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finally starts to deliver on the promise of its concept.
When it turns out the ‘mud-born’ Elvina has been caring for is Grendel and she is his mother, the revelation forces anyone with any knowledge of the poem to re-evaluate the whole series, and especially Elvina’s relationships, in the light of this revelation. (Without wishing to spoil it, there are echoes of the 2007 Robert Zemeckis movie there).Even with this improvement, however, Slean is still the more interesting of the two, and although he had less screen-time, he makes an impression here.The moment when Kela more or less offers to murder Slean’s mother and new step-father for him (possibly) and he responds by kissing her works well.It also fits into a more general theme running throughout this episode, of people working their way through complex family relationships.We are reminded that Beowulf and Slean are actually half-brothers, but only Beowulf knows it, which adds an air of tragedy to Slean’s otherwise rather sweet declaration that they are brothers ‘in everything but blood’.And tragedy is, of course, even more prominent in the long-awaited downfall of Abrecan.
It seems it did not occur to him that in declaring war on his sister, he was asking people she grew up with to fight her, and he finds out his mistake the hard way before Rheda, proving that she is, in fact, rather tougher than him, finishes him off herself.
The death of Abrecan represents another step forward for the series, as it finally kills off not one, but two regular characters.
Or is Grendel unable to shape shift because his father is ‘mud-born’?
One of the other important ways in which this episode is an improvement on several previous ones is that the supposed protagonist, Beowulf, actually has a part to play in the story and undergoes interesting character developments.
In addition to the game-changing complication in his relationship with Elvina – which suggests that their future is heading in a very different direction to what we might hitherto have imagined – the revelation that Rheda blamed something Slean did on Beowulf and got him banished is something the series might have benefitted from revealing much earlier.
Once again, we are forced to re-consider what we know about these characters and their relationship to each other.