Vinland Saga Season 2, Episode 5: Carve your path with blood and iron

When we were first introduced to Canute he was a mild mannered, feminine looking young man. He father wanted him dead so Canute wanted revenge. Askeladd decides to help him mature first by killing Ragnar, then by allowing himself to be “killed” by Canute’s orders after assassinating Canute’s father King Sweyn. In Vinland Saga Season 2 Episode 5, “The Path of Blood,” Canute is reintroduced and he’s changed.

After King Sweyn’s death Canute claims to be the new King of England. However, former King of England, Ethelred also claimed the throne resulting in war. Canute arrives to the remains of a battlefield in Mercia. We are quickly given a glimpse into the type of King Canute is when he’s talking to Gunnar. An adviser to Canute Gunnar speaks of the destruction to Mercia, as if the Danes aren’t responsible, Canute corrects him, telling him that he shouldn’t “talk like they weren’t involved with Mercia’s situation.” Canute may be willing to do what he thinks is necessary but doesn’t absolve himself of responsibility.

Have them beheaded

When he witnesses soldiers raping and pillaging the village he orders Gunnar to have them “beheaded,” and display their heads on the road. Canute is stern and demands discipline from his soldiers. Otherwise, they will have to deal with swift and harsh consequences. After conversation with Floki, Canute decides to meet with the leader of Mercia, Earl Eadric. Suddenly, Thorkell comes charging at Canute demanding answers for why he stopped the war. Canute explains that Mercia called for a truce and there no needed to continue fighting, they have won.

A warmonger, Thorkell isn’t pleased. Floki offers him more opportunities to fight but Thorkell dismisses the offer. He warns Canute that it’s impossible to avoid war. Canute, Gunnar, and Floki meet with Eadric. He offers them 4000 pounds of silver and an addition 4000 later. Canute isn’t pleased. 4000 isn’t enough besides Canute is King, so it’s an insult to try an pay him to leave. Canute orders Eadric to betray Ethelred, explaining that there cannot be two King’s and Ethelred was a coward for leaving his people years ago.

Despite his reputation as a coward, Eadric is willing to stand up to Canute. Until Canute shows him the likely outcome of resistance. The following year King Ethelred died of an “illness,” then several months later his son, Emund, died of the an “illness,” as well. In three years, Canute official became the King of England. Vinland Saga Season 2 Episode 5 was an excited exploration of Canute. The once insecure boy has turned into a capable man and stern King. While characters like Floki and Thorkell remain unchanged, the younger characters like Canute and Thorfinn continue to grow.

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