Vinland Saga (Season 2), Episode 9: Vinland Saga continues with its focus on Thorfinn, putting him front and center for yet another episode. Thorfinn undergoes a painful metamorphosis which sets up his goals, redemption, and personality moving forward.
Vinland Saga (Season 2), Episode 9 Recap:
The episode opens with Thorfinn being woken by a baby goat jumping gently on his chest, and he is shown to be in a grassland with no one else in sight. He is happy and relieved, thinking that everything that has happened was a dream, and his voice is noticeably livelier as he says so. Thorfinn expresses his joy at being there.
In actuality, Thorfinn is unconscious, having been knocked out in the fight with the farmhands in the previous episode. Einar is still fighting against the three of them and refuses to be defeated, eventually winning when the farmhands decide to leave. They warn him of his impending punishment, but Einar is unfazed.
Back in Thorfinn’s dream, his father Thors is walking over, and once he reaches, he says he smells blood, breaking the happy and light scene and changing to a dark one. He asks Thorfinn who he killed as Thorfinn sees his younger self kill Einar as a child. Thors apologizes to his son, as he wants to teach him more. But Thorfinn says that it is all his fault.
A rotting hand belonging to a zombie then grabs Thorfinn, slowly pulling him down as Thors imparts some wisdom: Thorfinn doesn’t have enemies, and no one has any enemies. The ground opens up and swallows Thorfinn when Thors tells him that it is never acceptable to hurt anyone. He manages to grab onto a ledge and is dangling from it.
Below him is a pool of blood with zombified soldiers fighting each other, and Thorfinn wonders if he is in Valhalla, the Norse afterlife for those slain in battle. He recognizes one of the soldiers as Bjorn, from Askeladd’s band of mercenaries, before he hears laughter that reveals Askeladd himself.
Askeladd is seated atop a pillar, casually greeting Thorfinn and commenting on how he never learns as he is back. Thorfinn asks him if they are in Valhalla, but Askeladd says that where they are is the same as the world of the living, and it is where warriors end up to keep fighting forever. In sharp contrast to Thors, Askeladd states that here everybody is an enemy and asks Thorfinn if he remembers here living with his mercenaries. He continues by saying that Thorfinn luckily escaped by becoming empty, but Thorfinn denies this, pointing out how he struck someone in anger and is still a warrior.
Thorfinn says he can’t hold onto the ledge for much longer and that he is pathetic as he can’t grow. Askeladd chides him for looking only at himself and tells him to look at his surroundings. The zombified soldiers are piling on each other to try and reach Thorfinn, presumably to drag him into the ceaseless fighting. Thorfinn kicks the hands away, not wanting to be dragged down, as Askeladd suggests lending them an ear since they are all people he killed.
Horrified that he has killed so many people, Thorfinn begins to shed tears, saying he knows nothing about them, who they are, where they came from, when he killed them, and why he did so. He emotionally apologizes to them, with Askeladd looking on quietly.
Below them, in the pool of blood, archers have appeared and started firing arrows at Thorfinn, causing Askeladd to jump down from his pillar into the pool and start fighting them. He shouts that Thorfinn doesn’t want to be trapped here again and that he cannot cry as he has no time for it. As he fights off the zombified soldiers, Askeladd tells Thorfinn to keep climbing, as that is his true battle. He should take those he killed with him and thus become a true warrior, sparking hope for a better future in Thorfinn, who begins climbing toward the sky and waking up in the real world once again.
Vinland Saga (Season 2), Episode 9 Ending, Explained:
Having regained consciousness, Thorfinn wonders if everything that just happened vis a vis the pool of blood, Askeladd, and his father was just a dream before he notices a collapsed Einar in front of him. After confirming that he is alive, he lends the battered Einar his shoulder, as Einar proudly tells him that they won the fight.
Einar contemplates how they have hit rock bottom, as they have no crops, are deep in debt, and are likely to be punished for attacking the farmhands. But he happily says seeing Thorfinn punch one farmhand and knock him out was very satisfying. At this point, he notices Thorfinn is crying and is suddenly worried that he is in pain from his injuries.
Thorfinn reveals to Einar that he has killed many people over his life, people whom he didn’t know and bore no grudge against. He further says that they were people similar to Einar and his family. Thorfinn passionately says that he will no longer be violent from this point on and be reborn as a person, as Einar listens to him without saying a word. Here, he sees an image of his father Thors turns back and starts walking away from him over the hill, which merges with the view of a hill in the real world. Thorfinn then says he will start fighting his true battle from now on. Einar admits he doesn’t understand, but at the same time, he does, as Thorfinn promises himself that he will be reborn.
At this point, the scene shifts to the farmhands, who are outraged that the slave duo of Thorfinn and Einar won’t be punished despite starting the fight. Ketil then presents a button found by Pater during his investigation on the ruined wheat farm, a button that belongs to one of the farmhands. Ketil continues that the official story is that wild boar destroyed the farm and that there was no fight, as the farmhands leave disgruntled. Pater thanks Ketil, the latter of whom commends his strength, and asks if he is not afraid, to which Pater says he has also suffered a lot as a former slave.
We then see Thorfinn and Einar hard at work in the field, with Sverkel observing and giving advice as the sun rises.