Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10: Canute becomes what he despises as Thorfinn and Einar finally earn their freedom

The latest episode emphasizes that Canute
The latest episode emphasizes that Canute's path to Kingliness is littered with betrayals, bodies, and the death of his former self (Image via MAPPA Studios)

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 marks the continuation of the Slave arc for the series, giving fans an incredibly welcome update on Thorfinn and Einar’s fates. After this, the episode transitions into an exclusive focus on King Canute, who is set to visit his dying brother Harald in Denmark.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 uses this visit masterfully from a narrative standpoint, greatly deepening Canute’s character throughout the latter two acts of the episode. What is especially intriguing is Canute’s ever-more frequent conversations with his deceased father, showing how the young King is slowly becoming what he once despised.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 puts Thorfinn and Einar on the back-burner, but not before giving fans good news

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10: Free at last...?

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 begins with Einar and Thorfinn chopping down trees and taking turns as they try to cut down a particularly thick one. The duo successfully cut the tree, which is the last of what they have to clear for their freedom. It would seem that some time has passed since the previous episodes, where the two still had a sizable amount of forest to clear.

Einar and Thorfinn confirm this, saying it took them more than three years since the former's arrival to do so. Einar laments the land not being theirs, but Thorfinn says that it’s the one thing a slave can’t have. He adds that they worked hard and are nearly there, prompting Einar to share something Pater told him the other day.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 reveals that the two are a harvest away from being able to buy their freedom and getting some change back from the next harvest. Thorfinn asks Einar what he plans to do once he’s free, with him not being sure since he has no family to return to and is concerned about Arnheid.

He wishes that Arnheid could be free as well since he’d feel much better, but Thorfinn reminds him that Ketil has no intention of letting her go. Einar asks Thorfinn if he will go back to Iceland, to which Thorfinn says he most likely will. As Einar points out, Thorfinn seems unsure of his plans, prompting him to respond that Einar is equally unsure.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 sees Einar ponder how strange it is to act like this with freedom around the corner. A silent Thorfinn looks down at his hands, saying that he has something he’d like to try and do. He seems to want to rid the world of war and slavery, asking Einar if he thinks it’s possible with an incredibly serious face.

Einar responds that it would be like a dream when Ketil and Olmar arrive on horseback behind them and congratulate them. He asks if they can till the soil in time to plant, which Einar thinks is possible if they hurry. Ketil says that in that case, he will give them a little discount and that once the seeds are sown, the two will be free.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 sees Ketil congratulate them for their hard work, commenting on how they don’t seem happy about the news. Einar begins putting on a show for Ketil’s sake, but the latter warns them not to celebrate yet. They will have to wait until he returns, as he asks if they’ve seen his father, Sverkel.

The two say they haven’t, prompting Ketil to give them a message to relay to him. It’s revealed that Ketil is going to Jelling to visit King Harald at his palace, but Ketil adds that he plans on being back in time for planting. Before departing, he asks the two if they’d like to continue working for him as retainers once they’re free, complimenting how hard they work and telling them to give it some thought.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 then sees Bible verse Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 appear on screen, which reads as follows:

“What benefit is there for the worker from that in which he labors? I have seen the task which God has given the sons of mankind with which to occupy themselves. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, without the possibility that mankind will find out the world which God has done from the beginning even to the end.”

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10: The return of the king

The scene then shifts to several boats sailing on the water, within one of which a man is seen napping. It is revealed King Canute and the ships are headed to King Harald’s palace like Ketil is. The boats are then seen having arrived on shore, with Canute observing the people in a local town market.

A single guard accompanies him as Gunnar approaches and reminds Canute that their horses will be ready soon. Gunnar asks Canute to wait inside his cabin, but he refuses, saying he hasn’t been home in a while and wants to feel the breeze. Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 then sees a local soldier named Wulf approach Canute, prompting him to ask how his brother is doing.

Wulf reveals that Harald is not well, and after his pain worsening over the past month, he can no longer speak. Canute questions how much longer he has, with Wulf revealing that doctors say the next few days will be critical. Canute thanks Wulf for watching over Harald in his place, before discussing how the ball game some nearby children are playing is one which Harald was quite good at as a child.

As Canute muses on how they used to play it together, Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 begins a flashback sequence. Within, a young Canute, his older brother Harald, and Canute’s former advisor Ragnar are seen playing together. Present-day Canute muses on how those within the palace feuded over which of the brothers would succeed their father.

He goes on to say that Harald never paid any heed, as the younger versions of themselves are seen playing the game. Canute falls and lands on his face, but Harald stops Ragnar from coddling him. Canute then gets up by himself and says he’s fine with a straight face, surprising Ragnar as Harald comments on how his brother is tougher than most think.

When Harald comments on how Ragnar is a little too overprotective, the latter approaches Canute and confirms that he’s okay. Canute asks to take some of his layers off since it's hot and hard to move, but Ragnar refuses, saying a warrior must be properly equipped. He asks Canute if he’s listening as he continues rambling, but Canute is instead looking at his brother.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 sees the present-day Canute muse on how Harald was a strong, kind man, as the flashback ends and the perspective returns to the present. Canute muses on how Harald often helped him and that he must thank his brother, as the ball from their game rolls to Canute’s feet. However, he sees it as the head of his father Sweyn, whose death he is responsible for.

Wulf tells the children to go play somewhere else, as Canute realizes that the ball is just a ball. Wulf muses on how carefree children are before asking Canute what’s wrong. However, Canute says that it’s nothing, unable to share the truth of his father’s death with anyone. The episode’s narrator then begins explaining how Harald and Canute each inherited their respective territories from their father.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 explains that while Harald inherited Denmark and Canute inherited England, the relationship between the two was good. Harald even directly supported Canute’s English conquest by sending a fleet of ships. However, Harald fell ill shortly after Canute became the king of England, having no heirs to speak of as well.

Canute is then seen walking into a room where his sister Estrid waits for him and is excited to see him. Canute tells her to address him as “Your Majesty,” but she ignores the request, as he pays his respects to the seemingly unconscious Harald. Estrid asks if he can tell that Canute is here, but the latter says that they needn’t wake his brother.

However, Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 sees Harald awaken at this moment, calling out for his brother. Canute tells Harald to rest and that he needn’t worry about his kingdom, prompting the latter to say he has been waiting for the former. He then tells Canute that Denmark is his, shocking everyone in the room but eliciting a slight smile from Canute.

Canute tells Harald to stop being absurd and to get well so they can play ball again. However, Harald suddenly becomes Sweyn, who mocks Canute for being able to lie like he doesn’t know what’s going on. Canute drops Harald’s hand, as the imaginary Sweyn reveals that Canute poisoned Harald himself and is now visiting him to keep up the act.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10: A brother’s betrayal and a father’s approval

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 sees Sweyn remind Canute that the two got along well, and could’ve ruled the world together. Sweyn accuses Canute of doing this because of the newfound ambition in his heart to rule as “king of all the North Sea,” calling it the crown’s curse. Sweyn says that no one can escape it and that by donning the crowns of both England and Denmark, he will suffer twice as much as he did.

Sweyn laughs as an image of an older Canute on a throne is seen, as Estrid calls out to him and brings him back to reality. She asks him if he has fallen ill as well, prompting him to say he’s fine after looking at Harald briefly. Canute then leaves the room to go to rest but pauses briefly at the door to look back at his brother.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 then sees Canute holding and staring at his crown when there is a knock on the door. A servant enters, who was instructed by Estrid to bring him something to drink, raising his suspicions and causing him to ask where it came from. The servant questions what he means by this, but Canute simply turns her away.

Sweyn’s voice is then heard teasing Canute for being fearful of poisoning after having poisoned others himself. Canute responds by calling his father mischievous for appearing in the middle of the afternoon, but Sweyn counters that if his son can see him during the day, the curse is growing stronger. As the still-present servant questions if Canute is talking to himself, he turns her away and gets her to leave.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 then sees Canute claim that uniting the nation is crucial to building a utopia and that Harald’s death is necessary because of the trouble having two kings causes. Sweyn says he’s surprised, applauding Canute for thinking like a real king. Canute then begins laughing, telling his father that he once hated him and wished for his death.

Canute then muses on the irony of Sweyn now being the only one he can speak to frankly, saying that they should be friends as two cursed men. Sweyn then disappears as Canute dons his crown, musing once again about his and his brother’s younger days. However, Sweyn calls Harald away from playtime to join a war council, and the young Canute isn’t dejected in the slightest.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 sees a younger Harald give Canute the ball, telling him to grow up stronger than he and their father are. Canute says he will, pleasing Harald as he departs to join his father and co. Ragnar then volunteers to be Canute’s next opponent, as the present-day Canute is shown to be looking out on the courtyard where he and Harald once played.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10: In summation

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 is a very welcome episode for many fans, both for those who have and haven’t enjoyed the season thus far. The former group is excited to see what Einar and Thorfinn do with their imminent freedom, while the latter wants to know more about the time-skip and potential action it may lead to.

The episode also gives fans fantastic insight into exactly how power-hungry and ruthless Canute has become, to the point where he bonds with the father he once criticized. Sweyn’s constant appearances before Canute also emphasize how much he has changed since season 1, becoming essentially a completely different person in the contemporary series.

Vinland Saga season 2 episode 10 also does a great job of showing viewers that Canute is still struggling with his choices despite going through with them. The flashbacks to his and Harald’s younger days emphasize this beautifully, especially in juxtaposition with Canute’s own justifications and Sweyn’s applause for his youngest son.

Be sure to keep up with all Vinland Saga anime and manga news, as well as general anime, manga, film, and live-action news as 2023 progresses.