Thorkell the Tall, The Traitor, or just the crazy bastard has made his appearance in this week’s episode of Vinland Saga. Even though he is a strong, honourable warrior, something seems to be a little off in his head, AKA he is kind of insane.
Japanese Original Episode Title: ロンドン橋の死闘
In October 1013, King Sweyn leads a fleet of Danish and Viking ships in England in an attempt to take London Bridge and capture the big city of London. Askeladd’s army was once more hired by the army of Denmark and joined this army since they thought that it would be an easy win. However, after the betrayal of Thorkell the Tall, a Viking known for his overpowering strength, London Bridge has become impregnable and impossible to breach. At that point, Askeladd tells Thorfinn he’ll reward him with a duel if he’s able to bring him Thorkell’s head and Thorfinn agrees.
Thorkell is indeed a madman: Ever since Askeladd had this speech about how everyone is a slave to something, I like to sit down and think over that idea for each individual character of the series. There is no doubt that Thorkell is a slave to his own desire for blood, for war, and for and combat and that makes him a terrifying character. He betrayed the Vikings in order to experience a more exciting conflict and he is enjoying it to the fullest. ‘Go and ask King Sweyn if he is bored of fighting battles that he always wins.’ This quote of his says it all. He wants to fight his own kind because he thinks that they are the strongest warriors out there and he desires that ecstasy like a madman.
This jolly little fool is mine: The one-on-one battle was just phenomenal. You could see from the directing that Thorkell fights relying heavily in his strength while Thorfinn relies on his speed. The expressions, the movements, everything was flowing so well in that scene that I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. The only scene that made me kind of want to look away was the one at the end when he waves goodbye to Thorfinn and you see his bloody hand with some fingers cut off. It was pretty cool though.
Thorfinn’s gaze brings me shivers: In every episode his eyes are getting more and more threatening. The way he looked at Thorkell while they were fighting and the way he looks at Askeladd when he said: ‘I will carve out your heart and offer it to my father’s spirit’, it really brings you goosebumps a little bit. On the other hand, I think that it’s probably the first time we see Thorfinn’s real thoughts about fighting and killing. When he said that Thorkell is a madman and wonders what he really enjoys about battles, combined with the ending scene, it makes you realize that this poor boy is in all this just because he wants to avenge his father and nothing more.
Themes & Trivia
Wessex: The Kingdom of the West Saxons was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the south of Great Britain, from 519 until England was unified by Æthelstan in the early 10th century. The Anglo-Saxons believed that Wessex was founded by Cerdic and Cynric, but this may be a legend. Wessex became a Christian kingdom after Cenwalh was baptized and was expanded under his rule. Cædwalla later conquered Sussex, Kent, and the Isle of Wight. His successor, Ine, issued one of the oldest surviving English law codes and established a second West Saxon bishopric.
Sigvaldi Strut-Haraldsson: Thorkell the Tall’s brother, Jarl Sigvaldi, was the semi-legendary chieftain of the fabled Jomsvikings and commander of their stronghold – Jomsborg. He succeeded Palnatoke as the leader of the Jomsvikings in the late 10th century. The character of Sigvaldi remains largely enigmatic. As a leader, he was said to be more wily than brave despite leading such a powerful force.
What was the deal with Vikings and all this thirst for blood? At first Bjorn mentions that he doesn’t fight for money but because he likes to kill and then we have Thorkell who even betrayed his own kind in order to fight a more thrilling and challenging battle. Are they all insane or can it be that the satisfaction they get from killing works like a drug for them?
On another note, I would never in my life think that Thames River would actually look like a clean, beautiful river at some part of history. I mean even in Vinland Saga it is full of ships debris and corpses, which, to be honest, is not that far away from what you can find in Thames River nowadays.
That’s not a bridge, that’s a fortress.
I would like to correct Askeladd here: Thorkell is the actual fortress, not the bridge. Everyone else on that bridge is pretty worthless compared to the giant man who throws whole logs and destroys half the King’s fleet by himself. Can you imagine a fight between Thorkell and Thors? They would break the earth into two.
Summer 2019 | Anime Info | Simulcast