Season 1, Episode 15: After Yule
The father, son, and holy spirit
Episode 15 of Vinland Saga begins with Thorkell. One of his men tells him that the nobility wants to end the war. They’re even willing surrender the throne. King Sweyn will be recognized as the “Bretwalda” at the next “Witenagemot in Wessex.” Thorkell is disappointed by the surrender. Elsewhere, Askeladd and his men continue to toil in the village during winter. Prince Canute, Ragnar and the priest pray to God, begging to be forgiven. However, the priest doubt’s God’s love. He asks why God “didn’t give us his power.” If God loves “good and bad men equally, then why does he test them despite their powerlessness?” Canute has heard enough. He questions the Christianity of the priest. Believing that all fathers love their children.
The young girl from the previous episode manages to reach another village. She informs them of what happened and the number of men that Askeladd has. The local lord has asked Thorkell and his men for assistance. Thorkell, realizing that Canute and Thorfinn are likely at the village becomes excited. After learning that the English army has found them, Askeladd tells them they need to escape, while Bjorn prepares the men for battle. Canute, Ragnar and Thorfinn have a lovely meal. It will turn out to be Ragnar’s last. I predicted that Ragnar would die, but I thought it would be at King Sweyn’s hand. Regardless, Askeladd tells that his “death will cause him to grow.” Loyal to the end Ragnar only seems to care that Askeladd promise that he will protect Canute.
The real father of Prince Canute
Before he succumbs to his injuries, he tells Askeladd that he needs to prepare for a fight over who will be the next King of Denmark. Two factions have formed, one backing Canute and the other backing Harald. The King decided that he would avoid this by killing one of the princes. His plan was to have Prince Canute die in battle. Ragnar warns Askeladd that Canute’s biggest enemy is the King. The first part of this episode was rather dull. However, it really turned towards the end. Once again, Askeladd does something terrible but I end up on his side. Ragnar clearly loved Canute and that was beautiful especially considering the fact that the King didn’t. However, Ragnar coddled Canute, leaving him too weak to become a strong King.
He would never leave Canute willingly, death was the only way. Although, Askeladd seems to regret his action (at least a little) after learning of the Kings plot. The theme of fatherhood was important in this episode. The priest questions God (humanities father), while Canute sticks up for all fathers. This reminds Thorfinn of his own father. However, Canute’s biological father hopes for his death, undermining his view. King Sweyn has failed as a father towards Canute but seems to excel at it towards his other son Harald. Finally, Prince Canute’s real father figure, Ragnar, dies. Meanwhile, he gains a new one in Askeladd.
Read More: Episode 14 Review of Vinland Saga