Season 1, Episode 16: History of Beasts
Askeladd deals with betrayal
In Vinland Saga Episode 16, Askeladd tells Prince Canute that Ragnar died fighting the English. Askeladd wanted to kill Ragnar to help strengthen Canute’s resolve, but he also felt that Ragnar got in his way. Bjorn thinks that Canute’s “weakness” makes him easier to control. Askeladd is making a “gamble.” He thinks they might get lucky and Canute will turn out to be a great leader. However, Bjorn wonders what would happen if he just becomes depressed. Askeladd says he would just abandon him. Meanwhile, Askeladd’s men are torturing a Christian captive. As they compete to see who can kick him the hardest, Askeladd asks for some “shears.” Askeladd wants to know three things. First, how many reinforcements there are? Secondly, how long until they get here? Finally, how did they find their location?
A history lesson from Askeladd
Askeladd uses the shears on the man’s fingers. Cutting them off by “accident.” After the third finger, then man still refuses to relent. He calls the Danes “beasts” for burning down his village and for killing his wife and daughter. When the man claims that this land belongs to the English, Askeladd gives them a history lesson. According to him, the first inhabitants were the Celts. Ancestors of the Welsh, the lived in the forest. Until the Romans came. The Romans ruled the lands, in turn they gave the Celts, knowledge, technology and culture. When the Romans left, the Anglos and Saxons arrived. They gave nothing to the Celts, merely driving them off the land. Before Askeladd can cut the man’s nose off, he’s interrupted. Soldiers are coming. It’s Thorkell and his men.
The news of Thorkell’s arrival spread through the village. He tells his men to surround the village and kill anyone but Prince Canute and Thorfinn. Attempting to flee, Prince Canute is unwilling to abandon Ragnar’s corpse. Sensing that the men are faltering at the thought of face Thorkell, Askeladd tells them to choose their leader. They will march until Thorkell reaches them. The men that deserted Askeladd are chopped to pieces by Thorkell. He found their cowardice to be off putting. Askeladd and his men cross the bridge then destroy it so Thorkell’s men can’t follow. Despite the fact that they haven’t meant Thorkell in direct combat yet, his presence has already had consequences.
The traitors among them
Several of Askeladd’s men have deserted him and now several more are preparing to betray him. Torgrim has convinced half of the men to join Thorkell and take the prince as a gift. We already know that this will be a death sentence for the traitors, as the Thorkell already made clear he hates cowards. Of course Askeladd won’t allow them to take the prince without a fight. Torgrim tires to convince Atli to join him. Destroying the bridge turned out to be a waste of time. Thorkell’s men took another route. With a smile on his face, Thorkell hurls a spear through several men. The sight of Thorkell strength sends the men over the edge. Torgrim becomes feed up. Askeladd knows that they can’t defeat Thorkell. He asks Torgrim for “one more day.” As the traitors surround Askeladd, Thorfinn, Bjorn and Canute, Thorkell and his men begin to move.
Read More: Vinland Saga Episode 15 Review