「失われた愛のために」 (Ushinawareta Ai no Tame ni”)
“For the Love that Was Lost”
Episode posts when in travel mode are always a challenge for me, but especially where a series like Vinland Saga is concerned. This is always a densely-packed series both in terms of ideas and plot, and demands serious analysis and reflection which I don’t have to give this episode. That said, at least this ep was the most straightforward of the season in some ways. It doesn’t go into the usual “semi-ending” mode cour-finishing episodes of multi-season anime often do, but it still represents a pretty clear transition point in the story. Nothing after this is going to be like it was before.
As expected, Olmar has handed Canute a perfect pretext to screw Ketil out of his land and livelihood. The strategy (whether Wulf coined it himself or was merely executing it is unclear) is to set up Olmar to kill one of the king’s guards, and thus make Ketil responsible. One of the captains pays off some mouth-breathing zakus from the king’s guard to tell Olmar he didn’t make the cut (pun intended). The captain knows the men will make a meal out of it, provoking Olmar to start a confrontation. One which the captain (who’s very handy with a coin) will engineer so Olmar will win.
Thorgil seems to have completely thrown that plan for a loop, which is interesting given that his relationship to Ketil and Olmar was certainly no secret. Thorgil is proving himself many things. A bloodthirsty animal we already knew, but perhaps his cleverness here exceeded expectations a bit. He’s not about to let Olmar off the hook, and I can only assume he was prepared to let his brother die in that duel, having no idea the captain would interfere. We also knew Thorgil was handy in battle but again, that he was almost Thorkell-like in combat prowess was certainly a revelation.
Thorgil is a law unto himself anyway – we knew that by his earlier comments about looting and raping – so duels being illegal is of no concern to him. But in doing what he does here – never mind wholesale slaughtering the bottom-feeders sent to entrap his brother, but to then turn around and kill the men sent to arrest him – he’s effectively declaring war on Canute. His loyalty is obviously meaningless to him, but what’s the long game here? How does the son of a landowner win by going against the king? Obviously he’s a smart guy – he saw through pretty much every aspect of Wulf’s plan – but he’s put his father in an even worse spot than he already was.
Ketil has every right to be horrified at what his sons have done here, though Canute was already in the process of destroying the life of a loyal subject for his own financial ends. After Thorgil’s second killing spree the three of them are now fugitives, and Leif opportunistically cuts a deal. He agrees to ferry them back home in exchange for selling them his goods for three times their value – and for giving him Thorfinn as well. But what then? Canute sending 32 of his guard – along with 70 of Floki’s men – may not be enough to overcome Ketil’s vigilante army with Thorgil and Snake at its head. But in the long run, it can only end one way.
I have some notion of where all this is headed – I’ll be very interested to see how close I am to the mark – but things are certainly about to hit the fan. Thorfinn is obviously the man in the middle here in so many ways, and I would imagine once Canute finds out that his old comrade is present his interest in Ketil’s farm will be even keener. Canute’s comment to the deadhead about doing all this for “lost love” is certainly a fascinating capper to the episode, and the season – I have my own ideas about what he meant by that but again time will tell if I’m right or wrong…