Posted by Lenlo on 17 September 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:

This was a pretty insightful week for Vinland Saga. As we get a deeper look into Askeladd’s character, Thorkell goes on the move and Thorfinn continues to question his place in the band. Lets dive in!

Starting off, like always, the productions. This week was, to use a dirty word, pretty damn cinematic. Vinland continues to rely heavily on its backgrounds and framing from the manga. Which are great, I like those! It’s just not an animation powerhouse of a season just yet. A few scenes here and there that are nice, such as last episode with Thorfinn and Thorkell. It just doesn’t match up to Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2 (Say that five times fast) or Mob Psycho Season 2. Not a big deal of course, but worth mentioning knowing what is coming in the series. On a smaller note before the meat though, Vinland did do a bit of a timeskip this week. Only a few months, but we are now entering a new winter. A little jarring since we just left winter earlier, but it’s important for what is to come.

Getting into the actual content, first up is Thorfinn’s dream sequence. This was a continuation of the previous discussion on slavery in a way. How every man is a slave to something. In this case though, that is Thorfinn making it clear he understands this, at least in a way. As his own father in his dream reproaches him for his actions, his focus on revenge. All of that is pretty clear. My favorite thing that Vinland Saga does with this though, is the juxtaposition of the raiders. How they invade his dream and kill his father. Burning this beautiful land his family lives on. Then when Thorfinn awakes, it is him walking among corpses and families. Noting how similar England is to the land of his dream. Effectively putting him in the shoes of the raiders from his dream, showing how far he has fallen once more.

The big thing of all this of course is that, Thorfinn could leave at any time. He isn’t a slave, he has no obligation to stay. It’s not like anyone in the band could actually stop him either. Perhaps Askeladd in a straight fight, but actually catch him if he ran? Not a chance. And they have seemingly tried to leave him behind multiple times, so I doubt they care enough to try. Of course none of this is particularly new though. As this was explored in an earlier episode after the raid of the French. But it continues to push another theme of Vinland, that being personal freedom and responsibility of choice.

Moving on from this, let’s talk about Askeladd’s talk with our troubled lead. This was a pretty big moment, as it starts to peel back some of Askeladd’s facade. As it is only really around Thorfinn that we see him sort of let his hair down. Around Thorfinn he doesn’t try to be this fearless or charismatic leader. Instead he is just a guy that killed Thorfinn’s father. Waxing philosophical on the inevitable end of all things. How in the face of that, Thorfinn’s inevitable victory is all but meaningless. Yes, Thorfinn will one day win. Askeladd will fall. Just like how the Saxons are falling, and how before them one day the Romans fell. Everyone gets olds, everyone dies. From Askeladd, to Thorfinn, to Thors. This idea of ending’s, of inevitability and as we see in the end, fighting against such a fate, are core to his character.

As we see later on in the episode, after this chat, Askeladd’s final decision around this “Ragnarok”. Askeladd, for all that he recognizes things will end, refuses to go out quietly. To simply fade into the twilight. Instead he wants to go out with a bang, trying something big. Yes, it won’t last and yes the odds of it succeeding are low. But if you are going to die anyways, why not give it a shot? Another small thing I want to comment on before moving on though from this conversation is Thorfinn. Once more we get an example of why Thorfinn loses to Askeladd. His impatience, refusal to learn from or respect the past. Effectively, while Askeladd sees the end coming and wants to go out big. Thorfinn can’t really seem to plan ahead, acting as if every day is the last chance he has.

Finally, we have the inciting incident for next episode. That being Thorkell getting upset and just deciding screw it, let’s kidnap a prince. I hope people were expecting this, because the man is not patient. In a way, he is very similar to Thorfinn, which becomes very relevant as we move forward. As for why? Well, what better way to provoke a response and get a good fight than to kidnap a prince? Sure, the idea of a few hundred men defeating 4000 is a bit far fetched. But you have to consider how unprepared they were for an attack, as well as a few other factors. This doesn’t really make it historically accurate of course, though I don’t know what an actual historical feat like this would look like. But it does at least fit Vinland’s established rules.

So all in all, another week another Vinland, how was it? For me, once again, I enjoyed it. The series has been rather brutally quiet but every week it explores the themes just a bit more. Things always feel like they are happening, character introductions or scenes usually pulling double duty, really help that progression. It helps of course that I know and expect everything that is coming. It helps me contextualize event and know what is relevant and how to upcoming plot points. So on that, I would like to ask, how are you all finding it so far? Is the series to slow for your taste, perhaps a bit to philosophizing? Were you perhaps expecting a bit more shounen Vikings and a bit less preaching? Maybe it is more than what you expected and you are enjoying it more because of that. I am very interested in knowing.

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