You know, as much as I am rooting for Thorfinn and Einar in this situation, they actually aren’t in the right – Snake is. Snake is right to seek retribution against Gardar, and unfortunately, Arnheid is considered a fugitive aiding a criminal since she is currently considered Ketil’s property.
Read Last Week’s Episode Review.
Vinland Saga Season 2 Episode 16 Review
I think this all just goes back to last week’s episode that touched on Thorfinn and Einar’s need to be outcasts in their Nordic society in order to build a peaceful “Vinland”.
While I truly agree with Thorfinn and Einar getting involved in helping Arnheid and Gardar escape, Snake is actually in the right in this current situation. For the same reasons that Thorfinn and Einar couldn’t fight back against the farmhands, their Nordic social hierarchy currently places slaves at the bottom.
And Thorfinn, Einar, Arnheid, and Gardar are currently viewed as slaves – inferior beings that are only meant to survive and become the powerful’s playthings.
Sverkel said it best – those they view as slaves are not in that situation because they are inferior or deserve endless beatings – they just happen to get unlucky. And it’s true: it was unlucky Thorfinn flew off the handle and struck Canute after Askeladd’s death, it was unlucky Einar’s village got raided again soon after rebuilding, it was unlucky Gardar’s men couldn’t hold out and it was unlucky Arnheid was targeted because bandits knew their village would be left alone and unguarded.
We know that Thorfinn is more than capable as a warrior and soldier according to Nordic standards – so why is he a slave?
We know the nation needs farmers to cultivate wheat to feed the armies to further Denmark’s expansion – so why is Einar a slave?
We know the nation needs more children that can grow up and be warriors and soldiers for Denmark’s army – so why are Arnheid and Gardar slaves?
Simply put, all of them were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. By pure chance, their normal lives were turned upside down and now they try desperately to survive – to hold onto some degree of normalcy.
Why Sverkel Helped Arnheid Escape
While I commend Sverkel for sympathizing with Arnheid’s story, Sverkel is also an old man on the verge of dying.
In his heyday, Sverkel sacrificed his own son’s happiness in order to survive and create a place that would put him in his now-earned position of power. I also think the old man’s eavesdropping on “the slaves” and hearing their stories – that they really weren’t criminals or up to no good, but just young people unlucky in life – is what made him have a change of heart.
Sverkel even tried to change Snake’s mind – offering him his fields and a life of peace in exchange for putting the sword down and letting Arnheid escape with her man…. but Snake is a proud Nordic man.
He just couldn’t let it go, and unfortunately, I can’t blame or fault him for that.
It is a grave offense for a slave to escape. It is an even bigger offense for said slave to kill his master, and all of his sons before going to another farm and trying to steal the man Snake’s sword is sworn to’s favorite slave. Not only that, said slave has already killed five of his men – when their numbers were not high to begin with.
It is unforgivable, and for this reason by Nordic social standards Gardar has to die, and Arnheid needs to be punished. At the same time, Thorfinn and Einar have resolved to build a society without war and violence – so helping a fellow slave who is suffering is something they will do – even if it kills them in the process.
I’m really excited for next week’s episode, and extremely tempted to just binge read the manga but I’m going to hold out a little bit longer. What are your thoughts after seeing all of this?
Do you think Sverkel deciding to be brave later on in life is worthy of applause?
Is Snake right? Or are Thorfinn and Einar due to their cause?
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