell’s men continue to pursue, Askeladd and his men are able to detect them. Or I should say that the man called “the Ear,” can detect them. We have seen him at work before, however, in this episode his skill are put in more focus. Vinland Saga manages to give it’s characters almost supernatural powers, without sacrificing realism. The “Ears” talents are pushing those boundaries, but I think the shows realism remains intact. Anyway, he is able to hear the soldiers and their horse march. He determines that they’re only one day behind on foot. The Ear quickly detects two men on horse back. Exposed, Askeladd says that they can’t win in a fight, they must keep running until the reinforcements he sent for arrive.
Askeladd’s men are exhausted and worried. However, Askeladd says he doesn’t care. Bjorn asks him why he’s behaving so strangely. Askeladd explains that he’s able to read people, just by looking at their faces. When seeing Prince Canute he realized that he’s doesn’t have the “face of a king.” As Askeladd and his men continue to evade Thorkell they finally reach the reinforcements. Thorkell is shocked that Askeladd was aided by Wales. Thorkell explains the history of Wales, a small mountainous region to the west of England. It was never unified under a single country. In East of Morgannwg Kingdom of Wales, Askeladd and his crew. He tells Ragnar that they must walk to Gainesborough on foot. Ragnar hates the idea, mainly because the people of Wales hate them. Askeladd tells him that he has allies in Wales and he will have Thorfinn act as Canute’s guard.
The general of the Kingdom, Gratianus, will help them to Gainsborough. He makes it clear that the only reason that their helping Canute is to receive a “non-aggression” treaty. He asks him to swear that “once he (Canute) becomes King of England he wouldn’t interfere in the affair of Wales.” Canute is quite. He barely speaks and when he does, it’s only to Ragnar. Canute’s demeanor doesn’t garner much respect. He can barely look people in the eyes and twirls his hair like a child. He appears profoundly innocent, especially when you compare him to Thorfinn. As they continue to travel, they are attacked. As Canute looks around in shock, Thorfinn get’s really for battle.
This episode would be a let down for anyone that only cares about Vinland Saga for the epic battles. I think that the series willingness to slow the narrative down and focus on the larger world and it’s history is refreshing. Canute is barely noticeable but is slowly showing his personality. He’s appears to be the foil for the brooding, angry Thorfinn. Time will tell if he will be “corrupted” by the realities of the world, but I think he will serve as a contrast to Thorfinn. Vinland Saga manages to balance the history of the world, realism, and deep characterization with epic violent action.
Reviews of the Other Episodes
- Vinland Saga Episode 1 Review: Somewhere Not Here
- Vinland Saga Episode 2 Review: Sword
- Vinland Saga Episode 3 Review: Troll
- Vinland Saga Episode 4 Review: A True Warrior
- Vinland Saga Episode 5 Review: The Troll’s Son
- Vinland Saga Episode 6 Review: The Journey Begins
- Vinland Saga Episode 7 Review: Normanni
- Vinland Saga Episode 8 Review: Beyond the Edge of the Sea
- Vinland Saga Episode 9 Review: The Battle of London Bridge
- Vinland Saga Episode 10 Review: Ragnarok
- Vinland Saga Episode 11 Review: A Gamble