Vinland Saga Season 2 Episode 5 Recap: The Path of Blood

In the fourth episode of ‘Vinland Saga’ season 2 titled ‘The Path of Blood,’ the show focuses on the political conflicts in England following the murder of King Sweyn. In light of Sweyn’s demise, Ethelred II assumed power and became a key force in the region’s politics. However, Canute, the Head of the English front of the Danish Vikings, was really ambitious and came up with a sinister plan to become the new King of England.

Canute Plans to Become the King of England

Sweyn, the Danish King has managed to gain control of the entirety of England and Wales, through his ruthless military conquests that took several years. But despite his power and influence, he is cornered in front of his own man one ordinary day by Askeladd. The Viking mercenary had asked Sweyn to reconsider his decision to invade Wales but was instead told to choose between Canute and Wales. Things really turned ugly when Sweyn insults Askeladd’s mother and soon the mercenary turns his sword to kill the King.

Before he takes Sweyn’s life, Askeladd tells him that his name is Lucius Artoris Castus, and also proclaims to be the King of Brittania. Once he beheads Sweyn, Canute tells the soldier to attack Askeladd who has committed regicide and should be cut down for it. Following the incident, England is thrown into chaos. Soon afterward, Ethelred II returns from exile in Normandy and is restored to power while Canute also proclaims to be the new King of England. The political conflict leads to a brutal war that pushes England into poverty.

Canute visits the village of Mercia after it has been defeated and finds out that his men are engaged in pillage and other horrific acts. He tells Gunnar, his advisor that all of these soldiers must be beheaded and their heads should be displayed on the streets. Canute is soon confronted by Thorkell, who tells him that he must pave his path with blood and iron as fighting cannot be avoided if he plans to become the new King of England.

Interestingly, Canute listens patiently to the man, and kind of agrees with him. Later that evening, he meets an earl loyal named Eadric, who tries to bribe him to leave the village of Mercia and take back his man. But Canute refuses and asks him to betray King Ethelred II so that he can become the new King of England. But Eadric rejects the proposal and tells Canute to his face that he would prefer fighting him to his death instead of bowing his head in front of him.

Is Ethelred II Dead? What Illness Kills Ethelred and His Son Edmund? Does Canute Become the King of England?

After Eadric refuses to support him and threatens that he will continue fighting to his bitter end, Canute tells his Jomsviking commander Floki that the man is not spineless after all. That’s when Floki, with a sinister smile on his face, suggests testing his resolve. Eadric is then taken outside with his son where a gigantic pyre has been prepared. Then once the work is finished, it is lit on fire following Canute’s order. Eadric struggles to understand what the whole ritual means. That’s when his son draws his attention towards smoke coming out of different locations as far as their eyes can see.

It seems to be similar to the one lit in front of them. As Eadric continues to ask for an explanation, Canute reveals that it symbolizes what it means to fight him. This implies that if he still does not want to cooperate and will rather go to war with Canute then Mercia will be reduced to ashes. Canute explains one more time that if Eadric wants to avoid all the trouble and wants to safeguard Mercia’s peace then he must kill Ethelred II. Eadric is haunted by the sight of smoke coming out of Mercia’s land and eventually starts working for Canute secretly. The following year in April 1016, King Ethelred II dies because of a mysterious illness. In his absence, his son Edmund becomes the new king and fights valiantly against Canute.

In fact, he even successfully inflicts major damage to Canute’s army and ensures that his political rivals are constantly challenged. But strangely this does not last long as Edmund also dies because of a mysterious illness in November 1016. While it is not explicitly mentioned, it is highly unlikely that King Ethelred II and his son Edmund both die of an inexplicable illness in a span of seven years. Therefore, there is a good chance that Eadric may have something to do with it since the death of the father-son duo directly benefits Canute politically. So it should come as a surprise that soon after the unnatural death of his political rivals, Canute officially became the King of England.

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