Vinland Saga Season 2
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Vinland Saga (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.4
After so many weeks of heavy character development and cathartic drama, it was inevitable that Vinland Saga would eventually get down to brass tacks and deliver a table-setting kind of episode that is more about getting us ready for future developments than providing a gripping story in its own right. Especially in longer serialized stories such as this, these interstitial chapters are a necessary evil; not every single episode can be a 10/10 emotional climax when your various storylines cover decades and thousands of miles of travel. Sometimes, you have to take twenty minutes to chill with a grumpy king while he figures out how to bolster his kingdoms' GDPs or spend some time with some old dads as they bond over how stupid their sons are. That's “Kings and Swords” in a nutshell.
Granted, with all of the new responsibilities that Canute has taken on as the acting King of Denmark, on top of already being the King of Freakin' England, it is still interesting to see him grapple with the politicking that has consumed his everyday life. Whether honing his battlefield skills, arguing for the benefits of requisitioning existing farmland over raising taxes, or trying to cultivate new farms, Vinland Saga has put in the work to get us invested in this world and its characters. Even if we weren't dealing with the more-or-less real history of medieval Europe, we'd still be willing to go along with these more technical aspects of the storytelling because we know that the consequences of Canute's decisions will matter for people like Thorfinn and Einar, who are so close to freedom that you can only imagine that the plot is going to come up with some horrible, Canute-shaped obstacle to bar their way.
Speaking of Thorfinn, it's nice to see Leif Ericson back in the story. His run-in with Ketil and Thorgil means that he's so goddamned close to being reunited with our hero, though not so close that the show can't indulge in some extensive comedy shenanigans to occupy the time. I don't mind when shows like Vinland Saga shift tones and get a little wacky occasionally, though I also won't pretend that Bug-Eyes and Olmar's spat was the height of entertainment for me. I will concede, though, that it is amusing that Leif managed to find and adopt a Thorfinn lookalike whose name is also Thorfinn, necessitating the whole “Bug-Eyes” nickname. It's a real “Schmidt/Winston” scenario for any of the New Girl fans who might also be into Vinland Saga enough to read these reviews (seriously, chime off in the comments if you got that joke because I'm dying to know what the crossover-appeal ratio of New Girl and Vinland Saga is).
So, yeah, there isn't a whole lot to analyze or ruminate on this week, but it's okay for Vinland Saga to take some time to rest up after the nonstop run of bangers that it's been putting out all season. This is still one of the greatest anime series currently airing, even if “Kings and Swords” isn't one of its all-time greatest episodes.
Vinland Saga Season 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.
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