The Vow To Be Brother And Sister

Episode 10 of Ronja The Robber’s Daughter, The Vow To Be Brother And Sister, might contain some of the most horrifying and heart melting scenes thus far. Ronja hasn’t budged from where we left her—irretrievably stuck in hard-packed snow. She shivers, nervously eyeing the sky for the next blizzard. She imagines Mattis finding her lone ski piercing the ground like a tombstone. Heartsick, he drops to his knees, screaming her name and flinging himself onto her snowy sepulcher. The thought elicits immediate tears as Ronja shrieks for help, her calls dampened by the deaf winter woods.

But someone has heard her: a harpy circles menacingly overhead. It spots her, cawing and careening downward. Terrified, Ronya covers her face with a mittened hand and we’re treated to some seriously terrifying imagery—parents of young ones might want to skip to the seven-minute mark to gauge whether their offspring can handle it. The harpy lands next to Ronya, its red talons clicking against the snow. Purple locks drip down into Ronya’s view, thickening on descent, until the bright red eye of the harpy comes into frame. I might be petrified if I didn’t covet their makeup so much.

“Pretty little human,” the harpy squawks. It grabs her hair with its claws and begins yanking upward, threatening to take Ronya back to the mountains, where Ronya will work the rest of her days for the harpy and her sisters. Thankfully, Ronya doesn’t budge. The harpy gives up, calling her stubborn, and flies away with the promise to return with her sisters for assistance.

Ronya collapses back into the snow, sobbing, resigned to death. Whispering her last words of love to her family, she drifts off to sleep just as snow begins to fall. Suddenly, she hears a voice calling her name. It’s Birk! Totally not weird aside, coming from a grown-ass woman: I’m in love with Birk and having difficulty suspending disbelief that Ronya doesn’t love him too.

“Ronya, shouldn’t you be going home now?” Birk says, in the sweet-but-snarky way of which only he is capable. Ronya’s eyes well with tears and my heart capsizes with love. She wails, bawling, begging Birk to never leave her. “All right, so long as you keep a rope’s length away from me,” Birk says because he’s an adorable smart ass. Excellent callback, Birk!

Birk digs down into the snow and with the two of them pulling, eventually free Ronya’s foot. Together, Ronya and Birk ski their way back home amid what is now a blizzard, Ronya continuously glancing back to verify Birk is still there. He whistles every so often to confirm his presence.

Before they enter Wolfneck Gap, the mountain corridor that leads back home, Ronya tells Birk that she wishes he were her brother. He smirks. “Why shouldn’t I be, then? If that’s what you like, Robber’s Daughter.” The next day, the snow is piled so high it’s completely blocked Wolfneck Gap. Mattis announces that all lookouts and forays have been cancelled. Ronya awakens, stumbling out of her bed, pink-cheeked and feverish, sweat beading her face. She coughs and crumples to the floor to the panicked bewilderment of her tribe.

Flossie Arend
Flossie is a freelance raconteur and editor living in New York City. A seasoned bibliophile, she loves gorging on sci fi, comics, and video games and is thrilled that her passions now loom so large in the cultural zeitgeist.

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