Vinland Saga Episode 15 [ Harden Your Heart ]

It’s winter, and winter treats Thorkell differently than the band of Danes who pillaged the village of last episode. Thorkell has taken up home in a village where he’s eating everything and contemplating his next steps. Askeladd and his group aren’t enjoying the beer and food Thorkell is, but Canute and the Christians in the group are praying for the innocents who were killed. Thorfinn seems to disregard their feelings and focus on his own, but the questions of this episode once against home onto the internal debate of Christians. While the Priest finds himself antagonizing and anguishing over God’s lack of action and protection of them, Canute finds his voice in lambasting him for his disregard of ‘The Father’. This is yet another perfect example of how the show voices so many genuine thoughts of a real religion in our time. So many of these things have been said and done, and yet even the characters never draw a ‘conclusion’. Their faiths and feelings are constantly fighting each other and themselves. And if the characters are never given an answer, I feel it’s even safer to say we as the viewers are never given an implication of what is ‘correct’ in this story.

Much of the conflict comes from what it would in our actual lives. Canute’s desperation to believe in his father’s love cements him into Christianity, Thorfinn’s bitterness at his father’s death tears him from religions that claim to ‘protect’ people. We can be frustrated in Canute and find that his steadfast dedication to Christianity is wrong because we dislike him, but never is Christianity the reason for any characters weakness. Instead many weak characters cling onto different religious gods in the story to justify their actions, as do kind and normal people, unjust people, evil people- they cling to whatever truth suits their actions. Sometimes their faith is so genuine they worry about their fates and lament that they are bad people, but never has it been the religion itself that determines whether a Vinland Saga character is good or evil. In fact I would say the drunken priest has such an unexpectedly engaging story: ranging from a man who smothers himself in alcohol, a steadfast and devout worshiper, and someone who has genuine criticisms to the doctrine he has dedicated his life to.

A surprising about this episode to me was Canute and Thorfinn sharing a meal. Their hostility made me think this would be impossible, but ultimately they actually co existed together. After this happened however the episode took an incredible turn: Askeladd decides to kill Ragnar in order to harden Canute into a stronger man. What he doesn’t know until he does is that Ragnar knows a horrible truth: his father took him to the battlefield to have him die in battle, and the only one who has truly been on his side this entire time is Ragnar. King Sweyn is Canute’s greatest enemy, and this changes the face of what Askeladd could expect in the upcoming campaign. Askeladd watches the man die and I was left with so many thoughts from there. The show has been purposefully vague about the King while making him seem to care about where his son is in specific ways. However now that we know the truth, what cards can Askeladd possibly play? As it stands, he might have risked his life for nothing.

But still he stood with Canute for a goal. And it isn’t like Askeladd to give up on a goal. While I say this I can’t help but take one thing in account: Askeladd has most certainly made his bed by murdering the one person who truly loved Canute.


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