Ketil introduces Einar to his new best friend Thorfinn. He’s given them a forest to clear and eventually sow wheat, which he’ll buy at a fair price when harvested. Ketil estimates that if the two men work hard, they’ll have made enough money to buy their freedom. This sounds like a sweet deal, except that the forest they have to cut down is enormous, the labor is ruinous, and the retainers eat most of their paltry lunch.
The best-case-scenario of three years seeming unlikely with this caloric intake, Einar is furious by the bullying from the freemen, but Thorfinn takes it all in stride, clearly playing a long game. When Ketil rides past them at the end of his first day, Einar is ready to report the retainers’ stealing their food, but he’s distracted by a gorgeous woman with piercing blue eyes—presumably Ketil’s daughter.
The next day Einar watches Ketil pitching in for harvest work, which is odd because Einar didn’t think the rich dirtied their hands with manual labor. But it’s clear Ketil is proud of this place, and intends pass it along to his son Olmar. Unfortunately, Olmar is a lazy, spoiled brat with dreams of going to England and being a badass warrior.
We actually get a fair amount of Olmar screen time that softens his character’s plight, but only so far. He has a hissyfit when he realizes the tenant farmers’ daughter is only sleeping with him in hopes of gaining some of his father’s favor and fortune (she may genuinely like him, her parents are clearly using her).
The bottom line is that Einar is wrong about rich people not having any cares, and Olmar is taking his victimization way too far. I mean, all he needs to do is look around the farm to see people far worse off than him. And yet the fact he’s not on a battlefield covering himself in guts an glory like he wants means he doesn’t consider himself any more free than the slaves or retainers.
That night, Einar condemns Olmar’s desire to go to war when he has no idea what awaits him. Einar tells Thorfinn how the English armies pillaged his village and killed his father, then the Danes came, pillaged again, and killed the rest of his family. He condemns soldiers as nothing but beasts in human skin, unaware that his new best friend used to be one.
Thorfinn’s role this week is passive to the point of background character. That’s fine, but to what end? Do the fires burning in his memory mean he yearns to return to the battlefield? Or has he given up on any kind of glorious future and is content to wile away the last of his youth chopping wood and sowing seeds? If he is playing some kind of long game to get back into the thick of things, he’s keeping mum so far.