Vinland Saga (Season 2), Episode 20: In the latest episode of Vinland Saga’s second season, Thorgil continues his assassination attempt on King Canute while Thorfinn and Einar share one final moment with their dear friend Arnheid. The episode also showcases how far Thorfinn has come as a character, not only to who he was in Season 1 but also at the start of this season, and the latter, in particular, is parallel to Arnheid’s current outlook.

Ketil is foolishly firm in his desire to carry on fighting despite the obvious difference between the two armies, and he pays the price for it. All of this coupled together with a strong, cliffhanger ending, makes this arguably the best episode of the season yet.

Vinland Saga (Season 2), Episode 20 Recap:

Opening with an inner monologue from Fox, the episode opens with him stating that he has killed many people and is confident in his strength when compared to the average person and that he enjoys killing. Fox then follows up by stating that he is afraid as he looks on to the carnage before him, horrified as he sees a soldier maim one of the farmers and enjoying doing so. Several more of Ketil’s farmers are shown with serious injuries and missing limbs, or they are dead.

As Fox is frozen due to fear, Badger is fighting on with an axe despite missing an arm and Fox thinks to himself that Badger is going to die, and asks how he can get so close to the powerful Jomsvikings. Just as it seems like Badger is about to die, Snake rushes in to save him by swiftly killing the soldier and ordering a retreat, as they have no chance of victory. Fox is also ordered to take Badger and fall back to their fort, which the latter argues against but concurs once he is reminded of the bad situation they are in.

Hearing the order for the retreat, the farmers start fleeing, which infuriates Ketil, who didn’t give the order. Ketil stops one farmer, saying that his debt won’t be forgiven with just that amount of fighting service, but the farmer laughs in his face, saying it is irrelevant as Ketil is done for. He asks Ketil if he understands now what it means to be poor and weak, asserting that power is justice and that is why they listened to Ketil. The world, according to the farmer, is for people far stronger than Ketil and a stunned Ketil lets him go, soon after which he is seemingly killed by one of the soldiers.

In the distance, Wulf notices this and informs Canute beside him and apologizes when Canute says his orders were to capture Ketil, not kill him. Canute also says that the farmers who were fleeing were to be spared and even those orders were being disobeyed, prompting Wulf to go talk to Floki about the same. Canute also wants the bodies of the farmers returned to their families once the fighting is done.

After Wulf leaves, Thorgil rushes towards Canute from behind him and Canute hears his approaching and is barely able to block his ferocious attack with his own sword. This deeply damages the blade. The two guards with Canute are killed instantly by Thorgil, who also praises Canute’s fighting skills as they’ve gotten better.

Canute notes to himself that his hand might be sprained just from that single attack of Thorgil’s, and uses his cloak to cover Thorgil to stun him temporarily so as to put some distance between them. Thorgil manages to kick Canute before he can get a new weapon and is on the verge of killing him when Wulf reappears, stabbing Thorgil through his wrist.

Furious that Thorgil has nearly killed Canute, Wulf begins choking him but Thorgil manages to blind him in one eye by gouging it out. Thorgil manages to escape as he is injured and reinforcements are on the way, also dodging an attack from Canute. Wulf asks for Canute’s sword so that he can go after Thorgil but is ordered not to go too far since he is injured as well. As he watches Thorgil swim away, he states that he wants Thorgil to be his subordinate again, praising his boldness.

Canute’s army also retreats to their king’s position once they hear that there was an assassination attempt. Snake wonders why they are retreating and whether Thorgil had something to do with it; relieved, he checks on Ketil who is still alive but unconscious. He sarcastically calls him Iron Fist Ketil, and says he can’t do the easy thing and die as he has to take responsibility for being the losing side’s commander.

A Still from Vinaland Saga Season 2, Episode 20.
A Still from Vinland Saga Season 2, Episode 20.

Meanwhile, Arnheid has regained consciousness and says in a small, weak voice that she hears the same sounds as when her village first burned. She asks the others if there was a battle going on, and Einar reassures her that they are leaving since the battle has nothing to do with them.

Following up with the question of where they will go next, Arnheid is answered by Leif this time, who says that they can go to his village in Iceland. Arnheid then asks if the place has slaves or wars, and Leif responds by saying it had indeed had wars and he would be lying if he said there wouldn’t be further fighting in the future.

Arnheid’s reply is that she isn’t going there and will go somewhere else as Gardar and her children are waiting for her, and that she only came back to thank Thorfinn and Einar. To her, life was like an unending nightmare, but she was cheered up by their talks each morning and enjoyed listening to and laughing at Einar’s stories in particular. She closes her eyes, and a worried Einar tries to shake her awake, also reminding her of her promise to protect her unborn child.

Opening her eyes, Arnheid reveals that she had a miscarriage owing to Ketil’s beating, and since all her loved ones are now dead, there is no point in living any further. She asks why she should live anymore, a mirror of Thorfinn’s mindset at the start of the season which he recognizes in horror. She then passes out.

Thorfinn tries to revive her with CPR, telling Einar that it was a method to bring back the dead taught to him by his father Thors and that Einar can help by speaking to Arnheid loudly. Einar tells her not to die, also confessing his feelings for her and saying he wants her to laugh at his stories again.

Some time passes, and Arnheid has clearly died, but Einar is trying in vain to revive her with CPR, before being told to stop by Thorfinn. Thorfinn gently cradles Arnheid’s corpse, and says that there is a place far to the west and beyond the vast sea called Vinland. The land there is warm and bountiful, free from both slaves and war, and Thorfinn is confident Arnheid can live there without any pain. He concludes by saying that they should all go there together and create a land of peace.

Hearing the sound of footsteps, they see Snake approach, and he is carrying a still unconscious Ketil on his back. He asks why they are all still here, but Einar is greatly angered at seeing Ketil, and wants to kill him for retribution. Thorfinn tries to stop by restraining him and saying killing Ketil won’t help, but Einar punches Thorfinn in response, too angry to listen to reason.

Snake realizes from their behavior that Arnheid has died and watches on as Thorfinn punches Einar to get him back to his senses, which it does and Einar breaks down crying. Thorfinn says that killing Ketil won’t make his anger subside, and that killing will only begin a cycle of death, which was the nightmare he was trapped in for so long. He begs Einar not to put himself under the same curse he himself has for so long, and Thorfinn starts crying as he says this.

A short while later, Thorfinn and Einar have buried Arnheid on the cliff overlooking the sea and have marked the spot with a gravestone. Leif tells Bug – Eyes, his adopted son, to get ready to sail and they leave Thorfinn and Einar to let them have one final moment with Arnheid. As Thorfinn looks out to sea, there is a voice over from Canute which says that God must be watching over them even as they speak. God looks on from high above as people lose their friends and parents and children kill each other.

Vinland Saga (Season 2), Episode 20 Ending Explained:

Do Thorfinn and Einar leave for Iceland?

Thorfinn starts walking away and is asked by Leif as to where he is going. He responds that he will talk to Canute, since Ketil is still alive and hasn’t been captured, so the war will go on. Thorfinn wants to prevent more people from losing their lives. Leif disagrees, saying that they should leave immediately, also asking why Thorfinn would want to do that.

Wanting to let him take Thorfinn back to Iceland for sure this time, Leif is reminded by Thorfinn of the story he told him of their shared ancestors who settled in Iceland to escape from war and death. At the time, Thorfinn admits, he thought it was uncool, but he couldn’t be more proud of them now.

Thorfinn reveals that Canute had brought only a hundred soldiers which he saw when he surveyed the battlefield earlier, and says that even in the worst case scenario, he can run away and make it back alive. Leif is convinced by Thorfinn’s words, promising that they will be ready to sail at a moment’s notice, and that they will go to Iceland together. Thorfinn is seen walking toward Canute’s camp with a determined expression as the episode ends.

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Vinland Saga (Season 2), Episode 20 Links: IMDb
Vinland Saga (Season 2), Episode 20 Cast: Yûto Uemura, Naoya Uchida, Mike Haimoto
Where to watch Vinland Saga

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