How will the Welsh ambush against the Vikings be resolved? In Vinland Saga Episode 13 we explore Askeladd's past and Canute's future.

Let's go back to review Vinland saga! We talked about the manga Thu, and we reviewed the episodes 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, and 12.

Today we talk about the last episode released in Italian, Son of a hero.

Canute led to intimidate opponents in Vinland Saga Episode 13
Canute led to intimidate opponents into Vinland Saga Episode 13

Vinland Saga Episode 13: the plot

Vinland Saga Episode 13 opens with a flashback. A young man lands on the coast of Wales, carrying an unconscious woman on his shoulders and, on the shore, meets a Gratianus with many years less.

"My mother will die soon" he says, "She wanted to go back to her village"

Returning to the present, we move to the court of King Sweyn, who orders infamous Floki to look for his son Canute, from whom he has no news for weeks. After all, it's his beloved son.

The failure of Canute

Meanwhile, the Danes are under the fire of the arrows of the Welsh from Brycheiniog, who refuse to let Askeladd, Gratianus and Canute pass. In fact, these Welsh people don't trust Vikings and want to know what promise they made to Gratianus.

But Askeladd is calm: it is quite evident that these enemies are bluffing. Probably, they don't want to fight, but just make sure it doesn't seem like they let the Danes pass without resistance. This, and find out the Gratianus plan. Askeladd then decides to play the game and asks Canute to loudly proclaim something that frightens the Welsh. But Askeladd's encouragement and suggestions don't matter: Canuno cannot speak a word and hides behind Ragnar.

At this point, Askeladd is very frustrated and asks how the prince thinks he will succeed the father's throne with his mouth sewn. Ragnar fiercely defends the boy, saying that the marauder has no idea what violence Canute saw at the royal court. The prince managed to survive that nest of snakes only by hiding. Yet despite all this, Canute is still approached by bastards like Askeladd, who want to use it: it is not really the case that the marauder tells Canute what to do.

Asser, the great messenger from Brycheiniog
Asser, the great messenger from Brycheiniog

An alternative strategy: parliamentary

Thus, Askeladd has no choice but to reveal their plan to the Welsh. After apologizing to Ragnar and Canute, he goes with Gratianus to meet the enemies. But Thorfinn doesn't miss the chance to give Canute the loser, without Ragnar hearing it. As they head towards the attackers, Gratianus comments with Askeladd that Ragnar is not doing the Prince's good: All the chicks must leave the nest sooner or later, and Askeladd will do well to let him leave if he wants to complete their plan.

The envoy of the kingdom of Brycheiniog, Asser, meets Askeladd and Gratianus in private, apologizing for the inconvenience. However, he says, the reign of his sire cannot grant passage and supplies to a hundred Danes like this, without demanding something in return. Askeladd and Gratianus understand and are ready to reveal their plan to him.

Let's also put on the Arthurian myth, daje!
Let's also put on the Arthurian myth, daje!

The true origins of Askeladd

In the meantime, Bjorn is not happy: he did not know that Askeladd had contacts with Wales and feels he does not know the man with whom he fought for years. The other members of the company, however, reassure him, telling him that Askeladd is a good boss anyway or that they would follow him for it, regardless of his origins.

Meanwhile, on Asser hill he is amazed: Askeladd is the son of a Dane, Olaf, and a Welsh, Lydia, captured by the Viking and made his concubine. For this reason, Askeladd is the heir to a large family of Celtic warriors. More precisely, is the last descendant of Artorius, the legendary British leader who originated the Arthurian myth. Gratianus reveals that Askeladd returned to Wales at age 14 with Lydia, and that was when they met.

Being of mixed blood, Askeladd can blend in with the Danes, joining their higher ranks thanks to saving Canute. In this way, he can push the future king to make a non-aggression treaty with Wales, saving their land from the Vikings. But Asser wonders if Askeladd's loyalty was compromised, having been raised by the Danes. In response, Askeladd tells him that they will have to trust him, and that his blood does not matter in this, because he hates the Danes in any case.

Fear Angry Canute, fear him!
Fear Angry Canute, fear him!

The crossing of the Brycheiniog and the quarrel between Canute and Thorfinn

At this point, his men can cross the Brycheiniog, provided they hand over their weapons to Asser and his men. But the Danes trust Askeladd and do as ordered, with the exception of Ragnar and Thorfinn, who can keep their weapons as Canute's protectors. The people of the region are frightened by the Danes and watch them pass by, thinking they are prisoners of war captured by their brave sire.

During the crossing of the Brycheiniog, we see Canute getting agitated and, finally, talking to Thorfinn. Canute, initially stammering, explains that he does not speak not out of cowardice, but why he knows that what he says has great weight. Increasingly fervent, he claims that he cannot speak lightly, or sign treaties without first consulting with the king. Everyone is shocked to hear Canute speak, with the exception of Thorfinn, who retorts, “Not a bad excuse. You are not stupid, princess! "

To these words, Canute gets up, screaming that nobody has ever treated him like that, that Thorfinn has to apologize because he knows nothing about what a prince's life is like. Thorfinn, in response, downplay the charges, unimpressed.

Bjorn, you will make a mess if you keep repeating it!
Bjorn, you will make a mess if you keep repeating it!

The return to England

The crossing of Wales continues, with Canute finally signing the non-aggression treaty for Gratianus. By now in England, it starts to snow just as the Danes are about to enter the Mercia. Ragnar is worried about supplies in an enemy country, but Askeladd reassures him that they will certainly find new supplies.

Thus, encouraged by Bjorn ("Don't worry! Askeladd is not wrong!") The Danes leave Wales, entering enemy territory.

Askeladd making the infamous in Vinland Saga Episode 13
Askeladd doing the infamous in Vinland Saga Episode 13

Askeladd's past in Vinland Saga Episode 13

Finally, after 13 episodes, we know something of Askeladd's past. However, it is difficult to understand what is true, what is a raider lie, and what is a Gratianus illusion.

Almost everything, except the landing in Wales in the flashback, is told by Askeladd, who we know is not quite the most honest person in the world. However, Gratianus's guarantee gives at least some security: Askeladd is probably indeed Lydia's son and is indeed half Welsh and half Danish. That he really is the heir to the legendary Arthur is probably either an illusion of Gratianus

It is not even too much questioning that Askeladd hates the Danes. If the news can reach us like a bolt from the blue, in fact, thinking back to Askeladd's behavior it is not difficult to find feedback to his words. A key example was the meeting with Thors inepisode 04. On that occasion, Askeladd would have been genuinely willing to follow Thors, with its idealism and its ways so different from the Danish ones. A person in love with the constant looting and waging of Danes would not have done so.

Instead, it is less clear whether Askeladd is really willing to be one Wales spy in Danish soil, or if this is just the umpteenth turnaround to serve his interests. It wouldn't be new to see him exploit the expectations of others to his own advantage. Still, there is a yet. Still, we've seen on a couple of occasions how Askeladd is looking for a bigger ideal to aspire to. We saw him again with Thors, whose idealism appealed to Askeladd: a person devoted only to his own interests would not have asked Thors to guide him.

We saw it again in episode 10, when Askeladd incites his men to go and save Canute, taking as argument that the end of the world is near now and they must stand out quickly. It is not clear whether Askeladd is truly convinced of an imminent Ragnarok, or if he simply feels he is getting old and refuse to die like a forgettable marauder. Maybe Askeladd doesn't want to think he lived only as a Dane.

The friendship between Askeladd and Bjorn: just fiction?

As for the hatred of the Danes, perhaps this is the greatest revelation of Vinland Saga Episode 13. Until now, in fact, we have seen Askeladd get along well with his men and treat them fairly. Of course, he continues to maintain a certain distance, but at least he has an equal relationship with Bjorn, treating the berserker as a friend and confidant. Bjorn himself has extreme confidence in Askeladd, supporting his unconventional tactics and encouraging their men to trust.

This is why Bjorn feels so betrayed and sidelined when Askeladd reveals that he has kept his past and origins secret from him. Yet despite everything, Bjorn continues to trust his friend, dragging the whole army with it.

Bjorn's loyalty is perhaps what contrasts most with the revealed hatred of the Danes of Askeladd. Because where Askeladd does not have every chance of hating the marauders who kidnapped and raped his mother, there are still people who love him among the Danes. That maybe Bjorn is the exception and Askeladd respects him anyway? Only time will tell.

Thorfinn playing the edgy kid in Vinland Saga Episode 13
Thorfinn playing the edgy kid in Vinland Saga Episode 13

Canute and Thorfinn in Vinland Saga Episode 13

It was then interesting to see Thorfinn talk to someone. Since Thors died, in fact, we've seen the teenage Thorfinn speak very little, almost only to threaten people and challenge Askeladd to a duel. But after all, what could we expect? Thorfinn grew up among marauders he hates (REVELATION: more or less like Askeladd, therefore!) And with whom he doesn't want to talk. Therefore Thorfinn has not had a normal dialogue with people for at least eight years, or with his peers.

Canute, therefore, is a new element in Thorfinn's life. It is as alienating as the fluffy child we knew grew up in a problematic (and soooo edgy!) Teenager who bullies the prince. But then again, if Thorfinn grew up among people who value strength and could only survive because he hardened and became a murderer, what could have thought of Canute? Canute lived in a terrible environment, of course, but at least he had Ragnar, who protected him and loved him.

After Thors' death, Thorfinn didn't have anyone anymore, and Askeladd didn't make much effort to keep the boy alive. Rather, Askeladd, as a father figure, is chilling, as he is the exact opposite of Ragnar: uses Thorfinn as a weapon, regardless of his well-being and happiness. Then of course, sometimes Askeladd talks to the boy and makes speeches to him that he would never do with other marauders. It is seen that he has faith in Thorfinn's abilities and almost hopes that, one day, the boy will become good enough and mature enough to kill him.

But otherwise, Ragnar definitely qualifies as a better guardian, although, perhaps, Askeladd better prepares Thorfinn to face the violent world of the Danes. However, it is evident that Thorfinn is by no means ready for a life without war. He still thinks very childishly, giving priority to his father's revenge (which Thors never wanted!). How will he survive after the conquest of England?

On the contrary, Canute, in his timidity and eternal fear, thinks of the consequences that his actions can have. Although you look like an inept in that violent world, Canute is much more mature than Thorfinn. Thorfinn can only function and succeed as long as he is in the specific war environment. Canute, if he survives, can do much more.

I don't see Ragnar well!
I don't see Ragnar well!

Conclusions on Vinland Saga Episode 13

Vinland Saga Episode 13 it didn't give us a big plot development or a lot of action, but it revealed a lot to us hidden background and allowed us to better understand many characters.

First of all, we have known better Canute, who as a kid so shy as to be ridiculous, turns out to be a person who made not being noticed a survival tactic. However, what worked well in Denmark has now become a mess, and Canute will have to grow to survive.

Therefore, it will be interesting to see the end that will come Ragnar, a human and loving guardian who, in a violent society, is seen as a ballast. Will Askeladd plan his murder? Will Ragnar survive?

But above all, how long do we have to wait before Askeladd sends his men to die, betraying their trust? Because now it is too much a call. How long do we have to wait before Bjorn seeks divorce from Askeladd? Can anyone write a coffee-shop-AU fanfiction on AO3 where Askeladd and Bjorn can live happily, very married and with many puppies? I checked: I'm not there. On the other hand, there are many sad stories.

So, fasten your seat belts and get ready for a big mess in the next episode! We have been too long without violence in parcels and we will have to fix it.

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