「王と剣」 (Ou to Ken)
“King and Sword”
As the great George Costanza said, “Worlds are colliding”.
It’s been obvious for a while that at some point, probably soon, Thorfinn’s path is going to intersect with Canute’s. And since last week, that Ketil would likely be an unfortunate caught in the middle. Now the mechanics of that are starting to take shape, and things could turn pretty ugly for the gentleman farmer (and Thorfinn too). Ketil seems like a decent enough guy – his father even more so – but the apples seem to have fallen a long way from the tree where his sons are concerned.
Canute and Thorfinn’s saga is an interesting one, because they’re two young men who’ve followed diametrically opposing paths. Thorfinn loved battle even as a sheltered child, lived a live of violence and killing and eventually was so tortured by it that he renounced violence altogether. Canute was a meek and peaceful boy who came to England despising swords and conflict, and has turned into a devious and ruthless S.O.B. willing to do pretty much anything to gather power unto himself. When these two ships on opposite tacks finally reach each other, the results are going to be fascinating to watch.
As we rejoin him this week, Canute is sparring with Wulf in a manner which seems pretty serious. Wulf is obviously holding back but Canute is no slouch. Eventually, exhausted, Canute relies on dirty tricks to gain the upper hand – exploiting Wulf’s interest in his sister Estrid (Akasaki Chinatsu). It’s illustrative of the man’s character as it currently stands – intensely competitive, not especially scrupled. And that will carry over to his meeting with our old friend Gunnar, with the topic being how to raise money to maintain the standing army Canute reckons he needs to keep his hold on England.
Gunnar suggests that the king will have no choice but to raise taxes on the general population, as there are not enough wealthy landowners in 11th Century Denmark for that to raise much money just from squeezing them. But Canute has other ideas, and his keen interest in the details of the landowners’ private armies is a telling clue. Developing virgin land for the crown would take too long, so Canute proposes the requisitioning of private farmland. Better to ruin a few wealthy farmers than piss off the entire country by raising taxes. I’m sure it’s easy to see where this is headed…
Ketil has no idea this runaway train is bearing down on him. He’s concerned with making a good impression on the new king, after having cultivated a good relationship with his brother. Olmar, meanwhile, has headed off into town where he does exactly what Ketil predicted he would – gotten into a pointless fight almost instantly. Olmar seems to have grown into an even bigger asswipe than he was as a teen; well might Ketil think so little of him. The man (Tachibana Tatsumaru) Olmar ends up starting the fight with turns out to be none other than the adopted son of Leif Erickson himself. He’s called Thorfinn too (LOL) but everyone calls him “Bug-eyes” for reasons which are pretty obvious.
Poor Leif is just so obsessed with Thorfinn, it’s rather touching. Thorfinn II seems like a fairly innocuous doofus, but both dads bond over their idiot sons as they mend fences and everyone sits down for a meal together. Naturally the name Thorfinn sparks an interest from Ketil, and Ketil’s interest sparks even keener interest from Leif. All the pieces seem to add up, but it’s obvious that Leif has chased down many dead ends before. Ketil is perfectly willing to let Leif come back to his farm to see for himself, but the captain of the boat carrying him is unwilling to accept a ten days there-and-back delay in his return to Greenland. Whether Leif will be forced to give up for now remains to be seen.
Ketil’s is about to go on an enormous run of bad luck, starting with Olmar making a complete idiot of himself at the meeting Thorgill arranges with the King. Olmar arises, begs to be a part of Canute’s royal guard, and actually draws his sword in the King’s presence. He then tries to use it like a carving knife when Canute allows him to demonstrate his sword skills on a roasted pig. Canute was going to screw Ketil anyway, but Olmar presenting himself as a lever to be used against his father just makes it a whole lot easier to do so. I feel bad for Ketil, but the larger question is what all this will mean for Thorfinn I (and Einar) when Canute (and maybe Leif) find out that he’s at Ketil’s farm.
I am predicting ketil will be poisoned and olmar inherits as a lapdog. Not sure how the older son will play into this. Can see them poisoning him too.
Interesting times ahead. Feel bad for everyone not canute.